Dear Margo: Stuck in a Family Rut

My brothers only call to pick a fight, should I just ignore them? Margo Howard’s advice

Stuck in a Family Rut

Dear Margo: My mother just passed away, and I am the eldest of three brothers. For some odd reason, we don’t communicate often due to how our family was structured. I am not a perfect person, though I have tried to seek redemption for my past mistakes. I am the one, however, who is still perceived as having mental issues and no concept of the “real world.” Everyone is entitled to perceive and interpret the world as they will, but it seems that once people have made up their minds, they only see what they want to see. I am finding that you can’t restructure a family or avoid dysfunctional arguments.

Since the death of our mother, we’ve had some bonding, but there is still tension in the air. My question to you is: Should I just ignore them when they contact me? Whenever they do, it is just to pick a fight. How would you handle the situation? — Uncertain

Dear Un: I would not ignore an overture, but should the conversation become argumentative or confrontational, I would respond that you don’t find such exchanges constructive, and for that reason, you are going to end the call. You also might try writing a note to the brothers saying that they seem to be stuck in the past, and while you would hope for a collegial relationship, unless they can go forward without the old baggage, you are simply not interested. I do not see the advantage in your being the whipping boy in a troubled situation, especially when you are trying for civility. If the old patterns continue, pretend you are an only child. — Margo, pragmatically

Moving Too Fast

Dear Margo: A few months ago, my sister met a guy on a blind date. They hit it off. He is 30, and my sister is 25. I met him and disliked him. He wasn’t an interesting person and seemed entirely too comfortable in my sister’s apartment where I was temporarily staying. He put his bare feet up on the coffee table, which I found gross. He was so into my sister that he didn’t ask me anything about myself, which I found disrespectful. A few days later, they were “in love.”

I later found out (from our other sister, who doesn’t like him, either) that soon after they met, he got a biggish tattoo on his chest that was associated with her, and she got a small corresponding tattoo. I find this crazy. A month after they met, they got engaged. My reaction to this caught me off guard. I cried, and I’ve cried several times about it. I really don’t like him and don’t understand the rush. They had an informal engagement party and have another one planned in our hometown. I didn’t want to go. It would have required a plane trip to be there for one night. I told my sister this, but she kept asking, and eventually I just went.

Our family is close, and I find it offensive that he feels he is part of it. (They’re also shocked because this happened so fast.) He is immature and very superficial and loves shopping (which I find weird in a straight man). This is making me sad because I love my sister. I don’t want this to affect us. Soon after meeting him, she asked whether I liked him, and I was honest and said no. What is your advice? — Up in the Air

Dear Up: I don’t know what her hurry is, but I’m pretty certain she will not listen to what anybody has to say. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) Alas, I suspect your relationship with your sister will be affected, but there you are. These things happen, and family is pretty well powerless, so understand, to quote Woody Allen when he ran off with his stepdaughter, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” — Margo, rationally

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

65 Responses so far.

  1. avatar wendykh says:

    Wow LW2 you need to grow up and remove yourself from the situation. I’m betting you’re between 16 and 21. This isn’t your business. You don’t get a vote unless you’re having sex with him. He’s not rude, he’s not disrespectful, he doesn’t beat her, it seems like it’s all about how he’s not all up in your business. Good Lord. You need to get over yourself.

  2. avatar Seattle87 says:

    LW2 – They may be in a hurry…or maybe she didn’t introduce you to him right away because you’re snotty. You’re offended that your sister’s fiance considers himself family? That’s…kind of how family works. It seems like you’re trying to undermine her relationship. He considers himself at home…at a house you’re temporarily staying in. Are you worried she’ll ask you to move out once she’s married? Personally, given how rude you seem about her whole relationship, I would have asked you to move out now. True, their relationship may not work out, but you’re looking for reasons not to like this guy, and it’s not your decision.

    • avatar Kittyara says:

      LW2, I really hope you dont go to their wedding or any other related events. In fact, I hope your sister has the sense to completely ignore your existence, as her fiance does. What kind of self centered egotistical idiot moan and whines about his sister having found someone she is happy with because he himself finds the fiance boring? If I was your sister, I would have invited you to find someplace else to stay. Far far away from me.

