What to Do When Your Boyfriend Won’t Stand Up for You

When you think “My boyfriend won’t stand up for me” for the first time, you may feel alone. Here are a few tips for when your boyfriend won’t stick up for you and lets his family or friends walk all over you.

boyfriend doesn't stand up fo rme
Fight Less, Love More

Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship Without Blowing Up or Giving In by Laurie Puhn will help you create immediate, positive changes in your relationship. Getting your boyfriend to stand up for you involves learning long-lasting communication skills that will help improve your relationship.

These tips are inspired by a reader who is struggling with her boyfriend’s refusal to accept that his sister is causing problems. His sister is judgemental, cold, and rude. The girlfriend really wants to have a relationship with her because family is important to everyone involved, but the sister doesn’t respond.

Here’s what a reader says: “I know I’m not ready to give up on our relationship – I know he loves me and I love him more than anything. My friends have told me not to care about what his sister thinks of me but I am afraid that this could possibly never rectify itself and in the end family prevails. I am also afraid that if he won’t stand up to his sister for me, then he will never stand up for me to anyone. I get along famously with his family and adore his mother and grandmother – I just feel very defeated and like I’m not good enough for him when his sister is around. My boyfriend doesn’t stand up for me. Do you think there is anything I can say/do that could help the situation?” Read the rest of her comment on How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With.

And, if you have any thoughts on coping when a boyfriend doesn’t stand up for you, please reply below!

When Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Stand Up for You

I think she hit it square on the head when she said her boyfriend may not stand up for her to anyone, if he can’t stand up to her with his sister. This isn’t a “one off” – it’s a way of perceiving and responding to his girlfriend.

Here are a few tips for coping with a boyfriend or husband who chooses his family over you…

Learn how to stand up for yourself

Are your boyfriend’s family or friends are “making” you feel bad about yourself or not good enough to be with him? Then you may have some confidence or self-esteem issues that need to be ironed out. It’s important for all women to be able to stand up for themselves! “I love having a boyfriend but need to be secure on my own first.” ~ Demi Lovato.

That’s not to say your boyfriend is right to let his sister walk all over you! I think men SHOULD stand up for their partners, especially if their partners are hurt by the family’s behavior. But, we can’t expect men to protect us. We have to learn how to protect ourselves.

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See the family dynamics

You’ve stepped into family patterns that have been going on for as long as they’ve been alive. Their relationships are established, and extremely difficult to change. The relationship dynamics CAN change – there’s no doubt about it – but only if your boyfriend and his family do the work.

Families are complicated, and their interactions are caused by so many different factors. Unless they’re willing to sit down and talk it all through, you’ll never know what’s behind all the behaviours, words, and attitudes. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless!

Figure out what you can do

What to Do When Your Boyfriend Won’t Stand Up for You
What to Do When Your Boyfriend Won’t Stand Up for You

You can’t force his sister to be friends with you, and you can’t force your boyfriend to stand up for you. You can’t lecture or nag your boyfriend to change, and you can’t pray your problems away. So what can you do? Focus on changing the only person you have control over: you. It’s important thing not to expect your boyfriend to change, especially if he’s in denial or refuses to see his sister for who she is. I think it’s wise to change your expectations of both your boyfriend and his family members.

I think the only thing you can do to encourage your boyfriend to stand up for you is to be honest with him about how you feel. “I feel unappreciated, worthless, defeated, and scared for our relationship when I interact with your sister. I need you to ….” And tell him what you need from him.

If your boyfriend can’t give you what you need (if he can’t or won’t stand up for you), then you have a decision to make: should you stay with him and accept him exactly the way he is right now, or do you take a deep breath and consider your other options?

If your boyfriend won’t stand up to you, it’s possible that he isn’t really interested in taking things further. Read 7 Signs He Wants a Relationship With You to see gain insight into your relationship.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on what to do when your boyfriend doesn’t stick up for you, but I can’t offer relationship advice. It might help to share what you’re going through; writing can bring healing and insight.

For more tips on coping with a boyfriend who doesn’t stand up for you, read When Your Boyfriend’s Family is Ruining Your Relationship.


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