Actually, not all is lost if your family doesn't like your S.O.
It’s a moment we’ve all stressed about before: Bringing the partner home to meet your relatives. Introducing your loved ones to a romantic interest comes with a lot of emotional baggage, and you might find that your family doesn’t like your S.O. If this happens, at least know you’re not the only one on the planet whose mom isn’t very fond of your new partner.
Unfortunately, family-S.O. meetings don’t always go well. In fact, conflict between significant others and family members are so common that there’s basically an entire movie genre dedicated to the phenomenon. (Anyone remember Monster in Law starring Jennifer Lopez?)
Dealing with this family drama can be intense – and can sometimes even result in severed relationships.
“This is the person you have chosen to make a life with. Even if your parents threaten never to see you again, to treat you as dead, or to cut you out of the will, loving your partner means living with those consequences,” advised Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker on PsychCentral. “If you’re not prepared to do that, it’s only fair to your partner and to yourself to end the relationship.”
But wait! Before you freak out, know that there is still hope if your family doesn’t like your S.O. (or vice versa).
It will just take a little work.
According to Stacy Kaiser, licensed psychotherapist and editor at Live Happy, personality conflicts between S.O.s and family members happen “about 50 percent of the time.” We spoke to Kaiser about why they happen (and what we should do about it).
“It could be for reasons such as possessive family members, differences in race, culture, socio-economic status, or religion,” she continues. Kaiser stresses, though, that it is possible for family members and partners to get along, even if they struggle with differences of personality or opinion.
“If they are not being abusive or toxic, do the best you can to keep the peace,” she encourages those struggling to connect with a partner’s family. “Make an effort to slowly and cautiously build a relationship. Often times when the family gets to know you they will warm up.”
Kaiser suggests that if there is a major road block in the relationship between family and an S.O., the partner who is related to the family in question should be the one to call out any bad behavior and facilitate reconciliation.
Navigating romantic and familial relationships is hard enough on its own, so there are bound to be issues if your family doesn’t like your S.O. Kaiser reminds us that, when it comes to dealing with difficult personalities or staying amicable with people you don’t naturally like, good will and good intentions are key.
“It requires patience, putting your best foot forward, investing time and energy into the relationships. It is also extremely important that your significant other do what he or she can to help bridge the gap,” she said.
It’s not a total dealbreaker if partners can’t get along with their respective families, nor is it the end of the world.
Patience and practice can help you bridge gaps that could put potential strain on your relationships – and in the end, don’t we all just want to get along?