If You Don’t Like Your Partner’s Family, Here Are 3 Things You Can Do To Deal
There comes a point in most serious relationships when it's time to meet your partner's family. You hope with all of your might that these people (who could one day be your in-laws) don't turn out to be awful human beings, but... we don't always get what we want. And while they are hopefully far from terrible people — if you don’t like your partner’s family, it's certainly something that is going to have to be handled delicately. Otherwise, it could end up driving a wedge in your relationship with your partner.
Regardless of how you feel about your partner's family, remember that they're the people who love your bae and have been with them since the beginning, so it's really important to do your absolute best to avoid conflict. But of course, this doesn't mean they can treat you like crap, and that your only option is to suck it up and pretend like everything is fine. It just means that it's in the best interest of your relationship to tread carefully without becoming a complete pushover. I spoke with author and relationship expert, Alexis Nicole White, to get the break down on the best way to deal with a SO's difficult family members.
1. Set Boundaries
"If you’re experiencing conflict with your partner's family, it is important that one establishes clean boundaries," explains White.
So, if your SO's mom has control issues and is constantly pressuring you or your partner into things, or she tries to make decisions that aren't hers to make, then this is something that will likely require a discussion with your partner. Decisions affecting your relationship should stay between the two of you, and no matter how tempting it may be, or justified it might seem in the moment, whatever you do — don't talk smack. Save the impassioned rant for your BFF.
"Never bad mouth your partner’s family to them," says White. "Despite how much we may loathe them, they are still their parents and we must be respectful."
2. Try To Stay Positive While Holding Your Ground
"One should always be pleasant but firm on the things are bothering you," urges White.
For example, if your SO's family is religious and demands that you join them for church every Sunday. Assuming that's not something that is important to you or your partner, then this is a situation that requires a kind but solid position. There is nothing wrong with expecting your partner's family to respect your beliefs just as you should respect theirs.
"Never become disrespectful or intolerant to the point that you become the problem," says White. "[Instead], address the issues with integrity and move forward."
3. Delicately Start A Dialogue About What's Bothering You
"If you have an open-dialogue type of relationship, I would definitely discuss it during a less than contentious situation by sticking to the facts and remaining emotionless," says White.
If you know that your SO is extremely close to their sibling, and that sibling trolls you at every turn, you should, at some point, let your partner know how you're feeling. Try to keep the discussion focused on their specific behavior or relevant situations that upset you as opposed to personal critiques about who they are. They probably aren't going to change who they are just because you don't like them, but they will hopefully be willing to dial their intensity back after your SO lets them know what's up.
Coping with conflict between you and your partner's family can be an extremely sensitive situation. Making your partner feel bad about their family is likely not going to end well, but if you can keep your emotions in check, you may very well be able to maintain a friendly relationship, while not feeling like your feelings aren't being acknowledged.
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