Author Topic: You're Not My Sister  (Read 11210 times)

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dirtyweasel

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You're Not My Sister
« on: April 27, 2013, 01:44:04 PM »
Background:  My dad was married three times and I'm the product of the third marriage.  He had one kid with each marriage so three kids total and he had two step daughters with his second marriage until he got a divorce.  This particular issue involves one of the step daughters from the second marriage.  End background.

My dad was always on great terms with one of his former step daughters (lets call her Betty) since her own father was not in the picture so he filled the role of father figure for her up until his death.  My own family is on friendly terms with her and we' re all Facebook friends.  I realize that she considered my father her dad, but the problem is that she also considers me her sister.  She's not my sister and I don't consider her my sister.  We're friends on Facebook, but she lives across the country and I've met her maybe three times in my life.

She calls me her sister on Facebook and tried to get me to join this genealogy thing on Facebook linking me to her as her sister (I declined as I decline ALL Facebook requests).  The issue now is that I just found out from my mom that she's hurt that I didn't invite her to my wedding because "you're supposed to invite your siblings" and she's hurt that I don't acknowledge her as a sister on Facebook.

I don't know what to do and I don't know what to say in response to stuff like this.  Is there a polite way to say, "You're not my sister"?



gramma dishes

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 01:49:06 PM »
I feel sorry for her.  She obviously considered your Dad to be 'her' Dad.  That would make you "sisters" even though from the standpoint of genealogy, she clearly is not.

Keep in mind that had your father adopted her, she would have been technically your sister.

Honestly, she must really like you an awfully lot to want that closeness.  Is there some other reason you are rejecting her wish to include you in her concept of 'family'?

weeblewobble

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 01:55:13 PM »
So she's hurt.  It may sound cold, but she's not your sister.  It doesn't sound like she's even your stepsister any more.  You see her so infrequently that she has to tell you through other people that she's hurt. So overall, this has very little impact on your life.

You can't control the actions/feelings of those around you and that includes forcing someone into what amounts to a very special intimate family relationship.  You don't have those feelings of closeness toward her.  Her feelings are hers to deal with.  If your other relatives continue to ask you about the situation, just tell them that you are comfortable with the status of your relationship now. If she continues to make inappropriate* requests on facebook, defriend her.

I struggle with something a little like this from my SIL, who tries to force me into a sisterly relationship with her, which in her mind means there are no boundaries between us, I give her whatever she wants, and she gets to unload her problems/burdens/untold TMI on me.  Her constant push for more closeness to the point of some really inappropriate behavior on her part, lead to me totally shutting down around her emotionally long before we cut off contact for other reasons.  I have a sister.  I know how special that bond is and that bond is not something I'm interested in sharing with SIL.  And if someone pushes that too much, it will blow up in their faces.  Instead of having a reasonable, cordial relationship with me, she has no relationship at all.


*inappropriate in that they are making the OP uncomfortable by attempting to move their relationship beyond the OP's boundaries

weeblewobble

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 01:59:47 PM »
I feel sorry for her.  She obviously considered your Dad to be 'her' Dad.  That would make you "sisters" even though from the standpoint of genealogy, she clearly is not.

Keep in mind that had your father adopted her, she would have been technically your sister.

Honestly, she must really like you an awfully lot to want that closeness.  Is there some other reason you are rejecting her wish to include you in her concept of 'family'?

I'm not saying I don't feel sorry for her, but at the same time, how could she like the OP so much if she's only met her three times?  They don't have the relationship that Betty is imagining.  When someone pushes for the rights and privileges (i.e. wedding invitations) of a relationship that is non-existent that rings some alarm bells for me.

SamiHami

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 02:00:49 PM »
Clearly the two of you view your familial relationships differently. Neither of you are wrong...you are not genetically sisters, but through marriage you are step sisters. I would think that had you been raised together-even if only for a short time-that bond might be stronger and more sisterly. But since you say you've only met three times in your life, I have a hard time understanding why she is pushing the "sister" thing.

