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Some recent questions:
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 then leads to texting/phone and in some cases, hanging out. Sometimes she likes to hijack my phone and text them funny things pretending it’s from me. (Sometimes it is funny, but a lot of the time it’s not.)
This 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 I’m justified AND I’ve been told I’m jealous.
There is a eight year age gap between us—I am the oldest (33)of three and she is the youngest (25)—and we have always been close, 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 a funny 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 completely in the wrong. She is definitely crossing the line and she seems completely oblivious to this fact. Which says to us, whatever roles you established when the two of you were younger, 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 twenty years ago her antics were adorable, but now that you’re both adults, not so much anymore.
Sibling roles often last forever. Even after kids go off to establish their own lives—maybe getting married and having their own families—these same roles play out over and over during family get togethers and events. In order to break free from these roles it takes work and participation from both sides. Often, if issues arise, one sibling might try to move the relationship to a new place while the other sibling resists, which can cause a rift that can last a lifetime.
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 brother or sister in something?
What she doesn’t realize is that you’re treating her more as an equal now, someone who should know better. And this is how we might broach the topic. Tell her how much you care about her, but you also might want to flip things on her. Tell her that sometimes even older sis might need some support from younger sis. If she realizes 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.
However, this conversation may not go smoothly, and it is possible she will have a knee-jerk reaction and be angry for a time. But if you do it with sensitivity—even though she’s not being sensitive now—eventually she’ll understand her behavior is inappropriate.
And for Pete’s Sake, please hide your phone!
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