Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

My brother doesn't give me what I want

(397 Posts)
KellysZeros Mon 05-Sep-16 23:27:08

I wanted to post that my brother doesn't love me, but I'm sure he does, but he is incapable of showing it. I recently got married, and he didn't come. I do sort of understand why (it would have involved some travel and an overnight stay), but to me, it's what you do for a sibling. I recently attending his wedding (and had to travel). However, he didn't show any enthusiasm at all. He sent me a plain card with little text. It got me thinking he never, and I really mean never asks me about my life. Where I live, what I do, nothing. I think there is some strange family dynamics where when he was younger he was a bit jealous of me.

I don't think he can change, but I find it so upsetting. What can I do?

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 05-Sep-16 23:43:30

Accept it? Lots of siblings don't get along.

AnotherEmma Mon 05-Sep-16 23:48:16

So you went to his wedding, but he didn't go to yours? That's not on, unless he had a good reason for not being able to go?

I think you have two options. You could try talking to him to find out if there is an issue and if it can be resolved. Or you could simply accept that the two of you aren't close and he's sadly not prepared to make an effort with you. You should protect yourself by making only the minimum effort with him.

You might decide to go straight for the second option or you might have to resort to it if the first option doesn't work.

Sadly if he's not interested there isn't really anything you can do about it.

Did your parents treat you differently when you were growing up?

KellysZeros Mon 05-Sep-16 23:52:24

It's true that many siblings don't get along. I don't think our parents intended to treat us differently, but I was always golden child. I was easier, he was prone to anger a lot, and it has gone on until adult life. I think he could benefit from some therapy, but I don't think he will ever see it, accepting it might sadly be easier

AnotherEmma Tue 06-Sep-16 00:00:32

Maybe you were "easier" because you were the favourite, and maybe he was angry because he wasn't?!

If you really want to have a relationship with him, I think you probably need to think more carefully about the family dynamics and how damaging they might have been for him. It wasn't your fault that your parents favoured you over him, but if you acknowledge how unfair it was and show some empathy towards him, that would probably go a long way towards building bridges.

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 00:35:00

I know he was hurt by something, but I don't know how to help him. He's a 38 year old man, with a family of his own.

AnotherEmma Tue 06-Sep-16 00:36:52

You don't have to help him, but you do have to understand (or at least try) that no matter how old he is, the fact that his parents have favoured his sister over him is always going to hurt.

Babymamamama Tue 06-Sep-16 00:39:49

It's very hard to be friends with the golden child if you were the scapegoat. Unless you try to reframe this from what he "owes" you as a sibling to how you can become closer, by you showing him empathy I don't think this situation will improve.

TheLastRoseOfSummer Tue 06-Sep-16 01:53:00

If this was a true golden child/scapegoat dynamic, then you benefited hugely from that and you can't possibly begin to imagine how sad and miserable his childhood probably was through no fault of his own.

He probably needs some distance from you to be able to get on and live his life partly because you remember your childhood's differently, but because you might well be continuing some of the narratives of your childhood into adulthood.

In fact, that the title of your thread is 'My brother doesn't give me what I want' speaks volumes to be honest.

And you probably have no idea that you do it.

My brother was the golden child and I was the scapegoat. From the other side, I've never been jealous of him, but it is incredibly difficult to have a relationship with him, largely because his expectations of me are so high. I will never be able to give him what he wants. This is because I prioritise my children over his and I cannot always put him first and because I don't recognise his 'superiority' over me in the way that our mother did.

If you want this situation to change, I'm afraid you might have to do some genuine soul searching and maybe open up a dialogue with him about it, but be prepared to not like some of what you hear.

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 07:28:20

Thanks for your responses. I do recognise that there is a strange and difficult family dynamic, but I read up a little on the golden child / scapegoat dynamic which talks of narcissistic parents (usually mothers) and I don't think that is the case here. Our parents have always, to my knowledge, been very careful to treat us equally, to spend the same amount on presents, to give us the same amount of love, etc, etc.

Growing up, he was a difficult child, and to this day, I think he is a bit resentful and angry of the world around him. I'm very empathetic towards him, but other than just wait and hope to see if he is ok, is there much I can do?

When I think of the title "my brother doesn't give me what I want", it might sound selfish, but what I'm saying is that I would like a "normal" relationship with him, but I feel I'm walking on eggshells. I'll take an example from this week that got me annoyed.

So, I got married last weekend, and it was a truly wonderful day. He couldn't make it. My parents and friends loved it. I sent him a few messages with 3 pictures (and I'm worried I'm ramming down his throat). His replies are very short ("looks like you had a nice time"). On the other hand, his child (my niece) starts school this week, and I get sent 10 pictures, in basically the same pose outside the school. I'm pleased to see it, but there's an asymmetry. To me, it's like he is screaming for approval from me (and from my parents). He never asks me about my life at all, whereas I'm always asking him about his. It's frustrating.

KarmaNoMore Tue 06-Sep-16 07:39:16

I really don't think you are very empathetic at all, you have been putting him down in all your posts as of a bad personality. Frankly, if your relations depart from the point that you think you are "golden" while he is somewhat deficient in his character. It is no wonder he wants to keep you out of his life. I'm sure he has found other people who make him feel more appreciated than you do.

Your title speaks volumes, he doesn't give you what YOU want. What on Earth? He doesn't have to give you anything, he owes you nothing.

KarmaNoMore Tue 06-Sep-16 07:43:21

Ps. He doesn't seem to be screaming for your approval at all.

