What to do if your family don’t like your partner

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Christmas is often the time when you introduce a new partner to your family. The festive wish is that they’ll all get on but what do you do if your family don’t like your new partner?

Whether you’re introducing your new partner to your children, parents or extended family, the fact you have made the decision to bring them into your life in this way shows that you’re serious about them. The question of whether your family like them or not could seriously affect the future of the relationship but their initial reaction may not be the whole story.

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Protection

Christmas is an emotional time and often the only time in the year when whole families get together. If you’re bringing a new partner into the mix the most natural response from your family is to want to make sure they’re ‘good enough for you’ and ‘treat you right’. It’s natural protection which family members feel towards each other and will result in your partner being scrutinised, and maybe criticised, to test their worthiness and the strength of the bond between you.

This protective phase will usually pass when your family are assured that your partner is genuine and that you’re happy with them.

Loyalty

Sometimes dislike of a new partner has nothing to do with them personally but more to do with your family’s feelings about your ex. Children in particular may feel like they’re being disloyal to their other parent if they like and accept your new partner. These feelings aren’t just confined to kids. Even though you decided your relationship with your ex was over other family members may have loved them and miss their presence in the family. The arrival of a new partner is a proof that the other person isn’t coming back and can bring up feelings of resentment and grief.

It’s important, especially for children, to maintain contact with the other person (when possible and appropriate). They need to be reassured that accepting your new partner doesn’t mean that they love the other person any less. They don’t need to safeguard that person’s place in the family because they’re not coming back.

Fear

The arrival of a new partner in your life can make other family members fearful about their place and status within the family. If you have adult children they may have assumed the role of looking out for you while you’ve been on your own and could feel usurped now you have someone else by your side.

Younger children may be fearful about where you will live and whether your partner will accept them. Questions of inheritance, security, love and loyalty can all be brought to the surface when a new partner is brought into an established family system. These issues often get in the way of family members being able get to know your new partner. They may say they dislike ‘them’ but actually they dislike all the uncomfortable feelings their presence brings up.

Acceptance

You need to accept that not everyone in your family is going to be as crazy about your partner as you are. They could have genuine concerns about your partner’s suitability and it’s important that you let them air these concerns. Love can be blind and sometimes it’s someone outside the relationship who raises the red flag when there’s something not right.

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Your family need to accept that you have the right to choose your own partner regardless of their opinions on the subject. If you’re happy they must try to accept this person into the family or they may run the risk of losing you.


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