General Etiquette > Family and Children

You're Not My Sister

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I would tend to just ignore the whole thing unless it really irks you into saying something.  Then I guess you could say to her "I tend to think of you on the same level as a cousin, given the family circumstances."


--- Quote from: Redsoil on May 04, 2013, 10:18:16 AM ---I would tend to just ignore the whole thing unless it really irks you into saying something.  Then I guess you could say to her "I tend to think of you on the same level as a cousin, given the family circumstances."

--- End quote ---

Actually I think that's a tactful way to put it, should one feel forced to make a comment. "Given how we were raised, I think of you more like a distant cousin, actually." Throw the blame (such as it is) back on the adults who made the choices that kept you from being raised as sisters (whether reasonable at the time or not). Maybe that would help her to understand your perspective better.


--- Quote from: Sharnita on May 04, 2013, 07:06:06 AM ---
--- Quote from: *inviteseller on May 02, 2013, 12:41:37 PM ---bah12 - This woman was the OP's fathers step child in the marriage previous to the one he had with OP's mother. The closest you can call a family tie is she is the step sister of OP's half sibling.  They didn't grow up in the same house or even have interactions, other than 3 times in OP's life.   For the woman in the OP, she is reaching reallyreally far.  They have absolutely no relationship to even try to call each other sisters.  OP chats with this person on FB and is ok with that level of intimacy but this woman is trying to push something that truthfully is NOT there, never was there, and never will be there.  The attempting to get her involved in the genealogy is kind of weird as they have absolutely no genetic connection, and if one were making a family tree, neither of you would include the other because there is no connection.  The only concession I'm willing to give to this woman's delusion of family is she really loved and admired your father because he obviously stepped up when her own father didn't, but that doesn't give her the right to push and be mad that you didn't invite her to your wedding.   

--- End quote ---

That might be the closest you would call it and it might be the closest OP would call it but that is not the closest anybody could/would call it.  There are people who would still see that as enough to call the other person their sibling.  That is why it is tricky - from the other woman's point of view, she isn't lying.  OP is her sister because her standars for who is her sibling are different.  She just isn't OP's sister.

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That is the closest it is in reality, there is nothing there at all for this woman to claim OP as her sister.  If it was the case that someone wanted to claim a relationship that clearly doesn't exist or is wanted then my best friend and I , who grew up together (40 year friendship!) and who I spent all my time with at one of our houses could just decide we are sisters.   This woman and the OP have met 3 times in their lives !  They share nothing in common other than for a short time, before OP was born, OP's father was her step father.  And while I think it is wonderful that this woman and OP's father had a great relationship (altho it doesn't sound like they actually spent time together after the parents divorced) but for her to be so, well no better word than demanding of a sisterhood with OP is strange.  To attempt to get her on the woman's genealogy and then whine about not being invited to the wedding is at best pushy at worst delusional. 


--- Quote from: dirtyweasel on May 01, 2013, 08:52:22 PM ---Okay, to clarify a few things:

1.  Betty and my mom were talking on Facebook and she said that she was offended and sad that I didn't invite her to my wedding because she's my sister/family.  My mom told me this as sort of a "just so you know" sort of gossip. 

--- End quote ---

In this case, I think your mom was doing an appropriate thing to tell you. Now you know, and that can be valuable information to have.

--- Quote ---3.  I think there are a few reasons why I don't want a relationship with her, but I would probably say the biggest reason would be her pushiness with calling me her sister.  I sorta resent that because I feel like she's not only lying to others about our relationship, but she's trying to push a family relationship on me that I don't want. The fact that she basically labels me her sister leads me to believe that she's told other people that I'm her sister ( case in point: my mom) and that rubs me the wrong way.

--- End quote ---

This is actually on of the big no-nos in etiquette--to push for an intimacy that doesn't exist or isn't mutual.

That's why the *traditional* etiquette is that you are supposed to call people Ms. Smith or Mr. Jones until *THEY* say, "Oh, please call me Betty/Bill."

It's why it's not appropriate to start using a nickname for someone you don't know well.

And it's actually a tool con men use, to try to make you think there is a closer relationship than exists, to trick you into relaxing your guard so they can take advantage of you.

It's also something that gets mentioned in "Gift of Fear" type conversations--abusers and manipulators do this as well, declaring their undying love after 4 dates.

I'm not at all implying that this woman is a con man or a stalker/abuser/manipulator. But the fact that she is so persistent in this, given the extreme lack of contact w/ the OP, *IS* an indicator that she is not good at reading social cues, is not particularly sensitive of boundaries, etc.  All of which would make me not want to be closer either, and not want to encourage her at all.

So I totally understand that you actually feel LESS interested in claiming a closer relationship precisely because she DOES claim one, especially in a situation like you describe, with no real intimacy at all.

So, going forward, you can decide to cut ties further or to simply hold them as they are and refuse to get sucked in.

And I like Lynn2000's wording, and the idea from Redsoil that if you *have* to articulate anything (or if your mother feels she needs to, since she might be the one getting the pressure), you point to another familial relationship, the cousin thing.


If someone is your actual sibling (of whatever sort) they they can refer to you as their full/step/half/foster/adoptive/in-law sibling or even drop the prefix, and there is nothing you can do to complain about it - they are stating a biological or legal relationship, which is not related to how you feel about them. They can use the term in referring to you when talking with other people, as well.

However, that doesn't mean that the label comes with an automatically close relationship, or a "but it's faaaamily" classification. The emotional relationship tends to come about over time. If you grow up together or live together it tends to exist (whether it be good or bad). If you've never lived together, rarely met, and have had only casual Facebook interactions, it's a lot less likely to happen. And if one side doesn't want it, it's not going to happen.

Then there are cases where someone is not a sibling, but you think of each other that way - something like your mother's best friend's daughter, who you grew up next door to, or a situation like the OP where they were actually close.   But in that case, using the term "sister" has to be a mutual choice - you can't randomly decide that someone is your sister, and start referring to her as such when you aren't, any more than you could start referring to someone random as your mother.

In the OP's case, it's a mix of the two. Whether or not you could define them as siblings is not clear - she is the OP's father's ex-stepdaughter, and the two have never lived together. But even if you had a definition of sibling that worked (ex-stepsister at one remove?), they do not currently have a close relationship. They both have a relationship with the OP's father. They have met a couple of times, and are Facebook friends. So if she is pushing a "but we're faaamily" line on the OP, I can see how that would seem intrusive, because it's out of sync with the level of closeness they had at any point.


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