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Dealing with an incredibly selfish sister

(28 Posts)
SourSweets Thu 29-Aug-13 13:48:07

I'm just about coming to the end of my rope with my sister, I don't know how to deal with her anymore. I've been ignoring her behaviour for a while now as it's just "how she is" but I don't think I can do this anymore.

She is unbelievably selfish. To give just a few examples:

A little while ago I was heavily pregnant, she came round for the day under the guise of catching up with me and helping out with jobs before the baby arrived. In reality we spoke about nothing other than her boyfriend or the entire day. No word of a lie, she literally didn't mention my pregnancy once, or ask how I was. My husband got home from work at 6.30 and asked if she wanted to stay for dinner. She said no, she'd be leaving soon, so we waited to eat until after she'd left. She didn't actually leave until 11pm by which point I was so tired I went to bed without eating. (Also I'd gone out to buy lunch for us both to which she offered nothing, not that I needed anything but usually when visiting a 39 week pregnant relative you'd ask if you could get them anything)

After my baby was born one day she emailed me asking for more relationship advice. I replied with my opinion and also said "I've just managed to get the baby down and am going to try to fit in a nap so sorry if I don't respond for a while." She read and replied to this message, then when she got no immediate response went on to call me 3 times, waking me up. When I told her I was trying to sleep she just said "yeah, I thought so." Btw my baby is nearly 4 weeks old now.

She was supposed to come round today as she has the week off work and has been saying how much she wants to come and see the baby, so I invited her round yesterday, she couldn't because she'd spent the night round her (new) boyfriend's. so she suggested today instead. 30 mins after she was due, she text me to ask "do you still want me to come over?" And basically making out that I'd asked for a babysitter (comments like "I guess I can come if you need a nap but I won't be able to stay long" and how she'd like to go to the gym) and talking about how she's going out tonight. So I said it sounds like she had other plans and not to worry. To which she replied "ok".

I'm not expecting her to be as interested in my pregnancy/baby/life as I am but just a little courtesy wouldn't go amiss! She is always losing friends and boyfriends and can't seem to figure out why, but tbh if I weren't related to her I wouldn't be her friend either. I dont know what to do, do I tell her how she makes me feel? I really doubt shed listen. In fact I know she wouldn't. I could just have less to do with her but she's my sister and I want us to have a good relationship. Maybe I just need to expect less from her?

Sorry, no time to read back as I have to burp the baby! Hope it makes sense. Thank you, as always.

Lottapianos Thu 29-Aug-13 13:55:21

Loads of sympathy. My sister is very similar although we live in different countries so I rarely see her face to face. I feel like she wrings me dry of every drop of support I have to give but I get nothing in return. She's extremely selfish and self-absorbed. It's not just with me - she's like it with everyone.

I'm working very hard on coming to terms with how she is. I think the only way through this is to expect less from her. It sounds like she can't make space for you, can't support you in the way you would like to be supported. My sister would never ever be able to take my feelings into account so I could never speak to her about her behaviour - she would just get defensive and turn it around on me. From your post, you seem to think that's how your sister would respond too.

My advice - I would give up any hope of having a reasonable conversation with her about this and just work on setting some boundaries. If you need her to leave your house because you need to eat or whatever, you need to tell her - you can do it nicely, 'well it's been great to see you but listen, I really do have to get on with X. Will be good to see you again at the weekend, I will be in touch' or whatever. And stick to your guns. People like this need boundaries - they need to know how far they can push you, how much they can expect out of you, and no more. And if it's not convenient for her to come around, tell her. You need to think about what you need. This kind of thing gets easier with practice smile

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 29-Aug-13 15:42:09

You have so much right now your DSis could be having the time of her life or feeling a little outshone.

If otoh DSis has always been demanding don't even think of making allowances just give as good as you get and put your mobi on mute if you rest or nap.

To avoid disappointment, if you make arrangements to see her never prioritise seeing her over doing something else or seeing somebody other than her. Welcome her sincerely but if she oversteps the Me and My World change the subject.

When together, never turn down a chance of a drink or meal, tuck in before baby demands your time, don't hold back out of politeness. Either she joins in or goes without.

Ever see those dog training shows where the expert tells the participants where they stand in the pack hierarchy? She needs to know you're not here for her convenience. Personally I found a screaming infant invaluable to deter callers. Later you can do the old "Let baby speak to Auntie!" trick to fend DSis off.

You shall still chat and share in triumphs but as your free time diminishes with the arrival of pfb, so you will treasure stress-free "you" time and manage your sister's expectations.

MariaLuna Fri 30-Aug-13 01:50:24

Next time don't wait for dinner (11 pm?!) till after she leaves, that way you are making it all about her. You even went to bed hungry!

