Q. It seems like every time I meet or date someone, my sister likes to form her own type of relationship with the person. Some of the guys are people I’m dating, others are just friends. (I don’t think she’s trying to date them though.)
It starts out innocently enough with a few comments on Facebook, and before I know it she has added them as a friend — most of the time she has never even met the person — which sometimes leads to texting or phone conversations, and in some cases, even hanging out.
This behavior has happened on more than a few occasions — at least six or seven times. I feel like I’m being paranoid, but I would never do something like that to her. I’ve been told by friends I’m justified and I’ve been told I’m jealous.
She and I have always been close, even though I’m eight years older than her. But this really bothers me. Is this a line-crosser? I don’t know how to approach her. The one time I did she got bent out of shape and mass deleted everyone on Facebook, saying she wasn’t allowed to be friends with my friends. And the one time I mentioned it to a guy I was told I was jealous. I’m at a loss as to what to make of it. And what to do.
Thanks for your question.
You’re in an awkward position here. It’s obvious you care about your sister and you don’t want to do anything to damage your relationship, but at the same time you’d like her to stop. (Ahh, the complexity of sibling relationships!)
Rest assured, she is the one crossing the line, and she seems completely oblivious to this fact. Which says that whatever roles you established as kids, you are still playing out here. Meaning, you’re expected to be the mature and understanding older sister who puts up with her younger sister’s cute pranks. Maybe 20 years ago her antics were adorable, but not so much anymore.
Sibling roles can last a lifetime. Even after kids go off to establish their own lives, these same roles play out any time siblings get together. In order to break free from them it takes insight, understanding, commitment, and participation on both sides. If one sibling wants to work on an issue but another doesn’t, conflict occurs which can last a long time.
We don’t think a lifetime rift will happen in your case, but you are going to have to have a “sit down” with your sis. (This behavior isn’t going to stop on its own.) And this is where being the older sister will help you, because it’s clear she’s trying to get your attention. She’s flexing her adult muscles, demonstrating her power and probably looking for your approval. Yes, she still wants to know that big sister is paying attention as she navigates the adult world. And of course on some level she’s also competing with you. (What younger sibling doesn’t want to “beat” their older sibling in something?)
Page 2 of 2 - What she doesn’t realize is that you’re treating her more as an equal now, which means you’re assuming she should know better. And this is how you might broach the topic. Tell her how much you care about her, but that sometimes you might need her support as well. If she understands that you in fact don’t have all the answers, maybe she’ll back off and realize she has crossed the line. Hopefully this new understanding will bring the two of you even closer. Keep in mind, it is possible she will have a knee-jerk reaction and be angry for a time. But if you explain why this is hurtful to you, eventually she’ll understand her behavior is inappropriate.
And for Pete’s sake, please hide your phone!
Saelen Ghose is the head writer for The Guy’s Perspective, a popular relationship blog and website. Over the course of his tenure he has responded to thousands of relationship questions, and while he hasn’t solved every problem, he has provided a thoughtful perspective on every question received. If you have a relationship question of your own, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Saelen will do his best to answer your question. Please limit your question to 200 words or less. For more from The Guy’s Perspective, visit www.theguysperspective.com.