The Unwavering Disappointment: A Tale of Unreliable Relatives

We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives – a family member who consistently lets us down. It could be a flaky cousin, an absent parent, or an inconsiderate sibling. Whatever the case, these relatives can be a source of great frustration and sadness. In this blog post, I explore the reasons why some relatives never fail to disappoint, the emotional toll it can take, and the importance of setting boundaries and finding support. Keep in mind: we might be THAT relative!

The Root of the Problem: Understanding Unreliable Relatives

Before we can cope with these disappointing relatives, it’s essential to understand the factors that contribute to their behavior. Many times, the root of the issue can be traced back to underlying problems such as addiction, mental health issues, or unresolved childhood trauma. Recognizing these issues is crucial in empathizing with the individual and managing expectations.


Addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life, causing them to prioritize their addiction over family and friends. This can lead to broken promises, last-minute cancellations, and a general lack of support. If a family member’s unreliability stems from addiction, it’s essential to encourage them to seek professional help and support their journey towards recovery.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder can severely impact a person’s ability to maintain relationships. When suffering from these conditions, a relative may be unable to fulfill commitments or provide emotional support. It’s important to remember that mental health issues are medical conditions that can be treated, and encouraging a family member to seek help can improve both their life and your relationship.

Childhood Trauma

A history of trauma or abuse can create patterns of unreliable behavior in adulthood. A relative who has experienced trauma may struggle with trust, communication, and maintaining relationships. It’s essential to approach these individuals with empathy and understanding while encouraging them to seek therapy or counseling to address their past experiences.

Coping with the Emotional Toll

Dealing with a consistently disappointing relative can take a significant emotional toll. Feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration are common, and it’s important to acknowledge and process these emotions. Consider seeking therapy, joining a support group, or confiding in a trusted friend. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are resources available to help you cope with these challenging relationships.

Setting Boundaries and Finding Support

When dealing with a disappointing family member, it’s crucial to establish and enforce healthy boundaries. Communicate your expectations and limits clearly and be prepared to follow through with consequences if necessary. Remember that you cannot control their behavior, but you can control how you react and respond.

Additionally, it’s essential to seek support from other family members, friends, or professionals. Surrounding yourself with reliable and understanding people can help counterbalance the disappointment you may feel from your unreliable relative.


Dealing with a relative who never fails to disappoint can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. Understanding the reasons behind their behavior, setting boundaries, and finding support are crucial steps in coping with these difficult relationships. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your emotional well-being and seek help when needed.

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