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August 11, 2011 11:35 PM   Subscribe

I resent my sister, and I shouldn't. How do I get over myself?

Ever since we were very young, my sister, who is about a year younger than me, was the one who got all of the attention. We grew up in a poor neighborhood, and were raised only by our mother, and my sister had an assortment of health problems, so I could see why she needed it. I try to keep these things in mind when I think about the past.

But even after 25+ years, I do feel really small when I hang out with my sister, especially when I introduce her to my friends, or a boyfriend. She has grown into a gorgeous, successful, and confident lady, someone who has moved well beyond our humble beginnings, and bloomed into adulthood with grace and ease. When we walk down a street, people turn heads. Once, I saw a man stop his car and lean out the window and gawk at her. Friends comment on how she is the "rock star" version of me. All the guys I have dated have crushes on her, though she has a steady boyfriend.

We live in the same city, as do some of the family, and part of me thinks it is great to have a support system. But my mother constantly asks me why I can't be as together as my sister. My uncle announced at a dinner party one time that I never was and never will be prettier than her. The one thing I think I do really well and have made a career out of, which is graphic design, my sister said she doesn't think I do very well. How do I get over the feelings of insecurity and resentment when I am around her? I want to be her friend, but I also want to be seen as a valuable person, too.
posted by mando to Human Relations (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The next time your mother asks you why you can't be as together as your sister, FIRMLY reply, "I don't know, Mom, perhaps because she is who she is, and I am who I am. You're my mom! Why can't you love and respect and support me as much as you do with her?" And then get off the phone. Passive aggressive? Yes. Will it send a message? Definitely.

Start affirming to yourself that you are valuable. I had to make the following affirmation my computer desktop but it helped me immensely:

I am brave, I am strong.
Thousands of success thoughts are strong in me, strong in me.
I am cool, I am calm,
I am sweet, I am kind.
I am love and sympathy.
I am charming and magnetic,
I am pleased with all.
I have no enemy;
I am friend with all.

Allow yourself to feel resentful sometimes. Then just send peaceful and happy thoughts to your sister whenever you feel overwhelmingly resentful, and repeat the affirmation above.

And if your family continues to be toxic, lessen the amount of time you spend with them, and start getting sassy when you have to see them. Believe you are a rockstar too, and ACT like it. Own your value, own your worth. You do not need to live in the shadow of anyone.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:40 PM on August 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

PS: You're human. It's okay to feel the way you do. You'll move past it.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:44 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

These people are being assholes and shouldn't compare the two of you. She is being an asshole when she says that you're not good at graphic design (and how the hell should she know?)

So the fault is not yours--how can you help but be pissy when people are comparing you to someone else and you're always coming up short?

It sounds like you really should consider distancing yourself a bit. No need to introduce men to her. No need to show her your work or invite her along with all your friends.

(My sister is gorgeous and has always been very charming. Attractive men have chatted me up and then asked me sister's number. I sympathize so hard.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:56 PM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

So your mother kind of resents you, and your sister doesn't think highly of you. If that is how they behave, why do you think it is not natural or not proper to resent them? I don't think you would mind other people turning heads at your sister if you had got a proper amount of attention when you were a kid.

Your resentment is just a symptom. You need to stop/block their lack of respect to get rid of your resentment.
posted by flif at 11:57 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm 2 years behind an older brother, who was born with serious birth defects, and I've had some similar struggles. Growing up, it seemed like there wasn't always room in the family for my needs, since his problems were so overwhelming. Our Dad died unexpectedly when we were little, too, which made me feel like I had to be "the man of the family", now. This became an enduring family dynamic

We are middle-aged now, and I'm finally able to drop the "I shouldn't feel this way" guilt stuff, and accept that I did feel it. I was only a little child, of course I felt jealous and angry and afraid at all the energy and attention that wasn't going to me, because he was so sick.
posted by thelonius at 12:15 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Showing favouritism to one child over another is despicable, even when one child is more needy, as it seems your sister was. It's not about equal time, it's about equal love. From your account, it doesn't seem like you felt loved equally - both as a child and as an adult.

