Family: It's Not About Who You're Related to
Those who we consider our family, they aren’t always people we’re related to, it can also be our friends — they’re the family we choose and sometimes they can end up being more important to us than our own relatives.
Relationships formed and maintained by choice are far superior to the ones we are forced to have when the relationship is unhealthy.
For example, if you don’t like your father because he is manipulative and mean but you feel pressured to have a relationship with him then those bonds might not form as strongly as the ones you have with a friend.
No toxic relationship is worth keeping, whether they're related to you or not.
Choosing Your Family
I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t believe you should ever choose friends or romantic relationships over your family, but not everything is black and white.
Some people come from an abusive household, so they distance themselves and prefer the company of other relationships, and that’s okay!
Perhaps they feel at ease around their friends compared to their parents/siblings. Maybe their friends accept them for who they are and don’t make them feel as though being “different” is wrong.
There are so many reasons why people distance themselves from blood relatives, so don’t be quick to judge.
It’s important to remember that everyone has been raised differently. Consider yourself lucky if you have a close relationship with your family, not everyone has that.
And if you do have a close relationship with your family that doesn’t mean your friends can’t be part of that too. If someone is like a sibling to you then why would you treat them any differently just because they aren’t related?
At the end of the day, those we love and care about are important to us, no matter what, and we should treat them that way.
It's Not About Who You're Related to
Family can be beneficial but only if the relationship is healthy, and the same goes for friendships.
This shows us that it isn’t about who you’re related to, it’s about those who love and care about you. They are the most important people to have around.
So, friends shouldn’t be treated any differently just because they aren’t your relatives. If you love, care and respect each other then it shouldn’t matter if they’re related or not.
But if you have the mentality that “friends come and go, but family is forever” then obviously you’ve never shared a strong bond with a mate before. Just because you can choose your friends doesn’t mean people are disposable.
It’s understandable though, it can be difficult to find people who you’re willing to be your complete self around. But when you find your “soul tribe” you’ll only ever see them as family, not just friends.
Blood is Thicker Than Water, But What's That Got to do With Anything?
Humans aren’t made to be alone. We’re social creatures who thrive on having connections, and by having those close-knit relationships we stay healthy mentally and emotionally. That’s why it’s important to have strong ties with a group of people, whether they’re biological or not.
Unfortunately, there are people out there that put up with toxic or abusive parents/siblings/cousins because they live by the quote: “blood is thicker than water”. But it’s unhealthy to put up with that sort of behavior just because someone is your family.
You wouldn’t let a partner or friend treat you badly, so what’s the difference between them and a relative? Blood relations shouldn’t be let off the hook so easily if they’re cruel/toxic/manipulative/abusive. Distance yourself, even if it's lonely.
However, some people put up with these types of relatives because of social norms or pressure from other family members. Don’t let people use ‘family over everything’ to justify bad behavior.
Growing up with the belief that they should stick by their family's side no matter what has normalized putting up with bad behavior. That leaves people with a sense of guilt if they were to distance themselves.
People also believe that because their family is closest to them then that must mean the relationship is healthy. However, being close does not equal a healthy relationship.
So, don’t let other people pressure you into believing you have to put up with toxic people just because they’re related.
You can choose your own family and surround yourself with people that treat you kindly and with respect, that love you, and are there for you when you need them. That’s what family’s about, it’s not about who you’re related.