When you’re in a relationship, you share many aspects of your lives – friendships, goals, future plans, and family. However, sometimes what happens in families should not be shared with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Long-standing conflicts and past family drama only grow more intense and destructive when more people are involved. Setting up boundaries to protect your relationship are important.
Sometimes creating boundaries is easier said than done. Someone who loves you can see how family drama is affecting you. When they see you upset, they naturally want to protect you by getting involved. Although this is a noble effort on their part, it’s important to persist in creating boundaries so the information doesn’t get distorted and blown out of proportion. Establishing the following four suggestions can help strengthen your relationship and minimize the effects of family drama.
1. Be direct and set up rules for communication. Drama is less likely if you and your partner set up ground rules regarding social media, texting, and other forms of communicating. Unless you’re married, your partner should let you be the primary communicator and offer you support when you’re talking in private. Toxic families are skilled at putting non-family members in the middle of things so be upfront with each other.
2. Enlist your partner as a sounding board. When someone loves you, they tend to want to fix problems that are causing you anguish. Standing idly by makes them feel helpless. Encouraging your partner to simply listen can be a helpful way to resolve a family issue and helps them feel included and useful. Being listened to without judgment will also help your mental health while minimizing, rather than inflating, drama.
3. Keep firm boundaries with your family. Well-meaning partners can extend kindness to family members, which is used by family members who don’t respect boundaries. Being direct and firm with what is and isn’t allowed in regard to your personal relationship helps avoid bullying, taking sides, and other manipulative tactics.
4. Seek mental health professionals when necessary. Your partner is not your therapist. Although they want to support you, it’s unfair to put them in the middle of family drama. If your family has long standing issues that go on from year to year, it’s best to get support from a mental health professional. With a counselor’s support, you will make wiser choices in how your respond and feel more confident attending family events in the future.
There is no such thing as a perfect family. If your family is drawn to drama, it’s important you protect yourself and the person who shares your life. Keeping your loved one’s out of your family drama means you always have a safe refuge you can go home to after family events. Your family may never change, but you can change and that changes everything.