Now, that dynamic seems to be endemic to your relationships with them to the point that it has radiated out to beyond your nuclear family (no pun intended). After all this time, it doesn't seem likely to change. So it's time for you to disengage. You need to limit your interactions and find your value and worth from other people, activities, and avenues. The more you have in your life, the less you need their validation.

You seem intelligent and successful, which is impressive, considering your difficult upbringing. You don't need your mother or sister to affirm that. Random internet strangers can see it - I'm really sorry they can't. *hug*
posted by guster4lovers at 12:31 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

When one of the kids is ill, the parents have no choice but to make that child a priority....then they do the best they can, for the other kids. That affects the entire family, and, years later, it can still influence one's relationship with a sibling.
posted by thelonius at 12:40 AM on August 12, 2011

You really need new people in your life who are independent of your family. Seriously, develop your own sense of self and relationships away from your family and be around people who can like you for you and your abilities and not compare you.
posted by mleigh at 12:58 AM on August 12, 2011 [11 favorites]

Comparisons are useless and hurtful by nature. Be pissed off. Resent the hell out of being strung up beside your sister because it's wrong. Get comfortable with your feelings; you have every right to them. Then accept that this is entirely their issue, absolutely not your problem to shoulder or to give worth; you're you, and you're wonderful and obviously strong to have dealt with this.

Get space from family and drop the friends who insist on comparing apples and oranges. You and your sister are different animals and deserve to be treated as such. Anyone who doesn't respect and appreciate you isn't worth your time.
posted by jingle at 1:13 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you think you may be clinically depressed? You sound like you are feeling pretty low in general.
posted by thelonius at 1:20 AM on August 12, 2011

Yes, I think you need your own space. You've been assigned the role of 'control person' - the one to whom others can compare your sister to establish/reinforce her awesomeness. Don't allow this, it can only end badly for everyone. Consider that you will never be able to grow and develop into your own, unique awesomeness: you'll be inhibited and held to her path. And actually, the same applies to your sister! Neither of you are free to explore your personalities and opportunities outside of the comparison paradign. Sloppy, cruel emotional weakness on your friends and relatives' part. Seriously? The "rock star version of you"? All boyfriends have crushes on her? You need some new friends. And a new place to live. And time away from your relatives.
posted by likeso at 1:30 AM on August 12, 2011 [7 favorites]

my mother constantly asks me why I can't be as together as my sister.

Either she's just kind of blunderingly insensitive, or gets something out of making you feel bad. To find out which, tell her it makes you feel bad when she compares you to your sister and ask her to find another way of expressing concern. Then, see if she does it less or more.

My uncle announced at a dinner party one time that I never was and never will be prettier than her.

This is a gross comment and makes your uncle sound like a creep. My skin would crawl if I were in your sister's shoes and one of my uncles said something like this about me. This is one thing about being your sister that is absolutely not enviable. '

All the guys I have dated have crushes on her

Again, gross, and a reflection on them, not on you. Who openly crushes on the sister of their gf?? Is it possible you don't have the confidence to go for higher-caliber men, and instead settle for the kinds of men are like this?

Friends comment on how she is the "rock star" version of me.

Another WTF. If I had friends who made casually backhanded remarks like this to me, I would fade them out of my life. Life is too short.

The one thing I think I do really well and have made a career out of, which is graphic design, my sister said she doesn't think I do very well.

Oho! Your sister sounds jealous of YOU here. Hmm...

