When it comes time to meet your boyfriend’s family, you hope and wish that you’ll adore them.
However, it’s not always that way; you’ve come to learn that you really, really don’t like them.
So how can you deal with not liking your boyfriend’s family?
Fortunately, there are some great tips to help you out, tips that have helped me deal with my partner’s family for years now.
10 tips to deal with not liking your boyfriend’s family
1) Set some boundaries
Like all the best relationships, they’re built around personal boundaries.
When it comes to learning how to deal with your boyfriend’s family, it’s important to figure out just what you can — and can’t — handle.
Each scenario is different, of course, so it’s up to you to understand just what you’re capable of dealing with.
How often can you handle seeing them? In what environments are you incapable of dealing with them? Pinpoint the times you feel the most stressed and taxed by them.
What kinds of conversations or subjects trigger you? Which members of the family upset you the most? Understanding the nature of your own boundaries around your boyfriend’s family will give you a better idea of how to set them.
Remember, it’s really important to also take into consideration your boyfriend in this process. It is his family, after all. Therefore, keep in mind that your boundaries will affect him, too.
Here’s a look at an article that will help you learn how to deal with people who have an unduly negative influence on your life and well-being.
2) Strive for empathy
Your boyfriend’s parents did raise him after all, they’ve been with him since the beginning. If they didn’t raise him, they’ve known him since he was a little kid.
Put simply, they love and care about him. Try to keep that in mind while you’re dealing with all members of his family, no matter how much they get under your skin
In other words, give them the benefit of the doubt. Strive for empathy when you do have to deal with them.
Because here’s the bottom line: you do have to deal with them. Whether it’s only on holidays or every other weekend, you’ll have to see your boyfriend’s family at least sometimes.
There’s really no way around this fact, as unfortunate as it is.
Practicing empathy will help you, especially when it seems like they’re purposefully trying to upset you. (They probably aren’t.)
3) Communicate your feelings to your boyfriend
This point is perhaps one of the most important — dealing with your boyfriend’s family directly involves him.
Therefore, it’s absolutely vital to communicate your feelings to your boyfriend. There are some good things to keep in mind when you attempt to communicate these feelings.
The first is this: find a good time to discuss your feelings.
Rather than “expressing” your feelings right after a long night spent with them, wait until you aren’t upset. Try to avoid venting to him while you’re worked up about it.
Why? You’ll be less likely to be clear and fair. You’re far more likely to say something hurtful, something you don’t mean, or worse.
It’s important to have a clear head. The point is to create a dialogue between you and your boyfriend, with the purpose being heard and understood.
This dialogue will lead to positive change, boundary setting, and a deeper understanding of each other.
Communication is a great way to deepen the love and trust in your relationship. Here’s a look at an article with some more great ways to build trust in a relationship.
4) There’s a difference between “getting along” and “liking”
It’s really important to remember that getting along with your boyfriend’s family does not mean that you have to like them.
There’s a difference. What do I mean by that?
Often I felt a need to like my partner’s family — as if there was some kind of unspoken obligation. In an effort to try to get along with them, I found myself forcing myself to like them.
It didn’t work.
I realized that I had no obligation to like them, only to get along with them. And there is a difference. The way we get along with people deals primarily with our actions, the way we treat people. Not necessarily with our opinion of them.
In other words, it’s possible to get along with your boyfriend’s family—without having to like them. They’re different things.
So when you do have to see them, don’t overtax yourself. Do what you need to do to treat them fairly, kindly, and thoughtfully. Just remember that you don’t have to like them.
You’ll find that your boyfriend will thank you for it, as will his family.
5) It’s a two-way street
Along the same lines of the last point, your relationship with your boyfriend’s family is a two-way street.
There’s no need to bend over backward, overextend yourself, or force your kindness if they don’t want any of it.
In other words, if they’re not doing anything to help make the relationship better, there’s no need for you to, either.
Every healthy relationship is a two-way street. If only one person is putting in an effort, then it becomes unbalanced and unhealthy.
There’s no need to let an unhealthy relationship have any effect on your happiness or your day to day life.
Which, as it so happens, is why boundaries are so important. When you have your boundaries set, you only allow his family into places of your life that you can handle, that you are okay with.
In that way, then, their ability to sustain a healthy relationship will correlate with how exactly you let them into your life, and set your boundaries.
Of course, your boyfriend has a voice in these situations, too. If it seems that no matter how you try, they still don’t like you, feel free to express this to him.
It’s likely that he’ll see that imbalance too, and respect whatever your decision may be.
