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What to Ask Yourself Before Breaking Up With Someone

You Asked: Can I Still Have a Relationship With Them?

Dear Sugar,

When I was younger, around 14 or so, I got along great with my sister, who is 18 years my senior. She was my role model and we always had so much fun together. After I graduated from college and moved back home, my sister employed me as her babysitter. She became increasingly lazy and had me do things for her simply because she had a zit on her face or was just too lazy to do it herself. More and more I began to resent her because she rarely showed true appreciation for the things I did for her. With the help of my boyfriend and friends, I started to see that she was simply using me and not even treating me like a sister anymore, but almost like a slave. She paid me horrible wages and became a person I didn't want to be around.

I finally stood up to her — a huge shock to me and a very proud day. She was disrespecting our mother and I told her I had finally had enough of her trash-talking our family, not appreciating me, and taking me for granted. That was two months ago. She has a 16-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old autistic son. I love them very much and it pains me to not be able to see them. However, I recently contacted my niece and snuck over to her house while my sister was gone so I could spend time with them. I miss her family terribly and the sister I once knew, so my question is, do I contact her and further explain why I finally stood up for myself? Or do I wait for her to come to me? I just can't decide what to do since I feel as though I'm owed an apology. Also, how can I go about having a relationship with my niece and nephew who I love very much? I am past the point of truly forgiving my sister, but this tension is having an incredibly negative impact on my life. Please help! — Taken Advantage of Tina

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Dear Taken Advantage of Tina,

Let me first say I commend you for standing up to your sister. I know that took a lot of courage to do what you did so you should be very proud of yourself! If forgiving your sister is not in the cards for you right now, that's your decision, but in order to keep the peace in your family and in order to maintain a relationship with your niece and nephew, you're going to have to learn to tolerate her. You don't need to be best friends again, but you'll have to be civil, and hopefully she'll follow suit. I also advise you to stop sneaking around behind her back. I understand you want to see her kids, but your sister is bound to feel violated and angry if she were to find out that she was lied to.

While I agree that she owes you an apology for treating you the way she did, chances are you won't be getting one anytime soon. Your sister sounds very self-righteous, so instead of letting her childish behavior get the best of you, be the bigger person and go to her. I know it's frustrating to have to be the older sister in the situation, but if it means easing the friction between you two and having a relationship with her kids, it'll be worth it. It's pretty clear that you two need to have a sisterly heart to heart, so after talking everything out, I hope you can work towards strengthening your relationship again. Good luck to you.

