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My partner and I have been in a relationship for around 8 years. We were colleagues. He was separated (acrimonious relationship>many years). Though the separation occurred prior to us connecting, I've always been treated like the "other woman" & cause of marital breakdown.
I have no children. He has adult son & daughter. I get along ok with son (M). I'm all at sea with daughter (F) and daughter-in-law (DIL).
I failed to set strong boundaries at the start thru naivete. I focused on being engaging/thoughtful etc to form relationship.
F contacts me when I'm using my professional experience to help her. I'm in favour then, ignored other times. Her successive boyfriends have been disrespectful - I suspect supporting her agenda. When visiting, she's super-polite though distant, peppered with asides (for me to just hear). There's a lot of masked exclusion tactics.
DIL was an ally for a while but developed into most hostile. Eg, family social situation - I went and sat with the dog the only place I felt accepted. My partner felt he should have joined me. We receive little contact from DIL particularly in relation to grandkids. Attempts to remain involved - treated as total nuisance, contact now periodical. Expectation to "give!" and silently accept treatment dished out. We don't feel welcome at M & DIL home (DIL pass/agg). M doesn't see or doesn't want to see & I haven't drawn his attention to it.
Birthdays and Christmas, by nature, I try to celebrate with meaningful gifts (not the most expensive, but cater to their interests). I feel like my efforts are oft taken for granted. To me Christmas is time to celebrate family love & embrace the past year. I feel my efforts are in vain and I want to disengage. There's no appreciation for efforts on my part - barely a thank you, sometimes more like "meh :(". I spend my time with them walking on eggshells in case (often the case) I unwittingly cause them more disapproval.
Am I right to disengage? Will this be the final nail in the proverbial? My partner is aware of my exclusion. He gets much of the same treatment and he sees some of what goes on toward me. He's supportive of me. I'm caught between carrying on "being nice" in hopes it'll settle one day, or just disengaging - eg giftcards for b'day & Christmas and not attend events unless necessary to my partner, ceasing assisting F (I'm now treated much like an unpaid employee in that regard). I don't want to harm his relationships (or be blamed) but I'm struggling.
2 Replies 2

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Blurred lines,

This sounds so horrible, there is no worse feeling than being excluded, particularly with people where there are an endless amount of opportunities for their passive-aggressive behaviour. Not only that, but the only interaction seems to be when they want something. I think only you can decide where your boundaries lie and whether it is worthwhile talking with each of them one on one to confront them on their behaviour. However, speaking from experience, people like that tend to completely deny their actions when confronted and keep on up with it afterwards. No one could blame you for disengaging completely, particularly if you see no end to the poor treatment. When I was asked for yet another from a similar family member, I simply responded with “I have a new rule, I only help those people who are there for me in return” and it got the message across! Sending you hugs

Juliet_84 thank you so much. I value your response and see a lot of practical sense in your suggestions, particularly "help those people who are there for me in return". Thank you. I guess it's not too late to set some boundaries at all.