6) Pinpoint what it is that upsets you
I briefly mentioned this in the point about setting boundaries, but it warrants its own point.
That’s because it’s important to understand what it is about your boyfriend’s family that upsets you.
Here’s why: if you don’t know what it is that makes you upset, you can’t do anything to change it. There are so many different variables that could have an effect on how you perceive your boyfriend’s family.
And remember, they raised your boyfriend, so they can’t all be bad.
With that in mind, there are going to be times when you can agree with them, understand them, or tolerate them.
When are these times? Who is it that upsets you the least? Looking for the positive is a good way to start to understand these variables, however, it can get a bit exhausting.
Taking mental note of when you feel triggered, upset, or incapable of being around them is a bit easier sometimes.
What kind of environments lead you to being offended or upset? Who is usually the one to set you off?
Once these things are pinpointed, they’re far easier to understand and work with.
You’ll thank yourself, and your boyfriend will thank you, too.
It could be that you see where your boyfriend gets some of his less desirable traits, and that bothers you. Here’s an interesting article that talks about why you get mad over the little things with your partner, and how you can manage that frustration.
7) Don’t try to change them
One of the more important things I’ve learned in life is to be careful with my energy. If I expend that on people who don’t want it—whether in a friendship, a romantic relationship or otherwise — my efforts are wasted.
It leaves me feeling drained, empty, and downtrodden.
This same principle applies to your relationship with your boyfriend’s family. If you pour too much of your energy into enmeshing yourself with them, you’ll feel drained and worse off than otherwise.
One of the biggest ways this tendency reveals itself is when we try to change them.
I tried to change my partner’s family for a bit.
I know it sounds like a huge undertaking on the surface, an impossible task, but I tried.
And it showed itself in little ways, more than anything. Getting into discussions/arguments about things: trying to change their minds. Being vocal about my personal habits and preferences: attempting to get their behavior to change.
These little things left me frustrated, angry, and worse off than if I just learned to accept that they are who they are, and I am who I am.
The only reason I have to see them is because of my partner. Once I focused on getting along, managing those triggers, and keeping them at a healthy distance, my happiness (and my relationship with them) drastically improved.
8) Don’t feel guilty for not liking his family
Your love for your boyfriend will make you feel like you should love and adore his family, the same way that he does.
If you’re in a healthy relationship, you should understand where his family comes from, cooperate with them, and have compatibility. Right?
While this is assuredly sometimes the case, your compatibility with your boyfriend is different than that with his family.
With that in mind, try not to be too hard on yourself. There’s no need to feel guilty because you don’t like them.
It’s not your responsibility or obligation to fit in with his family as if you were part of his family from the beginning.
Therefore, there’s no need to burden yourself with guilt. It won’t accomplish anything, aside from affecting your happiness and mental health.
As long as you’re doing what you can to get along with them, treat your boyfriend fairly, and respect your boundaries, there’s no need to feel guilty.
When that guilt goes away, you’ll feel less burdened by the relationship at large, and more capable of getting along with them. Your boyfriend will see you trying, and that’s likely to make him happy.
Here are some more simple tips and ways to make your boyfriend happy.
9) Pace yourself
I know that I can only handle my partner’s family in small doses. When the holidays come around, it can be overwhelming for me to have to think about seeing them all, back to back.
It’s kind of like this: the more time I can spend away from my partner’s family, the better I can handle them when I do see them.
So make sure to pace yourself. Don’t overdo it on the time you spend with them, or the effort you put in.
You’ll end up getting burnt out, upset, and liable to damage the relationship, whether with them or with your boyfriend.
This point ties into knowing your boundaries. Know your limits, and you’ll be okay. It’ll take time to learn to get along with your boyfriend’s family, so keep that in mind.
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and pace yourself.
10) Remember why it is they’re in your life
These people may be the worst kind of people that you’ve ever met. Everything about them upsets you, offends you, or makes you uncomfortable.
If you detest your boyfriend’s family, these points will only get you so far. There is one more thing, though, that will help you make it through those times that you have to see them, get along with them, and spend time with them.
What is it?
Remember that you love your boyfriend. For all those times you feel like you can’t stand another second, think about why you’re here in the first place.
It’s because you love your boyfriend. You care about him, adore him, and would do anything for him.
The love and affection you feel in your relationship make up for the pain of seeing his family.
A respectful, intimate relationship with your boyfriend means that he’ll be able to understand where you’re coming from, respect your boundaries regarding his family, and appreciate you for all the time you do spend with them.
And remember, love is infinitely patient.
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