4 Ways To Bond With Your Partner's Siblings If You Still Haven’t Clicked
Spending time with your partner's family can be stressful, no matter how serious you and your partner are about each other, or how close they are with their family. After getting over the hump of the first couple of meetings, it will probably become clear pretty quickly which members of their family you can easily relate to and which relationship(s) may require a bit more effort to cultivate. If your partner is close with their sibling(s), these can often be the toughest cookies to crack. That's why figuring out some effective ways to bond with your partner's siblings is a good way to show your partner you care, especially if maintaining a close bond with their family is a priority for them.
It's all too easy to become insecure if you feel like your partner's family members aren't so quick to warm up to you. However, before deciding to throw in the towel and resigning yourself to the discomfort, try to understand where the source of their feelings may be coming from.
"There's a protectiveness: Is this person going to be good for my sibling?" professor of human development and family studies at Penn State University Susan McHale told Refinery29. "Then, in some ways, it's self-protection: How is this relationship going to affect what my sibling has been giving to me?"
Even if you feel like your connection with your SO's sibling(s) is OK, if you want to make it even stronger, here are some things you can try.
1. Invite them to hang out with you and your friends.
If your partner's sibling(s) live(s) in the same area as you, inviting them to an event with your group of friends is a great, low-pressure way of encouraging some quality time. One-on-one hangouts can be a bit more stressful when you're still getting to know each other, which is why having a couple of friends around who you trust to keep you grounded and in-check is a good move.
2. Show interest in their family traditions.
Another great way to bond with your partner's family and become a welcomed part of their unit is to show interest in what's important to them. If you know Thanksgiving is a huge deal in their family, why not offer to help their brother do some cooking to prepare? Or help their sister pick up supplies for the tailgating party they throw every year?
"Respect their traditions and the way that they do things," licensed marriage and family therapist, Anita Chlipala told Elite Daily. "You grew up differently than your partner, so get to know their rituals, customs, and expectations around behavior."
3. Try to understand their perspective on things.
Yes, it's important to have your partner's back, but fostering a connection with their sibling(s) might require you to be open and interested in their sibling(s)'s perspective on things — even if you or your SO don't share their same outlook or opinion. For example, you and your partner might not subscribe to a particular school of thought, but if their sibling(s) do/does, trying to understand why it's an important part of their life may definitely win you some brownie points.
"This can be frustrating for [your partner], but acknowledging what is important to someone else — especially when you don’t agree — can be a major sign that [you respect them]," explained Chlipala.
4. Don't feel pressure to become BBF's.
The truth of the matter is that some people just don't end up clicking for a ton of totally valid reasons. Trying to become close friends with your partner's sibling(s) when you share very little (or no) common interests or beliefs might not be a realistic expectation. The good news is that as long as you are both respectful of one another, your relationship with your SO can still grow, and you can still co-exist happily with their sibling(s).
If you're worried your partner isn't satisfied with the relationship between you and their sibling(s), relationship therapist Esther Boykin told Refinery 29 that starting a relaxed conversation about it might be a good idea. "Part of me feels like I should be making more of an effort in nurturing a friendship with your brother or sister. Does that even matter to you? What would make you happy in an ideal world?" Boykin said these are great conversation starters to gauge your partner's feelings about the situation.
If it's just not working out no matter how hard you try, ultimately it's important for you and your partner to realize that having a close bond with their sibling(s) just might not be possible. "Just because they want [you to have a relationship] doesn't mean that's going to happen," said Boykin.
All you can do is put in the effort and hope for the best. Although having a good relationship with their family is always ideal, people are complex. Thankfully, this doesn't have to impact your relationship with your partner as long as you're able to communicate with their family respectfully and maturely. A civil, peaceful relationship is better than a tense, tumultuous one, so don't feel like you absolutely have to be BFFs.