Honestly, one of my biggest fears is having a partner that my family doesn’t like or hate. What do you do when your family disapproves of your relationship? I come from a really big family that means the world to me, so being with someone they don’t love seems insane. But at what point does your family’s opinion become toxic or hurtful? There is a thin line between listening to the advice of your family and living your life, especially when it comes to a potential future with someone.
I honestly couldn’t see my family hating someone I dated unless the person was extremely rude, racist, or some other extreme. I’m also blessed to have a family that isn’t petty for the sake of being petty and is usually great about being truthful while still being kind. I love them, and if they were to say they don’t like the person I am with, I would have to take a step back and look at their perspective.
Now, I know not everyone has the same relationship with their family as I do, which can be extremely mentally taxing. Always having someone cast judgment on you for every little thing you do in life is not an easy burden to shoulder. But the question remains true for those with great family relationships and those with less than great. What do you do when your family doesn’t approve of your relationship?
What do you do when your family doesn’t approve of your relationship?
First things first, are you happy? I know love can be blind, and it’s so easy not to see the bad in a person you love. (Or choosing to be willfully ignorant to it.) But does your partner make you happy? Do they support you in the ways you ask?
Your family is a big part of your life, whether you want them to be or not, but they will take a back seat at some point. One day, your mom, dad, and siblings are your family, and they can mean the world to you, and then the next, your partner is now your world. I’m not saying that your partner should encompass your whole world, but they will start to supersede other family members.
I think the idea of your partner superseding your mom, for example, is a big issue in some relationships. You’ve probably heard stories before of men choosing their moms over their wives or girlfriends and tension arising from there. And while your mom raised you into the person you are today, your partner is the one that should take precedence. In the same way, you should prioritize your partner over your kids in a relationship. (This sounds rather cutthroat without any further explanation, but maybe I’ll write something about this another time, but here’s some more info for the meantime.)
Above the belt hits
It can be so easy to take cheap shots when someone is attacking or demeaning someone you love and care about, even if those shots are coming from someone you love and care about as well. Parents love to think they know what’s best for their kid, and at times they might, but unwarranted advice, lecturing, and patronizing can make the blood boil when you are no longer a kid living under their roof. And it gets all the more irritating when it’s about your partner. Whether it’s them not approving, thinking that you can do better, some old-school racism, or not accepting your sexual orientation (which is a whole other thing I am not qualified to speak on), it can feel almost impossible to take the high road.
That’s what you have to do, take the high road. Be clear about boundaries and be respectful, but this doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover and take whatever they are saying lying down.
Healthy communication (especially with your parents after moving out) means communicating expectations and boundaries. If your parents still talk bad about your significant other even after you’ve communicated those boundaries, then they will have to live with the consequences, whatever they may be.
It’s not easy when your family doesn’t approve of your relationship for whatever reason it may be, but take a moment to ask yourself if their concern or disapproval is grounded in anything real. If so, think about it and see if it’s something important to you that should be addressed with your significant other. Or is their disapproval based on spite or ignorance? You have to do what makes you happy and navigate down whatever path you choose.
Keep in mind that family isn’t just the people you share blood with; it’s something you decide. I know I said I love my family, and I do, but I also have friends who mean the world to me and are just as much my family as those with which I share DNA.