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Woman is hurt to be kept at arm's length by sister

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have spent years trying to have a close relationship with my older sister, but it is clearly not a priority for her. We are very different people, but I was hoping our shared history and family bond would be enough for her to prioritize me and my son. We come from a very small family on both sides and, one day, we will be some of the few remaining family members.

I haven't heard from her in months during the pandemic, which has been hurtful. I'm a working single mother, trying to take care of my son during this dark time, and she hasn't bothered to check on us even once.

She once told me that the only things she cares about are her own son and her dogs. I don't understand how she can have such a loving heart for animals but no concern for her own family. She can be very selfish and has had no close girlfriends during her adulthood.

Growing up, she was jealous of me, but I thought things would be different after I struggled with a divorce and other life stressors. I received no support from her during my divorce. In fact, she seemed to take my ex's side despite his having emotionally abused me for years. Should I expect that we will ever have a closer relationship or just accept that it won't happen? -- HURT IN ALABAMA

DEAR HURT: If your description of your sister is accurate, she has drawn a tight circle around herself that she doesn't want breached. You stated that the two of you are very different people, but on some level you haven't allowed yourself to accept what that means. You will be hurt less once you accept that your fantasy of closeness with her will never happen.

For whatever reasons, she isn't capable of giving you what you need. You will find the closeness you crave by developing stronger relationships with your friends. Sadly, for your sister, she won't give herself the gift of these important and rewarding kinds of experiences.

DEAR ABBY: I recently separated from my husband of 16 years. He is an alcoholic who refuses to seek help. He can't hold a job or help with household expenses when he does work.

We have been separated for five months, and he feels that I "owe" him another chance. I gave him warning after warning for six years -- and there was no change. I continue to tell him repeatedly that I have moved on and I'm tired. Things got so bad I eventually had a mental breakdown and had to seek professional help.

I'm currently in a new relationship, and I have never been so happy. My husband threatens this new man and calls him names. I'm in the process of filing for divorce, but he makes me feel I am obligated to give him the chance to make things right. Am I wrong for wanting to move on? -- END OF MY ROPE IN NEVADA

DEAR END: No, you are not! You have suffered enough, so do not backtrack. You are not obligated to give your alcoholic husband more time than you have already devoted. If you allow him to wear you down, there will only be more of what you have already experienced. (If you are even tempted, call your therapist!)

That he refuses to seek treatment speaks volumes. If you and the new man in your life feel threatened, file a police report.

DEAR ABBY: I'm an American man who was adopted as an infant. Several years ago, I found my birth parents. They are not from America. My mother came here to give birth and left. Sometime later she married my father and had more children. I'm in touch with the entire family, but mainly my birth parents.

My biological siblings are jealous of my success in life and make it plain they don't approve of much that I do. They also make sure I know I'm not really part of the family because we didn't grow up together (although we are, by blood, 100% siblings).

I deal with this the best I can, but now I'm getting flak from them because of my political views. (They saw a photo of me at a political fundraiser.) When my sister turned 40 this year, I sent her a card, a Facebook post and a text message. I turned 50 at the same time and heard not a word from her.

Although my siblings are not Americans, they feel the need to trash our country, our government and our way of life. I'm tempted to cut ties with them. There is little respect coming my way, and I think I've had enough. I value your opinion, which is why I am writing to you now.

BTW: I had an amazing set of (now deceased) parents and wonderful siblings growing up. I just wish I had a better relationship with my biological family. -- DISAPPOINTED AND EXCLUDED

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Your family is the family that raised and nurtured you. I, too, am sorry you don't have a better relationship with these jealous, judgmental people. You are related by blood -- nothing more. They do not have the right to criticize your political views or your lifestyle, any more than you have the right to criticize theirs. (And I doubt you would.) Because you are neither respected nor included, you have every right to back off and head in a different, more positive direction. Frankly, I suspect you will feel better as soon as you do.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 26-year-old male in a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend, who is 18. I love her to the moon and back, but I feel like she only stays with me because I can buy her things. She gets upset with me when I don't get them for her. She says I value my mother and others before her.

I love her so much, and I want to marry her. I'm a minister at a church. She thinks she should take priority before my bills and taking care of my mother, who can barely walk. What do I do? -- UNEASY IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR UNEASY: From what you have written, it appears you are involved with an 18-year-old self-involved gold digger who does seem to be with you only because of what you give her. She hasn't yet learned (1) That a gift should be voluntary and appreciated, rather than extorted, and (2) the way a man treats his mother is the way he will treat his wife.

Since you asked my advice, here it is: Close your wallet and ditch this "girl."

DEAR ABBY: I'm someone who doesn't get noticed often by the opposite sex. So when I do receive attention, it's a very nice feeling. The problem is, I am getting that attention from a man who is married.

In the beginning, I didn't know he was married. He doesn't wear a ring, and he never mentioned a wife until one day while we were chatting, he let it slip. I don't think he meant for it to happen.

When someone is married, I back off. But for some reason, I'm not backing away from this. I'm starting to have feelings for him. I'm leaving it up to him, though. If he flirts, I'll flirt back. When he comes on strong one day, the next day he feels guilty and backs off, but then we pick up right where we left off.

I'm not trying to paint him as the bad guy; he's honestly a really good guy -- in my opinion, anyway. I know it's wrong, and he hasn't promised anything. We haven't had any physical contact other than the daily interaction. But it's messing with my emotions. I don't want to feel anything for him, but I can't help it. Help! -- DAZED & CONFUSED

DEAR DAZED & CONFUSED: You may not want to feel anything for this married man, but you do. And because you "don't get noticed much by the opposite sex," the attention you're receiving is like water on a parched flower. (Funny how they always seem to pick the vulnerable ones.)

You may not have had physical contact with him (yet), but you are playing with fire. This is no longer an "innocent" flirtation. Someone will get hurt if it continues, and that person is likely to be you. Keep in mind that "good guys" don't behave the way he does, and this wouldn't have happened if he had been honest with you about his marital status.