You love your family. For most of us, that seems like a pretty obvious statement, but that doesn’t mean we always do the best job of making those loved ones a priority in the chaos of daily life. We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can ensure that our romantic relationships stay close regardless of outside circumstances, but what happens when you feel your bonds with your relatives slipping away? And how can you stay as tuned in as possible to the signals that this might be happening, so you can get ahead of the problem quickly and make it right? We reached out to family and relationship experts to find out more about red flags that indicate that your loved family needs a little more TLC than you’ve been giving them lately. Keep scrolling for their insights, then be on guard for these behaviors.

Family members walk through a field with their arms around each other

1. You feel yourself avoiding the fam more than usual. If you find yourself screening calls from a parent or taking a few days to return a text from a sibling, it might be worth taking a step back and considering if there’s a bigger issue at play. You must at least have a sneaking suspicion that there’s more going on than a simple temporary aversion to staying in touch. “If you were previously close with your family, but now feel resentful… pay attention to that!” says marriage and family therapist Sara Stanizai. “This can be an indication that your relationship is changing, and it can happen for any number of reasons.” Stanizai notes that gradual changes to relationships over time are perfectly normal and recommends that you try spending time with family members doing different kinds of things than you normally would. That will help send the message that you’re ready and willing to navigate those new dynamics.

2. You’re overwhelmed. It doesn’t take much for life to start feeling straight-up crazy. Between work and friends and trying to stay healthy and keep up with the mountain of daily housework, it’s probably easy to feel like there’s just too much going on. And there is! Communication and time with loved ones tend to be among the first things to go when we feel like we’re drowning in #allthethings. If you’re overwhelmed, take a sec to think about how you’ve recently been operating as part of your family. Psychological performance and behavioral expert Dr. Alok Trivedi recommends setting aside regular time each week to establish consistent routines with family members. If you regularly allot a few hours for family, you’re sure to make them a priority no matter how otherwise overwhelmed you feel.

3. Your family seems to only learn about your major life events via social media. When was the last time you got a call from your parents congratulating you about an accomplishment or milestone they saw you celebrating on Facebook or Instagram? If the answer is “not so long ago,” you might want to think about giving them a bit more attention. Certified life coach Ryn Gargulinski suggests this can happen when you’re afraid of judgment. “Parents may try to talk us out of things because they want to protect us from something they think might harm us — not because they want to judge us or hold us back. They do it because they love us.” This small change in perspective could totally transform the way you communicate with family members.

Family members take a selfie together at a gathering

4. You’re out of the loop on big family news. Just as it’s a red flag when your family learns about you exclusively from impersonal internet posts, you should be concerned if you show up to a gathering to find that you’re not current on what’s happening with your parents, siblings, and extended fam. “Were you aware that your sibling got a promotion at work?” asks licensed clinical professional counselor Talya Knable. “Did you know that a cousin recently started dating someone new? Maybe one of your parents got an all-clear on a medical test that you did not even know they’d had. If you are not spending enough time with family, you might feel that you are not kept as up to date on some of these milestones.”

5. You’re annoyed with them, like, all the time. “One sign that the relationship needs work is constant irritability with the members of the family,” says licensed professional counselor Laura Luckie Finch. “When a member of the family is constantly bothered by every little thing the other members do — even when it doesn’t impact them — there could be a problem.” We all know what it’s like to be ticked off by family members from time to time, but if you can’t shake that feeling, you might need to make some intentional space to reconnect and remember all the reasons you love them.

6. Your conversations leave something to be desired. You head home for a holiday — or even just a weeknight dinner — with high hopes that it will break down some of the barriers you’ve been feeling lately. But the visit comes to an end without having talked about anything really important. “You’re hoping to have a more meaningful conversation, and everyone’s aware of lingering issues that are open secrets, but somehow the family never gets around to talking about it and instead stays superficial — maybe uses alcohol to avoid dealing with things,” psychiatrist Dr. Grant Brenner offers as an example. “You leave feeling dissatisfied.” Don’t ignore that feeling! Use it as motivation to work harder at bringing things that are important to you out into the open with the people you care about.

7. Your family is telling you that you work too much. It’s one thing if a parent sympathetically mentions this during your business’s busiest time of year, but if you hear it every few weeks, you should pay attention. The real message might be something much bigger. “An indirect way family members might communicate that you need to spend more time together is by saying you work too much,” explains registered marriage and family therapist intern Michael Bouciquot. “They might use this strategy because they do not want to start any conflict and push you away even further.” Read between the lines and reprioritize.

How do you make time to prioritize your family? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)

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