Family: a societal term used to refer to a group of individuals connected by DNA, marriage and/or co-residency. No matter how you define it, the bonds of kinship are strong and, in an age where societal norms have expanded on what constitutes family, everyone forms an alliance of sorts, whether that be with parents, grandparents, siblings or children. In whatever format your family comes, they have a huge impact on your dating life, both for the positive and the negative.
Having a loving and supportive family gives you the confidence to go out into the dating world knowing your worth. Here is a group of people who love you for all your quirks and faults and as a result solidifies the feeling that you’re lovable. This sense of self-worth is imperative to finding a successful, healthy and happy romantic relationship. This is because it helps you seek a partner who will truly love you for who you are, whilst preventing you from accepting a relationship that falls outside the parameters of a healthy relationship. Of course, this sense of self can be found through other means and, in most cases, works in partnership with family, but with family you have a safety net, extra guidance and often a push to follow your heart.
Family allegiances only become problematic if one person in a new relationship has a stronger commitment to their family of origin than the other or their family don’t understand boundaries. If a couple are continually spending time with one person’s family and not the other – should both partners want to spend more time with their own family - then this can create an imbalance in the relationship. This is particularly the case if neither of the couple has children and are in the early stages of moving on from their childhood families. Some may still seek to fulfil their commitments to their family without prioritising the creation of a new one with their partner. That’s not to say that someone cannot be an addition to your family - just ensure you become an addition to theirs, whilst moving forward with making your own family unit with your partner.
This is done by setting boundaries with your family of origin, creating an understanding that your partner is a priority to you and should be accepted into your family under the umbrella of love they show to you. Even if your family doesn’t grow to love the person you’ve chosen to be with, there still needs to be a level of respect shown from both sides. This is often the case when you move into a new relationship and there are children involved. Again, boundaries need to be established, in which both relationships, the one with your child and your new partner, are made a priority. Clear communication amongst all parties will eliminate a sense of ‘he said, she said’ and will increase a sense of togetherness. Of course, there’ll be times where children need to take precedence but that doesn’t diminish the importance of your partner and shouldn’t be expressed as such.
It’s imperative that families see new partners as an addition, as opposed to a hindrance, and remain open and supportive. Clear communication, boundaries and understanding will build family allegiances and a healthy romantic relationship and help all involved to move forward.