Our near and dear ones are often extremely near to us, and not at all dear to us: Relatives!
Indian families run on the idea of maintaining relations with every and any relative, just for that one day, if we ever need them. As much as socializing and maintaining relationships is how you live in a society, maintaining cordial relationships with ‘relatives’ often comes with a cost, a cost that invades privacy, questions each and every decision you make, scrutinizes every step of your life, and never lets you feel alone. One can easily label such behaviors as toxic, as they are extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable for people to handle.
Here are a few traits to look for before giving all the relatives another tag than just being a relative!
How to Identify and Deal With Toxic Relatives
1. They don’t really understand the difference between giving advice and an unsolicited opinion Did I ask you to pinpoint our acne scars in front of my mother., who anyway sees me each day?
2. Confidentiality as a concept doesn’t really exist for them! If you want everybody to know about your new boyfriend, just go around for a walk in your relatives area and watch the news spread!
3. They would always want to be in your good books, except they wouldn’t do any good, rather they’d only talk filth, and always remain as the odd one out, the perfect one!
4. You’d always feel as if you’re in a cold war with them, where sarcasm is layered in each word that you might hear.
5. You can never feel alone around them, because your business is everybody’s business!
6. Maintaining boundaries and respecting personal space is one skill that might not ever be able to learn. Tell them that you’re on a call with your friend from college, and they’d turn a blind eye to your need of having some privacy, they’d rather be the ears to the walls!
7. Your happiness is not their happiness, please note. They might ask you everything about your outfit, but not compliment at all; remember, they aren’t shy to compliment you, they are just too jealous to express!
8. Being around them scares you, and you feel threatened.
9. They tend to play blame games, by making you feel guilty for what you may have done.
…and the list goes on and on.
There may be a variety of other verbal/non verbal behaviours that you may identify as toxic, as they may be affecting your physical and/or emotional well being.
As much as you can identify these behaviours, taking an action against the same becomes a challenge, due to the excessive proximity Indian families tend to have with relatives in general.
TOXIC Behaviours identified, what next?
As much as it is important to do something with whatever you have been feeling and been through, it is also important to realize it is the same, and neither all of us are in similar situations. So, here’s what you can do to feel a tad bit better against your toxic relatives:
Sometimes before cutting all ties, it might be even helpful to call out their toxicity, if in case you see a slight potential for them to acknowledge, accept and change, or even stop at all.
If avoiding them physically is not possible for whatever reasons, try practicing ‘detached contact’, that is, setting an emotional boundary, where you listen from ear and throw what you just heard from another ear, to stay least bothered, and let go of things!
The most direct way to stay away from them is having a ‘no policy’, so when as soon as they might come up to you to criticize you about wearing white on an auspicious function, you just tell them a NO, and stop them there and then!
Unfortunately, it is not always our relatives, but sometimes our immediate family as well who we identify as being toxic. It then becomes extremely difficult to address such issues and come on terms with them. Hence, growing up in such an environment can contribute to one’s emotional, interpersonal, and mental health challenges.
In such cases, it is always advisable to seek help from professionals, in order to have a secured relationship with someone where you are able to express your discomfort with other people around you.
At Now&Me, we wouldn’t judge you like your relatives and will respect you personal space, so feel free to join our community and rant about everything and anything that you ever heard from your relatives!
1. How do I differentiate if my relatives are being concerned for me, or they’re criticizing me and judging me?
There’s a very thin line in saying something out of concern, and saying something to genuinely criticize the other person. Honestly, most of the time the tone is very self explanatory, even though some people may come off to be naturally harsh or even outspoken, where in fact they are not and are only being concerned. Hence, your dynamics, along with your understanding of them would really help you identify between the two. Also, always remember that it’s not everybody’s place to be concerned for you all the time, sometimes people really just need to respect your boundaries.
2. What if I call them out and they disagree with everything that they might have said/done?
You wish that there was a way to prove things, and sometimes there are proofs to be shown. Therefore, it is subjective, and it totally depends on you whether you’d want to prove their wrong doing to everybody, and if you can’t then you understand that you did all you could in your capacity, and you can't really change people, but rather empower others around you to speak for themselves, and not go through the shame and embarrassment for having relatives.
3. Should you always entirely cut off toxic family members?
Only if you want! Many times people find it difficult to do so, as their family always give more emphasis to family relations, than what you may be feeling, and sometimes you yourself are also equally attached but are aware of their maladaptive patterns. Therefore, it depends on you and the situation you’re in, but maintaining a good amount of distance is always advised!