Advice Male Perspective

Family Interference in your Romantic Relationships

In the early days of any romantic relationship it is perfectly natural to turn to your family for advice and even their opinion about your partner.  Yet, if this behaviour reaches the point where you are constantly checking with your family about every aspect of your relationship it could quickly lead to its end.  There is an expectation that everyone will do everything they can to get along, but your partner will never want to feel that they must bow to all the demands of your family in order to be with you.  The reason is that your partner will begin to feel, and rightfully so, that there are too many people in your relationship.  That is not a solid basis for building a long term future on as it move too far afield from what’s important which is you and your partner learning what it is to be a couple together.  That means the two of you need to learn to stand on your own; still a part of the families you were before, but now apart, as a couple on your own.  There need to boundaries established with your family else their interference will reach the point where it will be impossible to foster a romantic relationship.

First off, the most important thing is whether or not you approve of your romantic partner.  After all you’re the one that wants to be in a romantic relationship with him.  It is important that your family likes your partner, but it should not be more important than whether or not you like him.  It’s typical to use your family as a kind of litmus test to confirm your feelings and impressions of your partner in order to make sure that you’re not misjudging who you think he is.  That’s completely okay.  Yet, you need to look at your family’s opinions about your partner objectively.  Are these opinions colored by their own past romantic relationships and thus they’re projecting those feelings onto how they feel about him?  Does your family have an agenda such as trying to set you up with someone else that they feel you should be dating?  Does your family have a tendency of finding no suitor acceptable for you?  Does your family want to keep you single so you’ll continue to have more time to help them?  All of these questions need to be answered when weighing the opinions your family have about your partner.

Seeking out advice from your family about your relationship is normal.  Where a problem can develop is when any decision that needs to be made in your relationship must also be approved by your family.  This sort of family interference will lead to strife and arguments as your partner will feel that his opinions don’t count and that they are being superseded by your family’s feelings.  He’ll be right to feel this way, and unless there is a change, the relationship often won’t survive this level of interference.  If you’ve found that you have had a large number of relationships end after only a couple of months you may want to look at whether or not you were not just seeking advice from your family, but their approval.  It may be why finding a lasting romantic relationship has been so difficult for you.  So if this describes you sit down with your family and talk to them about it.

Family interference seems to usually occur in a romantic relationship when you and your partner need their financial support.  Under these circumstances your family will expect to have a say in what is going on.  That can work as long as boundaries have been established beforehand.  It is when those boundaries either weren’t created or are ignored that you’ll have problems.  A common example of this is when you need money from your parents to pay for your wedding.  There have been countless stories about how the parents make all sorts of demands about who should be invited to the wedding and what the wedding should be until it reaches the point where the couple is absolutely miserable.  So before accepting financial support from your family, be aware that there is a personal and emotional cost associated with it that may put a strain on your relationship.

Additionally, interference from your partner’s family in your relationship is no more acceptable than it is from your family.  So if any of what’s been described in this column has been coming from his family, you need to sit down with your partner and ask him to tell them to stop.  If your partner is unwilling to do so, or his family’s interference does not abate, you may have to consider ending the relationship.

Lastly, family interference tends to happen in the early days of a romantic relationship when the bond between you and your partner is just starting to be established.  However, once you’ve each made a long term commitment to each other, the family interference needs to be reduced, so that you and your partner can establish your own sense of being a new family together.

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