Should you feel obligated to love obnoxious family members during the holidays?

Some families look forward to getting together during the holidays. Others loathe them. The question emerges, however: when you are thrown together for the holidays with family members you rarely see, should you feel guilty for disliking them?

You certainly pick your friends but you never pick your family, except for your husband or wife (and associated in-laws). So it is no surprise that when you are thrown together with a bunch of people because of a slightly greater degree of genetic similarity, chances are you won't like some of them. The reasons may vary:

1) Benign neglect. You may find yourself awkwardly faced with relatives who show no interest in you the rest of the year, but pretend to be interested in you when they are forced to see you. The phoniness and the play-acting is unpleasant. If they are never interested enough to talk to you the other 364 days of the year, why should you pretend to be interested in them the one day of the year you are thrown together?

2) Liberal drone. You may have a relative who is a liberal drone, who worships at the altar of Obama, Hillary, global warming, deindustrialization, and whatever else they have been programmed to think.  It can be unpleasant to hear them go on and on about how great Obama is and how evil the Republicans are, and you certainly can't speak out because that will start a major battle. If your relative is a hardened leftist, nothing you can say would make any difference as well. So why should you love that?

3) A controller. What if you have a relative who lectures you on how to live your life, telling you everything you are doing wrong and the one way in which you must live your life correctly, according to their views? This can be very irritating, but at least you know the person talking to you really does care about you.  But if the advice is given in a forceful, deprecating way, (with phrases like "You're flushing your life down the toilet if you do x!" or "All right, you want to destroy yourself, so destroy yourself"), it is unpleasant to be around such a person.

4) A nasty person. What if your relative is simply a nasty person, who makes jokes at your expense and criticizes your intelligence, judgment, life choices, or whatever, not in an effort to be constructive, but simply to tear you down in front of other family members? Even if it's a brother or a mother or a daughter, why would you love someone who acts like that?

5) The complainer. What if you have a relative who complains about everything--the weather, the food, the people around him, everything? Such a person is no fun to be around. How can you love someone who is so relentlessly negative?

6) A shameless self-promoter. What if you have a relative who talks endlessly about how great he is? If someone is narcissistic to that point, only talking about his own greatness on and on and on, should you be expected to love that?

Some people would say yes, that your relatives are your relatives and you should love them regardless. But I don't believe being related gives one a blank check for unrequited love. I think being related gives one more latitude and more chances than we would give a friend, but it is not an unlimited emotional credit card. We are naturally programmed to show affection to people who show affection to us. Showing affection to those who don't return it is not within human nature.

Genetic relations usually don’t enter into it. You don't like your dog because you are half-poodle, you like your dog because he is affectionate. And I'm not talking about the sense of obligation that comes with being a parent (that's different), I'm talking about loving someone who doesn't show that they love you back.

Instead of feeling guilty for not feeling love in such unnatural situations, why not be honest, at least with yourself, and feel no guilt at all?
What do you think? Except for #3 above, the overbearing controller who obviously really cares about you, do you think one should be obligated to love an unpleasant relative who does not show love in return?

This article was written by Ed Straker, senior writer of, the conservative news site.