Now you have the perfect "excuse" with the care of a small baby - congratulations by the way.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 30-Aug-13 07:51:46

My younger sis can be a bit like this.....and it reared it's head in a big way both times I had babies..especially dd1 as our lives suddenly were so different. She can be so insensitive and selfish but I've made a conscience decision to love her as she is because she's my sister and shes not gonna change. I just never rely on her and sometimes have to be a little selfish back.

SourSweets Fri 30-Aug-13 08:42:08

Lotta, that's exactly how she'd react. She cant ever see her own imperfections. When moaning about her boyfriend and how he'd told her he was unhappy she said "I'm the perfect girlfriend, his unhappiness has got nothing to do with me." That just about sums it up.

Mamma I think I'm going to work on loving her as she is too. I really want to continue to be there when she needs me, I just can't do it all the time anymore I guess.

She makes it so difficult to keep biting my tongue though, she'll say things like "oh my god I'm so full, my size 6 jeans are actually feeling tight" and then in the next breath tell me I still look pregnant. (She did actually say the size 6 thing, I'm not exaggerating that!)

Silverfoxballs Fri 30-Aug-13 08:54:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lottapianos Fri 30-Aug-13 09:09:59

SourSweets, to be honest I think she sounds narcissistic. Google Narcissistic Personality Disorder and see if you think some of it fits her. If she is narcissistic, then she's actually incapable of empathising and putting other people first. It may help to think of it in that way, although it's still bloody painful. When you're thinking about why she is like this, just remember not to lose sight of yourself and what you need. Good luck with it all smile

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 30-Aug-13 09:14:26


I would also read up on narcissistic personality disorder re your sister. If she is a narcissist the best thing you can do for you is to have as little contact with her as humanely possible. Narcissistic people simply cannot empathise.

BTW how do your parents get along with her, do they treat her with kid gloves and or roll out the red carpet for her?.

Nagoo Fri 30-Aug-13 09:24:59

I have a friend like this, and it's astonishing how blunt I can be with her, she so thick skinned: o

Just tell her what's what. If you offend her, how bad will it be? It's already pissing you off, stressing you out.

Say 'I'm eating now' 'I need to sleep' 'you are your own worst enemy' whatever you need to say. She doesn't consider you so I don't see why it benefits you to hold back on her account. Especially if the alternative is to cut ties with her.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 30-Aug-13 10:28:51

Honestly.....sounds like my sis. So....had my first DD.....she turned up IN A MOOD....the day after the birth to meet her. Sat there in a strop....afterwards transpired she'd had a row with her Boyf of one bloody month!!!!!! Second baby born.....early hours of morning....text all siblings the news within about ten minutes of birth. Other sister rings texts says he'll call in morn, other brother overseas emails as has heard a wordfrom sis.....until 3pm in afternoon after mum and other sister have had words with her on phone. Again some drama on a night out with Boyf. The list goes just have to focus on their good parts. She is great fun, great for fashion chat....a good laugh on a girly day out etc etc. That's the level I keep it on. Personally I think siblings are so precious and if you can be the bigger person (no pun intended with the size 6 jeans and all!!) then rise above it!!!!

mistlethrush Fri 30-Aug-13 10:35:05

Re supper - she was invited, she said no - just get on with sorting it out for the 2 (3) of you and if necessary, sit down with a plate for you and a plate for DH and none for her... grin

SourSweets Fri 30-Aug-13 14:55:35

Wow Lotta, I just googled it and I do recognise a hell of a lot of those "qualities" in her. That might actually help me deal with her if I can understand how her mind is working a bit better than I currently do (ie, not at all!)

Atilla, our dad thinks she's the best thing to have ever graced the planet and finds her endless stories and criticisms of other people (usually other women) to be hilarious. Our mum is more towards my way of thinking but she'd never ever suggest that to her or call her up on anything.

SourSweets Fri 30-Aug-13 14:59:59

Ugh, after the whole cancelling on me at the last minute because she couldn't be bothered thing yesterday she's just text me talking about how she's got 2 men declaring their love for her. Didn't ask how the baby is or how I am. It's just a little thing but its so relentless and predictable. I'm going to read up on dealing with a narcissist and see if I can figure out some sort of coping strategy so I don't lose my mind! Thank you for the advice and empathy.

mistlethrush Fri 30-Aug-13 15:05:57

Do you have to reply? If you do, why not reply, letting her know how the baby is, what you've had for lunch etc...

Mintyy Fri 30-Aug-13 15:07:04

She's your sister, there is no other person in the world more "equal" to you. Why don't you just say something instead of biting your tongue?!

