“How Can I Improve My Relationship With My Boyfriend’s Family?”

My boyfriend’s family was so close to his former fiancée. Will they ever accept me?

The TrèsSugar community hosts a woman’s question about forging stronger bonds with her partner’s family of origin.

This question is from a Group Therapy post in the TrèsSugar community. Add your advice in the comments!

I’m in a happy, healthy and loving relationship with my boyfriend of a year and a half. We’re both in our late 20s. Things are generally going great, but there is one thing that is really bugging me—both of his older sisters consistently give me the cold shoulder. They aren’t rude, they just seem very disinterested, like they don’t take me or our relationship very seriously. I’m pretty sure it largely has to do with the fact that my boyfriend was previously engaged to a girl he grew up with. She called off the wedding, but they had both been unhappy for quite some time so it was all for the best. He and I met and started dating a few months after they broke up and fell for each other really quickly. I’ve never once felt like his rebound—the love between us is very real and his friends (and our mutual friends) told me from early on that they had never seen him happier. But when I’m around his sisters my insecurities start to get the best of me—I start to feel uncomfortable and awkward and not very at home with his family.

He and his ex were together for seven years. She was close to his family. In no way did I expect to just step right into those shoes, and I feel like I’ve been very understanding of the situation and the fact that they might have been unsure about him being in another relationship at the start. But one and a half years in, I’m starting to get frustrated at the less than warm welcome. I get along great with his mom and step-dad, and his little nephew adores me. My family has been really warm and welcoming to him, my sister and her husband make every effort to include him and get to know him better. I’ve brought it up with my boyfriend and he said he never really though about it until I said something, but that he agreed with my analysis that they just seem somewhat disinterested. He said they had never really asked about me (but being a guy he had never given it a second thought) and that he thought they probably just didn’t trust him anymore when it came to relationships.

I get jealous when I see my friends and other family members who are close with their significant others’ families. I know it could be much worse—and I know in the grand scheme of relationship issues this isn’t a huge thing to complain about, but I’d love to find a way to make things better. Any advice?

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  1. As a dad with a married daughter, I’m gonna give you my 2 cents. I feel for ya in that you appear to think that you have to fill someone else’s shoes. As a dad, I hope that you move away from that way of thinking and bring in your own pair of shoes.

    The ex-fiancé obviously had a substantial history with the family (before being boyfriend/girlfriend) and that’s something, no matter what you do, you can’t replace nor should you try to. The sister that appears to give you a cold shoulder …. May not be because of you but instead her retaliation toward the brother that broke it off? “I’ll show MY brother … I won’t worm up to any girl he brings home.”

    Communication … ever think of talking to the family members?

    “Disinterested” …. Parents become fond of kids friends and if your boyfriend was engaged, I’m sure the parents view of the young lady was that of an expectation that she be part of the family. Although he broke it off, parents may be disappointed. I know that had my daughter broke off her engagement, my wife would have been highly disappointed. Heck, she started planning her wedding as soon as she was born …. It’s a dream that would have been dashed. I would have been greatly disappointed in that she dated him through high school and we got to know him really well as one of the kids “friends.” I really like the guy.

    As a parent, although I care for the young ladies my son dates, I don’t move into that “interested” mode unless there is a commitment. But even at that, I would be cautious because ya just don’t know what may happen with the relationship. Daughter/son in laws are very much part of the family. A lot of dynamics in these relationships.

    I stick with “communicate” with them and let them know how you feel. Personally, as a dad, I would appreciate and admire you for confronting the situation.

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