Need a surrogate older sister... where to find?
June 3, 2013 5:43 PM   Subscribe

What I want is an older sister /grandmother/ auntie type - someone wise I can write letters to from time to time, who will write me thoughtful letters back and offer suggestions and whatnot. A life coach? A counsellor (or therapist)? Does anyone offer this service? I would happily pay a reasonable fee.

I'm the oldest child in my family, no cousins; I'm not super close to my aunts or mother, all my grandparents have passed away. I'm not religious; albeit with vague Buddhist leanings. I don't really need anything as intense as therapy, just someone to bounce ideas off of. I prefer to read and have time to think things over, rather than talk. I used to have several friends who'd write prolific emails, but we've grown up and grown apart and these days most people I know can only handle facebook messages...

There seem to be a burgeoning supply of life-coach e-course style services out there (Susannah Conway, Maven Circle, Jessica Lively, Bibliotherapy at School of Life, etc. forever), but none that I've found quite offering what I'm looking for... but then, there's no good index of these things either. Thus, hive mind to the rescue!

Alternatively, anywhere where grown-ups can get pen-pals would work too (I'm happy to write back). Other ideas (a blog?) welcome.

(Yes, therapy may be the answer - and I have access - but for the purpose of this question I am really only interested in letter writers (email or post)... and yes, I have friends! Thanks!)
posted by jrobin276 to Human Relations (103 answers total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
I'll be your penpal. I'll memail you in a minute to tell you about myself. No obligation :-)
posted by janey47 at 5:51 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will!
Just keep in mind I am a real person with life going on.
Me-mail me!
I can't life-coach you or anything, but I think you can drop a line on me, I am a great friend to have.
posted by bebrave! at 5:53 PM on June 3, 2013

I'll do it. I'm Australian and am in the age group for the older sister part. Nice idea, by the way.
posted by Jubey at 5:56 PM on June 3, 2013

Yep! I have a Mefite penpal who lives almost in the arctic circle. You don't say how old you are, but maybe I'm older than you? If that's what you're looking for?

I too have a life, but I'd be happy to be a penpal. I can handle one or two more. :)
posted by functionequalsform at 5:58 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will too! Memail for an address. I love letter writing as active thinking.
posted by smuna at 5:58 PM on June 3, 2013

Wow, we should all be each other's pen pals!
posted by Jubey at 6:00 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm up for it. I'm fifty, so...grandma?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:02 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think we need some kind of penpal circle...
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:03 PM on June 3, 2013 [20 favorites]

I'm no one's sister, but I think I can do a good impression of one. I'd very much enjoy being your penpal. All you pay is shipping!
posted by Leezie at 6:04 PM on June 3, 2013

Response by poster: Wow indeed - I was wondering if I was the only one or not. I was thinking about starting a Pal-Sac group in Sydney, but didn't have anyone to write to and have been toying around with Pen-Pals for grown ups in the back of my mind... new project for my blog!

Feel free to Me-Mail me. =) =) If you're game for being matched up/part of a circle let me know - I'll try to organize something!
posted by jrobin276 at 6:05 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yay! A bunch of older sisters have just signed up!
I'll do the snail-mail address on Me-Mail ...
Plus the circle of "Older Sisters" seems awesome!
posted by bebrave! at 6:11 PM on June 3, 2013

I'm 31. Not sure how many of you I qualify to be older sisters for, nor how much useful advice I can give. Also, I only get my mail once a week or so. But I'd be happy to pen pal it up!

I guess what I'm saying is maybe I also need a surrogate older sister or grandma?
posted by bilabial at 6:22 PM on June 3, 2013

Not an older sister, but I could be an older brother type. Very willing to be an email penpal. (My handwriting is atrocious.) I am older than half a hundred.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:25 PM on June 3, 2013

I want this too and I want to be on both ends of it (presumably with different people).
posted by Wordwoman at 6:27 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

you may have already found what you are looking for by the responses you've received but another idea is a spiritual director. they come in every faith at spiritual directors international
posted by wildflower at 6:28 PM on June 3, 2013

