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Thread: Losing my sister?

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    #1

    Losing my sister?

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    When we were very young my older sister and I (6 years apart) were very close, but around the time I started high school our relationship became a bit strained. We were still a close family and I would see her often even after she moved out, but now that I live in Florida she's basically a stranger and I miss the closeness we used to have.

    During the first 6 months of DH and I being away I talked to my parents a few times a week through texts and phone calls and we would video chat every Friday. The ONLY time I heard from my sister was when she wrote me "Happy birthday!" on Facebook, despite my many efforts to contact her. It was odd for me because I was so used to talking to her at least once or twice a week when I lived with my parents because she came over to visit or have dinner pretty often.

    6 months after moving, we went home for Christmas for a week, but during that week I only saw my sister 3 times and we only really talked once and during that conversation she kept things very formal ("How is Florida?", "Do you like it?", "What's the weather been like?", "Are you making any new friends?"). She seemed sad when we had to say goodbye, but once again I went months without hearing from her at all despite many more attempts on my part. I discovered she had blocked me on Instagram and I was unable to send her messages on Facebook, but I could still view her profile. I tried to text and call her cell, but neither would work. I asked my mom if my sister was mad at me and she said she had probably just been busy.

    I've also been hurt because when she was my bridesmaid she did the absolute minimum. She never helped me with planning, she didn't come to my bridal shower, she refused to pay for her bridesmaid dress so I bought it for her, and she didn't seem excited at all to stand next to me on my big day. Now her friend is getting married and she has gone all out. She threw a huge bridal shower and is planning a bachelorette party, she's paying for a portion of the wedding reception, all of the bridal shower, and a large portion of the bachelorette party, she goes on and on about how excited she is and I can't help, but feel hurt at the huge difference in attitude she has.

    One day she posted on my Facebook that she will be in New Orleans and would like to meet up since I'm only a few hours away. I was very excited and replied to the post asking for the dates so I can set time aside, I also asked if she already has a hotel picked since I've been a few times and know of some nice spots. She never replied and a week or so later I asked my mom about it. She told me that my sister was probably busy, but that she'd talk to her.

    More than a week later my sister posted on Facebook again, this time giving me the dates, but just the dates. I asked again if she had booked the room and if she had anything specific she wanted to do in New Orleans, where we should meet up, and which of the days she would be free to hang out since I can't be there for all of them. No reply. It has been almost a month since then.

    Due to the way she has acted in the past, my husband thinks he is the reason why she has been avoiding talking to me, but I'm not sure. I asked at one point if she was mad at me and all she said was "I'm not at you". I tried to explain why I felt like she was upset or annoyed, but I never got a reply. I understand that with me living on the opposite side of the country we aren't going to be as close as we were, but it really hurts to watch our relationship deteriorate. I talk to my younger sister several times a week and we are still very very close. I don't talk to my oldest sister super often because she is very busy with work and a new baby, but when we do talk there is no awkwardness or distance, so I don't know why talking to my other sister feels like talking to a distant relative. I don't know how to approach the situation and it's very hard to resolve when she wont answer my texts or calls. At this point I only try to text or call once every other week and sometimes less because I don't want to be annoying.

    It feels like she's completely cutting me off. How has the distance affected relationships with your family, if at all? How should I go about this? Should I just give her space?
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    #2
    My guess would be that she might feel like her lifestyle/beliefs/goals are just becoming distant from you/rest of the family and she might feel like you don't have much in common anymore. IDK, my sister is 10 years older but has not married or settled down much. She was weirded out when I got married. She visits me once a year but we basically only text like once every couple months. But when she was here in January, she asked a lot of questions like "Isn't it weird to be married?", "Is it hard being so far away from mom?" and "Don't you ever wish you had a more exciting job?"

    Basically, my sister is kinda a hippy free spirit and just feels a little out of place with the rest of my family now, especially since my mom USED to be like her but now is like me (steady relationship, office job, has "boring hobbies"). I think she struggles with feeling like she "should" do these things too, especially settling down (and maybe having kids) cuz she's almost 40 now. I mean, I'm not gonna judge her if she spends the rest of her life as a crazy cat lady with a much younger, movie star boyfriend (he's 28) but she feels pressure to conform, ya know?

    But I give her space, I just text her cute cat pictures every once in a while and call on holidays. She knows I have a 100% open door for her and she can stay as much as she wants. She was here for 3 weeks in January and it was awesome but I basically haven't talked to her since lol.

    I dunno if this helps but my advice would be to just love her from afar without making her feel guilty ("I miss you why do you never call!") and she'll probably respond more positively to you. For a while, my sister was straight up ignoring my mom because my mom was bugging her about stuff, so I said to my mom "She's fine, I've been texting her" and my sister found out and was mad at me too because then my mom tried to guilt her "You talk to your sister but not me!"