It sounds like the problem is not necessarily you having any kind of neurotic jealousy. It sounds like you're surrounded by a bunch of people who are at best, insensitive, at worst, jerks, and either way don't treat you very well. It sounds like it's time to fade a bit on some of these people and find other people to value, who value you more.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:48 AM on August 12, 2011 [28 favorites]

Wow, sorry lady but because of your lack of confidence and insecurities, you've been settling for serious disrespectful behavior. Get yourself into therapy please. No eye rolling. It works! You need to show people how you ought to be treated and it doesn't seem like you're getting respect from anyone. Switch that up. Get a fuck you mentality in the meantime as you work to find a therapist so the fuck you can blossom into "I'm beautiful, can noone take that away." You have to. I can be a doormat at times but I'm relearning on getting a backbone so I can teach people how to treat me by SHOWING and FOLLOWING through with my actions. Hugs to you! I got preferential treatment growing up cause I was a sickly kid and displayed musical talent. However, I NEVER would degrade my brothers for anything. They were my protectors and still are. Your mother needs to be smacked for creating this environment. But anyways, hugs hugs hugs!
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 2:59 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am going to take on faith here that everything you've talked about is stuff that you have taken in context and with a sense of proportion. i.e. that when your friends said your sister was the "rock star version of you" that it wasn't embedded in something like: "You are the most intellectually brilliant, stylish, loving, artistic, elegant, compassionate, and talented woman I know and you are so modest and low-key about it! I would rather hang out with you any day of the week than the flashy rock-star version of you that is your sister." That is the only context in which it is excusable for your friends to say stuff like that to you. If they said it like that, then yes you are being overly resentful and need to get over yourself. But if they didn't, then maybe you actually need to be a lot more resentful - of your friends though in that particular case, not your sister.

You can be resentful of your sister when she does something to deserve it, like telling you you're not that good at your profession. Part of the problem here is that you're seeing the cause of your problems as an excessively talented sister, when actually a lot of your resentment is coming from other people's bad behaviour. You need to be clear about who is actually in the wrong and direct your anger at its source, each time.

Oh and pro tip: The next time your mother asks you why you can't be as together as your sister, FIRMLY reply, "I don't know, Mom, perhaps because she is who she is, and I am who I am. You're my mom! Why can't you love and respect and support me as much as you do with her?" I wouldn't bother with the passive aggression, I'd just go with the direct aggression, and say "I don't know Mom, I guess it's the way I was brought up."

And the next time a "friend" or relative makes some arsey comment like "your sister sure is superior to you in every way, isn't she?" or "your sister sure is hot, would you mind pretending to be her?" I'd go "what kind of a thing is that to say?"

It's important not to let this segue into an argument. Just call them out and then don't add to it. But seriously, you appear to have been surrounded by a lot of extremely rude people; it happens, until you start to very firmly and ruthlessly screen them out.
posted by tel3path at 3:04 AM on August 12, 2011 [7 favorites]

Don't hang out with these people. I'm not saying you should take a big stand, but instead, do not view them as your support system and go create a "chosen family" of supportive, caring people.

Got a family member who doesn't make you feel that way? Thank them and tell them what it means to you. And hang out with them more.

Be disappointed with your family. And keep in mind that your sister will age and experience rough patches in life that will challenge her confidence. We all do.

Make sure you have "someplace better to be" than hanging with them. Even when you have to be there out of obligation, arrive last and leave first and enjoy the rest of your day.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:52 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Like several posters above, I don't think the problem is really with your sister so much as your friends and family. They are treating you like the little brown wren and she is the beautiful canary who can sing, too!

This is nonsense. While your sister will always be a part of your family, you don't need to include her in your circle of friends. You need yours, and she needs hers. Second of all, if your friends aren't your best cheerleaders and self-esteem boosters, they don't deserve to be your friends. DTMFSA. Get new friends who love you for YOU and always take your part. I repeat, friends should be YOUR biggest fans and cheerleaders. So get those wet blankets and critics out of your circle.

Family is a tougher nut to crack because you can't get rid of them so easily. But I would be tactful but assertive with them when they pull the "your sister is so gorgeous and you're not" act. Especially with your uncle - sheesh, what a jerk! "Uncle Ray, what you said really hurt my feelings. Don't do it again."

Since you are young and have a great, skilled, career, have you considered moving abroad for a while? I don't know where you are living now, but as a skilled person, it's a lot easier to emigrate or even get a job in a different country. A long distance and different culture between you and your family, friends and sister - and an opportunity to make new friends! - might be just the ticket for your self-esteem.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:52 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

You get over yourself by settling on an appropriate level of self-worth. I think yours is too low.