I would be happy to participate - I am an older sister, but at a quarter century may not be old enough to be an older sister to many here. But I definitely want to play!
posted by firei at 6:29 PM on June 3, 2013

I would totally do this. Mom passed away when I was young. I have no shortage of aunts, but none of them have ever been involved in my life, so I totally understand that emotional hole. I'm the youngest in my family, but a big goal on my bucket list includes being a better aunt to my nieces and nephews, than I had. Given the context, that's not hard to do, but I feel pretty confident that I'm doing AWESOMELY on that goal :-)
posted by raztaj at 6:35 PM on June 3, 2013

I'm 36, and an older sister, and a know-it-all (just ask my sister). I'd be down!
posted by elizeh at 6:35 PM on June 3, 2013

I absolutely love this idea. So many people wanting to participate, there's got to be a way to spread this around a bit! :)
posted by lemniskate at 7:25 PM on June 3, 2013

I would definitely love to have some new penpals as well- count me in too!
posted by the twistinside at 7:37 PM on June 3, 2013

I will be happy to be a pen-pal!
I am 47, an older sister, sister in law, auntie and godmother.
Feel free to memail anytime :)
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 7:50 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would like to join the pen pal group too!
posted by jennstra at 7:51 PM on June 3, 2013

I want a pen-pal! Count me in if you're starting a group!
posted by ceramicblue at 8:04 PM on June 3, 2013

I want in! An older sister would really come in handy (I'm 35).
posted by bizzyb at 8:15 PM on June 3, 2013

I'll be a pen pal! (51 y/o mother of two boys 26,16; divorced for 10 years now)
posted by JujuB at 8:22 PM on June 3, 2013

I am 33 and have all sorts of fancy gel pens and stationery that need to be shared with the world. I also have tons of unsolicited advice and silly questions (why do you think I'm on AskMe?). As a middle child, I'm equally good at being a bossy older sister and an annoying younger one. Penpal away!
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:27 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I never had a sister and always wanted one. Please count me in. I'm 60 so even though I'm unlikely to ever be a grandmother (only child doesn't want kids), age-wise I can play one.
posted by daneflute at 8:30 PM on June 3, 2013

I want to play too! I'm 39 and an older sister. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 8:42 PM on June 3, 2013

I'm 34 and would love someone older to write to for sage advice. :)
posted by foxjacket at 8:44 PM on June 3, 2013

I'm 35 and would love someone older to write to too! But also if anyone could use a 35 yo older sister, not sure how good my advice is though!
posted by blu_stocking at 8:46 PM on June 3, 2013

I, too, would love to be/have a pen-pal. Count me in.
posted by simulacra at 8:56 PM on June 3, 2013

Logging in to say I'd love to do this as well!
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:58 PM on June 3, 2013

This sounds amazing, can I be in on it too?
posted by jinjo at 9:05 PM on June 3, 2013

37 year old youngersister/oldersister/middlechild/mum/wife throwing another hat in the ring
Should we take this over to Projects?
posted by sconbie at 9:07 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am in. Fifty-four with lots of life experience and would love to share.
posted by JXBeach at 9:09 PM on June 3, 2013

This sounds like an awesome idea!... I'm 30 (a younger sister in real life) and would love to write to someone for advice, random questions, tidbits, musings.
posted by watrlily at 9:17 PM on June 3, 2013

This sounds incredibly cool. At only quarter-century mark I'm probably too young to be anyone's older sis, but I'd love to jump on the bandwagon.
posted by Zelos at 9:24 PM on June 3, 2013

I've been an older sister for 26 years and I could probably provide some excellent references from my younger sister, if necessary. I'm almost 33 and currently older-sistering some friends and my oldest nephew but I'd love to join the Ya-Ya list here :)
posted by Merinda at 9:28 PM on June 3, 2013

This sounds awesome. I am 35 and would love someone older to email/write to, and am also happy to be "someone older" for someone younger, if they want.
posted by forza at 9:36 PM on June 3, 2013

I'm 42 (the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything) and an older sister, so I am all kinds of opinionated.

