What To Do When Your Parents Like Your Partner More Than You

photographed by Erin Yamagata; produced by Julie Borowsky; produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez; modeled by Shaliqua Alleyne.
They crack jokes over dinner. They swap stories about all your little quirks. They look forward to visiting each other. For many people, having their parents and their partner get along swimmingly is sort of a holy grail scenario. But, for others, it can be kind of annoying.
If you find the rapport between your S.O. and parents off-putting, you aren't the only one — and, even though this absolutely a champagne problem to have, Esther Boykin, MFT, a marriage and family therapist, says that you shouldn't beat yourself if you feel weird about it. After all, your parents mean a lot to you and so does your partner, but you might be used to being the center of attention when you spend time with one or the other. So, seeing them hit it off without you can naturally make you feel a little jealous or even territorial.
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"It’s always important to pay attention to your feelings," Boykin says, though she's quick to add that you should ask yourself where those feelings are coming from. "It’s probably a pretty childlike part of you that just feels a little territorial about your parents or vice versa."
If you feel excluded as your partner continues to develop a relationship with your parents, do your best to step back and remember that, from where they're standing, this is nothing but a good thing — it's certainly better than the alternative. So, in order for things to change, you'll have to speak up.
"If you don’t tell them it’s bothering you, then they’re not going to know to be more mindful about keeping you included," Boykin explains. "Just be really upfront and really honest with both your partner and your parents." She adds that it doesn't hurt to take a few minutes alone to prepare what you want to say, "just to make sure that you’re approaching it from an adult, mature perspective — and not throwing a tantrum."
And don't forget to celebrate your partner's bond with your parents, especially if you have high hopes for this romantic relationship. Boykin recommends saying something like, "I'm so glad that you three are clicking," before speaking your peace. Above all, keep in mind that your partner and your parents all care about you and your feelings. They'll likely be more than happy to address your needs if you tell them you've been feeling left out.
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