Mind & life
Out of bounds. Also, “Is it OK to date my friend’s ex? They broke up six months ago.”
1 Be kind and decline Family gatherings are a great time for traditions. But maybe you’re not up for hosting your annual reunion or bringing your signature pie to dinner this year. The best way to break the news is to convey your willingness to pitch in another way, says psychologist Dr Shawn Burn. Try, “I know I’ve always done X, but I hope you’ll understand it’s too much for me. Can I do Y instead?”
2 Change the subject “For the sake of harmony, save any heavy discussions for another time,” says psychologist Dr Christine Carter. So if someone brings up a contentious topic, acknowledge their feelings, then quickly move on. Say, “Thanks for the concern. Anyway, what are your New Year’s plans?” for example. “Changing the subject makes it easy for people to respect your boundaries,” says Dr Carter.
3 Own your decisions “Remember that you don’t have to have dinner with a relative you don’t get along with. You choose to,” says Dr Carter. Reframing your decision that way reminds you that you’re in control – and can help you figure out which compromises are right for you. Think, ‘I choose to go because I want to see other family’. And if you truly can’t come up with a reason, it might be time to nix the activity.