My family badmouths my BF

It’s no wonder your beau doesn’t feel welcome at holiday festivities.

But our elder points out that it’s up to you to stop the trash talk. Read on for her “how-to” pointers.

Dear EWC:

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a long while and my family will not accept him. They make wild accusations about how he’s abusing me and he doesn’t work. He isn’t abusive and he’s had a job our entire relationship. And they bring these things up EVERY TIME I come around to visit.

On the flip side, I tell my boyfriend all of these things that they say. He’s like my best friend and I tell him everything. Now he doesn’t feel welcome at any of my family’s holiday festivities and refuses to go to a place where people talk about him the way they do. I don’t blame him; I just don’t know what to do.

My relationship isn’t going anywhere. And if I go to the festivities alone, they will talk about him more and more. It’s causing me an immense amount of stress and anxiety. Please help. Thank you.

Aondreaa replies:

Seems to me a best friend would be taking action to protect the partner, rather than allowing the bad talk to continue and then relaying all the negatives to the victim. How hurtful! If you truly love your boyfriend, then you need to stand up for him when your family starts the badmouth routine.

Write up some strong verbal comebacks and practice them so you will be ready for the next go-round. Be forceful and make it clear that you will not listen (sit still for, be present) when these remarks are made. Then act on your statement. It may require you to physically leave, difficult though that will feel.

You cannot stop your family from saying things when you are not present, but for you to sit through another minute sends a double message to them that at some level you are in agreement with their opinion and have no objection to hearing all this. You need to change the ground rules. And you can.

If your boyfriend is a person you want to continue to be with, you will not attend functions without him. Once he and your family realize that you will not sit still for their bad behavior, the situation will change, I’m betting!

I am reminded of a time early in my marriage when I attended a large family gathering at my husband’s relatives’ house, and one of them began a racist tirade. I immediately called him on it, he choked back his next words, and a hush fell over the entire clan. From that moment on, mouths have been guarded, even though I’m sure their attitudes are unchanged. It was as if a circle of decency surrounded me, and previously thoughtless comments were given second thoughts! I still feel good about it!

You were wondering what to do. That’s it! Raise your voice. Leave, if necessary. Do not resort to retaliatory name-calling or argumentation. Rehearse your lines! Go for it! The holiday festivities offer a perfect opportunity to carry out your plan. There will be lots of ears to hear and eyes to see. Your strength will be witnessed by many rather than relayed on the family grapevine! Be ready to accept apologies when offered.
All the best to you and your boyfriend!


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