  3. avatar bamabob says:

    LW2, let me get this straight.  You were staying in your sister’s home and her date didn’t pay attention to you, he paid attention to her.  He has a tattoo devoted to her and she has a small one devoted to him.  Your family is close and he has the nerve to feel like he’s part of his future in-law’s family.   Your sister is 25, not 15 and he’s 30.  Whether they’re moving too fast or not seems irrelevant as far as your list of grievances goes.  I think you need to get over yourself and find some of your own business to mind.

  4. avatar toni says:

    Woody Allen was quoting Emily Dickinson.

  5. avatar Amy says:

    What in the name of God’s Holy Underpants is wrong with a man who likes to shop?  I call that a good quality if ever there was one.

  6. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Margo gave good advice.  Cannot add anything else here except to say that my sisters were a great comfort to me when I lost both my parents.  That may not be possible in your family dynamic. 

    LW#2:  Your complaints about this guy are: 1)he is not *interesting* (to you…evidently he is interesting to yoru sister) 2) he made himself at home in your sister’s apartment (presumably she invited him to do so) 3) He should have paid attention to you and not your sister (I would think if he fawned all over you and NOT you sister that might indicate a problem; 3)they got matching tattoos (I too think the tattoo craze is crazy but its her body not yours) 4) they got engaged in a month (while I’m not an advocate of rush romance, my grandmother accepted a ring from my grandfather on their 3rd date and they had a fairytale romance of a marriage and my father knew he was going to marry my mother after spending one evening with her and they had a long and happy marriage..sometimes these things happen)5) now that they are engaged he acts like he is part of the family (well thats sort of what happens when people get engaged) 5)he shops so he might be gay (I cannot even begin to address the homophobic stereotype in that concern).

    You have a choice…continue crying, continue using emotional blackmail designed to thwart your sisters plans and dreams..and lose a sister; or try to find something to like in the man even if its only that he loves your sister as you do (presumably…although your resentment at his paying attention to her and not you suggests you may be having a bit of sibling envy).     If it works out great (assuming you want your sister to be happy).  If it doesn’t, you will be close enough to her to help her find her way out of a mistake.   

  7. avatar Dan Bingham says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn LW2.  While yes, her complaints sound petty, the overall gist I get is that she is feeling some major alarm bells going off about this guy (especially with the super-quick commitment) but is unable to really put a finger on why, so ends up with a silly-sounding list of problems that don’t really communicate how ‘wrong’ this feels.
    Maybe I’m biased in this, tho, because a similar situation happened in my family when I was quite a bit younger.  My uncle got caught up in a whirlwind romance with a woman who seemed (to him) to be just perfect, the answer to all his fondest dreams.  The rest of the family felt that there was something seriously ‘off’ about her, but were unable to come up with very good specifics, just a lot of small things that didn’t seem quite right.  Of course my uncle didn’t listen, he was in love.  Not long after the wedding, it became quite clear that she had a major untreated mental illness that she hadn’t bothered to tell him about, was no longer trying at all to control, and was not interested in getting treatment for.  He got the marriage annulled, and when she left, she stole all his doorknobs.  No joke.

    • avatar Jennifer juniper says:

      One shouldn’t laugh at mental illness but the doorknobs thing seriously has me laughing.  There must be a joke in there somewhere.  ‘A few doorknobs shy of a ….?’  LOL

      • avatar Michelles11 says:

        Dan…yes!  Sometimes alarm bells DO go off and there’s a good reason for them.  I’m not sure I would jump on this girl for having concerns.  The gut feels what the gut feels….

      • avatar JCF4612 says:

        My husband’s ex had several brothers in the moving business. When she left him for the last time, he came home to find everything gone except for a roll of toilet paper and a can of cling peaches.   

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      Many people have lost more than their doorknobs in a bad marriage, unless of course he was inside and could not get out.  I would like to know the age of LW2, would get a better feel if this is jealousy or more adult intuition.

    • avatar cl1028 says:

      I think I probably also know how LW2 feels. I also felt sad when my younger brother got engaged, because I hadn’t had a chance to meet his gf yet. I was half way across the country at the time for university, and it was heartbreaking for me to miss out on these important family events. Future SIL drove my sister crazy because she was “boring,” didn’t have a sense of humour, and dressed in too many clashing colours and unflattering garments. She drove me crazy because she started calling me her sister and my parents “mom and dad” even before the engagement. All of which we blamed on her home-schooling and seriously, sadly sheltered childhood (which even SIL will admit to).

