Dear Amy: My brother and I were very close growing up. We maintained a good relationship into our 20s. Lately our relationship has become strained.
For his last two birthdays, I have generously treated him to fun and thoughtful experiences. I do this because I love him, and I enjoy being generous.
For my last two birthdays, he did not even wish me a happy birthday. He did, however, show up to my birthday dinner and usurp my spot at the table because he "did not want to sit next to the old people" in our family.
I have reached out to him many times. He never responds.
I believe he either does not want a relationship with me, or this is his way of having a relationship with me.
Last weekend I was having supper with our father at Dad's apartment, and he intruded in the middle of our meal and conversation without so much as saying hello.
My therapist advised me to call him out for his disrespect (when I catch him in the act), and set boundaries.
I am thinking about telling my brother that I do not want him coming over to visit our dad while I am there.
I do not want to be steamrolled by his condescending, disrespectful and entitled behavior, but I also do not want to reach a point where I might get physical with him.
He is my brother and I love him, but I do not like him, and do not want to tolerate his disrespect.
What do you suggest I do?
Amy says: You are seeking your brother's respect, and you have the right to receive it.
Your therapist has provided very sound, practical advice.
However, you seem to be delaying the hard but ultimately satisfying work of building and enforcing boundaries, by seeking a second opinion.
I agree completely with your therapist.
I'll add that the person who sets boundaries also has to respect them.
You do not have the right to control who enters your father's apartment. It is your dad's home, and these are boundaries that HE — not you — will have to create and enforce.
So yes, be specific about the behavior that bothers you, and stay in the moment (don't launch into an encyclopedic recitation of previous slings and arrows). You might want to explore ways to back away from your intense involvement; a subtle change can help to create more balance in this very challenging dynamic.
Dear Amy: Regarding all the questions you run from people whose relationships are ruined by Facebook postings, it is shocking to me what some people want to post about.
My technique is to block or "hide" their posts for a month. After a month, I'll check to see if they've improved and if not, I make it permanent.
Amy says: I took myself off that particular platform, and I don't miss it a bit.
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