Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Sister's behavior may signal it's time to reassess relationship

Sister's behavior may signal it's time to reassess relationship

Q: I always thought my younger sister and I were close. When I was pregnant with my first child, I expected she would come to the hospital with my parents to congratulate me and be there for me. She didn't drive the two hours with my parents because she had partied too much the night before. I was truly hurt and told her this. She apologized and said she didn't think I wanted her at the hospital.

With my second child, I knew the date of my C-section. She made plans to go on a cruise during this time; she said she needed a vacation. I told her I really wanted her to be there, but she didn't come, and I'm not sure why. Do you think she may be jealous? Or does she just not love me as much as I love her? I would definitely be there for such an important event in her life. I can't help but hold a grudge, and I don't understand why she would deliberately not be there for something so important to me. She's a good aunt otherwise. Your input?

K.

A: Since she let you down twice in the exact same way, and apparently doesn't disappoint you otherwise, I urge you to give her a pass on these and assume she had her reasons. (Like, er, a chance to go on a cruise?)

Caveat 1: Assume general reasons, not specific ones. Positing jealousy, for example, inclines people to feel superior, which will hurt you here — as will assuming that her priorities match yours or that yours are more appropriate.

Caveat 2: Note the "apparently." If your sister is a good aunt but has disappointed you otherwise, then use the childbirth disconnect as a nudge to look at your relationship with her more closely. People who have known each other since childhood often forget to update their images of each other to account for time, divergent experience and (im)maturity.

It's also not unusual for out-of-date expectations to keep people from staying close. I'm not saying that's the case here, but why not ask yourself how each of you has changed? Should you find your expectations of her no longer line up with who she is, that's not always a bad thing. Basing your friendships on what people have to offer, versus what you want from them, can make them closer than they've ever been.

Assumptions linking a person's looks and personality aren't fair

Q: Why is it that good-looking people are more commonly accused of being stuck-up? Is there a double standard?

G.

A: I suppose you can call it that, by arguing that good-looking people are judged more harshly if they're not naturally outgoing.

But I see it more as a common misperception. We tend to ascribe motives to others that make sense to us — so, when an unattractive person is standoffish, we tend to reach for the "wallflower" label. Unattractive = unpopular, check.

Since the flip side is that attractive people are popular, the standoffish beauty must be choosing not to be friendly and so gets labeled a snoot.

Both assumptions are as unfair as they are common, since, obviously, shy and/or introverted people are quite capable of being lovely inside and out, while the facially challenged can still regard you as not worth their time.

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