      BUT, of course, we knew that these were all OUR pretty problems! It’s difficult in a close-knit family to let an outsider in. Oh well, you get over it pretty quickly when you don’t have a choice in the matter! We knew they loved each other and treated each other well, so we smiled about it and never said a word to my brother. They’ve been happily married for almost 3 years now with a beautiful baby boy and another one on the way, and, I have to say, SIL turned out to be a pretty nice person with some great qualities after all.

    • avatar mmht says:

      Ok, seriously when I saw the door knobs thing I about died of laughter!  I know its wrong but that’s hilarious!  In all serious though, if her stealing his door knobs was the worst thing that she did to him, then he got off super easy!  That being said, while I see your point the truth is there isn’t anything this girl can do.  She has already told her sister that she doesn’t like him and her sister continued with the relationship.  At this point, the best thing that she can do is try to put the fact that she dislikes him aside and try to find some middle ground so she doesn’t alienate her sister and ruin their relationship.  That way, if the guy does turn out to be crazy, then the sister will know she still has family to turn to.  

    • avatar snowwhite4577 says:

      She is getting alarm bells about the guy and she cannot put her finger on it as to why. Things like that happen to us all the time and no one can really say what is going on until the person you had “that feeling” about does something completely out there and than everyone goes ….”see….I thought so,”.  But this letter writer seems really self -absorbed (he was not interesting to me, he put his bare feet on the table which I found gross, and he paid attention only to my sister, did not ask me anything the whole night) in the reasons that she gives. The first and foremost reason is that this was done so quickly.  So, I have to wonder if the letter writer is jealous, worried that she might get the boot out of the sister’s home and selfish.  Sometimes, us concerned folk just have to let things play out for better or for worse….and I hope the letter writer does not say “I tried to tell you,” if things don’t work out. But it sounds like this is the kind of person we are dealing with.

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      LW2: Sounds to me like is potentially a control freak or a narcissist. If two sisters don’t like him right off the bar, that’s not a good sign. The huge tattoo to me signifies he is ensuring she will stick with him with emotional & skin blackmail. 
      Yes, people can fall in love quickly, but the rational ones let the romance ride for a while to get past the initial amore. Seriously, from high school to age 26, I had at least 15 romances where I thought the guy was THE ONE– until I got past the first month, or three or even twice it was two years. Some people are able to hold up their nice side for longer than others. Experience has worked out well for me. I’ll be happily married to the best guy for 14 years on Wednesday. 🙂   

      • avatar Lila says:

        LymBO, congrats!  And what a coincidence — we will hit our 20th on Wednesday.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        On the other hand, for a lot of people, getting a tattoo is seen as a daring declaration of undying love and devotion…the bigger and gaudier the better. I am inked, and I don’t feel this way…but it’s a very socially acceptable statement. Don’t believe me? In our middle to upper income suburban area, at every school event, I see women and men in Yuppie-sporty-tennis-golf-conservative fashion and cute little soccer mom and neat executive dad hair sporting some of the most cliched and irrelevant ink one could possibly imagine. Even “tramp stamps” and flaming skulls among the butterflies, unicorns, tribals and cartoon characters.
        Also remember, she got a tattoo too. Smaller, typical of a lot of women, but she let herself be inked and it’s as permanent as his. I realize that there will be a certain insistence that he somehow twisted her arm emotionally to do this…but it’s just possible that this was all her idea (women willingly receive art and body modification all of the time) and that she actually likes having her avatar emblazoned on his chest.
        My youngest sister didn’t like Rusty when we first were married because he is not a knee-jerk, Ultra-Liberal, and could argue intelligently for his point of view. They get along splendidly now. My other sister did not like him because he…gasp…wasn’t as interested in her stories as his brand new wife, spent more time visiting with other members of my family than with her…and didn’t gasp in awe at her stunning beauty or constantly compliment her on, well, everything. Gosh, so two sisters didn’t like him. What a warning sign. I should have listened…then we wouldn’t be married joyfully, passionately, respectfully, wonderfully for 18 years.
        From high school to age 26 I was married once, for 6 years. I married to get out of my parents’ house, because I was going insane due to my untreated and self-medicated diseases, and because the area I lived in was so economically depressed that it was that or live on the streets. I kicked him out, and moved in with another loser, got married and had a son. We were together 7 years, then I kicked him out. I thought I was in love…but I truly don’t know what I was except clean and sober, suffering from my illnesses, and unable to see clearly and that sometimes I am a slow learner. I had known Rusty as a friend for 8 years when we became something else. We were married 9 months later, and have been together 18 years.
        Those are my only “relationships”…and I never thought of anyone as The One. I never had plans, dreams, hopes or faith. That we are together is something. I don’t know who plays these changes.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      As a person officially and professionally diagnosed with several Axis I mental disorders, I find the whole doorknob story hysterically funny. Hopefully he realizes that it’s a profound bit of good fortune that for some reason, only his doorknobs appealed to her, and that they didn’t require a knife for detachment as a souvenirs.
      Doorknobs. O my o my.

