It’s almost never easy to meet and get to know your boyfriend’s family–and it’s even harder if you perceive that they don’t like you.
Brothers are especially tricky to deal with. They’re often some of your boyfriend’s closest friends in addition to being his siblings.
After a few interactions, you may think that your boyfriend’s brother hates you. Whether you’re right or not, there’s definitely some tension that needs to be acknowledged in order to move forward. Keep reading to learn what to do when your boyfriend’s brother hates you.
Reasons why your boyfriend’s brother might hate you
1. He doesn’t know you well enough
There is a very real possibility that he doesn’t hate you, he’s just shy. Totally normal stuff!
This can be easily rectified by putting in the effort to get to know him better. Show him that you’re not intimidating! You’re just an ordinary person–one who happens to care for his brother very much, the same as he does.
2. He feels like you’re replacing him
As “the girlfriend”, you’ve suddenly become one of the most important people in his brother’s life, and it’s not uncommon for anyone that previously had a close relationship with your boyfriend to feel threatened or get defensive.
He might be reacting poorly to a change in dynamic. Maybe he used to be your boyfriend’s go-to person, his right hand man, or his confidant, but lately all he hears about is you. Maybe your boyfriend isn’t sharing as much of his personal life with his brother because he’s telling you everything instead.
It’s also possible that they have rituals and traditions that are sacred to the two of them, and your boyfriend may be sharing them with you (or neglecting them altogether) without thinking about how his brother could feel.
Did they religiously eat pizza and watch a movie together every Friday night? Did they play Monopoly with their own special set of made-up rules? Did they have a favorite hole-in-the-wall dinner spot that your boyfriend showed you on one of your first dates? These are all very valid reasons why your boyfriend’s brother could feel like you’re replacing him.
3. He misses spending time with his brother
He could be hesitant to warm up to you because he simply misses spending time with his brother, your boyfriend.
It makes sense! Your boyfriend was likely a lot less busy when he was single, but now he has to split his free time and choose who gets it: you or his brother.
Even if he’s dividing the time equally between the two of you, his brother isn’t getting nearly as much quality time as he used to. These feelings are completely normal, and it may be hard for him to adjust to them at first. It will probably become less of an issue over time as he adjusts to the new normal.
What to do if you think your boyfriend’s brother hates you
1. Get to know him better
Break the ice gently by not asking him about himself–this could be too direct and may result in him retreating further into his shell. Instead, ask him about what your boyfriend was like when they were kids! This will probably result in the two of them exchanging stories about childhood adventures for hours.
Listen intently and share a story of your own from time to time if you notice similarities. This is a two-for-one bargain: while you’ll learn a lot about your boyfriend’s brother, you may learn just as much about your beau.
You’d be surprised how much you can discover about someone from their childhood stories. You will likely hear examples of their hobbies, interests, previous relationships & friendships, family history, favorite foods, pet peeves, emotional wounds, and more woven into the tales.
Make a mental note when one of these pops up. The next time you’re all together, ask your boyfriend’s brother about one of these subjects (though try to stick to the lighthearted ones like hobbies and foods for the time being).
If you play your cards right–and if he’s willing to open up–you two will be old pals in no time!
2. Kill him with kindness
By always making it a point to be kind to him (regardless of whether or not he reciprocates this kindness), you take the moral high ground and absolve yourself of any wrongdoing. If you remain cordial, no one can place any blame on you for the strain in the relationship.
3. Have an honest conversation
It can’t hurt to just be honest and tell him how you feel! Approach him gently and ask to have a word. Let him know how you’re feeling and ask what you can do to help your relationship along. You could start the conversation like this:
“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? I really care about your brother and I only want the best for him… that includes us getting along. I don’t expect you to be my very best friend, but I like you and I genuinely want to have a good relationship with you. I feel like I’ve been trying really hard to get to know you, but it seems like you don’t want me to. Is there anything I can do to make you feel more comfortable around me?”
If he insists that there isn’t anything wrong, don’t press the issue too much. All that matters is that you were mature enough to approach the issue gracefully, what he does (or doesn’t do) is up to him.
4. Get your boyfriend involved
Starting to think the situation is out of your control? Time to bring in the big guns.
Tell your boyfriend how you’re feeling and ask him to intervene. He should set aside time to talk to his brother and reiterate that you are both important to him and he wants you to get along. He can see you’re making the effort to do so, but his brother isn’t being receptive.
5. Don’t worry about it
If you’ve made a sincere effort to get to know your boyfriend’s brother and he’s not interested in being friendly towards you, don’t sweat it too much. You can only control your feelings and actions.
You shouldn’t have to constantly stick your neck out for someone who simply isn’t vibing with you. It’s not necessary to make everyone in his life fall in love with you–there will always be at least one or two that can’t get past their own prejudices and jealousies–and no one else’s opinion matters as long as you and your boyfriend are happy together.
6. Don’t stick around if he’s acting out
While it’s perfectly fine if he doesn’t want to be your bff, it’s absolutely not okay for him to be rude, disrespectful, or downright abusive. He should never think it’s acceptable to raise his voice, threaten you, make derogatory comments about you, or lay his hands on you.
If he does (or shows signs that he might do) any of these, get the heck out of there. Your boyfriend can hang out with you away from his brother and you shouldn’t have to remain in any situation where your physical or mental health is at stake.
If your boyfriend makes excuses for his brother and doesn’t take the issue seriously, you should think long and hard about whether or not the relationship is viable in the long run.
Now you’re an expert in brother-taming, so get out there and put those skills to use! Your boyfriend will probably be impressed with your ability to charm his brother and will love you all the more for making an effort with his family. Good luck!