Is His Sister Her Competition?
Q: My partner of 16 years lives with his sister, which is not easy to begin with, due to economic times, and she has never dated anyone because she has a thing for her brother. She is provocative daily with him, knowing it upsets me. He does not tell her to cut it out and get her own boyfriend. It has all the appearances of normal behavior to anyone not living here, but I have seen things that point to incestuous behavior, and it worries me. Talking to her just builds more hostility towards me because she sees me as her competition. It has become unworkable and built distance with my partner. It's achieved what she wants: me out. -- Maria, 50
Dr. Susan: After you have spent so many years with him, I can't imagine why your partner hasn't already set some rules for his own sister's annoying, possibly abnormal, behavior. Some siblings can perhaps act in a playful way that seems, to an outsider, flirtatious with one another, but you're no outsider by now. Sisters can feel competitive with their brother's lover at any age. Screwy, but it happens. The only person who can and should deal with this is your boyfriend. So where is he when all this is going on? Does he respond to her in a similar manner or does he simply ignore her? If things are intolerable, let him know you've had it. Either he figures out how to control his sister, or the two of you ought to find some way to live away from her, or you will have to go.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.