How to repair relationship with niece


I am 21 and my oldest niece is 19. She has taken a much different path then me. She is not religious at all because my sister and her husband never bothered taking their kids to church and she is not in school. She’s working, living at home.

My problem is with the guy she has been dating off and on for several months. He is a grossly obese dirty guy who treats her badly(and seriously he doesn’t bathe much). She is convinced she’s in love with him and blames herself for being overly emotional about things. This guy ignores her, and plays mind games. She flips at first, breaks up with him, and then takes him back when he comes back begging “Please, I don’t want to be single” He’s 18. I sent him a kinda rude message letting him know how I felt about him. They broke up, and then got back together. She keeps saying she’s happy, yet she’s severely depressed all the time and thinks he makes it better. I’m convinced he’s the entire reason for her depression (besides the fact that she’s living a life without God).

I told her that I want her to be happy, but refuse to pretend to like him or think she doesn’t deserve better. I’m sure she’s mad at me, but I just can’t stand to watch her throw her life away on such junk! Her parents have an awful marriage, always have, and live together now like brother and sister, not a married couple. My BIL is a worthless rude guy who has cheated on my sister, always treated her, and the rest of us, bad, and now sits around collecting SSI for his mental health problems as she works 40+ hours a week as manager of two little shops in a mall to try to feed him and their two daughters. I just feel like my niece is going after the exact same thing.

I just don’t know what I should do. I do want her to be happy, but she isn’t! I don’t care what she says. And she knows I can’t stand her boyfriend. I don’t want to ruin my friendship with my niece. She’s always been supportive of the things I need support for, yet here I am doing nothing but criticizing and telling her she’s wasting her time. I’m tempted to just stop talking all together for awhile because I just can’t not tell her the truth of what I see going on in her relationship. I don’t want her to be hurt, like this guy is hurting her, but she refuses to let him out of her life and always takes him back.

Should I just not worry about it and let her lead her life? Should I apologize for being such an awful aunt? I was in a very bad relationship in high school and I’m just scared she’s got herself with a guy who does just enough to make her think he cares, so he can get all the perks of having a girlfriend, and so she stays even though he does nothing to make it work or make her happy. Its just so hard watching someone you love make bad decisions. And I feel like I’m being an awful person just from thinking she could do better, and should!


It sounds like your niece is in the beginning of an abusive relationship. I would suggest doing some reading on the warning signs of such a relationship. Maybe she will be able to see enough of that pattern in her own relationship, and you can encourage her to not head down that path. I know when I was dating the man that I would later marry my mom was very worried that he had the capacity to hurt me. I just wouldn’t listen. I believed him when he brought me flowers and said things would get better. I just thought my mom didn’t understand what a special person that he was. I thought if I just loved him enough, I could help him. I was really wrong and stayed with him way too long. I think it would have helped to have some more concrete non-biased information way back then. Maybe I would have listened. As someone who has lived this life, I would say don’t give up on trying to help your niece.


To answer your question…same way I do for my daughter…PRAY without ceasing.



Thank you, that is exactly what I’m worried about. Just not sure how to talk to her without making her angry for not liking the man she loves. I will help her if I can, I just feel helpless as well. She just refuses to see it, and when she does she blames it on herself. She’ll dump him, and then take him back because he’s her only escape from her tension filled household. Mainly her father, of which I see many similarities in the boyfriend Unfortunately,not seeing the bad and ignoring it is common in bad relationships.:frowning:

Thanks again for your comment.


Thank you, I will definitely do that. As I know my mother did during my abusive relationship in high school. Keep it up! I will pray for your daughter as well.


Ditto for you!!


**You could also try talking to her without bashing him. You can tell her you love him as a fellow human being and really do want what’s best for him and that you pray for him (if you do, that is!).

But be honest about not liking how he appears to you. If you make rational, unemotional points then it will be hard for her to defend him. But don’t push. Those arguments will stick in her mind and work on her from the inside.

Discuss what relationships are for and what she wants out of life. When one is challenged to look towards the future they can’t help but see how their present will either help or hinder them in attaining their goals.

But if this really is an abusive relationship then you should contact a battered women’s shelter and ask for their advice. They will be much more help than any of us could be…



My aunt sent me a really good article that came from Diane magazine (which is put out by the Curves fitness centers) a couple of months ago. I work as a teacher’s aid in a high school English class. We require our students to read magazine articles for some of their credits in class. I brought that article in and a few of the girls have actually cried in class reading it because it is so powerful and so familiar to those who have lived with this kind of a relationship. If you go to the bottom of this link and click on the link they have for the fall issue, you can get a PDF copy of it.

Maybe it will help your niece.


I have a dear niece, and as she grew older she made some choices with men that I did not agree with. I was always honest, told her how special she is and how she deserves better, but then I’d back off and just love her.

Thank God, she found a nice young man and is going to marry him in June.

It is a fine line to walk, loving these girls and seeing them mess up - and trying not to alienate them. Prayers are the very best thing, and let her know how special she is and how much Jesus loves her.


She needs to see that:

  1. A human person is not a good escape from a circumstance.

  2. A human person should not be an escape from anything.

  3. Crossing #1 deceives herself, crossing #2 wrongs the guy.

What she needs faith in is that:

  1. She can find another guy and be happy. He’s not her only hope.

  2. He doesn’t have the right to hold her hostage and he has no right her. He can offer but he can’t demand. She doesn’t owe him anything.

  3. She isn’t uncharitable in denying a romantic relationship. It’s something you can give to one person and it should be looking at marriage. You don’t marry people to help them out of something - not normally at least. I could construe a dozen examples to the contrary, but it’s not a normal situation. It’s either his own problem or his own fault that he’s single and she’s not responsible for that. Just because he doesn’t want to be single doesn’t mean she needs to help him out of it.

It would be helpful to understand that:

  1. He doesn’t want to be single. It’s not about her per se and I don’t think it’s about finding a wife, a companion, a partner. I think it’s about having a girlfriend. I think that’s a wrong basis for a relationship and it doesn’t make a stable one, either.

  2. His poor hygiene is not something he will change for her. At least not permanently.

  3. She has no obligation to put up with poor hygiene. If he would choose his own idea of avoiding hygiene over her, then he should receive what he had chosen.

  4. Poor hygiene and maybe some other aspects of his behaviour are possible symptoms of depression. Relationships with people suffering from depression are hard. They don’t have to be unstable, mostly painful, devoid of joy etc etc, but depression changes things and changes people. Getting out of depression changes people as well. Chances even are that if you pull a girlfriend or boyfriend out of depression, he or she will be thankful for that but will decide it’s a different person that he or she needs. It’s nice to help, but the personal cost of it…

  5. If not depression, then some serious deficiency in upbringing. I don’t think poor hygiene is the sole bad trait of a person’s background. I’m quite convinced there might be more, there is more. I wouldn’t expect him to be overly well-mannered.

  6. Thinking in categories of guilt about starting or ending a relationship isn’t such a great idea. No matter who’s guilty (or no one), if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t. If he’s the wrong person, then one shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving him. The manner of execution may be wrong, but not the act itself. I may be repeating myself, but such things as poor hygiene are perfectly legitimate deal breakers. You don’t have to hold the person guilty to break up because of that. Breaking up because of is different from breaking up for something. Punitive break-ups are childish, but reasonable reasons are a whole different thing. :wink:

As for you, don’t feel bad about not liking the perspective of your niece ending up with the wrong guy. I wouldn’t feel bad about not liking the idea of a person in my family ending up with a fan of poor hygiene and such, let alone abusive behaviour.

Malia’s advice is sound, by the way, as are others. :slight_smile:

closed #11

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