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[Standard] Family Undermining

#1
Are you male or female:
Female

Is the person your question is about male or female:
Male

What is your age:
20

What are the ages of the other people involved:
23

What is your relationship status:
In Committed Relationship

What is the relationship status of the person you are dating:
In Committed Relationship

How long have the two of you been together:
5 months

Is this an online only relationship:
No

Have you ever had a date in person, face-to-face:
Yes

If this is a long distance relationship, how often do you physically see each other:
Almost daily, but both starting school, although only 30 minutes apart.

If you’re engaged, when is the wedding date:
Does not apply

If you’re engaged, but there is no wedding date set — why not:
Does not apply

Are you divorced or just separated:
Does not apply

How long have you been divorced:
Does not apply

How long has the person you are dating been divorced:
Does not apply

How many kids do you each have, and how old are they:
Does not apply

What country do you live in:
United States

Describe any cultural, religious or family influences impacting your relationship:
Families negativity

My bf's family seemed very supportive at first. Recently that changed. One brother recently said we are up each other's rear end too much, meaning we spend too much time together or care about each other too much. He also mentioned that he was changing (not at my request), stating he was decreasing his nicotine (vape) level. I did not take it personal, although he stated he didn't "like" me for those reasons. I don't really believe the reasons are about me. Every mention of my name to one of his female cousins (same age and are close) causes her to do an eye roll and say something snarky. It seems at every turn they are discouraging about our relationship with no concrete reasons except they don't think we will last or I am going to break his heart. He was heartbroken and went through a bout of depression when his last GF cheated on him. My family is the exact opposite, they have done nothing but support us. He has stood up to them own his own. The undermining mostly comes his female cousin as they are going to the same college. She states it is because she wants him to get out from under the thumb of his immediate family and grow up and make his own decisions. I just think she wants someone to party with and go out with. They both have mentioned multiple times how alike they are, but in reality they are not. He even mentions how her behavior can be very offensive. I feel she may be the most detrimental or influential. We have a very open, communicative relationship and we both know that we have to work together to make this work though these years.
My question: Is there a way to get them to stop? I fear the constant undermining will negatively affect our relationship. I feel as though he will eventually end it because he won't be able to handle the stress from his family. I would never ask him to alienate any of them either.

Re: [Standard] Family Undermining

#2
The best way to get them to stop undermining your relationship is to not try to get them to stop. ;) In other words....You can't control them. And if you try to, you'll be miserable and will probably fail. But, what you can control is you! :) So when they do their thing, and act out, take a different tact. Kill them with kindness. Or, find your sense of humor. Or, ignore them. Spend less time with them. And that's just for starters. What you're doing has led you down this path. If you continue what you're doing, expect more of the same, but if you change your own behavior, there's a much better chance they'll change theirs.

You haven't mentioned your boyfriend's feelings about this undermining behavior by his family. If it doesn't affect him or bother him, then maybe the two of you can present a united front and just let go of the negativity. But if you're worried that he's less into you as a result of his family's behavior, and they are successful in influencing him, this becomes more about the two of you, and not so much his family. Strengthen what works between the two of you, and play to your strengths in the relationship. Also, be forgiving and kind with his family, when you can. If he feels that you are trying to reach out and make things work, then it will be harder for him to turn on you. But if you play into their dynamic and fight back or try to force them to see things your way, the problems will escalate.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need more help.
April Masini is a relationship and etiquette expert, author of 4 books and the #1 relationship advice forum, blue-chip corporate spokesperson and preferred go-to source for the world’s most prominent media and news outlets.
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