Relationships
A girl whose significant other doesn't like her family has a serious conversation with him.

Here’s What To Do If Your Partner Doesn’t Vibe With Your Fam

It’s called ~compromise~.

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Introducing your partner to your family can be a huge relationship milestone. But in the midst of all the introductions, you might feel concerned about whether your family will like your partner as much as you do, and vice versa. Hopefully, everyone will get along swimmingly, but if your significant other doesn't like your family, and your family is really important to you, it can lead to a rift in your relationship.

Maybe your partner doesn't share the same political opinions as your dad, or they feel like your siblings always seem to have something negative to say, or they're just not vibing with your mom. Regardless of the reason, if your boyfriend doesn’t like your family or your girlfriend dreads hanging out with your folks, it can be really painful. But it is still possible to work things out in a way that both you and your partner can agree on, because you should never be put in a position where you have to pick between the people you love.

"Any time you feel caught between your partner and your family, it can feel uncomfortable and tense, as though you have to choose sides," Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of Breaking Up & Bouncing Back, previously told Elite Daily. "It’s easy to get defensive when talking about this subject, so try not to blame your partner and let them know your hopes, goals, and expectations for family gatherings."

Even if you’re worried that your boyfriend hates your family, your partner needs to be willing to reach some sort of compromise — especially if they know how important it is to you that they connect with your family on some level. To initiate that conversation, Burns suggested positioning yourself as a buffer to help break the ice between your lover and your loved ones. "Let your partner know it means a lot to you to see everyone get along and ask your partner how you can help build or improve their relationship with your family," Burns advised.

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Claudia Johnson, licensed marriage and family therapist associate (LMFTA) with the PNW Sex Therapy Collective, says that, ideally, your partner won’t act on their dislike of your family without first discussing it with you. “In a partnership, there’s Partner A and Family A. What happens in that family should be addressed by Partner A. For Family B, [it should be] Partner B,” Johnson tells Elite Daily. “What gets really murky is when Partner A feels the need to resolve something for Partner B that is not respecting their own autonomy, that is not allowing them to be a part of the conversation.”

That kind of collaboration and communication is a big part of any relationship, and it’s especially necessary when issues like this arise, where you can’t afford to hurt people on either side of the equation. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, previously told Elite Daily that the best way to move forward with your partner is to ask how you can proceed together. "It is critical that for the success of your relationship with your partner, you have an open dialogue about how you feel about their family and how they feel," Klapow said.

If serious conversations aren't exactly your forte, fret not. Dating coach Evan Marc Katz has a formula you can follow to make sitting down with your love that much easier. "You want to start with praise and appreciation for your relationship," Katz previously told Elite Daily. "Then, you have to state your issue, whatever the issue is, and how that issue makes you feel, so it’s not an attack. You’re not saying anybody is wrong." If you attack your partner when you confront them, they're either going to attack back or completely withdraw from the conversation. "It’s a flight or fight mechanism," Katz explained. Once you've laid everything out on the table, "then, you have to come up with a solution."

"Two people aren’t going to agree on everything, but they can be on the same team about each other's happiness," Katz said. It's not one or the other. You and your partner can disagree on things while still fighting for your relationship. As long as you "respect where the other person is coming from, and validate, and shift back into something that works for everybody," Katz pointed out, your relationship can continue to flourish.

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But Johnson says before leaping to any conclusions, it’s important for both partners to take a beat and analyze why you’re feeling the way you are. “If I notice something that is not sitting well with me, I have to be very curious,” Johnson tells Elite Daily. “What is it about this particular interaction, what is it about this particular [member of my partner’s family] that doesn’t make me feel welcome or good? Is it something I can change? Is it something that will step on my partner’s boundaries? Is it something that is going to hurt my relationship? Who knows, but before we try to jump into action, let’s just sit with it for a second.”

When the core people in your life don’t get along, it can be hard to see a path forward. But ultimately, this emotional discrepancy doesn’t have to ruin everything. "It is not a requirement of anyone to like someone else's family," licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist Sarah Watson previously told Elite Daily. "Each person is different. Talk about what family means to them [and what it means to you] This will vary from couple to couple. Some people are very involved with their families, others are not. You have to come up with what is going to work for both of you. You can make it work, but it will take some work and compromise."

And of course, that work must be double-sided. If it’s you who has an issue with your partner’s family, Johnson recommends what she calls “expanding the narrative” — or at least approaching the situation with a heap of compassion. “As a partner who is experiencing that discomfort, one really good place to start is with the knowledge that [this family] created your partner. Who your partner has become is really influenced by who they are,” Johnson says. “Is there something in your partner that you can recognize in their family, and can that allow you to connect a little bit more with them? Is your partner’s family coming from a place of love for your partner? You might not resonate with their delivery, but you can understand where they’re coming from. And that’s something you can connect on. It’s [your partner’s] family at the end of the day, so it’s really important to take some time and recognize that.”

A little bit of compromise and a whole lot of communication will go a long way.. As difficult as either of those things may seem, they are certainly possible, and they can do wonders for your relationship.

Experts

Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of Breaking Up & Bouncing Back

Claudia Johnson, MA, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate with the PNW Sex Therapy Collective

Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show

Evan Marc Katz, dating coach

Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist