Dear Amy: My sister is three years older than me. When I was little, she would bully, undermine, belittle and keep her distance from me. She has never been married, and (in her own way) has punished me by being unresponsive to my happy marriage and disinterested in my children.
She goes through periods of noncommunication, until I reach out to her during “safer” times. During those peaceful periods, she will ask me to emotionally support her, and I do.
Finally, she ended all communication with me during the final years of my mother’s life, when I could have used some support in her care.
Despite all this, I still feel hurt that she won’t at least be friendly with me. I have known her to cut other people out of her life. I am now in that category.
I have never known her to apologize or admit being wrong to anyone, and I don’t expect that.
I have tried hard to include her in my family, and have done kind things for her my whole life. I can’t think of why I might have caused her problems. Why is she like this? And why am I so sad?
Amy says: I don’t know why your sister is the way she is. Possibilities are: lifelong jealousy, free-floating emotional issues leading way back to childhood and/or undiscovered emotional or mental imbalance.
You were the baby that barged into her life when she was 3. Perhaps your parents didn’t promote bonding in childhood, or didn’t deal with her challenges and behavior effectively, setting both of you up for a cycle of rejection. You didn’t cause her problems.
Of course you feel hurt! But, probably more often than you realize, siblings are trapped in a complex web of attraction and rejection.
You feel sad because this relationship represents a lifetime of rejection. Also, she was your heartbeat connection to your mother.
You feel guilty because all of your efforts to fix this only reveal your own powerlessness. Your life seems to have turned out to be positive and healthy, and yet she won’t permit intimacy.
You should try to cultivate an attitude of compassion. Convey, “I wish we were closer.” She would likely reject or deflect this. Your stating what you want should help you to continue to release the grief for the relationship that never was.
Where’s the proposal?
Dear Amy: How should I let my partner know that I cannot wait forever on a marriage proposal, without sounding like I’m giving an ultimatum?
My guy and I have dated for 18 months. We are both in our mid-30s. We don’t live together, but we spend two or three weeknights together, and every weekend.
I think two years is probably long enough to expect a proposal, and for him to know whether he’d like to marry me.
I would never want someone to marry me due to an ultimatum, but at the same time, I was clear to him from the beginning that I expect to get married at some point. Perhaps I should have discussed a timeline in that conversation, but I didn’t.
Amy says: If you were clear with your guy from the beginning that you are geared toward marriage, then you’ve already activated the “M-bomb.” It’s out there.
You two are in your mid-30s. Continue to talk about your relationship, including where it is headed. Bring it up — because this is your life.
Set your own timeline, and then pop the question.
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