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Relationship with Family Friends

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My entire family has been friends with a family (of four) for over twenty years now. While they have their own family in the area, they have little to no contact with them. Their adult children call our family members “aunt” “uncle” and “cousins”. We sometimes do the same, but in our hearts they are not our “true” family.

Not long ago, I told their one adult daughter that I did not like how she (and others) were treating my (real Aunt). My Aunt is sweet and they were being “mean girls” making fun of her, to her face and behind her back. This turned into “We don’t treat each other like that in this family. You cannot understand…(as you are not a member)…” She was of course defensive.

She now refuses to speak to me, making me feel uncomfortable at MY family events. At family get-togethers, everyone drinks alcohol. She will bring this topic up again. What is the best way to handle it, or best way to respond?

Relationship with Family Friends

Answered by on -


It sounds like it is time to clear the air. I would first write out everything that you like to say including how you feel and what you’d like to accomplish. This is designed so that you can get all your feelings out in one place. Second, I would talk to others in your family about getting some help. Explain that you would like this to change and are hoping for a reconciliation and understanding. This will give your family a chance to discuss strategies and ways to approach this person and come up with a potential solution.

The idea here is to heal this process that has ruptured long-standing connection between the families. You will be using the power of that history to heal the future.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Relationship with Family Friends

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Relationship with Family Friends. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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