My younger sister has been very depressed about her boyfriend’s poor treatment of her, which ended recently with his leaving her apartment where he’d lived for four years.
She’s 34 and has two kids, 13 and 11, from a previous relationship. Her boyfriend’s 26.
He was a new immigrant here when they met through family. She was immediately taken with him, though he had nothing, and moved him in without rent or food money from him.
But he was ambitious, went to school, got a job, and got promoted. She’s got an okay job but she’s always been needy and too giving in her relationships.
She’s the dependent type, like our mother who cried for years after our father left. I’m the opposite.
Things deteriorated when her boyfriend bought an expensive car, smart clothes, and started staying out late with “friends.” She accused him of being with other women but he always denied it.
Now, he’s gone and she’s devastated, constantly crying and re-telling her story.
I want to help her but she rejects my opinions. I tell her to accept that it’s over, focus on her kids, get out with friends, and even find a new job.
I want to get her a therapist for her depression but she acts as if I’m insulting her when I suggest it.
How can I help her?
Your advice is good but she doesn’t want it from you.
She is who she is. Being a sister doesn’t mean you’re the one who can or should change her. What she wants from you is caring support.
Yes, therapy could help her adjust to this loss, but she has to want it in order to benefit.
However, depression can become chronic, and that affects her kids’ environment and her own mental health.
If it persists, suggest she sees her doctor (accompany her, if she lets you) so she can manage her daily life at work and with her children. If she won’t accept this from you, try to enlist her closest friend.
I long ago lost touch with one of my oldest guy friends (from elementary school days) but through mutual friends I heard that he fell on hard times.
He split with his wife and his kids were divided – one with him, one with his ex, one with children’s services and another with an aunt.
He’d become a big drinker so I assumed that was the problem. But I heard that he’s also had serious mental health issues, outbursts, etc.
His wife and I never became friends. Their divorce has been ugly and messy, especially for the children.
After not hearing from him for years, he’s reached out to me.
I don’t want to be rude or unkind to him, but I don’t want to be involved.
He’s Not My Bro
Everyone makes choices, and yours is to be uninvolved with this long-ago friend.
Yet you’ve written me, so you’re not fully comfortable with your decision. Or, perhaps you’re trying to justify it.
You know yourself best. If you fear that responding to him will take you down a frustrating rabbit hole while trying unsuccessfully to help this guy after years of his troubles, then you’re not the right support person for him anyway.
BUT, if you feel for old times’ sake that you should consider one meeting to listen and show some compassion, then think about it some more… until you’re certain that you’ve made the right decision.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman with a baby, a toddler, and a frequently busy husband (Jan 2):
Reader – “When my wife was off work with our firstborn, I was working eight to 12 hours daily.
“But I took over at home for the evening and some of the baby’s late-night calls.
“I didn’t go out with friends. My first responsibility was to my partner and child.
“My wife suffered severely from postpartum depression compounded by our distance from family.
“But with support and counselling she got through it.
“With our second child, we’d moved closer to home and she didn’t suffer from postpartum depression.
“During the first maternity leave I’d take time to call her to ask how she was doing. When I got home I encouraged her to go out and take a break. With only one vehicle, I carpooled some days so she could get out.
"Not My Expectation" shouldn’t feel it’s all up to her.”
Tip of the day:
Sibling advice sometimes highlights the differences from each other instead of the connection.