Author Topic: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?  (Read 5633 times)

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LadyL

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2013, 06:17:15 PM »
Something to consider as you are dealing with this is most borderlines, sociopaths, and narcissists will not seek the help they need for themselves until their actions give them enough consequences.  Even then it's iffy as to whether they will seek lasting help or not, and few will.  I work with survivors who have been abused by these disordered individuals, and many get trapped into feeling that they can somehow "fix" their disordered loved ones if they do "enough".  It's an easy trap to fall into, especially with the feeling of family obligation thrown into the mix.  It may actually be best for her in the long term, and push her to seek the help she desperately needs, if you can detach yourself a little from the feeling of needing to fix her and her relationships.


I have to POD this. If part of her pathology is narcissism than of course her reactions to normal life experiences (a break up) involve basically an emotional fireworks display. Because the bad things that happen to her, are The Worst Things That Have Ever Happened to Anyone. And being able to control people's reactions - threatening suicide so they *have* to answer the phone, have to listen to the monologue, etc. - is one of the tools in her tool kit for ensuring she gets attention. I know this sounds horribly callous but if it comes down to suicide threats, tell her you are calling 911 and having an ambulance sent to her because she is a threat to herself, and then hang up the phone.

EllenS

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2013, 08:45:10 PM »
Kendo, I am really sympathetic to all you have to deal with, but I'm not sure if this is really within the purview of etiquette?

reflection5

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2013, 09:00:55 PM »
OP, suggest you consult with a qualified mental health professional - particularly due to all the suicide threats.  This goes beyond the bounds of an internet etiquette message board.

blarg314

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2013, 09:06:08 PM »
If you haven't done so before, I think it would be good to book an appointment with a mental health professional. It can be very hard to figure out what the best way to deal with a mentally ill relative is - you want to help them, not hurt them, and sometimes offering what you feel is support can backfire in the long term.

And I don't think that what you are doing counts as gossip, or a betrayal of your sister. You've got a mentally ill sister who is living at a distance, and has a history of falling head over heels for loser guys and getting suicidal when the relationship falls apart, at which point things spill over to you and the rest of your family. Wanting to know what's going on from a neutral third party is pretty reasonable.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a lot you can do to keep your sister for falling for these guys, or from alienating her room-mate to the point where she loses her health insurance. That's why I suggest consulting with a professional.


Kendo_Bunny

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #34 on: April 21, 2013, 10:24:21 PM »
Kendo, I am really sympathetic to all you have to deal with, but I'm not sure if this is really within the purview of etiquette?

I believed it was, before I was accused of gossiping and needed to clarify the situation. I don't care about dishing the dirt, I care about keeping my sister as healthy as possible, and I care about being polite, so as to spare the most discomfort and hurt feelings for as long as possible.

cicero

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2013, 11:14:37 PM »
Hugs kendo, these kinds of situations are very difficult. FTR, I don't your talking with her roommate as betrayal or gossip, not under these particular circumstances. I don't know how you *can* help her - it's kind of a darned if you do/darned if you don't situation. If you say and do nothing , then you will have to deal with the aftermath. If you try to intervene, you will have to deal with her rage now and from what you are saying she won't listen to you anyway.

Is she in touch with a mental health professional or someone else( other than Beatrice)?


 
I've posted about my sister Grace many times before. She can be extremely difficult at times, because she is mentally ill (she's a narcissistic borderline personality with rage issues), but I try my best not to hold it against her. She also has a long, long track record of dating terrible men. At 28, she has been in relationships with two decent men: one left her after she had an emotional affair, and one left her after discovering how she treats me when she's in a rage. She lives about 800 miles away, which has done wonders for our relationship, but leaves a few things lacking.

She has recently started waxing rhapsodical about a new man in her life. She is over the moon about him - starry-eyed, singing his praises, telling me how he's the best thing ever to happen to her. I took this with a grain of salt, as she says this about every new man she dates, and as soon as I could, I consulted her roommate/best friend, Beatrice. Beatrice is fully aware of Grace's mental problems and her dating patterns, so I figured I could get the straight scoop on this new guy. And what Beatrice had to say was less than flattering. Actually, it was much less than flattering - she flat out called him an insincere creep who set off every hinky meter she possessed, and that ever since Grace met him, life with her was becoming unbearable, because he brings out the worst in her. She hates him so much (and how Grace has been acting since they started dating) that she is strongly considering moving out, which would be disastrous for Grace, who relies on Beatrice for health insurance.

Now, I know from experience that telling Grace anything is a bad idea is the worst possible thing you can do. However, I trust Beatrice's judgment as much more sound than Grace's. So what can I do when Grace begins praising her new beau to the sky? I've tried changing the subject, but that's very difficult with a narcissist, even when I try changing the subject to something revolving around her and her life. I've tried wanly telling her I'm happy she's happy, but she's looking for something more effusive than that. It's a sticky situation, and I have no idea what I can do without being rude and betraying Beatrice's confidence.

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Kendo_Bunny

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2013, 12:04:46 AM »
She is not, and Beatrice is actually a computer programmer. Grace has been suggesting to me and our father that she's been in therapy and taking her antidepressants, but according to Beatrice, she dropped her last therapist (and will not talk about why), and has since run out of her prescription. Grace has a lot of friends (she is extremely charming, as borderline personalities tend to be), but most of those friendships seem to be with people even less able to hold it together than she is. Thus, she is looked at as a rock in an ocean of chaos and the best one in a crisis. The few stable people she makes friends with tend to drift away over time, as she can be so demanding.

Part of me is also now wondering what a gracious gift would be to extend my thanks to Beatrice for her help and patience. Beatrice is of a very philanthropic bent, so I'm thinking a donation within my currently limited means to a charity specializing in mental health.

bopper

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2013, 09:25:03 AM »
A trait of Narcissism is to move quickly in a relationship.  They mirror the "victim" (Oh, you like sushi? Me too!) so her moving quickly is no surprise.   I think your issue is that you are expecting a Narcissist to act Neurotypical.

Twik

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2013, 09:36:49 AM »
I think that the original problem ("how do I not get blamed by my sister for not sounding ultra enthusiastic about her new boyfriend?") is, unfortunately, not one that is solvable.

Your sister is, you say, a narcissist/borderline personality. She's not going to be swayed by anything other than you responding in hysterical glee (with a tinge of jealousy, I'm sure she'd like that  >:D). Even if he turns out to be a great person, and you know it, you'd probably find it difficult to keep up that level of enthusiasm for as long as she wants.

However, that's a relationship problem. From an etiquette point of view, you sound supportive in such cases, and congratulate her for her happiness (even if you suspect it will be short-lived), but are not required to hyperventilate.
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cass2591

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Re: How to handle a tricky romance situation with my sister?
« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2013, 09:32:23 PM »
OP, since you already have a therapist I suggest you discuss this with her/him. Surely your therapist, who seems to be aware of your sister's issues, can provide more insight and valuable advice than strangers on the internet.
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