How to Deal With Relatives You Hate

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:10
Do you have a family member who completely annoys you? While you can't pick your family or those within it, you can choose how you react and respond to difficult situations in your family. You probably can't skip out on family functions...
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Do you have a family member who completely annoys you? While you can’t pick your family or those within it, you can choose how you react and respond to difficult situations in your family. You probably can’t skip out on family functions and perhaps you even have great relationships with all other family members but this one. There are ways to handle the situations with family with more ease so that family functions can be less stressful and more enjoyable.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Handling Unavoidable Interactions

  1. Step 1 Think about how you want to behave.
    Before you spend time with this relative, take a few moments and decide how you want to behave.[1] Perhaps you and this relative have gotten into arguments in the past. Ask yourself what started these arguments and if there are ways to avoid getting into an argument this time.
    • You may be proud to be atheist, but your Aunt may truly believe that being atheist will land you in hell. It may be best to avoid talking about religious beliefs when around your Aunt.
  2. Step 2 Wait before you speak.
    Especially if you have strong negative feelings toward someone, don’t react quickly or speak without thinking. Take a breath before you speak. If you’re having a hard time holding back negative comments, gently excuse yourself.
    • Say, “Excuse me. I’m going to go use the bathroom” or “I’m going to see if any help is needed in the kitchen.”
  3. Step 3 Enlist support.
    [2] If you have a hard time getting along with a relative, let someone in your family know (like a spouse/partner or sibling) that you’d like to minimize your interactions with this person. That way, if you get cornered into a discussion or argument you want to leave, you can signal for a rescue.
    • You can agree on a sign ahead of time if you may need a rescue at a family function. For instance, you can make eye contact and give a hand signal that means, “Please help me escape this situation!”
  4. Step 4 Enjoy yourself.
    You don’t have to dread going to family functions because of a family member. Put your focus on spending time with the family you enjoy and doing activities you find fun. Even if the family member you hate is in the room, focus on other things. If you find yourself in a conversation with this relative, find a distraction to help you get through the interaction (like playing with the dog).
    • If you fear sitting next to the relative during meals, suggest making name cards and sitting far from this person.
  5. Step 5 Keep the relative occupied.
    One way to deal with a difficult relative is to give this person a job or a task at family gatherings. If a meal is being made, ask the relative to chop onions or set the table, and let him or her do it the way he or she wants.[3] That way, the relative will feel like he or she is making a contribution, and will be out of the way for a bit.
    • Find ways to include this relative yet also keep this person busy.
  6. Step 6 Use humor.
    Especially if the situation is tense or uncomfortable, you can use humor to disarm difficult behavior and bring some lightness to the situation.[4] Make a casual comment that shows you aren’t taking yourself or the situation too seriously.
    • If your grandmother keeps telling you to put on a sweater, say, “I should go grab a sweater for the cat, too; I wouldn’t want her to be cold, either!”
  7. Step 7 Have an exit plan.
    If you fear interactions with this relative, come prepared to the event with an exit plan of why you need to leave. You may have a friend call you (or you call a friend) with an “emergency”, or you can say the house alarm system is going off, or that your pet is ill. Whatever you find plausible, arm yourself with a potential excuse if you’re feeling uncomfortable or angry with your relative.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Drawing Healthy Boundaries

  1. Step 1 Dodge recurring heated debates.
    If your uncle loves to bring up politics but you’d rather not discuss it, don’t engage the conversation.[5] Make an effort not to bring up politics when in this family setting. Even if your uncle brings it up and tries to egg you on, it’s up to you how you respond. This goes for competing sports teams, universities, or cousin rivalries.
    • Say, “We can agree to disagree and leave it at that” or “I’d really rather not get into that here and I’d prefer to have a great family gathering without this argument again.”
  2. Step 2 Pick your battles.
    [6] Your cousin may say something really offensive that you immediately want to fire back on or correct, but take a breath and decide whether it’s worth engaging or not. If your grandfather says something offensive, ask yourself whether your comment will alter his perception or if it will spark a debate.
    • Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and say, “You’re entitled to your opinion" and move on. Live and let live.
  3. Step 3 Resolve conflicts.
    If you can’t stand your relative due to a conflict, see if you can resolve the conflict between you and your relative. You may need to find time to sit down, be honest with each other, and clear the air. When approaching your relative, be kind, compassionate, and non-defensive.
    • The sooner you resolve conflicts, the less resentment will build up.
    • Be willing to forgive. You don’t have to ignore the situation or pretend it didn’t happen, but learn to forgive so that you can release the hurt in pain from within yourself.
  4. Step 4 Say “no”.
    [7] If you have a relative that seems to want things from you (money, free labor, a place to stay, etc.), don’t be afraid to say no. Remember that you have the right to say “no”. If you want to consider things before you immediately say “yes”, you also have the right to wait and think things over before you agree to anything.
    • You don’t have to justify your response or give an excuse. Just say, “I’m sorry, I’m unable to do that.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
  5. Step 5 Avoid passive aggressive manipulation.
    Perhaps your difficulties arise because of certain passive aggressive remarks from your relative comparing you to other grandchildren or nieces and nephews (“Well, Jason got into the university but you did great going to community college”). You may even feel manipulated by your relative by passive aggressive remarks or actions. If your relative is passive aggressive toward you, keep your distance as much as possible and don’t interact more than you have to; remember that it’s not about you and it’s not personal.[8]
    • If you feel like you are being manipulated, find an exit strategy from the conversation (“I’m going to see if any help is needed in the kitchen” or “I’m going to go play with my nephews, I haven’t seen them for so long!”). Don’t engage the conversation.
  6. Step 6 Uphold your family rules.
    If you struggle to enforce family boundaries with relatives, firmly let them know that family rules apply at all times. If you don’t like how a relative treats your child (like bossing the child around or feeding foods that are unhealthy), let this relative know that the behavior goes against family rules, and family rules are enforced in and outside the home.
    • Be upfront and matter-of-fact when discussing this with your relative. Say, “Allison isn’t allowed to play that game at home, and she’s not allowed to play it here, either.”
  7. Step 7 Handle delicate situations.
    If a relative has done something unforgivable, enforce whatever boundaries allow you to feel safe. If that means not inviting this relative to family functions, fully avoiding him or her, or letting the family know that relationship is severed is up to you. Put the focus on feeling safe, and not on punishing the family member.
    • Use your best judgment in telling other family members the situation. Keep in mind that while you feel the situation is unforgivable, your family may not feel the same way and continue a relationship with this family member.
    • While you may want your distance from your family member for your safety, realize that estrangement can be really hurtful, both to you and your family members.[9]
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Working Through Your Feelings of Hatred

