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A Bad Apple At Thanksgiving Dinner

Dear Sugar
Usually I really look forward to Thanksgiving. My whole family on my mother's side gets together to celebrate every year. The food is delicious and it's a ton of fun to catch up with all of my cousins, but for the past few years there has been one thorn in my side.

I have this one cousin (Anne) who is a couple of years older than me and she's been giving me grief about an old ex of mine. For the past two year's I've brought my newest boyfriend to all of our family parties. Each time that we are around Anne, she asks me really inappropriate questions like, "What happened to your ex Mark? I miss Mark, where's be been and what's he been up to? Mark was so much fun! Do you guys still talk? Why not? You should."

I really feel bad for my current boyfriend because it's disrespectful to him. If I were in his situation, I feel like I might get angry about having to deal with this. She also asks embarrassing questions in front of the entire table, like, "You're in college. You must party a lot, right? You probably drink all the time. Do you take drugs too. What drugs have you tried? Look, she's getting red! She must be guilty."

It makes me so angry. I'm not guilty, I'm embarrassed. I am twenty years old. I know that it’s still below the legal drinking age, but I hardly ever go out, I never do drugs, and it shouldn’t matter to her.

DearSugar, I don't know what to say to her comments and questions. Normally I'm shy, but I'm at the point now where I just want to lash out at her. I’m very tempted to tell her off, but I think that I need something classier and witty to say that will just shut her up for good. Do you have any suggestions? Chagrined Cousin

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Chagrined Cousin,
She sounds maddening. Don't tell her off - if she's older than you, she knows what she's doing and she's trying to get to you. She is purposefully pushing your buttons. Anger is the most common reaction to button pushing but it's a no win situation. You will both end up feeling angry, hurt, offended or resentful. It's just not worth it.

Oftentimes, our buttons are triggered by something that reminds us of a past event where we were hurt. If it wasn't properly dealt with it gets stored and becomes bottled up - so it only takes a quick reminder to push our buttons once again.

The best thing that you can do is to avoid her. Wait until she's sitting down and eating before you prepare your place and eat. Situate yourself as far away from her as possible and if she tries to corner you, excuse yourself and say that you're needed in the kitchen for help.

If that's not entirely possible and you find that you are confronted by her, call her out on it in a nice way. Say something like, "What you just said isn't appropriate and I wish that you would stop. You are pushing my buttons and I don't like it."

I know that it's easier to picture her head in the place of that big juicy turkey that you're about to carve into, but don't act angry, and vent in the middle of your lovely dinner. As you said, you're classier than that. Be strong and good luck. She sounds awful.

Join The Conversation
Regular_Lady Regular_Lady 10 years
I would definitely make your comments in front of everyone else. Once you call her out, she'll see you're willing to play hard. My favorite line is: "That's not a topic that is open for discussion..."
jennifer76 jennifer76 10 years
Don't you have anyone in your family who can stick up for you? I would mention this to another cousin, aunt, uncle, grandmother ahead of time. It will be twice as effective to have grandma cut in after the public question and say "Anne, I know your mother raised you better than this." etc... What I don't get is if she's older than you AND this horrible to you year after year, why does no one else in your family help you out?
siouxsie siouxsie 10 years
i would just turn it back on her..if she asks a question...don't answer..ask one right back that makes her look like the dumb bitch that she is. par exemple...if she asks about drugs...just go...why? is that what you did? is that why you can't find a decent job? if she asks about your should just you want to find him? i wasn't skank enough for him, but i'm sure you more than qualify...
honey31 honey31 10 years
Lol I like your advice to sofi!
sofi sofi 10 years
wow- what a wench. First, tell your boyfriend ahead of time that she is looney and rude and may bring something silly up about an ex that hasn't been around for AGES. Before she can even open her mouth, how about YOU interrogate her about her sex life or lack there of, when is she gonna get married, does she want children-can't wait too long. I know people like this and I think she will just call you insecure or immature in front of the family or that you are trying to hide something from them all. See how she reacts to your questions. I bet she is extremely insecure and just wants the attention on someone else to hide her faults or lack of success. Don't let her get to you anymore.
honey31 honey31 10 years
Wow I feel bad for you.I agree with dearsugar but I think you need to confront her in private and tell to lay off but in a nice manner.Good luck!
LaLaLaura LaLaLaura 10 years
Don't avoid her. Confront her, politely, as DearSugar suggested. But do it in front of everyone, so things can't get too nasty (she's not gonna call you a b*tch in front of your grandma). Tell her that if she wants to discuss your personal life, she can call you to chat.
jaxon jaxon 10 years
soemtimes it's best to give someone a taste of their own medicine. don't blow up in front of everyone just calmly put her in her place she'll be embarrassed in front of everyone and will stop and if that doesn't work channel your inner "Little Richard" and tell her to "Shut Up"
tra tra 10 years
When she asks about your EX, reply "I don't know about that but I do know that I'm very happy with {insert name of current boyfriend here}. {EX} is an EX for a reason." When she asks if you party/drink/do drugs, turn the question around on her. Ask her if she partied, drank or did drugs when she was your age...or if she still does now. If she remarks back, tell her you don't appreciate her intrusive questions and you'd prefer if she wouldn't ask such things. She will soon see how it feels and hopefully learn her lesson.
Tiinnaaaa Tiinnaaaa 10 years
yeah i agree whip, say it infront of the whole family.. tht will really get the message through to her.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 10 years
I agree with Dear, you should say EXACTLY what she recommended. Say it very firmly but politely. And I don't know if this is the best advice, but if it were me, I'd say it in front of the whole family. She's got no qualms about embarassing you in front of everyone, I'd put her in her place in front of everyone, too. Not only will it give her a taste of her own medicine, but if she does start up again, hopefully one of your family members will remember what you said and stand up for you. Just make sure you stay calm when you say it. Don't sound angry or raise your voice. Be the bigger person.
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