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michelle15650's avatar

When do you walk away from a family relationship?

Asked by michelle15650 (78points) 1 week ago

For the last 12 years, I have had a volatile relationship with my niece. I have apologized for hurting her feelings, and have made many concessions to repair the relationship. As we were both at fault for the misunderstanding, I am the only one to apologize. I solely invest the energy into trying to repair and maintain the relationship (inviting to family events, sending holiday cards, gifts to her children, etc), in time she comes around and things appear to be on track, although one-sided. She never includes us in her family life, invites us over, etc.

Then I will say something that “triggers” her and we are back to the initial conflict. She will say “well… you did X, or didn’t do Y”...and I ask her how long will I be blamed for something that happened 12 years ago, and that I’ve apologized for?

She has 2 young children who I barely know and is expecting her third child. I’d like to be involved in their lives, although limited, but am realizing my niece might not ever forgive me, and that’s ok. If so, I just need to move on and stop trying.

Any advice?

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11 Answers

kritiper's avatar

When you can’t win for losing. You don’t need the stress.

janbb's avatar

I’m in the same situation with one of my children. It feels like Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football. He holds it out and then whips it away and I am not allowed any contact with my grandsons.

I found it hard to totally give up on the relationship so I have no great advice but I empathize with your pain.

Welcome to Fluther!

KNOWITALL's avatar

I had this exact relationship with my auntie. We just never clicked and her hippie beliefs, though often admirable, conflicted with my beliefs.
To be very honest, I wish she would have given me space instead of trying to force me to love her. Her shrink told her to stop if I wasn’t interested finally.
After she passed away suddenly two years ago, I do have regrets.
So if your niece isn’t interested, just let it go for your own mental health.

canidmajor's avatar

There is a site I am familiar with where familial issues like this are discussed and there are resources. The people are anonymous and kind. I highly recommend it.

Smashley's avatar

Conflict that is inexplicable is often rooted in unresolved trauma. One party tries but can never get through, and the other lies or deflects to avoid the consequences of help.

You don’t ever give up, but you don’t have to make it your life’s mission to fix them either, because it’s already theirs.

zenvelo's avatar

People in recovery view this as “keeping your side of the street clean”. You do what you can to resolve the situation, but you cannot force anyone to accept your amends or apologies.

Thus, you keep your part in good working order, but don’t get sucked into your neice’s drama. You have other relations that you share with her: Keep those relations healthy, and stay silent on the neice’s behavior. Don’t avoid the neice, but don’t reach out to her anymore. Let it be known in the family that she is always welcome.

But if you are in her presence be cordial but do not initiate a conversation. And if she gives you grief in front of other people, just respond with, “this is not the time or place” and walk away.

Where are her parents in this drama?

JLeslie's avatar

It sounds like you have tried to make things better and genuinely want a relationship.

I’m sorry this dynamic with her exists.

I think send her children the gifts for birthdays and holidays and don’t put any effort into trying to repair things with your niece. She wants to hate you for whatever reason. You will likely never say things in the absolutely perfect way she seems to need. Invite her to family functions or things that are convenient for you if you feel like it, but don’t go out of your way in any shape or form. I think you should take the power back. She enjoys feeling more powerful probably, and being angry at you makes her feel better about herself.

She is holding a grudge and being mean, and I say get fed up!! Switch from being hurt to being indifferent. Who wants to love someone who can hold a grudge like that? I’m assuming you didn’t do anything very horrendous to her. Not that you have to stop loving her, but it can be different, it can change to loving her because she is family, but knowing she is not trustworthy in a relationship. That’s how I see people like that, not trustworthy.

Her children will see you were always a nice aunt to them if you continue to remember them and engage with them when you’re with them, and that would matter to me if I were you.

Kardamom's avatar

I guess it kind if depends on what actually happened. Sometimes things happen that cannot be forgiven, and other times people make a conscious decision to have minimal, or neutral contact with a person who has repeatedly hurt them, especially if the person is not honest about what really happened, or if the person is clueless about the hurt they have caused.

Sometimes the hurt person is someone who is more sensitive than the average person, or may simply perceive the “incident” very differently.

We can’t really know what transpired in this situation, since we don’t know you or your niece. If she wants to be left alone, I would simply suggest leaving her alone.

I’m sure you may regret whatever happened, and may want to have a relationship with your niece and her kids, but she may not want that.

I have had a couple of relatives do some things that I thought were reprehensible, and I made the decision to walk away from them. I don’t regret that decision.

seawulf575's avatar

I had a falling out with my brother many years ago. It took many years for us to begin to get close again. But there were many times where I was the only one making any effort. After a while I just stopped. My kids had a better relationship with him than I did. But time can heal, if it is desired to heal.

InNeedOfSomeRestraint's avatar

Cutting off a toxic family used to be impossible but all that social pressure is gone now. Blood is no longer a forced bond.

Inspired_2write's avatar

When the offending party is not ready and as a result the victum had cut off all commuications.

When the offending party is toxic, meaning that they need time to reflect and not when in an angery,frustrated state.

When your life is much peaceful and better than when they were in it.

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