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missy1632 missy1632 7 years
innozenze, I kinda do that with my sister. I just let her go off at me.. yell, scream and do whatever she deems necessary... and I just just close myself off. I listen, and I hear, but I don't allow it to affect me. I just think about how sad it must be for her to have so much negativity in her that she feels the need to release it on me, with no real reason. Although she never apologies after going crazy at me, me staying quiet and not "feeding" her with emotion seems to work and she cools down a lot quicker. I dunno about sucking up to her with gifts etc... but I do let my sister be as self centered as she wishes, just let her rant and rant and rant.
innozenze innozenze 7 years
You're right, this isn't a normal situation that can profit by the usual goodwill & common sense, because it sounds like your sister operates in a totally different reality than yours. in this reality, everything revolves around *her* and cold as it sounds she will value you only if she has an actual use for you...if you give her the right kind of attention she needs or make her life easier or improve her status in some way, etc. otherwise you get the cold shoulder/silent treatment because you simply stop existing for her, no matter how long you've been in her life. maybe meds would help her, but you need to accept that she is just like this & will never change & it's totally up to you to decide what you're willing to do to get what you want out of this situation. try flattering her, bringing her little gifts, etc., make her feel like the important person she so desperately wants to be & look at it as just the price to be paid for those kids. and when she rages at you, don't react, don't give her any emotional energy to feed off of, and they will taper off a lot quicker with nowhere to go.
missy1632 missy1632 7 years
This situation sounds a lot like the situation I have with my sister. She is 12 years older than me, and has 2 boys, with an absent father. It's almost like she resents me for NOT being in her situation. So, in turn I get made to feel guilty for trying to go out and live my life, instead of being cooped up with her and the kids. Although I love my nephews to death, it isn't a nice feeling when someone isn't thinking outside of themselves... and makes you feel guilty. I also had a big huge massive blow up with my sister, and we have been better for it. It was a horrible experience for me, I was shaking, and have literally never screamed at someone so intensely before. Granted, I went over the top, and yes, I had definitely let my emotions build up until I had no choice but release them.. but it certainly let her know that I was dead serious this time, and showed just how sick and tired I was for being treated like nothing. I didn't talk to my sister for a few weeks, and let her do all the groveling. Don't let yourself be a doormat... I'm sure she'll call you when she finally realises she misses you... and not just your babysitting. And if she doesn't, you will still be able to see your niece and nephew (where there's a will, there's a way), and your life will be better without her. If, of course, she comes around, you're relationship will be improved. If you give in, and allow her to treat you the same way again, she'll just know to use her children against you as leverage... I know mine did. Oh and just as a side note... I'm wondering if your starsign is cancer. I am a cancerian, and I know I sometimes let my loyalty to family override being mistreated.
AngelineZoe AngelineZoe 7 years
This is what was posted in Group Therapy. "In response to the first comment, thank you for your advice. However, there have been a few things that I had not pointed out. In previous arguments with my sister, I had told her how I felt. I had said no in the past, and that spurred her into a rage where she proceeded to tell me that I don't care about her, I'm f***ing her life up, etc. I told her that I need to have my own life too and not sacrifice my weekends for her, which I did in the past until I finally told her no, I'm not doing that anymore, because it had gone too far when she was asking me every weekend. I'm definitely not blaming her for all my mental problems. However, she KNOWS I feel like I need to please everyone, in fact I would persistently complained how I really needed to work on not stretching myself so thin. Yet, she continued to berate me every time I said no and made her unhappy. Also, to be honest, she was the only person I was afraid to say no to. Sure I wanted to make everyone else happy, but I could say no to other people. BECAUSE, in the past anyone that has ever pissed my sister off, she has ignored for years. THUS, I did not want to upset her because I didn't want to risk not being able to see my niece and nephew. I could gauge when I would be able to say no, and other times that it would probably cause her to not speak to me. Yes, she would not speak to me simply for saying no to babysitting, even if it was a small amount of time where she had to run an errand, a.k.a. insignificant. My sister is bipolar and I always had to watch when I said no to her. In fact, she didn't speak to me for three months simply because I called our brother, whom she doesn't talk to and hasn't for years, my brother. Simply that, I called him "brother" and she flipped out saying that if he's my brother what is she, just my sister? I finally gave her one stern talking to, when I yelled at her, because I wanted her to get the point, any other time I told her how I felt she simply let it roll off after acknowledging it and not changing. I felt she needed a big shock to maybe change her ways. THUS, the reason I was so afraid to say no is because I didn't want to lose the ability to see my niece and nephew. In the past she would refuse all communication from me, and not respond. So even if I were to contact her now I'm not sure if she would respond. For me though, I honestly don't want to contact her. Before I blew up at her it was a solid month of her hurting my feelings, including me crying on the phone with her TELLING HER she was hurting me. Even though it has been two months, I still need healing time and need to learn even more how to gain strength when it comes to saying no to her. I can still see my niece and nephew, the only thing is that my sister has to be at work. I'm not blaming everything on my sister, I never did, however she hurt me a great deal and she hurt me because I felt like I never did good enough by her, even if everyone else told me I was. And as for the pay rate, I'm very well aware that slaves get paid, however I wasn't allowed to eat any of her food while I was there, I wasn't allowed to put my keys on the furniture anywhere at all. I had at least 30 rules I was to follow that made me paranoid all the time, because she would literally YELL at me and tell me to get out of her house if I didn't use a coaster. Also, I usually worked during normal work hours so she had to pay me because I was losing out on time at work. IN ADDITION, she didn't pay me directly, a company paid me that provided babysitting money to people with autistic children. However, anytime is was just for her, she paid me very very little money when she knew how little money I had. Anyone that is subject to this treatment is bound to come away hurt and damaged. I've had enemies treat me better than she did."
geebers geebers 7 years
No one says you have to be your sister's best friend but you can be civil and polite. I think you have to do this if you want a relationship with your niece and nephew. You sound like you would be a good influence for them so I do hope you speak to your sister first and let the past go for their sake.
TidalWave TidalWave 7 years
You two need to sit down and have a calm but honest confrontation about everything that happened. Also, if the 16 year old has a car or job or is independent in any way, you can stop by and see her outside of the house. She is old enough to choose to talk to you if she wants to. sounds like our sister is immature.
queenlizzie queenlizzie 7 years
This is weird. So, you let your sister walk all over you, and you didn't talk to her about it while it was happening, you just exploded one day... and you wonder why she's upset? Wow. OK. I think the younger sister owes the older sister an apology. This is what happens when people let their feelings build up until they can't hold them back anymore. If she wants a relationship with her niece and nephew, she needs be the bigger person and eat a little dirt first. Sorry.
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