You should raise your expectations of how other people will treat you, and set boundaries to protect yourself. If your mom (or anyone) compares you unfavorably to your sister, you say, "That was a really hurtful thing to say," and end the conversation if the person doesn't apologize sincerely. You start expecting fellow adults (including family) to treat you with respect.

When you have an appropriate level of self-worth, it's easier to know when you're being too sensitive or are being jealous. You know that it's not ok for someone to tell you you'll never be as pretty as your sister, but it is generally ok for someone to comment, "Your sister is beautiful."
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:49 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

You need to consider the possibility that your sister is jealous because you were always able to take care of yourself and your mom "resents" you because you made her a bad mom by not needing/getting the same attention as your sister.

But after you have fun with that thought- which could very well be true - just go on with your life.

I completely validate the unfairness of it - but I also validate the unfairness of your not being born with a trust find the size of a whale and neither of those things are really relevant to your life today.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:20 AM on August 12, 2011

I really recommend Harriet Lerner for thinking about family systems and dynamics.

To me it sounds like you're in a toxic place with all this, and if you're going to be able to have positive relationships with your family (or that include your family, ie, actually introducing dates/boyfriends to your sister), you need to take some time and space to regroup yourself, affirm yourself, and come back at it not as a child of the family but as an adult with critical perspective and your own core of confidence and support, with an ability to see them through your eyes, instead of seeing yourself through theirs.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:42 AM on August 12, 2011

You have a right to your feelings. The people around you are wiping their feet on your emotions and self-worth. Don't let them do that. Stand up for yourself. You don't need to be sharp, but do you need to be firm and prompt.

Man. I'm sorry your friends, relatives, and paramours are such jerks. Yeesh.
posted by batmonkey at 8:17 AM on August 12, 2011

Oh, sweetheart, don't feel like you shouldn't feel upset. Just be upset at the real problem -- which isn't that your sister is cool. The real problem is that the rest of the people around you are acting like rampaging cockbibs.

Get angry at them. Call them on this kind of rude behavior. Tell them that they are making you, the person who is supposedly their Daughter, niece, and friend, feel like crap, and you will not put up with it. You're not being spoiled or anything if you do that, and if they say you are, tell them the Empress said to shut up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Something else that's more for "helping me find comfort in general" -- there's a YA book, Jacob Have I Loved, in which the main character is a similar situation. It's not a wish-fulfillment fantasy (the spoiled sister doesn't magically get taken down a peg or anything), but the other sister does find her way to assert herself and gains more respect from her family, and she ends up doing well in her own life and makes peace with her past.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

My mother used to compare me CONSTANTLY to my cousin. Why don't you dress like her? Why can't you run as fast as her? Why isn't your smile as pretty? She made my cousin give me handwriting lessons for an hour every day on a family vacation. Consequently, I hated my cousin. As kids, we'd sit around pulling hard on each other's ponytails and yelling. Brilliant.

When we were in our early 20's, my cousin said something like, "You know how your mom used to compare us all the time? That was horrible." I was dumbfounded! I thought she loved the attention. And here she was the whole time, feeling awkward about it too. Lo and behold, my cousin turns out to be a lovely person, and we're now good friends.

I can't imagine how awful it would be to be compared to a sister all the time, someone you see much more often than a cousin. It's going to be tough to repair that understandable resentment and frustration. Here are some steps that might help:

1) Next time someone -- anyone -- compares you to your sister, say firmly "Please don't ever compare me to my sister again" and leave the room. Rinse, wash, repeat. Train them that this is not an appropriate way to behave. Because it's not.

2) For people you trust, perhaps your close friends, tell them that you've always been compared to your sister and it makes you very unhappy. Tell them that while, yes, your sister is very attractive, it makes you sad when they talk about it (even if they're not directly comparing you), and you would really appreciate it if they stopped.

3) Make a list of all the awesomeness you contain. Graphic design is just the beginning.