Seriously - I am old enough to have done a lot of pre-email letter writing, and every time I come across an old letter I find myself missing it. Also, I love mail.
posted by camyram at 9:36 PM on June 3, 2013

Ooooh! Kick it to me, kick it to me!! I love this idea!

I still have my wonderful sisterly penpal from 28 years ago (although we moved to email about 10 years ago) and I would love to have an extended family of penpal sister and brothers (or aunties, uncles, nephews, nieces, grannies and grandpas)!!
posted by harmless at 9:42 PM on June 3, 2013

This does sound cool! I am the youngest so never got to be older sister IRL, it would be fun! Wouldn't mind having older sister penfriend too. I'm 39, live in Australia so would prefer email for the most part but sometimes letters with cool stamps too :)

If you are now feeling overwhelmed with offers, happy to start up with other(s) who want to play too.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:02 PM on June 3, 2013

Count me in; I'm in my late sixties.
posted by melesana at 10:04 PM on June 3, 2013

I'm an older sister, 32, and this sounds like an awesome plan. I want to participate on both sides.
posted by uncreative at 10:47 PM on June 3, 2013

This sounds delightful - I'm in! I'm 44, the oldest of 4, so I have lots of experience older-sistering; what I could use is my own elder network.
posted by deliciae at 12:06 AM on June 4, 2013

Chosen Mothers, Chosen Daughters talks about this (admittedly great) idea, too.

If you're looking for this sort of friend/surrogate family member closer to home (not that there's anything wrong with penpals!), I strongly recommend volunteering with seniors and/or going to local history events -- or even just talking to your older neighbors.

I have at least a dozen new friends (from 10 to 40 years older than me) who provide me with so much nonjudgemental love, wisdom, and excellent advice and who are a vital part of my life. I'd call them my surrogate grandmothers and grandfathers, but it feels more as though I have a bunch of wise gurus around me to call on.
posted by vickyverky at 12:23 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to be involved too. It reminds me a bit of the "Can Any Mother Help?" project where a group of women circulated letters among themselves.

If you do want to explore penpal groups, the Letter Writers' Alliance has one.

An alternative would be to contact a therapist or life coach who does email / online therapy and explain that you don't want therapy as such but you do want some sort of occasional conversation - they might be up for it.
posted by sock of ages at 1:01 AM on June 4, 2013

Oh boy... I love this idea and wonder if it can be scaled? There's so many young people from diasporas who are seeking mentors and elder sisters and aunts ( I have a "niece" studying in Temple University btw, she's a grad student with an immigrant African background) and they're outside of the mainstream culture so its all that much more difficult for them...

Memail me if interested in stuff like what these young people are doing - caring advice on jobs, careers, resumes, internships and life
posted by infini at 1:25 AM on June 4, 2013

Ooh, pick me, pick me! I'm only 26 but have been an older sister for 25 years. Come to think of it, I could use an older sister or aunt-type myself, I don't have much in the way of positive older female relatives.

I'm a Canadian living in Melbourne and I'm lonely as hell.
(Can we have a Mefi personals section for surrogate family members?)
posted by third word on a random page at 4:10 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Great idea! Pen pals are such a sweet idea, and I had no idea how much I missed them until I read this this morning. Sign me up - I'm pushing 40 and would love both having and being an older sister.
posted by jebs at 4:38 AM on June 4, 2013

What a great idea, count me in. Just finished raising two boys & am full of opinions. I would love to have a peer-penpal as well, not just an older/younger mentor/mentee one.
posted by headnsouth at 4:47 AM on June 4, 2013

"Other mothers" have been hugely important to me. I'm in by email, and would love an older sibling as well as a younger sibling.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:13 AM on June 4, 2013

This sounds like a fun - I'd love to be in as well. I'm 35 and technically an older sister to two, although I haven't been very close to them while they were growing up. I'd love an older or younger 'sibling' to converse with! Either by mail or email or both.
posted by needlegrrl at 6:36 AM on June 4, 2013

Yes, please!
posted by MeiraV at 6:50 AM on June 4, 2013

This is such a great idea! I would love to have a penpal too.
posted by Cat Set Go at 7:16 AM on June 4, 2013

