How to Handle Stubborn Adults

Have you ever encountered a stubborn adult? Yes, that's what I thought. Here's three kinds of stubborn adults and how to handle them.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #401

Please don’t take this as me saying you should jump ship from a relationship the second your partner refuses to change their mind about not liking your buddy Jim or not wanting to go to the Opera. After all, in any relationship you will never see eye to eye on everything so pick your battles carefully. With that, being stubborn once or twice does not make a partner terrible. However, the issue is the non-stop stubbornness where the relationship is about as one-sided as a sumo wrestler playing tug-of-war with a toddler.  This is where the main problem with being a stubborn exists: the inability to put your needs, wants, and desires aside for the happiness of someone you care about. In fact, I’ll argue that by not doing so, it means you don’t care about that person in general. So, if anyone is reading this, then thinking of their partner, and nodding knowingly, please do not run for the hills quite yet. Instead, point out when someone is being stubborn, regardless of how many times you have to remind them. In a situation like this, it’s proper to make it known and discuss the issue. On the flip side, if you are a partner who insists on being stubborn because you insist on always getting your way, take note of this article and this tip in particular. Not doing so, and insisting on being stubborn could lead you to a standing table for one.

Tip #3: The Stubborn In-Law

The phrase, “You can pick your partner, but you can’t pick your in-laws” is something every dater should remember. The term in-laws refer to marriage, but even unmarried couples feel that their partners' parents have a big impact on both their lives, even if there is no ring yet. In fact, based off the wonderful emails I receive many of you feel like a prize fighter in a ring, having to dodge punches from stubborn in-laws on a regular basis. Even though my in-laws are awesome (and I’m not just saying this because they read my work), trust me I’m well aware of what life is like on the other side. In fact, I discuss this in How to Handle Rude In-Laws. which outlined some horror stories of monster in-laws. So, whether you’re the son/daughter in-law dreading the next family dinner with “those that will go unnamed,” remind yourself of one key fact: You’re an adult!

Stubborn in-laws are a breed of their own. They like things their way and they can’t see why you can’t figure that out “after all these years.” It’s draining, but you can’t hide. First, if you plan to marry once (as is the point), you’re with them for life and you don't want to have a divide between you and your partner over their in-laws.  Yes, I understand it’s your in-laws making the divide. Yes, I understand it’s their fault. But just hear me out. Being a proper son/daughter in-law means you have to take the high road. Don’t pander to their every stubborn need, but don’t be a jerk either. They insist on the same restaurant? Get together ahead of time with the other family members, and make reservations to beat them to the punch. Now it’s a “group idea” rather than yours. There’s power in numbers, folks. They nag you about your job? Remind them that it makes you happy and that’s what’s most important. Don’t let their opinion of how you should live change your mind about your plans. And if they insist on being the third party to you and your partner’s life decisions, kindly take their advice and do as you please anyway. See, stubborn people will always be stubborn. You can’t change them; you can only help to call them out. In-laws “influence” is figurative, kind of like a store clerk who says that shoes that cost $500 are the best in the world, but the ones you like for $50 will do just fine. Properly take their advice, just not to heart. Nod, say thanks, and go on your way. They’ll be gone in a couple of hours.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

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