What is nice is that everyone seems to get along and like each other. Perhaps you can find a way to gently explain to her that since you don't really know each other that you don't feel that sisterly connection, but that you would like to continue to build your friendship with her.

My mom didn't even find out that she had a dozen or so siblings from a previous marriage (her father was married before, but they didn't bother to tell my mom and her "full" sisters about it). She didn't know about or meet any of them until well into adulthood. Many of them were disinterested in building any familial relationships, but a few did want to. There are couple that mom has only met face to face a couple of times, but she claims them as her siblings (and they her), and it's been very comforting to mom especially as she is getting older.

I'm not saying that this will or should happen with you, but I guess I'm saying I don't think you should discount anyone who clearly is trying to love you. You don't have to become besties all of a sudden, but you might find her to be a valuable person in your life eventually and you might be glad to have her as a friend or a sister.

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NyaChan

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2013, 02:01:15 PM »
Just to clarify - is that you don't want a sisterly relationship or is that you don't want a relationship at all? 

If she ever brought it up to you directly, I think you could say "I appreciate that you think of me as part of your family, and I know you and my father are close, however, I do not feel that we have a sibling relationship."  The followup line would depend on what kind of relationship (if any) you do want to have with her.

gramma dishes

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2013, 02:02:26 PM »
I feel sorry for her.  She obviously considered your Dad to be 'her' Dad.  That would make you "sisters" even though from the standpoint of genealogy, she clearly is not.

Keep in mind that had your father adopted her, she would have been technically your sister.

Honestly, she must really like you an awfully lot to want that closeness.  Is there some other reason you are rejecting her wish to include you in her concept of 'family'?

I'm not saying I don't feel sorry for her, but at the same time, how could she like the OP so much if she's only met her three times?  They don't have the relationship that Betty is imagining.  When someone pushes for the rights and privileges (i.e. wedding invitations) of a relationship that is non-existent that rings some alarm bells for me.

 :o  Oh my goodness, you're absolutely right.  I entirely missed the part about having met her only three times in her whole life.  That changes my attitude -- a lot!   :-[

snowdragon

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2013, 02:04:47 PM »
I agree with weeblewobble. You don't have to acknowledge her as a sibling, invite her to family events or anything of that nature. You wouldn't have to even if she was your father's ex stepdaughter with whom he remained close.  What she wants is not the be all and end all and you have equal voice in any relationship.
  You don't want to call her your sister - don't and don't feel bad about telling her that you won't list her a a sister because she not - it's the truth.
   She does not get to force you into a relationship you don't want. If you just want to be acquaintances, just be that. And if she pushes the "siblings are supposed to do X" stuff...be blunt.

dirtyweasel

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2013, 02:25:13 PM »
Just to clarify - is that you don't want a sisterly relationship or is that you don't want a relationship at all? 

If she ever brought it up to you directly, I think you could say "I appreciate that you think of me as part of your family, and I know you and my father are close, however, I do not feel that we have a sibling relationship."  The followup line would depend on what kind of relationship (if any) you do want to have with her.

Right now I would say that we have a friendly acquaintance relationship purely through Facebook.  We don't and have never talked on the phone together and other then a few comments on Facebook pictures we don't really talk to each other. 

Honestly?  I like the relationship where it's at - friendly acquaintance.  I'm not sure if it matters, but she's also about 15 years older than me.  I'm not sure if this has any relevance though because all of my siblings are 10-18 years older than me so I never really had that "close in age sibling relationship" anyways.



TootsNYC

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2013, 02:45:46 PM »
I don't think I'd respond at all. At least not to her.