I was an extreme pen pal writer from 11 to my early 20's and have been missing it for a while. I'll always regret finally dumping my letters during my last move. Bad move! Anyway, I'm 46 and I'd love to send and receive actual snail mail pen pal letters again.
posted by h00py at 7:16 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Me too! I'm 31. Should I memail you my address?
posted by Neekee at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2013

I want to play! I want to play! I'm 37, you can get a great introduction to me on my blog ( and I LOVE pen pals. I have so much stationary and love sending real snail mail. Add me to the circle/list. WOOT WOOT.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 8:05 AM on June 4, 2013

Add me to the circle!
posted by foxhat10 at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2013

Me, too! What a great idea.
posted by linettasky at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2013

Yep, me too.
posted by theora55 at 8:34 AM on June 4, 2013

I would LOVE to do this. Add me to the list. But...

I don't know if I'm on the Older Sister side or the Younger Sister side. I'm 35. Gosh, would it be selfish of me to want one of each??
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2013

I'm interested in an older sister pen pal as well!
posted by ichomp at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2013

Please put me on the list too. Love to write, need pals.
posted by phoenix_rising at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2013

Re-upped my MF account just to comment here -- sounds great I'm in too! I'm 41, mother of a teenager, older sister, daughter, good friend. :) How do we do this??
posted by sarahparah at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2013

I would love to get in on this. I'm 27.
posted by blueberrypicasso at 10:33 AM on June 4, 2013

So glad I clicked on this thread! I'm in.
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2013

I'd love to write as well--it's impossible to find penpals/advisors/people who are awesome. I'm 26. Would that work?
posted by orangutan at 11:12 AM on June 4, 2013

I'd like to get involved too!
posted by Lotto at 11:40 AM on June 4, 2013

This sounds awesome! Count me in, I love sending cards and letters. I'm 26, youngest sister - happy to offer or receive wisdom :)
posted by thetarium at 11:52 AM on June 4, 2013

I want in too! I'm 32 and an only child. Part know it all smarty pants part eager student.
posted by mokeydraws at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2013

I'm so in!
posted by ukdanae at 2:20 PM on June 4, 2013

I don't know if I'm on the Older Sister side or the Younger Sister side. I'm 35. Gosh, would it be selfish of me to want one of each??

Bwah, yeah, I don't know which one I count on either. I'm probably better on the "younger" side though, god knows I'm a late bloomer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:22 PM on June 4, 2013

Please add me as well! 36 and would love an older, wiser person to correspond with.
posted by LittleFuzzy at 5:13 PM on June 4, 2013

I'd love to join you! (I'd bet I'd have to be the younger one though)
posted by delezzo at 6:26 PM on June 4, 2013

I'd like to join in! :)
posted by rio at 7:07 PM on June 4, 2013

Me too! 43 and although I'm an older sister, I've always wanted a sister, since I only have a brother.
posted by marmot at 7:32 PM on June 4, 2013

I would also love to join this circle! Maybe we should take it to metatalk and organize a penpal/mentor/sister thing over there?
posted by (Over) Thinking at 8:07 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd love to join in! Definitely on the younger side, here.
posted by Starmie at 12:57 AM on June 5, 2013

I'll join the circle :) Always nice to have someone to write to. On a side note, I really miss getting letters in the mail! Relatives, past loves, it always seemed so personal to get a handwritten letter. Going to the mailbox and the excitement of seeing it there, knowing it contained a loved one's personal thoughts, written just for you. Email inbox will suffice though!
posted by readygo at 1:22 AM on June 5, 2013

I would also love to join in :)
posted by greenish at 4:49 AM on June 5, 2013

Me too, me too! I hope someone is collecting these votes and can set up a system.
posted by Ender's Friend at 6:20 AM on June 5, 2013

I am also into this. 27 years old, older sister by birth and in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and would love to both be & have a penpal sister... !
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 9:44 AM on June 5, 2013

I'd love to do this. Happy to help organize, too , given that there's so much interest, I'm sure there's a bunch to do.
posted by darsh at 10:30 AM on June 5, 2013

