It's difficult enough to get along with your mate's parents.  In the movie Meet the Parents, actor Ben Stiller has to earn the acceptance of his future father-in-law, played by Robert de Niro.  At times, it seems like Stiller's task is impossible.

While this portrayal is humorous, getting along with your mate's loved ones can be exceedingly difficult. Your partner's family and friends can have a major affect in your love life.

The Importance of Being Honest

Whether you'd you truly dislike a family member or friend, a hard truth remains: Siblings and best friends can be important in ways that you can't. Here, ways in which family and friends can have a leg up on a significant other.

1. History. Early life experiences can make a person draw closer to family and/or friends.  These people feel like life rafts in an emotional storm.  They know the story of what you've been through, and you rely on them as sounding boards and support.  It's much easier, for example, to say to a sibling or childhood friend, "Well, you know how crazy Mother is."

2. Connections. If you are still close to your siblings and confidants, you understand their importance:  They knew you then, they know you now. You can more easily share intimate details with them about your love life than you would with your parents.  We all have needs to belong, be accepted and understood. Friends and family are often the "surefire" connection in an individuals life.

 3. Reliability. In many families, a siblings can become more reliable and caring than the parents.  If your or your mate's family has one of these caretaker-siblings, you know that their feedback and approval can be extremely important.  You and your significant siblings and confidants tend to keep a long view of your relationships.  You often assume that you will be part of each other's lives for a long time, so you might need to work extra hard to accept things you don't like about them.  Eventually, you find yourself confiding or listening to problems. 

How to Get Along with Your Partner's Loved Ones

It's no surprise why you need to make a good impression and maintain warm relationships with these people--even if you may not like or respect them.  You might even feel "left out" of those conversations about "the old days."  Here are some tips for how you can foster better ties with them.

1.  Accept that these siblings and confidants may not become your best friends.  Your goals should be to get along and find common ground--no matter how small.  And don't forget, kindness and compliments win approval of you.

2. Monitor your jealousy over your mate's connection to these key relationships.  They were established and strengthened before you came into the picture-and for good reason.  Include them in celebrations.  Send them cards for holidays and birthdays. Learn about their interests.

3. Ask them to help you with something.  People like to feel important, needed and valued.

4. Take the time to get a "feel" for the dynamics between your mate and the siblings and best friends before you state your opinions.

5. Learn not to complain about the small stuff.  If serious issues such as destructive drunkenness or abuse occur, work with your partner to find a solution rather than ranting, criticizing or blaming your partner for not stepping in.

6. Most importantly, use your logic. Don't get caught in between your partner and these significant people.  Don't take on your partner's problems with his loved ones by fighting your partner's battles.  Ask how your partner feels about a particular event and whether they would like your help.  No one wants to hear unsolicited advice.  So, be ready to serve as a coach and support-not critic.  Allow your partner to find a way that works for them.

Good luck!  Be patient, kind and take a balanced and long view.