LIFE

14 Tips For Dealing With An Intrusive Family Member

by Desirée O

Having supportive people in your life can be a blessing.

If you’re lucky, they’ll be with you to celebrate the good times and help you get through the tough times. But when those around you start to meddle and interfere, it can create a circumstance that’s both awkward and stressful. While it might seem relatively easy to deal with a troublesome coworker or an aggressive acquaintance, it can be a little trickier to manage the situation when you’re related to the person who’s causing you grief.

That said, it’s not an unusual situation. Frankly, it’s such a universal issue that it makes for perfect fodder all throughout pop culture, from shows like Everybody Loves Raymond (remember Marie, Ray’s meddling mother who lived across the street?) to films like Crazy Rich Asians (Michelle Yeoh’s Eleanor Young is the icy queen of interference).

But the good news is, you can manage this. If you have a real-life relative who’s overstepping, check out these 14 tips for dealing with your intrusive family member.

1. Be Clear About Your Boundaries

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First, be honest with yourself about where you want to set your boundaries. Consider what you absolutely cannot accept and what you can compromise on and possibly put up with.

For instance, maybe you can deal with the occasional unannounced visit, but you absolutely won’t accept comments about your relationship(s). Then make sure that the people in your life (especially the intrusive ones) are aware of your boundaries.

2. Avoid Triggering Topics

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If there are certain issues that you and the problematic person can’t discuss without getting into a disagreement or areas that you really don’t want any advice on, then those are the subjects to avoid when you’re with that particular person. Once you’ve decided which topics are triggering, you’ll know which ones to stay away from.

3. Control the Conversation

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Even if you’ve decided to stay away from triggering topics, that doesn’t mean the other person won’t wade into choppy waters. That’s why it’s important for you to control the conversation so that you can veer away from sticky subjects and keep the conversation easy and breezy.

4. Stand Your Ground and Don’t Give In to Guilt Trips

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Once you’ve decided what your boundaries are and which triggering topics to avoid, be sure to stand your ground. Even when you experience a little (or a lot) of pushback and come up against the (inevitable?) guilt trip, it’s important to stick to your guns. If you don’t, intrusive people will know they can get what they want if they push you hard enough.

5. Call Them Out on Their Sense of Entitlement

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Unfortunately, there are some people who think they automatically have the right to dominate your time and stick their nose into your business. If people in your life are failing to stay in their lane, you might have to remind them of their place and call them out on their sense of entitlement.

6. Gather Support

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While you certainly don’t want to gang up on anyone, if someone else in your life is also dealing with the same intrusive family member, it can definitely help to have that person’s support. Whether you’re simply venting to each other or actually teaming up to come up with a plan to deal with the situation, it can be beneficial to have someone else on your side.

7. Limit Their Access to You on Social Media

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These days, it can be easier than ever to keep tabs on family members. But that can become a problem when you have an intrusive relative who uses access to your social media accounts to become even more meddlesome. If you have to, put those “mute” and “block” buttons to good use and limit what posts and/or accounts that person can see — and don’t feel bad about doing so.

8. Limit the Time You Talk on the Phone/Text/Visit

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Social media isn’t the only way a troublesome family member can intrude upon your life. If the relative is calling on the phone more than you’re comfortable with, texting too much, or stopping by more than you’d like, then be sure to limit how often you pick up the phone, text back, or answer the door. Remember: It’s totally fine to ignore that call/text/doorbell.

9. Be Picky About the Details You Share

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It’s totally understandable if you don’t want to hide or lie, but sometimes the best course of action is to simply omit information.

For instance, if there’s an event you don’t want the intrusive family member to show up at, then don’t tell that person about it. If you’re not ready for an opinion about your recent dating life, then don’t inform your relative that you’re in a relationship quite yet. Being picky about the details you share can prevent the problematic person from stepping into situations that will create conflict or encourage boundary crossing.

10. Give Yourself a Pep Talk Before and After an Interaction

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Remind yourself that their issues are their problem and you can’t let them affect your happiness, your confidence, and your overall life. Be sure to remind yourself of that before and after you have an interaction with intrusive family members to pep you up and help you shake it off later.

11. Try to Be Understanding

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Try to figure out if there’s a reason why they’re acting the way they are. While it might not give them an excuse, it might give you a little more perspective and even an insight or two on how to deal with the situation.

12. Give Yourself Permission to Be Rude

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Granted, we’d all love to handle icky situations calmly and politely, but sometimes you need to make a point by being rude. If the problematic person won’t listen to reason or accept any of your other attempts to manage the circumstance, then you might have to be blatant and downright rude while stating outright what you will no longer accept.

13. Be Prepared for Backlash

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No matter how you choose to deal with the situation, there’s a chance that the intrusive person won’t like that you’re trying to change things up or control the situation. That means that you might find yourself on the receiving end of backlash. And while that’s undeniably unpleasant, it’s also no reason to back down.

14. Laugh It Off

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If all else fails — and as long as the intrusive person’s actions come from a place of love and not malice, and the person’s actions are more of a nuisance than a major problem — then sometimes all you can do is laugh it off… and perhaps vent a little to your friends, siblings, or significant other.

Try not to dwell, and just move on.