Advice for living with a sibling as adults
August 5, 2014 5:18 AM Subscribe
My brother (24) and I (female, 26) are sharing an apartment starting next week and I have anxieties. I'd like to prepare for whatever problems or conflicts that may arise. Wall of text to follow...
posted by winterportage to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apologies in advance for this being so long and fraught. This is more about me wanting to have a plan to fall back on, rather than actually thinking this is going to result in disaster.
A few details:
I'm going back to school and my brother just finished his undergrad and is temping/ looking for real job. He moved away from home 4 years ago and I moved away 7 years ago. We grew up in a small town with our mom, our dad died when I was 7 and he was 5, and mom never remarried or dated. Mom is very sensitive, introverted and solitary. We are both introverted and sensitive but more social than our mom, and all three of us are anxious people.
I'm tired of living with strangers and we both needed a place at the same time, so it just made sense.
I want to come up with a plan of attack for conflicts that will inevitably arise between us. Dealing with conflict is one of my least favourite things to do, so naturally I'm not very good at it.
What I'm worried about:
- I have a history of bad roommates / bad apartment experiences which makes me sometimes edgy, controlling and possessive of my space. Over the past 7 years I have had 9 apartments and a total of about 11 different roommates- and of those, I've had a total falling out with at least 5. I find it hard to want to interact with my roommates sometimes and would rather be alone in my room/ avoid the kitchen until no one's in there.
- With my brother I tend to take on the "bossy older sister" role sometimes. Partly in the absence of a father figure I tend to try to give my brother advice sometimes because our mom doesn't really take an active role in our decisions. In a way I wish I could find a father-figure for him because he needs it. But sometimes I do this in a rude / bossy/ unkind manner.
-At the same time, I'm messy and not a very good housekeeper ( I always let food rot in the fridge, I don't notice dust and grime, I leave dishes in the sink, I don't own a vaccuum cleaner)
- My brother and I haven't lived in the same space for 7 years and I don't know what his routines are.
- I'm introverted and not very assertive and sometimes have trouble being open about my needs in a calm manner. I'm looking for ways to maintain open communication because that is something I struggle with. My brother has a very similar personality to mine but is less controlling.
- My brother's always been kind of depressive though he has never gone to therapy. His girlfriend just dumped him about a month ago so he's sad and mopey right now. I want to strike a balance between being a supportive sister and not enabling him to sit around feeling sorry for himself. We've never had anything anywhere near to a father figure in our lives and I think this is part of why neither of us is particularly emotionally hardy.
- He's not a rowdy guy but has some pretty badly-behaved friends/acquaintances and since he's not assertive, sometimes stupid things happen to him because of his stupid friends. He's at a point in his life where he needs to start being less passive ( is how I see things)
On the other hand I think this is a good time for me to work on these issues with someone I know I can trust. I'm at a good place in my life and I feel strong and determined to make this work. It's an opportunity to become closer with him at a time when we could be growing further apart. We have a lot in common: we both play a lot of music, have the same taste in TV shows, love biking, share the same political views, have a similar sense of humour, and are studying/ studied similar fields.
Does anyone have advice on how to prepare myself for possible conflicts. Also, if anyone has lived with a sibling in a similar situation and has pointers or tips on how to maximise harmony. My biggest fear is having a falling out with my brother.