He doesn't show interest in you and would not even attend your wedding but he is screaming for your approval?

hmm

Tiggywinkler Tue 06-Sep-16 07:48:48

The reason he seems to be seeking approval is because of the scapegoat/Golden child dynamic.

If you really want a relationship with him, you firstly need to let go of all your set ideas about how he was difficult/you were easy and the rest of that unhealthy paradigm.

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 07:53:41

I think you're reading too much into the title there. What I mean by "what I want" is a normal loving relationship, where, to give an example, we would be happy for each other. The title is written from my perspective about what I want, because it's me writing it!

I don't think he's all a terrible character and he is a good person. However, it doesn't make me a bad person or unempathic to recognise he can be difficult, and he is a bit resentful of the world around him. I would love to help in some way, because I don't think he's happy.

What I mean with the approval is perhaps in a different sense. It seems to me he wants approval for his things (his children, his life) rather than for things to do with me, such as my wedding

AnotherEmma Tue 06-Sep-16 08:00:14

Have you asked him whether he resents you and if so why?
Have you asked him why he didn't attend your wedding?

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 08:01:58

I'm interested to see how I can help with the scapegoat / golden child dynamic. I don't think our parents intended to treat us differently, and I think they did their best to treat us differently. In fact, they were careful and still are today to treat us the same.

My parents really aren't some narcissistic terrible parents who tried to divide and rule us.

I'm only described that maybe he was a difficult child because that question was asked. We had fantastically happy childhoods and my brother is incredibly beyond nostalgic about it. He always had temper tantrums, but it was in his teenage years where his anger really seemed to manifest itself. I think he was unhappy at school, whereas I was a confident, generally happy teenager who did well at school. In my opinion, that is where the split occured, and I don't think our parents can be blamed for that.

TheLastRoseOfSummer Tue 06-Sep-16 08:06:50

From an outside perspective, your wedding day was important to you, his daughter's first day at school was important to him. You both shared photos with your sibling.

I'm not going to try and make this fit a dysfunctional dynamic; I didn't live your childhood and I'm not going to take a couple of things you said and make it fit. But I would say that my brother also remembers equal love, he also remembers me being 'difficult' (it's a word that was used to describe me a lot), there was equal money spent, etc. My mother did some spectacularly disturbing things in relation to him, but not until he was an adult. I don't tend to talk about our childhood with him because, although he acknowledges her oddness (we are both NC with her now), his experience of 1985, for example, was very different to mine. He thinks her oddness only really applied to us as adults because he wasn't on the receiving end of it as a child. He remembers me having a harder time than him but, as he didn't, he has bought the narrative that I was a difficult and angry child. I wasn't.

Not saying your mother is in the same league as ours at all! And it might also be that your parents did everything they could and nothing would have worked.

But I would still try and speak with him about it. And let him talk. And listen. Don't defend your parents, just listen to him. There may well be things you're not aware of.

Then if, after you have tried, things are no different, you will know to readjust your expectations of him. This is really about expectation management on your part.

TheLastRoseOfSummer Tue 06-Sep-16 08:08:41

X post

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 08:11:15

I haven't asked him whether he resents me, because we are not very good at being frank and honest with each other.

He gave lots of different reasons for not coming to our wedding (it was the summer holidays, his daughter would be starting school a week after, etc) and although I was upset he didn't come, beforehand or after he simply didn't show any real interest or sadness that he couldn't make it. It was the level of interest a distant friend might show in your wedding

Isetan Tue 06-Sep-16 08:13:40

Do you really want a relationship with your brother or do you want to be seen to be having a relationship with your brother because it's not entirely clear from your posts. His childhood experience was probably very different to yours and your family dynamic may have contributed to that. You weren't on the negative receiving end of your family dynamic, so with all due respect, your understanding and empathy isn't as high as you think it is.

I can understand that you're upset about him not coming to your wedding but his absence may not be about you and could easily be more about his place in your family dynamic.

Your brother is not you and so comparing his behaviour to yours is pointless but If you really want a relationship with him, stop diagnosing him and start engaging with him in a way that engages him.

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 08:15:22

TheLastRose

I do understand that I can't ever know how things looked like to him, and our parents are just the loveliest. I don't know if they were well equipped to deal with what I think was an anger (wherever it came from) that has never really been resolved.

I do get the expectation part, and I will try to have a conversation with him. I'm a bit frightened he would fly off the handle. However, I may be very surprised

Isetan Tue 06-Sep-16 08:19:40

X posted but it doesn't sound like you're particularly close and maybe he does view your relationship as one of a distant friend, rather than the sibling obligation that you appear to expect.

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 08:21:56

Isetan, I want a relationship with him, I don't know why you would assume otherwise.

I do understand that we're all different people, so I can never truly understand his life, but I was there, and I think I am fairly empathic towards him.

KellysZeros Tue 06-Sep-16 08:24:00

We're not very close, and I would like to be close to him. That's the point. But right now, it's a very assymetric relationship (I gave the examples of our weddings this year - I went to his, he didn't come to mine). I take a lot of interest in his life. He wouldn't know what my house looks like and is not interested in knowing.

Sassypants82 Tue 06-Sep-16 08:26:10

I guess this comes down to accepting that he can't give you the relationship you want with him. You really should try to nor be disappointed that somebody doesn't live up to your expectations. I'm sorry, it's a shitty situation but my advice would be to just reconcile yourself with the reality of the relationship & stop pining for what you think you should have. It was actually pretty unsupportive to say the least that he didn't go to your wedding. I'm sorry. And congratulations!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now