Wednesday

His Family, Her Family Not Your Friends

Family is just that family.  They may act like friends at times, but those who have been there for you through it all are meant to protect you, advise you, love you, and do whatever else for you, but don't expect the same from your dating partner's family.

So many girlfriends and boyfriends enter into families expecting to receive the same, if not better, treatment from their partner's family.  They falsely assume that because they haven't been in any family wars with the in-laws that they will be treated like "one of the family."  This phrase sounds nice in movies, but the reality is that maybe one or two of your mate's relatives might be open to embracing you like calling or visiting the two of you and really taking interest in who you are (and not necessarily what you have), but not most of your future inlaws.  Therefore, they can't be trusted with private information about you or the status of your relationship with their loved one, so don't bother sharing deep feelings, whether written or verbal, because what you say might come back to haunt you one day.  For instance, don't say something like, "I love her with all my heart and I will do almost anything to make sure she stays happy with me."  Family won't forget.

When we feel comfortable around those "nice, polite," and "sweetheart" types of people, who don't appear like they could hurt a fly, we tend to talk too much.  Grandma may act kind and Grandpa might be cordial too, but they just might have a dark side.  Parents aren't always "cool" or "great to be around" so don't take the flattering statements too seriously.  Chances are there are some things that your mate really doesn't want his or her family to know about your relationship, faith, upbringing, job, and more.  It can be challenging to know what to say or what not to say when you don't talk to your mate about topics in advance.  You wouldn't want to go to your girlfriend's or boyfriend's parents' home joining in on a conversation about how your mate can't cook, doesn't like to clean, and was good for nothing as a child.  Imagine what the ride home will be like with your partner.  If your relatives are mean-spirited, angry, bitter or have some sort of mental condition, don't hide these things say so.  If your partner may not mesh very well with certain relatives then why bother bringing her or him to their setting?  If you know you don't like your family for one reason or another, then deal with those issues without bringing someone you love into your mess.  Warn him or her of those challenges you have with certain family members.

There are relatives who don't mind telling everyone all about you both good and bad.  You may not be ready to tell your mate everything about you, so it would make sense not to bring her or him around big mouth relatives until you are comfortable about discussing how you feel about things.  If you choose to procrastinate on certain issues, know that the big mouth relative will not hesitate to share information about your past, present and future the moment he or she is left alone with your mate.

Some couples will argue or defend favorite relatives by saying things like, "Well, that's not what she meant...I don't know why she said that, but she is really a great person...He isn't so bad."  But the truth is, most relatives and friends mean what they say, they don't need a public relations campaign for or against them.  They are not interested in making friends with your lover or many lovers, they are more concerned about getting to know who these people are who you claim you care about and whether or not one of them is a keeper or all are losers. 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make early on in your intimate relationship is to argue with your special someone about what a family member's feelings are concerning him or her.  People usually can detect whether feelings behind one's smile are genuine or fake, so when a mate communicates, "I don't believe your mom really likes me..." after several times of being around her, most likely she doesn't.

Naive, gullible people who are more concerned about impressing people, rather than studying them, will assume that everyone likes them and wants to be their friend, but let us be reminded that family are just family.  They are more concerned about a loved one's happiness then being best buddies, so be mindful of what you say to them.

Nicholl McGuire

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