Dating can be fun and adventurous but once it transpires into a committed relationship it starts to involve a lot of people. When we get into a relationship with someone we also get into a relationship with their friends and family. It is a package deal; you cannot get one without the other.
Unfortunately there are no exceptions if you date someone and you are serious about them, you need to date their family as well. You do not want to alienate someone from their family and friends and risk them resenting you for this.
Firstly, you need to get into the parents’ good books. Many of my relationships did not work out because my mom did not like the person I was dating or the mother of the person I was dating did not like me. It happens, the opinions of our parents, siblings and friends matter greatly to us. We are raised and grow up with family and friends. We nurture and invest in those relationships over the years and we trust their judgments and value their opinions which sometimes will be about the people we are dating.
While it’s true that not everyone is going to like you there needs to be at least that one aunt that will recognise you and that one or maybe two cousins that will talk to you at family gatherings. When you are dating officially and exclusively, and your goal is marriage you need to put in the effort to know acknowledge and respect the people who are important to your partner.
It must however work both sides; if you are reaching out they must meet you halfway. You cannot respect and acknowledge someone who fails to do the same for you.
With a lot of my relationships I was never accepted by the many mothers-in-law. Let me clarify the meaning of “mother-in-law”. Where I come from it does not mean marriage, it just means that you are dating their child. So to be clear I have never been married.
Not all of my mothers-in-law that didn’t like me. I have had so some who loved me and if it were appropriate we would have stayed in touch. For some I was either too poor or too loud mouthed or just maybe not pretty enough. I don’t know. What I do know is that when your partner’s mother is not rooting for you it affects the quality of the relationship and it can also break the relationship.
It is not just the mother-in-law that you have to worry about it’s literally everyone who is in your partner’s life; people who have been there with him from birth or throughout his upbringing, people that came before you. You need to respect those relationships and handle them with care but not at the cost of losing yourself.
Let us look at the whole package deal which comes to family and friends. The parents first and foremost carry so much weight towards making a relationship work from both sides. They have the power to make or break relationships. Why? We look up to them, respect them and care about what they think. We value their advice and guidelines. Secondly we have the many family members. This includes the aunts, uncles, and siblings who also come up with their own opinions, advice and judgments regarding the person we are dating. Lastly the friends. If they don’t like you things can get complicated real quick. These are the people we spend most of our time with, we share things with them that we don’t even share with family and sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. Now imagine if your friends don’t get along with your partner or vice versa?
It puts you in an awkward position to have to choose between the people you love, whether it’s the people who raised you or the people who have always been there for you and the person you want to build your future with.
What matters at the end of the day is that you’ve followed your heart and made a decision you can live with. Ultimately, you can’t live your life for anyone else but yourself.
Read about the pros and cons of dating your best friend here
Do you agree that family and friends can make or break a relationship? Why or why not?