Apr 27, 2006

The Magical Vanishing Sibling

Dear Cordy,
I'd like to be closer to one of my siblings, but each time it seems like we're making progress, this sibling retreats. Do I press on, or would it be better to give them space?

Cordelia says:
Seeing as how I'm an only child, I can't really draw on personal experience. On the other hand, I do know a lot about annoying hot-then-cold-then-hot people. But I'm assuming you and your sibling do not have incestuous tendencies, yes? And your sibling probably did not spend centuries killing people. . . Okay, personal experience not helpful here.

Which leaves us with my considerable people skills.

I'm going to assume that, since you put a fair amount of effort into this relationship already, you like this sibling, and would want to hang out with them, even apart from familial obligations. (Because seriously, if that's not the case, you're wasting everyone's time. Being related to someone does not mean you have to be best pals. You can love them, and want the best for them, and see them at holidays, but you don't have to be their friend). A question you have to ask yourself is, do they like you? It's possible they don't. People don't like me all the time.

Now, if you feel fairly sure they like you, ask yourself whether they've got stuff going on in their lives that you can't help with. I know, if you're friends AND siblings, you would want to help, and would feel like you are fully qualified to do so. But maybe, by virtue of being in that unique position, you wouldn't be helpful. I've been told that people feel competitive with their siblings, and I know we all always want to impress our family, or at the very least live up to their expectations (or the expectations we imagine they are having). If your sibling is going through a hard time, they may not want to talk to you.

And that's their right--you may not want to be shut out, but think about times you've wanted to avoid them. You went out with that jackass they warned you away from, and you got dumped, and you don't want to hear how they told you so. Even if you know they would never say those exact words, they would hang there in the air like a bad Chanel #5 ripoff.

I say give them space. Sorry kid, but you don't get to decide what kind of relationship you're going to have with someone--they have a choice too. Let them come back if and when they feel like it--you can't force them to be closer to you than they want to be.

Red Red Red, Fiona Apple

Luke: Taylor, no, no, no, no, and every day from now on 'til the end of my life, I am gonna come in here and say, "Taylor, no." And when I die, I'm gonna have them freeze me next to Ted Williams, and when they find the cure to what I died of and they unfreeze me, my first words are gonna be, "How's Ted?" followed closely by, "Taylor, no."
(The Gilmore Girls)

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