4) Tell your sister that it hurts your feelings when she criticizes your career and you would like her to please stop. If necessary, repeat your request and leave the room or hang up the phone next time it happens.

5) Tell your sister what you told us. That you love and respect her but feel frequently and unfavorably compared to her. Ask her to help.

6) Lastly, stop introducing your friends and boyfriends to your sister. At the very least, don't bring your family and friends together often. It's okay to have a separate life.

Good luck!
posted by equipoise at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2011

Thank you for posting this, as I have two young girls, and I’ve been worrying about people comparing them as they get older.

But this is what I would like to say to you: When the people in your life are critical or demeaning, they would be that way whether you had a sister or not. Because really, even if you’re Miss America, there is always someone out there who is prettier, or smarter, or more talented, etc. In your case, it happens that there is someone in your own family to compare yourself to. For those who don’t have sisters, we have friends, cousins, etc. who play this role. The thing to ask yourself is whether your family would still be critical and demeaning toward you if you had no sister. If the answer is yes, there’s the problem. Not that you have a special snowflake sister, but that your family has a tendency to behave unkindly toward you. That they would find something else to criticize, even if you had no sister.

Tell your mom, “That hurts my feelings.” Every time someone says you are not as ___ as your sister, “That hurts my feelings.” Don’t play along or act like you are fine with the comment, you aren’t. And remember that your own beauty and accomplishments stand alone. No need to join in with the others who draw comparisons. Only compare yourself to yourself, and be proud of your own growth and the person you have become.
posted by Knowyournuts at 11:06 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

all criticism is self directed. I've come to understand that most people criticize others when their find their place in the power structure getting vulnerable. You and your sister are active competitors. You don't criticize her because you consider her your better yet she is working her ass off to stay ahead of you and the criticism is her way of trying to slow you down. Have a talk with her, air out your grievances and begin a conscious process of actively supporting one another.
posted by any major dude at 11:06 AM on August 12, 2011

I agree with everyone else that the real problem here is that you're surrounded by assholes. But other people have covered this territory well, so I'm going to focus on one detail. How do you know that your boyfriends have crushes on your sister? Are they telling you? Because that's shitty, and puts them on that list of assholes around you. But if you're assuming that they do, of figuring it out from other things they say/do, you should consider the possibility that you're predisposed to think they have crushes on her, and might be seeing something that isn't there. There's a big difference between passively finding someone attractive and having an actual crush.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:15 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

To hear you describe it, the problem isn't the attention she got when she was young; the problem is the way people are treating you right now...and perhaps your interpretation of that.

Friends comment on how she is the "rock star" version of me.

All the guys I have dated have crushes on her.

my mother constantly asks me why I can't be as together as my sister.

My uncle announced at a dinner party one time that I never was and never will be prettier than her.

my sister said she doesn't think I do [my job] very well.

One of two things is happening her, as far as I can tell, but only you (and perhaps a therapist?) can tell which: either the above things are really happening as you describe them, or you feel as if they're really happening this way.

If these things are really as described -- your friends repeatedly insult you, every boyfriend you've ever had really wanted to date her, your mother unfavorably compares you to your sister every time you speak to her, your uncle made that comment to everyone at the dinner with the intention of insulting you, your sister diminishes your competency in your chosen field -- then you need to leave. You need to get distance between you and your toxic friends and family. Nobody should be treated like this. You need new friends in a new town, and it wouldn't hurt to speak with a therapist to help get through having been mistreated for so long. And it is mistreatment; the kind of things you're describing are not things you've earned by somehow being a sub-par person.

However, the odds of your family and friends all being as toxic as you describe, and your sister being so comparatively amazing, seem quite long. What I suspect is that it only seems this way to you: one of your friends once commented that she's like a "rock star" version of you, and now you feel like all your friends must feel that way; you once had a boyfriend who admitted he had a crush on her at some point, and now you feel like they all did; your mother has used your sister as an example of the way you should handle your life, so you assume she's thinking that way constantly and feel like it's always unspoken but present. If you take a good hard look at things, you might find that a lot of this is potentially in your head, and if so, you should see a therapist to work it out.

