Lifestyle

Ask Amy

Sister dynamic could be about birth order

Q. My family tries to be close, but when it comes to me (the youngest) and my oldest sister (eight years older), we just don’t click.

Despite being born to the same people and raised in the same household, we have very different views, opinions, and beliefs about nearly everything.

I don’t recall having a good relationship as children; she was always yelling or angry at me.

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I was always closer to our brother (middle child), who played with me and let me tag along with him and his friends.

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My sister never seemed interested in being close, though we did have our moments of getting along.

As adults, this feels unchanged and strained; she’s made it clear she doesn’t approve of my career, schooling, spiritual beliefs, and she was openly skeptical about my marriage (until the ceremony), because my husband is older than I.

She always talks down to me, and once stated out loud that she can’t respect me as an adult. That hurt more than she’ll ever know.

She seems to believe that I don’t want to be her sister, when in reality I just don’t want to be around someone who makes me walk on eggshells. My parents wish we’d get along, but I can’t force myself to pretend anymore.

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I will be civil, but I don’t feel we can be regular friends.

Is this awful of me? Should I keep trying? I just don’t see the point.

Youngest Of Three

A. One of the most challenging aspects of the sibling relationship is the struggle to cope with a less-than-ideal dynamic. We all have this idea that siblings should be best friends, but it often doesn’t work out that way.

The fact is, you and your sister were NOT raised in the same household with the same parents. By the time you came along, your parents were eight years older and had two other children. There is a high likelihood that your parents raised you very differently than their older children.

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It’s also likely that your older sister actually had a hand in helping to raise you. She just didn’t get the memo that it’s time to stop.

I interpret some of the behavior you describe as stereotypical “oldest child” stuff. She can’t respect you as an adult because in her mind, you’ll always be the baby of the family. Passing judgment on you is the purview of the bossy eldest.

Insight into the dynamic created by birth order will NOT help you to get along better with your sister — but it may help you to see some of her behavior in a new way. This insight should help you to cope.

Read “The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are,” by Kevin Leman (2015, Revell). Dr. Leman’s book is a great first look into the fascinating topic of birth order.

Q. Is it appropriate for my wife to look up ex-boyfriends on Facebook? And am I wrong to ask her to stop?

When I asked her to stop doing this, she said, “I will not stop. I would not cheat.”

I find it disrespectful that she is doing this. I also think her response is disrespectful.

Am I being too morally rigid? Am I just acting jealous? Or do I need to find someone else who is on the same page as me?

Social Media Trouble

A. Facebook seems tailor-made for looking up exes. Doesn’t everyone do this?

Context is important. Is your wife doing some benign lurking and gloating? Or is she connecting and communicating with her exes? There is a big difference.

I agree that “I will not stop. I would not cheat” is not a great response. Her choice to bring up cheating is pretty incendiary. But then again, so is your knee-jerk response to maybe find another partner.

You two are obviously at a relationship impasse. I suspect that this social media dustup is more a symptom than a cause. I hope you can work things out.

Q. “Struggling” said she didn’t want to attend a wedding with her right-wing relatives.

Why do you always insist that politically conservative people are “boorish”? I’m so tired of this consistent bias in your column.

Tired

A. I’ve encountered many left-leaning people who are closed-minded, reactionary, and “boorish,” and have tackled questions regarding same in my column.

In this case, I described the behavior as “boorish” because “Struggling” referred to this relative as an “insulting bully.”

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.