To my mom, I might say "Look, Mom, I 'm sorry her feelings are hurt. But I don't consider her to be quite that closely connected to me. I'm happy to be in the 'friendly acquaintance' situation, and I think it's great that she and Dad are close. But I personally don't really know her, and I don't feel a major need to be closer. And I have only met her 3 times in my life. That doesn't create a 'sister' relationship.
   "If she brings it up, feel free to say stuff like, 'oh, I'm sure she's glad about your relationship with Dad.' But please don't pressure me to create a relationship that doesn't exist."

And then continue the "friendly acquaintance" thing just as it is. She'll get the message eventually.

But saying "I don't really consider you my sister" is just not going anywhere pleasant at all.

AvidReader

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2013, 03:05:13 PM »
I'm puzzled why it is that your mother is delivering messages to you on stepsister's behalf.  In the future, can you suggest to your DM, that if stepsister has an issue with you, that the only way you will consider it is if she brings it directly to you rather than through an intermediary? 

"Mom, if stepsister has an issue with me (for example, about not being invited to the wedding), she should contact me directly about it.  It doesn't feel right to me for you to play messenger/go-between between her and me."   

It may be very unlikely that stepsister will "man-up" and do so; it's too easy to complain to third parties and try to get them to do the heavy lifting.   Other than that, I'd maintain the level of friendship/boundary that I am comfortable with. 

TootsNYC

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2013, 03:35:58 PM »
Well, I think a message behind-the-scenes is probably OK, actually--it's much less "put you on the spot." It also creates an opportunity for the other woman's complaint to be evaluated and either endorsed or not.

It allows the OP to do exactly what I suggest--to say, "Oh, interesting, but I'm not going to change the way I handle this relationship" while allowing both parties to save face.


Now that the mom has alerted the OP, she knows about this extra undercurrent and can decide how to handle it.

The only thing is that the OP needs to decide if she cares about the mom's apparent endorsement of the stepsister's desire; she doesn't. So now she views that simply as an "FYI--info to keep on file" that guides her interactions with this woman in the future. It's a sore spot for that lady, so perhaps the OP tries to not poke it accidentally; and there's some confusion, so perhaps the OP acts in a way that keeps the boundaries clear.

*inviteseller

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2013, 04:58:08 PM »
OK, your dad was divorced from her mom and remarried when he had you?  So you never shared a house or grew up together?  Technically, she is not even your step sister because, if I read the OP right, her mother and your father were no longer together.  I had a step daughter, and I divorced her father.  She is my DD's half sister, but she is no longer my step daughter as we are no longer together.  Sounds like this woman is desperate for family and you are who she is latching on to.  Someone I met 3 times in my life pushing for that kind of involvement would send me screaming for the hills.  I see 2 choices, neither which are going to make her happy, but oh well.  First is to tell her (privately) that you are happy to be FB friends, but the level of a relationship she is trying for is not going to happen as you don't see her as family.  Second thing you could do is the cut direct...delete and block and no more contact.  They will both hurt her, but unfortunately she has pushed herself into the position to be told to back off.  I have step sisters and brothers with varying degrees of closeness (I did grow up with 2 of them and our parents are still married) but even as close as I am with one brother and one sister, we still identify as step siblings and don't try to get into each others genealogy.

Snooks

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2013, 05:27:17 PM »
I wonder if the complexity of the multiple marriages comes into play here.  When your dad was married to her mom she presumably came into contact with your eldest half sibling and lived with your (and her) half sibling from your dad's second marriage.  If she's stayed in touch with your siblings after the marriage broke down and you're in touch with them I can see the leap to "we're all one family/siblings", I'm not saying it makes sense, just that I can see it.

Where the etiquette comes into it I think some gentle back up from your siblings and your mom towards her could be useful.  A few soft phrases such as "dirtyweasel didn't grow up with you like we did so it's understandable you guys don't have a sibling relationship".

CookieChica

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2013, 06:49:10 PM »
The message came from your mom, who is not her mom, right? What's the relationship between her and your mom? Did your mom just hear this secondhand or did the SS tell her?

You're entitled to how you feel but I can understand her hurt if she has a family relationship with your dad and a friendly one with your mom.