I opened a MetaTalk post: MeFi PenPals
posted by smuna at 12:13 PM on June 5, 2013

Feel free to add me as well. I love writing and have a ton of stationary to use!
posted by corb at 1:41 PM on June 5, 2013

Great idea! Put me on the list!
posted by biscuits at 2:05 PM on June 5, 2013

Oh man, I do need an older sister.
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:16 PM on June 5, 2013

Another great place I just discovered a couple of weeks ago, because a Mefite that I follow on Twitter tweeted about it, is the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club (IGGPPC). You can sign up for a new international pen pal each month (you choose if you want to write to each other more than once!), and there's also forums on the site, and you can friend each other on social media if you like. There are plenty of kinds of "geek," from comic books, TV shows & movies, and gaming, to classic cartoons, toys, books, and podcasts. The "Houses" (basically for fun) are divided by age range. Everyone I've met there has been super nice. :)

(Just a small note because it can be confusing, you register for the site first and then you have to sign up for a pen pal, if you want one. You have to sign up for a new pen pal each month, if you want another one. Only the pen pal you're assigned to gets your mailing address.)
posted by IndigoRain at 6:59 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay peeps! I will sort something out and get in touch with everyone =) Not sure exactly what yet, but it will probably involve a spreadsheet, emails, and possibly a password-protected page on my blog or something.

Yaaaaaay! What a great project for a long winter weekend.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:22 PM on June 5, 2013

I'm a little late but I'm 42 (and like camyram, the answer to everything). While I don't personally have the answer to everything (or anything, really), I'd be totally up for being a big sister/auntie, which I am.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:30 PM on June 5, 2013

Wow, wonderful idea!!! I'd love to join too :) Although I'm only 26 I'm an older sister and auntie (but not a grandma...yet!)
posted by mugitusqueboom at 4:32 AM on June 7, 2013

I would love to be in on this too! I'm 40, working mom to 1, older sister to 1 awesome younger sister. And I miss getting and sending snail mail.

This is lovely!
posted by lucyleaf at 9:46 AM on June 7, 2013

Response by poster: Update: Okay, this is taking longer than I thought =) Anyway, I work in Privacy Legislation (eek!) so I am thinking carefully about how to do this so everyone stays safe and happy AND can get some mail!

A couple of you had suggestions... links to a spreadsheet, Metafilter Projects, etc. and I thank you. Checking them out momentarily. ;)

When it's set up, I'll send everyone who commented/memailed me a short note with a link to whatever this turns into.

posted by jrobin276 at 6:53 PM on June 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

I would like to be on this list, as well. I am almost 35, and I'm an older sister, but I would love to have an older sister of my own.

I have a friend who has been on Metafilter for a long time. I told her I wished I could find someone, and she told me about this thread, so I joined just for this purpose. But now I also see that Metafilter is awesome.
posted by andsometimestea at 8:35 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm looking forward to this. I'm going to go out and buy stamps, paper and envelopes next week.
posted by h00py at 9:05 AM on June 21, 2013

And a lovely new pen too. Why not?
posted by h00py at 9:06 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not to be pushy but I bought that pen. Anyone want a pen pal?
posted by h00py at 6:38 AM on July 22, 2013

My kids got fancy new pens from grandma when they graduated high school last month. They'll never use 'em, so I'm ready. I won't feel guilty using their fancy pens either. Time and again they've taken my toothpaste, my socks, my sanity, and the last of the milk so there's nothing left for coffee. At least I'll put the pens away when I'm done.
posted by headnsouth at 6:58 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is anything happening with this? I still think it's an awesome idea, would still like to take it offline if that's a thing for others too. Lemme know!
posted by deliciae at 5:57 PM on August 28, 2013

I'd love to receive letters from people who've expressed interest here. Memail me if you'd like the same.
posted by h00py at 5:39 AM on August 29, 2013

Wondering if anything ever happened with this?
posted by rio at 8:48 PM on January 30, 2014

I sent a missive off to the other hemisphere. It was fun to put together.
posted by headnsouth at 5:01 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

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