How can I tell a girl about my crazy family without overwhelming her?

antonio1213 asks: 

I am just curious about how I would go about telling a girl about my family without turning her off, overwhelming her or her thinking I’m a mess?

A little background on my family: I won’t get too much into details but they are crazy. The best way I can describe my parents is like this. Imagine someone who has been going through a bad mid life crisis since they were 20…that pretty much sums it up. I recently started a relationship with my dad again but it’s at arms length and rarely talk. He goes to another country a lot hooking up with his new “girlfriend”. My younger sister is into terrible things, practically lives by herself, does whatever she wants, manipulates people and is dating a guy my age (I’m in college she’s in high school) who is in and out of jail. And my mom got married last year, within the first year they are on and off separated and she has left him 9 times. Yes that’s right nine times. There’s alot more stuff too, but I won’t get into it.

Sometimes I tell people just a slice of my family life and they are speechless and don’t know what to say. There is a girl that I might start dating and I don’t know how to bring up everything. Any advice?

Demetrius says:

I wanted to tackle this question because I think it’s pretty universal to have nerves around introducing, or even discussing your family with someone you’re dating. I think you might be prematurely worried about something that isn’t anywhere near being a priority you have to tackle yet, but I’ll give you some advice for your situation.

Telling a partner, or a potential partner about something potentially negative about you or your life can be a delicate situation so you want to find a balance between underselling it and overselling it. You don’t need to get into the specifics that you mentioned above, but you do want to convey that your family is difficult to deal with. I’d avoid calling them “crazy”, they just happen to all live a lifestyle that you don’t think is healthy or safe. “Healthy and safe” implies a choice, where as “crazy” implies mental illness, which could carry the connotation that you’re also crazy. Your family isn’t “crazy”, they are choosing to live lifestyles that you disagree with and you don’t have a good relationship with them. If you tell someone “I don’t get along well with my family and keep them at arm’s length” that should be enough. If she asks what you mean exactly, you can summarize your issues the way an outsider would. Here’s how I’d summarize your issues with each family member:

  • Your relationship with your father isn’t good because he is immature. He’s been going through a midlife crisis since he was 20 and that’s part of the reason you aren’t close and keep him at arm’s length
  • Your relationship with your mother isn’t good because she’s been going through a midlife crisis since her 20s too. She recently married someone new and their relationship is very unstable
  • Your relationship with your sister isn’t the best because she’s manipulative and she’s involved with a guy who is in and out of jail.

The amount of detail could be even less than that, to be completely honest. My dad is immature and we’re not close. My mom is unstable. My sister is manipulative and dating a guy with a criminal history. Beyond that you don’t have to get into too much detail until things get serious. But, I do want to address the fact that you are talking about telling a girl you might start dating about your family. If you’re at the point where you aren’t even dating yet I don’t think this is something you need to worry about just yet. My advice still stands, but you don’t have to talk about your family with someone on date one, or date three. This is a conversation you need to have way down the line, not before you’re in a relationship.

If you don’t have a close relationship with your family, it doesn’t matter that they are toxic. If someone is really into you, they wont mind too much if you have a “crazy” family, as long as you’re not around them all the time.

Good Luck Out There.

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