When she says "I'm so full I can't do my size 6 jeans up!" make a joke out of it. Say "sorry ... what size are your jeans again? size 6??? omg who knew you were a size 6! hang on while I alert the media".

I can't believe you didn't eat and didn't tell her to get off home. It sounds like you are scared of her or something. Try and be a bit more assertive.

ThatBintAgain Fri 30-Aug-13 15:11:13

OMG you could actually be describing my "sister". Very very similar (used to phone me up pissed up to 8 times in the early hours after I'd just had DS1, wouldn't help me with my DS when I got rushed into hospital "because she was going shopping", I could go on...) and I have to say that things came to a head when she did something particularly inexcusable and then verbally attacked me when confronted. Interesting that others have pointed out the narcissism, it hadn't occurred to me that mine might be NPD as well (I'd say both her parents are so it would make perfect sense.) This was the point it became clear that I needed to stop all contact with her, and life has been fairly peaceful since. I don't miss her in the slightest.

You might not want to do anything as drastic as that (yet! wink ) but setting up your own boundaries, expecting nothing and massively reducing her impact onto your life is definitely worth considering. Wishing you all the luck, it's so horrible to have to deal with this kind of crap, especially when all you should be concentrating on is your new family member!

SourSweets Fri 30-Aug-13 15:28:03

Mintyy I know I do need to be more assertive. I'm not scared of her, I'm scared of the fall out. And I guess I'm scared of appearing rude. We have a really close family and no-one ever says anything negative for fear of causing rifts and I guess I don't want everyone to look to me as the cause of one. She's very good at rewriting history in a way that makes her the victim. She will outright lie to paint herself in a better light and I just can't be bothered with all that.

ThatBint she sounds awful! Worse than my sister, mine would help out if I was desperate, if only to tell everyone how she rushed in to save the day.

MickeyMouseHasGrownUpACow Fri 30-Aug-13 15:34:31

My sister came to STAY 3 days after the birth of dd1. She did sis no cooking, helping or anything, She spent the whole time talking about her relationship with her then boyfriend and asked when I was coming to visit her in London. How a baby shouldn't stop me travelling the 3 hours on the train.

When I did visit when dd1 was 4 months, she didn't find me a pushchair to borrow, so I had to traipse across London on the tube with my suitcase and baby to a friend's to borrow her baby stuff, then back across.

I can't believe I did it now. Why on earth didn't I draw a line?

I guess what I'm saying, is draw a line. Just try to be firm and speak up fro yourself.

wordyBird Fri 30-Aug-13 20:05:28

It's OK to set boundaries with people - you don't have to be nasty to do that. But your latest post suggests that you fear being seen as rude, and have quite a strong fear of causing a rift just by being negative, or asserting your wishes.

Your sister asserts hers without fear though, doesn't she? I wonder if you have you perhaps learned to tiptoe around her, just to keep everybody happy, or something similar? It's reached quite an extreme if you are afraid to state a basic human need to eat in front of your sister.

I also wonder if you have ever thought about counselling to talk over some of this, even if it was just a one-off session. It seems sad that you are afraid to say anything negative, and that you anticipate extreme results if you do (eg a rift).

Squitten Fri 30-Aug-13 20:33:05

Just disengage a little bit and stop being so available to her drama. If she texts you garbage, just don't reply. If she asks to come around, tell her you're busy and you'll get back to her. You aren't obliged to put up with this constantly you know

Mintyy Fri 30-Aug-13 20:33:43

Quite agree with wordybird.

In other words, it is not normal to be unable to tell your sister to go home so that you can eat. Or that she is boring you with non-stop talk about her relationships. If you can't say things like that to your sibling, who can you be honest with?

Xenadog Fri 30-Aug-13 21:45:40

Your sister behaves like this because you allow her to. I think it's time you erected some boundaries and stuck to them. You are both adults and she needs to know that princess behaviour is not welcome. She doesn't know there is a problem with what she says/does because you don't tell her.

Your priorities aren't keeping your sister/parents happy it's making your home for you, DH and LO and so if this means upsetting a selfish sister then so be it.

SourSweets Sat 31-Aug-13 12:38:05

You're right Wordy I do tiptoe round her, and I never really thought that wasn't normal behaviour before reading the reactions on here. That's just the way it's always been in our family, everyone tiptoes round her because she reacts so dramatically to hearing something she doesn't like. That's probably partly why she is so selfish now though. It's going to be difficult to break that pattern but it seems that it needs to be done.

Kundry Sat 31-Aug-13 17:25:57

People in truly close families can say what they like to each other as they know whatever they say, they love each other.

If the only way your close family works is by some of you being too scared to have an opinion, it isn't a close family, it's a family which one or two members control and dominate.

Start being more assertive - initially they won't like it but carry on and your family will be the better for it.

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