Family Life

We Treat Strangers Better than Family

Have you noticed that we often treat complete strangers better than our own family? It isn’t our intention to treat our loved ones in such a negative way; as a matter of fact, we find ourselves feeling really guilty when we realize how we have treated our loved ones. After all, it isn’t like we love and care for these strangers more than our own family or that we have grown to detest everything we once loved about them. It isn’t our intention to hurt them, but that doesn’t mean anything when people are getting hurt. It is important to identify these issues, what is causing them, and come up with solutions to fix them. 

Unless you just dislike your family, you aren’t just treating your loved ones horribly on purpose. The things you loved about them, you always will. With time, the things that you don’t really care for become highlighted in your eyes. Your patience for these dislikes diminishes to the point where you snap at the slightest appearance of these negative qualities. 

With strangers, you are more inclined to show off your “good side.” There is a common belief that one never really truly knows a person’s character until they see them interact on a personal level with close family and friends. Interactions with strangers are surface level, and we try our best to only show the best side of ourselves. When it comes to our friends and family, they get to experience a much deeper sense of who you are, the good and especially the bad. 

This isn’t a testament of how strong of a relationship you have with these loved ones. As a matter of fact, it really shows just how comfortable you truly are with them. This comfort can lower your “social expectations” shield that tells you to always put your best foot forward in all situations. After a long day of holding this shield up, once home in the presence of your family, you don’t feel the need to pretend anymore. When this happens, this sometimes means that you end up treating your loved ones worse than you would a stranger. 

We don’t want to treat our loved ones like this for an extended period of time. It could severely damage a relationship to the point that it is irreparable. There are plenty of things that we can do that will help us better realize when we are treating our family in an excessively mean way:

1. The majority of outbursts happen as a result of poor communication. When you fail to effectively communicate your feelings and frustrations, you will inevitably reach your limit. The simplest negative quality will cause an outburst, and from that outburst comes an argument. You have to be willing to talk about difficult things, and nothing is more difficult and uncomfortable than discussing why you’ve been treating them so horribly. A simple apology and reminder of how much you love them goes a long way. Explain to them what made you tick and, hopefully, going forward, everyone will be able to better handle these situations.

2. This may sound entirely morbid, but imagine the loss of your loved one. Take your life as it is now and subtract them out of it entirely. You will feel a sense of gratitude for them once you begin to imagine a life without them. Write out a list of things that you love about them, imagine all of the things that they do for you, then take it all away. All of a sudden, you will feel a sense of emptiness that makes you appreciate your loved ones so much more. 

3. You should spend time with your family while in the company of others. When in public, you generally try to put your best foot forward. You are generally much more polite and patient toward everyone. When we are in this position where we are socially expected to behave more positively, so are our loved ones. This can help us to see the “better sides” of our family members, thus reminding us of all of the good things that we love about them. 

4. One final thing that you can do is to take a break from your loved ones when things get to be too much. This does not mean totally distancing yourself from your family. This isn’t for you to fill up on tolerance again so that you can come back and tolerate them for a set period of time before having to go refill again. This time is meant to help you find new perspectives of your family. By getting out in the world and experiencing life with different people, you are able to gain a fresh perspective on your life and especially of your family. You come back much more appreciative of them for both their good and bad qualities. ■

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