So, You Dislike Your Partner's Family - What Do You Do?

There's a lot to celebrate when you seemingly meet the partner of your dreams, but coming to find that you don't exactly vibe with their family can be discouraging! If you begin dreading trips to see your partner's parents and siblings, feeling like you have to walk on eggshells or use your emotional toolbox to get through uncomfortable conversations, then it's likely time to implement a few steps in order to find some harmony within the situation.


Try to remain hopeful that you'll find your rhythm in navigating the relationships over time with the proper boundaries and management of expectations. It's key to remember that your love for your partner is the reason you are here in the first place and if your partner has a positive relationship with their family, it's likely important to them that both you and the family enjoy one another as well.

While it may not be the most desirable position to be in, here's what you can do if you have toxic in-laws and dislike your partner's family.

Set boundaries and communicate with your partner

They say that boundaries aren't a punishment, but the groundwork for healthy relationships and that's exactly what treading through these waters will require. After communicating — both consciously and kindly — with your partner that hanging out with their family is tough for whichever reasons you're experiencing, it's time to put loving boundaries in place.


This might look like putting a time limit on your visits and having an understanding with your partner that after two hours, you'll both head home. You may find that you need your partner to act as a buffer for you in certain conversations with their family and smooth out the edges of tricky topics or personalities. Or maybe there are certain holidays you know you'd rather spend with your family or with just your partner.

Lay the ground rules ahead of time, so you aren't put on the spot. Communicate these needs, while also, of course, considering your partner's needs and desires in relation to their own family dynamics.

Find common interests and avoid sensitive topics

If you are feeling like you're under a magnifying glass or like you just can't really get enough breathing room when you're with your partner's family, try switching up the energy and keeping the focus on them. Ask them questions in an attempt to get to know them a little better. You may even find some common ground where the two of you can connect and enjoy one another. Some relationships require more skills than others and we may not be able to be our genuine selves, but finding a meeting place where you can coexist is likely worth the effort — given they aren't being disrespectful or unkind toward you, which is another topic entirely.


You may have to exercise your patience muscle and allow the relationship to slowly build over time. Navigating a complex relationship with your sister-in-law, for example, may be overwhelming, but ultimately worth it in the long run. It might not be a relationship you feel you can be at ease in yet, but once again, remember this as an act of love toward your partner.

Don't expect them to change

There are some relationships in life that require us to use our emotional toolboxes, energetic boundary abilities, and nervous system regulation. If you've found that the relationship you have with your in-laws very much falls into this category, it's key to let go of the idea that they will change or become who you'd like them to be. If a surface-level relationship is what will help you both get through holiday gatherings, then accept that for what it is and focus your energy elsewhere.


It can be tricky to choose the role of the peacemaker in some circumstances, but if you and your partner have communicated about your experience with their family and you'd both like things to at least go smoothly, then acceptance is the next step. Focus on loving your partner the best you can and hopefully, the rest will fall into place, even if it's not the relationship you envisioned having with your in-laws.

Celebrate the small wins

The experience of spending time with your partner's family could be an opportunity to practice patience and enjoy the smaller moments of connection, ease, and peace. Maybe you're able to have a decent conversation over lunch about a shared interest, or even simply an interest of theirs. Asking thoughtful, sincere questions about someone's interests can go a long way in building up a relationship that may have been rocky to start. Most people respond fairly well when others show curiosity about their hobbies or job.


Celebrate these small wins and it's possible that keeping up a positive mindset might introduce more opportunities to connect that you may not have been able to see before. Remember, your in-laws brought your partner into the world. And if you can't find much to celebrate when spending time with them, try to focus on this very special fact and know you'll be able to return to your own space shortly.