  1. Step 1 Take care of yourself.
    If you know you’ll be spending the day with a relative you dislike, make sure you come into the situation as prepared as possible. If this person brings out an aggressive or testy side of you, make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before. If you’re feeling tired and grumpy at the family Christmas party, leave early. And make sure you’ve eaten, too: if your blood sugar is stable, you’re less likely to become angry or aggressive.[10]
  2. Step 2 Remember it’s not about you.
    If someone belittles you, talks down to you, or says mean things to you, it’s important to remember that this is more a reflection of the person than it is of you. Stand firm and remember who you are. Do your best to tune out the words, and remind yourself, “This is not about me. This is my aunt’s projection.”
    • People are often mean because they have their own personal issues they are dealing with. This can happen when people have low self esteem, anger issues, or stress. Have compassion for your relative; pray that he or she finds hope one day.
    • Other people might act a certain way and truly believe it is okay and normal. This can be caused by a number of factors, but one example might be a person who lets their competitive and cutthroat business style seep into their personal life.
    • Some individuals simply don't have the biological tools needed to feel empathy. This may be brought about by genetic differences or by the way someone was brought up (i.e., the environment they grew up in).[11]
  3. Step 3 Realize you can’t change this person.
    There’s likely nothing you can do to change the person whom you don’t get along. You may have a fantasy of a happy family celebrating every holiday together, and when this relative comes, it crushes that fantasy. It’s up to you to drop this fantasy and accept that this is the family you have, and that fantasy is nothing more than a happy and nice thought that’s not based in reality.[12]
  4. Step 4 Accept your relative.
    Instead of approaching this relative in judgment and disgust, practice being accepting and empathic. Listen when your relative talks and try to understand this person’s point of view.[13]
    • Practice loving compassion for this person. Take a deep breath and look at your relative. Then think, “I see you, and I see that you suffer and are in pain. I don’t understand your pain, but I see that it is there and I accept that it affects me for the time being.”[14]
  5. Step 5 Find reasons to be grateful.
    [15] While you may dread family gatherings specifically because you hate having to spend time with difficult relatives, undoubtedly you can find something that you can look forward to or feel grateful for in meeting with your family. Maybe you’re excited to see your nieces and nephews, or happy you get to cook (or not cook).
    • Find things to be grateful for even before you arrive to the family function. That way you can go into the situation already feeling thankful.
  6. Step 6 See a therapist.
    If you have a hard time moving past the hurt and pain the relative has caused, you may benefit from therapy. A therapist can help you work through feelings, find coping mechanisms, see things from a different perspective, and help you work through underlying feelings of depression, anxiety, or other diagnoses.[16]
    • You may also consider family therapy if you wish to engage your relative in therapy with you. While it may be difficult, it can help you confront difficult topics and discuss them with your relative.
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Survive Family Drama with this Expert Series

Download Articles
Sometimes it's hard to avoid family drama, but there is a lot you can do to prevent it from ruining your day. We've put together this expert series with our best tips for preventing, mitigating, and avoiding family drama.
1 - Deal With Annoying Relatives
Deal With Annoying Relatives
2 - Deal With Relatives You Hate
Deal With Relatives You Hate
3 - Cope With Annoying Grandparents
Cope With Annoying Grandparents
4 - Deal With a Rude Family Member
Deal With a Rude Family Member
5 - Put Up with an Annoying Cousin
Put Up with an Annoying Cousin
6 - Deal With Annoying Parents
Deal With Annoying Parents
Download Articles

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