    *ETA forgot to finish my thought:
    So try not to gossip about what might be going on with your other family too, I know it's hard and you wanna know if something is wrong. But if your mom and other sisters all ask her "Why don't you talk to Sabrina, what's going on?" she might just get annoyed.
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    #3
    I'm sorry that you've been going through this. To me as an outside observer, the changes you describe in your sister's behavior/attitude seem abrupt and therefore most likely as a result or response to something or someone. However, what that something or someone could be is honestly anyone's guess, because, to be blunt, her "coping" mechanisms are extremely passive-aggressive. Blocking or restricting you on social media? Agreeing to be in your wedding but then refusing to do any of the things that are generally expected of someone in that role? All of this just strikes me as behaviors more expected of a sulky pre-teen, rather than a 20-something adult woman.

    So, is it possible your husband is right, and it's him that she dislikes, and she's taking it out on you by extension? Certainly. But unfortunately because your sister is refusing to communicate in any meaningful way, she's not giving you any way to know for certain. How unfair and unkind.

    If I were in your shoes, I would honestly go for the nuclear option- confronting her (not angrily, just directly) about the changes in her behavior (beyond just asking if she's upset with you, where she can wiggle out of an actual answer just by saying she's not mad at *you*). Ideally, this would happen in person, but given how far you live from your family, that may not be possible (are you planning on going back home again for the holidays this year?). I'd explain that I had something important to discuss, find a time/place where interruptions are least likely, and then just dive right in, "Over the last (X amount of time), I've noticed a real change in our relationship. I feel like the closeness we used to have is no longer there, and I feel like you are intentionally keeping me at arms length. For example (insert specific examples here- "I was surprised when I saw you had blocked me on Instagram," "It hurt me when I felt you were less than enthusiastic to be part of my wedding when your participation was so special/important to me," "I feel frustrated when I call/text you repeatedly and don't receive any response from you at all."). Our relationship has always been very important in my life, and it makes me sad to feel like we've lost/are losing that. What's been going on here?" And then see what she says, and take it from there. It doesn't sound like the two of you are sharing much of a relationship at all at this point, so it doesn't seem like there's much on the line to lose by just going straight to the heart of the matter.

    If it can't happen in person, I'd say Skype/video chat is second best, and if all else fails and you really can't wait any longer to address the issue, you might consider writing it in a letter. I find snail mail tends to make me more thoughtful as a writer than email (but in either case, be prepared to lose some of the impact of your words this way, or risk being misinterpreted because you've lost the verbal/visual cues that would go along with your statements in person).
  4. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sabrina22LE View Post
    Due to the way she has acted in the past, my husband thinks he is the reason why she has been avoiding talking to me, but I'm not sure. I asked at one point if she was mad at me and all she said was "I'm not at you". I tried to explain why I felt like she was upset or annoyed, but I never got a reply.
    I think you got some really good insight from other PPs but I just wanted to touch on this real quick. Instead of asking if she's mad at you, or telling you how she makes you feel ... try reaching out to her and just asking to listen. She might be more willing to open up if you frame a question that isn't centered on you and your perceptions of her behavior. If you let her know that you miss her and you just want to talk and see how she's doing, that could be the start of a good heart to heart conversation.
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Tojai View Post
    I think you got some really good insight from other PPs but I just wanted to touch on this real quick. Instead of asking if she's mad at you, or telling you how she makes you feel ... try reaching out to her and just asking to listen. She might be more willing to open up if you frame a question that isn't centered on you and your perceptions of her behavior. If you let her know that you miss her and you just want to talk and see how she's doing, that could be the start of a good heart to heart conversation.
    This is a good idea.

    I know it hurts to have that distance but try to think of it as "My relationship with her is evolving" rather than "I'm losing her"
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    #6
    that really sucks.
    I wouldn't give up, I would request she call on facebook or whatever way you can, and maybe then she will have to call or give you a reason she won't.... or ignore it....
    If there is no obvious relationship deal breaker, I would keep trying.

    I "have" an older brother with whom I was extremely close with, until he moved his gf and daughter across the country to live with my parents in Cincinnati, just to abandon them both to run away back to Seattle to marry a 21 year old (he is 51) (he tried to rent a car and drive out and not tell anyone, but he has too many DUIs to have a license which turns out, you need a license to rent a CAR *dumbass*, so we all knew he was leaving and he flew out as a coward).
    He totally abandon his exgf, his daughter, and two pit bulls (my sister had agreed to watch them for 6 weeks and kept them over a year) both of which were so poorly trained that they bit at my daughter's feet when she wore light up shoes.

    anywhoooooo

    it really sucks. it hurts every day. There is no chance of fixing our relationship. I know through my oldest sister (a year older than him) getting information from their dad from him, that he has another daughter now.

