It’s not always the easiest transition to introduce your parents to your new partner, but if things have never been calm between your partner and your fam, and you're close with your family, there might be a serious problem. Watch out for signs your partner is causing affecting your family relationships, because it’s one thing to have a few growing pains or speed bumps in a new relationship, but it’s another thing entirely to have a long-term thing with someone and not be able to spend time with them and your family at the same time.
I spoke with eight dating and relationship experts about how to tell if your partner is actually the problem in various family-relationship situations, and it seems as though there are lots of ways to tell, and they are all fairly obvious. Basically, it boils down to the fact that you should be able to have everyone that's important to you together — your mate, your parents, your siblings, your extended family, or any other loved ones — and not have it become a problem or an issue in any way. If that is not the case for you, it may be time to rethink your relationship. Here are eight ways to tell if your partner is harming your relationships with your family.
1. Your Family Doesn't Want To See You Together
"If your family don’t want to see both of you together, tell you they don’t like your partner, or try to see you alone, there’s something wrong," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "Maybe you have a negative family, or maybe it’s your partner who’s the problem." There's only one way to find out: Look at things from a clear-headed point of view.
"Step back and take an objective look at who your partner is to your family." If it becomes clear that it's your partner — and not your family — it's time for a talk.
2. There's Always Conflict When Your Partner Is Around
"If there is an increase in conflict with family that somehow always indirectly or directly relates to your partner, chances are there is a causation," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Talk about it first before making any rash decisions, because all you statistics nerds know that correlation does not always mean causation." But if it becomes clear that this is more than a correlation, and is a pattern, it might be wise to move on.
3. Your Partner Wants You Isolated From Your Family
"If your partner wants you to pull away from your family to be with them more, and to have less of a relationship with them, this can be a red flag," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "If you have a healthy relationship and boundaries with your family, question the motives of someone who is trying to move you and isolate you from the important people in your life. It can be about self-esteem, or it can be about power and control."
Either way, neither one is acceptable. You need to be able to spend as much time with your family as you want and need, and if your partner has a problem with that, you have a problem with your partner.
4. Your Family Is Pulling Away
"The clearest sign that your partner is causing harm to your family relationships is when your family is more often than not choosing not to spend time with you," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "If you are invited to a family function and or suggest a family activity and they ask if your partner will be joining the activity in a less-than-inviting tone, you can be fairly certain there is a problem. Invitations to family gatherings such as weddings arrive without a plus-one or your partner's name is also a great indicator your family is less than thrilled with your choice."
Families can be flawed too, but if the problem lies with your partner, find a way to turn things around. "Unfortunately, in many cases this leads to you eventually needing to make a choice, and it never ends well for either party, as you will also resent someone for making you choose," he says. Unless you can facilitate all parties getting along, you'll probably have to make that choice.
5. Your Partner Is Changing Your View On Your Family
"A partner can manipulate you to view a family member differently by stating critical comments, or sly innuendo and judgments," relationship coach and psychic medium Melinda Carver tells Bustle. "If you find your opinion of your family member changing through your partner's manipulation, ask yourself whether you are viewing that person through your partner's judgment or yours."
Though we all have strange family members, if your relationship with your cousin or mom or aunt was fine before, you should consider what is really going on here. "Do you value this person? Do you want an estrangement with your mom or sister because your [partner] wants them out of your life?" she asks. "Allowing your partner to control your family relationships through manipulation is not healthy for you, nor for your family." If this is happening, it is vital that you turn things around right away.
6. Your Family Declines Your Invitations
"When your family members don’t want to accept invitations where your partner will be present, this is because they are uncomfortable around that partner and choose to stay away rather than connect with you and tolerate your partner," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "Obviously, this dynamic swings both ways, but if your partner’s reaction to your family members staying away is aggressive, chances are, the partner is stirring the pot and hurting the dynamic between you and your family."
Though your family might be being unreasonable, they also might be seeing something you're not. "A partner may relish this dynamic because it’s easier for him or her to handle than having to make relationships work with your other family members," she says. "That said, it makes your life more difficult." If everyone can't get along, that will be a problem for you — and for all involved — sooner or later.
7. Your Mate Makes A Scene At Every Family Gathering
"Somehow every family event winds up revolving around your partner and everybody knows and dreads this," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle. "Most of your relatives hope your partner doesn't show up, and they're even starting to state, 'If you're going to keep bringing your mate along, then you're not going to be welcomed with open arms for much longer either.'" There's nothing subtle about this, and it can only go on for so long before there is a serious problem.
"The general feeling among your family members is that it's always something as far as your partner is concerned," she says. "Your entire clan is just plain old sick and tired of your mate's unacceptable behaviors and your partner's long list of unforgivable sins, including obnoxious comments, asinine opinions, and fighting and flying off the handle with you" — which can also extend to "everyone else, for that matter," she adds. No one likes a scene, especially when the person causing them is not related to anyone present. Do something — stat.
8. Your Family Won't Spend Time With Them
"If your family refuses to be around them and they have concrete reasons for being upset," there's a big problem, Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. "For example, his [or her] behavior is problematic because [s/]he gets too drunk, [s/]he makes derogatory comments about people, flirts with other women, etc.," she says.
All of these things are definitely not acceptable — and if they're happening in front of your family (or when your fam isn't around, for that matter), it's likely that you have a problem on your hands.
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