When Your Partner's Friends And Family Don't Welcome You Into Their "Circle"

A reader asks:

"Why don't my partner's friends or certain family members welcome me, or treat me with respect?"

(This question should also always be followed by: "How does my partner deal with this?")

There are many reasons why your partner's friends or family members don't roll out the welcome mat, or even behave with courtesy and civility. As you may have guessed, most of those reasons are based in insecurity and a lack of maturity. Occasionally, however, there may be other reasons, such as their knowledge of your partner's history that you don't have; they may be distancing themselves from you because they know you're not going to be together next year, or that you'll probably run when your partner shows his or her controlling personality. They may be worried that you'll find out about a shameful secret, and so closing you out seems like a way to prevent that from happening.

Usually, though, the reasons people will treat their friend or family members' new partner with a lack of welcoming or a lack of respect is due to their own insecurity, jealousy, envy, or fear of losing control over the person. Someone who has had a secret attraction toward your partner may show it in their lack of civility and respect toward you. Those who have been using your partner for whatever reason will most likely be worried that you'll see through their agenda, and may try to turn your partner against you, or slander you in the larger group, trying to turn everyone against you. Those who are dependent on your partner in an unhealthy way may also be worried that your presence means they will be left behind or abandoned, and may also try to turn your partner against you, or turn the larger group against you. Anyone who has been keeping your partner as a "sidekick", or treating your partner with disrespect for any length of time is of course going to be immediately defensive toward you, fearing that you'll notice their behavior and true intention. Still others may fear that you "out shine" them personally in some way, and simply immediately envy you, and don't want you around~ they might base their identity on being the "cute one" in the group (whether anyone else knows that or not), and your "cuteness" threatens their ego. It might be that they're the "funny one", or the "smart one", or the "talented one", or the "responsible one", the "tough one", etc, etc, and they can't have you messing up their "specialness", because to them, it's their Position in the group. (Yes, there are lots of people who have identity issues like that.)

There isn't really that much more to it besides insecurity, arrogance, control, and a lack of good manners. If they're treating you with disrespect because they think you're not good for their friend or family member, then they're just showing bad manners and control issues. If they were truly concerned about their family member or friend, they would take it up with them, privately; not humiliate them and cause them more problems by treating you disrespectfully. Barring actual abuse, there's no valid reason to show a friend or family member's partner disrespect or rejection, it's very disrespectful to the friend or family member, and it's a blatant lack of basic civility and manners.

When the person in question is a child, then the way the adults handle the situation is extremely important, and will dictate most of the outcome, the future of the relationships. Of course a child is going to be leery of someone new entering their lives. Even if the child likes them individually, the fact that this new person is connected in a close relationship to someone who's important to them means that their own life is probably going to change, and they have no idea how. Also, if another adult is influencing the child to dislike the new partner, then the situation can escalate to dramatic proportions, causing the child serious stress. In a healthy family or friendship circle, all adults act as decent role models, demonstrating respectful, civil, and cooperative behavior, which make children feel safe and respond to favorably, learning how to deal with change, and learning how to treat others respectfully while maintaining their own personal healthy boundaries and identity.