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I have manipulative or rude family members. I love them, but how can I keep my distance or create boundaries when they are like that?

17 Answers
Last Updated: 08/10/2020 at 1:49am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Melissa Hudson, MS Ed, PhD(c), LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

I work with clients of diverse backgrounds on a multitude of concerns. My approach is, at times, directive, yet always curious, nonjudgmental, collaborative, and validating.

Top Rated Answers
Anonymous
May 6th, 2015 4:34pm
Right in my wheelhouse! ;) Emotionally, verbally abusive and very manipulative parents. The "Pickle68" checkoff sheet: Prepare your mind for "emotional battle": -Observe how they treat everyone else in your life. Except when they are trying to get people to bully you like they are, they are usually talking down about others. Don't take it personally; they usually don't have much nice to say about anyone; It's their nature....which brings me to our next item: -These people you speak of are the most insecure people in the world The only joy they have is to make sure people feel as bad or worse than they do. Maybe their parents or elders treated them the same way. Maybe their spouse dominates them in a manipulative way and they are acting out of fear. -Never get in a battle of wits. They will pull you down to their level and then beat you with experience . Just avoid, deflect, defer, ignore, and make every effort to understand THEIR lack of confidence and overall lack of self confidence. Sometimes if there is someone else that is being treated in a similar fashion, you can talk to them about how much it hurts and how no one should be that rude. FINALLY: -If you are a human being and have air in your lungs, you are required to love and show compassion for the people around you but MORE IMPORTANTLY, you are worthy of that same treatment. If all else fails, ensure you always are being treated respectfully. We are allowed to fail, screw up, etc, and to be sure there are times when we must make efforts to make up for past shortcomings, but that's not a reason to be verbally or emotionally abused.
Giselle7
July 13th, 2015 2:23pm
It is a difficult situation when you find yourself stuck in a dilemma between hating them and loving them.The best solution is to stay on neutral ground.Even if they mistreat you, respond selectively.Speak out loud your opinion only when it is absolutely necessary and try to ignore their hurtful behaviour at all other times
lightPetrichor34
November 8th, 2014 9:57pm
You can always try approaching them (when you are both relatively calm) to talk about it, but sometimes people just can't be talked to, especially if they're manipulative or rude. Sometimes they don't realize they're being this way, but sometimes they might just be difficult. If the latter is the case, try to remove yourself as much as possible without being direct about it. Quietly keep your distance or calmly say, when harsh topics come up or things were said, that you aren't ok with being talked to like that, or even just remove yourself.
PoliteOcean
August 31st, 2015 4:28am
You can try talking to them. Telling them how you feel. If you feel that they are not respectable toward you after talking with them, or if you feel you aren't able to talk them at all, then trying just walking away from the situation if they make you feel uncomfortable.
Belle91
September 22nd, 2014 5:34pm
Sometimes it takes being bluntly open and honest with the people in your life and telling them how they make you feel. I know it can be hard because you deeply care for them, but sometimes you need to put your own needs first and stop protecting the feelings of others, especially when your feelings end up getting hurt.
rayofhope11
November 20th, 2014 7:21am
We have to recognize that we are all different and have our own struggles. Sometime it's healthy to take a step back and focus on what is important and best for you!
KevinLewis
December 21st, 2014 4:48pm
I believe you should simply create a form of a passive relationship with these family members. Keep in touch with them occasionally while still keeping a very firm distance. You can do this by simply only communicating with them set times of your choice. Whether you chose to only communicate with them once a week or even twice within a month for example. In this sense you are still showing attention to the family member while still being safe and clear of the possibility of manipulation or rude behavior.
softWind16
December 24th, 2014 3:41pm
Try distancing yourself from them when they are acting like that and then speak to them about how you feel later.
littlefawn93
December 31st, 2014 4:38am
It's very hard to establish boundaries with family. Very often, family members feel entitled to your body, your time, and your affection simply because they're family. It's important to keep yourself safe, first and foremost, and sometimes, that unfortunately means doing things in the short run you don't want to do to appease them and get them to leave you alone quickly. But you should also try as best you can to establish your independence in whatever way you can, and always know that your body is yours and yours alone, and your first priority should always be you.
WonderlandRabbit
July 13th, 2015 8:47pm
Well it's important that they know that their behavior is damaging towards you If they already know this and still do not stop, perhaps you can excuse yourself from situations where this might happen
chetniks
October 4th, 2014 6:55pm
Most important thing is perspective you are looking from.As you sad you love them, they are your family, but think from the perspective of good, what they want to accomplish, maybe that is a good think in the end and that is the way they think is the best way to accomplish that, I think you should notice them when they do that and consider if that's what they want to accomplish good or bad, if it is bad throw that away and don't accept that if it is good accept and do that and show them a way to get that without being rude or manipulative
Uniqueg
October 23rd, 2014 9:45pm
Be firm with your boundaries, sometimes family members can be overbearing but there still family, but if it's really serious you can love them from a distance!
blackrabbit
October 28th, 2014 6:27pm
There are two ways about it when it comes to family. I would try to be direct first. You tell them how it makes you feel when they say/do certain things and you request them politely to try not do it in the future and give you permission to remind them to do so. If that is not an option I'd still tell them clearly that you don't agree with their opinion/way of doing things and you still love them but please allow you to be yourself and do what you see fit.
Anonymous
October 29th, 2014 8:27pm
There is a such thing of saying what you feel while being respectful and nice, it's all about your delivery. It's okay to let people know how you feel even if it is a family member.
Anonymous
June 7th, 2015 9:39pm
Make poot sounds as they're are being rude or manipulative while talking it will possibly course them to notice what they are doing which is simply talking pooh!
dancingTurtle59
November 17th, 2015 9:39am
not all people will like us and people are entitled to there own options try to b understanding and give them respect to do anything else would make us just like them
Anonymous
August 10th, 2020 1:49am
I totally understand this confusing feeling of loving the family but also wanting to leave them. From my own experiences, I will say to try to communicate with them about the problem even though it might be very difficult to address it. It is normal that, at first, they don’t want to listen or don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate. It might take a bit of time for them to start to understand but it is always a good start to solve the origins of the problem then running away or hiding from it. Then, you can proceed to explain what would you like them to change or modify by telling your reasons. Finally, you can ask them what do they think about your suggestions: what and why do they approve or disapprove, what are their reasons behind those behaviors, etc.