    Can you write her a letter with everything? Would that help at all? Maybe at least get her to tell you what's up?
    I don't know about giving her space, maybe this is bad advice, but I would show her you were not going to give up without a fight.
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    #7
    Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply! This is all such good advice. I'm going to see how things go when shre visits and decide where to go from there. I'll be okay if our relationship just changes as we enter a new stage in our lives, but I want to make sure it doesn't die completely. It will be nice to talk to her in person and maybe then she'll be more open about her own situation. I just want her to know that I love and care about her regardless of time spent apart.
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    #8
    I went through something very similar with my sister. Honestly, it was hard. We basically didn't talk for a year-ish. We're so close in age so we were just so used to everything being the same between us. Once we grew up and had separate lives, it was difficult for us to make that separation between us. But we've realized we're completely different people and have embraced our differences. Our relationship now is probably the closest it's ever been. I'd suggest just having a chat to figure out what the issues are. Relationships... any relationships... are work. Have that talk with an open mind, don't be negative. Once you open that dialogue, it'll prob be way easier to keep the connection.
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    #9
    Is there a history between her and your DH? Has she said anything to you (or him) about him or the relationship? You mentioned that your DH thinks this is largely about him; why?

    If you are pretty sure that's the case, I think you have some hard questions to ask yourself. It seems like her keeping her issues with him or concerns about the relationship quiet isn't working and is basically causing her to distance herself. But the alternative may be having to hear her vocalize those concerns, which means hearing someone say negative things about your husband or your marriage? Are you prepared to do that? If so, you might consider openly asking her if this is about your husband, and if you can get her to admit that, you can tell her that if it is creating distance and she needs to say what is in her heart in order to close that distance, you are ready to hear it as long as it is done as respectfully as possible. The problem with that is that if could very easily lead to defensiveness on your part, and ultimately a fight. If you can stomach it and nothing she says is too awful or blatantly incorrect, then you can thank her for her concerns, tell her you appreciate that they come from a loving place, and let her know that you will think on them, but that you are happy and feel your relationship is healthy.

    I don't think this would normally be my approach, but since not talking about it seems to be withering the relationship, it may end up being the only choice if you want to change that.
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by brahette View Post
    I went through something very similar with my sister. Honestly, it was hard. We basically didn't talk for a year-ish. We're so close in age so we were just so used to everything being the same between us. Once we grew up and had separate lives, it was difficult for us to make that separation between us. But we've realized we're completely different people and have embraced our differences. Our relationship now is probably the closest it's ever been. I'd suggest just having a chat to figure out what the issues are. Relationships... any relationships... are work. Have that talk with an open mind, don't be negative. Once you open that dialogue, it'll prob be way easier to keep the connection.
    I plan to sit down and talk about it when she's here and hopefully that will clear things up or fix any problems. She's always been bad about communicating her feelings, so it might be a bit tough. I'm going to try to make sure she doesn't feel attacked because I know she'll close up the moment she does. I'm really glad you and your sister were able to work through it, I hope we can do the same. I'm willing to put in the work if she is, but lately it has been completely one-sided.


    Quote Originally Posted by villanelle View Post
    Is there a history between her and your DH? Has she said anything to you (or him) about him or the relationship? You mentioned that your DH thinks this is largely about him; why?

    If you are pretty sure that's the case, I think you have some hard questions to ask yourself. It seems like her keeping her issues with him or concerns about the relationship quiet isn't working and is basically causing her to distance herself. But the alternative may be having to hear her vocalize those concerns, which means hearing someone say negative things about your husband or your marriage? Are you prepared to do that? If so, you might consider openly asking her if this is about your husband, and if you can get her to admit that, you can tell her that if it is creating distance and she needs to say what is in her heart in order to close that distance, you are ready to hear it as long as it is done as respectfully as possible. The problem with that is that if could very easily lead to defensiveness on your part, and ultimately a fight. If you can stomach it and nothing she says is too awful or blatantly incorrect, then you can thank her for her concerns, tell her you appreciate that they come from a loving place, and let her know that you will think on them, but that you are happy and feel your relationship is healthy.

    I don't think this would normally be my approach, but since not talking about it seems to be withering the relationship, it may end up being the only choice if you want to change that.
    My sister has disliked DH since we first started dating. My dad had already known him for a few years before we started dating and really liked him. He asked my sister why she disliked him and she said her boyfriend(who went to school with DH for a year) said he's a bad guy. She had no examples so my parents said they were going to form their own opinion of him.

    I asked her boyfriend myself around the time we were planning our wedding and he said he really likes DH and thinks he's a really cool guy, so either he's being two-faced or my sister used him to make my parents believe her. She always needs to be the center of attention and I think DH and I were taking away from that. It was also making her boyfriend look bad because while DH had a car and a really good job he was carless and unemployed with little ambition.

    I thought she got over whatever she had against him because she finally seemed to accept him about a week or so before the wedding, but when I asked her what was so bad about him she wouldn't say. I told her I needed to know since I was about to marry him and she said "If you're getting married I can't stop you". It made me feel like there never really was anything wrong.

    I don't think the issue is entirely me being with DH since my sister and I were already on and off before I even met him, but I do think it may have had a major effect on how often we're "off" and how seldom we're "on". It just seems very childish for her to drag it on for over 2 years if that's the case.

    I'll definitely ask her if any of the problem is because of DH, but I'm taking anything she says with a grain of salt.
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