About your uncle's comment and your sister's position on your job: your uncle is being inappropriate and thoughtless, and your sister is probably jealous. Just sayin'.
posted by davejay at 12:32 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh my heart bleeds for you...honestly if I could wield a magic wand it would be for you.
Why can't you be like your sister? Answer with 'Why can't YOU be more like X (martha Stewart or some other perfect Mom figure)?' That should quiet her down

sending hugs so hard
posted by Frosted Cactus at 12:39 PM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Everybody upthread has voiced most of what I wanted to say better than I would be able to, but I would like to point you to Baggage Reclaim, a website I found via another AskMe thread. The focus tends to be on amorous relationships there, with sporadic mentions of other relations (with friends, family, co-workers, etc), but much of the information and advice is transferable. One of the recurrent themes which I found incredibly useful was the interplay between personal boundaries and red-flag behaviours. The idea is that by having boundaries, being aware of them and reinforcing them, you both spot red flags (and can rely on your judgement), and are able to take measures to deal with them, such as those suggested above: give an oral warning, make a request for the offensive behaviour to stop, indicate how the behaviour makes you feel, cut the respective interaction off, or even all interaction, for a given period of time, or indeterminately. Discovering the idea of "boundaries" was to me a minor revelation, and since then I have thought a lot about how to discover what they are, and how to implement them.

On the first issue, I realised that I did indeed have quite a few of them in place, and I think you too will discover you have a lot of them already. For instance, we all, hopefull, share the physical violence boundary: whenever somebody (boyfriend, friend etc) becomes violent towards you, you will remove yourself from the interaction and (probably) cut that connection.

A different set of boundaries are discovered because you feel despondent or aggrieved when they are trespassed against. In your case, this seems to be the problem to some extent. You feel that your integrity is repeatedly assaulted by the behaviours you describe - but are unsure if your internal reaction is justified. However, the very fact that you find yourself in turmoil over these interactions is a clear indication that the trespassers are coming up against one of your boundaries - so it is entirely appropriate to prevent people from making any more inroads into the rawness of your self. One of the things to remember is that boundaries, lots of them, are highly personal. Just as an example: people deal with criticism very differently: some barely hear it, and it's in through one ear and out through the other, others reject pointless or aggressive criticism, but are open to constructive criticism, others need even constructive criticism to be closer to gentler constructive input before they feel comfortable, others yet need distance between the input and the event which occasioned it, others feel hurt unless it is accompanied by professions of affection, sometimes it's OK in a professional context but way more difficult from your personal relations etc. Wherever you are on this scale, it is for you to figure out, for you to adapt where necessary, and for you to tell others where they have to stop.

Another way of setting personal boundaries is through reflection. This can come by way of reading, films, discussions with friends and other people (including AskMe, actually), seeing others in situations which are unknown to you, but allow you to take a stance should you ever find yourself in similar straits, and pure and simply thinking about stuff in the abstract.

So, discovering and strengthening what is already in you, allowing new boundaries which itch to be born to come to light, and formulating new ones are the three methods for boundary-establishment I have come up with. Reinforcing them is the next big step, and I think, in many ways more difficult than the first. The only method I managed to come up with is to actually do it: "Uncle dear, please stop this talk, you are offending and hurting me". If the talk doesn't stop, leave. Strangely, I did exactly this a few nights ago with my uncle during a small family-do - everybody has been so respectful since! Just one more thing about future boyfriends: not only would I not avoid getting them to meet my sister, but I would actually do that quite early on, before you are truly emotionally involved - and decide wether to continue the relationship depending on how they react. If she is indeed drop-dead gorgeous, I would expect a comment along the lines of "Your sister is beautiful", but anything resempling a burgeoning crush and I would wave them goodbye.

I'll stop now before this turns into a disquisition, especially since the website I linked to addresses this topic extensively. Like most people above, I think your entourage is out of line. There is a possibility that your role as the person to chide or be impatient of or superior to has been established by tradition to the extent that your family isn't even aware that they are doing it. You yourself might be unwittingly buying into this customary shared view of yourself, and now you might sort of project it - so newcomers may pick up on that. This is where establishing your boundaries comes in, because having this new awareness of yourself as an autonomous, self-responsible, as it were, strong and contained person will make you hold your head high and be much more sovereign in relations with others and in your life in general. And you are now in a very good position to create and strngthen your boundaries, and to start the first steps towards a more assertive, more fulfilled, secure, powerful and freer you. I wish you all the best, and enjoy your freedom once you find it.
posted by miorita at 2:12 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you move away, out of the range of your sister?

In all honesty, some people are just gonna be more awesome than others, especially in family dynamics. That will probably never change. Sister wins the affection battle, sister is genuinely cute and awesome, you're not going to win. Sad but true. Unfair but true. I think it's something you just have to accept: some folks, we just can't win a competition against. Doesn't mean we're not good people, doesn't mean we're not smart or cute, but some folks just freaking sparkle, and that's how it goes. And there's a long history of her having to get the "favorite" treatment due to illness there too? Yeah, you're not going to win.

But what you can do is move somewhere where everyone doesn't know your sister, and you're not constantly in competition and losing to your sister, and your relatives aren't bitching, "why aren't you your sister?" and your friends and all the boys are all, "we like her better!" Go somewhere else, far off, where it's just a vague trivia fact that you have a sister. Meet people who get to know you first and won't meet your sister for a long time because she lives on the other end of the country or whatever. Then you can be yourself without always losing out to her cute perfection, and only deal with it at holidays. If you have your own thing going on and you're happy with it AND you are not constantly being reminded by your family that you aren't her and thus you're not good enough, you'll feel better. Really.

Hey, it worked in Jacob Have I Loved...
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2011

In all honesty, some people are just gonna be more awesome than others eh???

some folks, we just can't win a competition against - that's true. I can claim without false modesty that I could beat any given one-legged man at an arse kicking competition.

Every elementary psychology textbook includes a paragraph about the experiment where a bunch of male students were set the task of asking the dreariest, drabbest doormat in the entire university out on a date, one by one, and treating her like they couldn't believe their luck in winning the company of the most beautiful and popular girl in the school. By the time they got to the last students in the queue, those guys couldn't get a date with her because she was the most beautiful and popular girl in the school and her diary was block-booked far into the future.

So the moral of the story is, go somewhere where you can be the most beautiful and popular woman in the place, even if that means - and I am not joking - solitude for a while. Because it will only be for a while. Today, an uninhabited Pacific atoll; tomorrow, the world.

Seriously. Step away from these underminers, go dark for a while, then unleash yourself upon the public. Resolve, in your mind, that you will only make nice friends from now on, and you're bound to make at least one new friend within a few weeks.

Memail me if you want a list of good books to polish your advanced fabulousness skills during your hiatus.
posted by tel3path at 3:16 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The most tragic thing about all of this for me is that these people are sabotaging your potential relationship with your sister. They are cheating you out of your birthright of a friendly and loving alliance with the one person on earth who's most genetically similar to you. Every time someone makes a rude comment, it steals a little more of that from you.

Perhaps it's because I'm inordinately cynical, but I believe that parents and other older family members sometimes encourage sibling rivalry for their own ends. Two are more powerful than one and kids bonding against parents is a scary concept for some people in especially less than perfect families.

There are really two options: Either your sister stands up for you and lets some of her fairy dust sprinkle over you, in which case all her good qualities make you look better and can only work to your advantage (example: she outright discourages inappropriate attention from your boyfriends, she sticks up for you in front of family members, heck, she opens a "sisters and co" business with you) or you separate from her and live a completely different life in a different milieu.

Give one option a go before the other. It's very possible that this entire time she's admired you or been made uncomfortable by these comments. However, if your sister's the type to give into temptation and take the power that being the favorite gives her over her relationship with you, it's time to run.
posted by Nixy at 11:57 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

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