  8. avatar IMHO says:

    LW #2 could have been written by one of my sisters. She took an instant dislike to my then-boyfriend, had “alarm bells” going off and was highly suspicious of his intentions. It turns out that my sister is highly suspicious of happy people in general, and didn’t like sharing me with someone else. My parents didn’t know what to make of him either. It turns out that my family is introverted and my boyfriend was very gregarious and confident – so, to my family, it seemed “off” when it was just different.
    When we decided to get married after a very brief courtship, both of my sisters took bets on how long our marriage would last. My husband loves shopping, is a fantastic father, and dotes on me completely, and we have been happily married for over 20 years. My two sisters have not had nearly the same luck in their marriages. So… LW #2 may feel that she has legitimate concerns but that could just mean that it is LW #2 who has relationship issues, not her sister.

  9. avatar Messy ONE says:

    @LW 2. 

    Instead of just whining about this guy, pay attention to what’s going on with your sister. It is a very common thing for a “whirlwind” relationship to become abusive. If she actually marries the guy, there’s an excellent chance that Dr. Jekyll will show his Mr. Hyde soon after.

    That said, your sister’s relationships are none of your business. YOU don’t have to like the guy – SHE does, and that’s not going to change just because you feel icky. YOU don’t have to live with the guy, either. SHE has made the choice to do this, and as an adult, she doesn’t need your permission or approval.

    If you want your sister to stay in touch with you, then you’d better get an attitude adjustment. If you keep this up, she’s going to decide that dealing with you is a waste of time. 

  10. avatar martina says:

    Like IMHO my sisters were not to thrilled after meeting my then-boyfriend now husband of 23 years and told me I shouldn’t marry him. He’s a very outspoken individual and most people either love him or hate him.  The one sister has come to accept him for what he is.  The other generally doesn’t come to events at my home and avoids him at other functions.  My father had a lot of respect for him and my mother treats him as another son.

    She should do like my sister did and accept him for what he is and be there for her should things go bad.  But you never know, it just might work.

  11. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: When they call and attempt pick a fight, say you’ve got to get back to rotating your tires, and end on a high note — “thanks for calling, gotta go.”

    LW2: If he’s as dreadful as you say, this, too, likely shall pass. They may, however, be well suited. This is about them, not you. You’ve had your say. Now’s a good time to butt out.   

  12. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: ” Everyone is entitled to perceive and interpret the world as they will, but it seems that once people have made up their minds, they only see what they want to see.” Sad to say, there you have it. That is pretty much “it.” I’ve also overcome quite a bit of my family past…and others haven’t. Be as civil as you can, avoid feeding the monster. If it comes to hanging up on them and/or true distancing, do it. You are not obligated to be anyone’s whipping post.
    L #2: Sounds like your sister landed herself a big-time schmuck and she’s head over heels with him. There is literally nothing you can do about this, much as you hate it. Maybe he will change over time (though doubtful). Maybe she’ll wise up. Perhaps they’ll divorce (hopefully sans children). New love is always passionate and sort of crazy. Hopefully sister will sober up if he is a true schmuck. But there is *nothing* you can do about this. People do change (sometimes not for the better); you need to move on with YOUR life.

  13. avatar geekspice says:

    The 2nd letter hhas been published elsewhere previously. It might have been Prudie, but I’m too lazy to look it up. Reading it a seond time, the LW sounds loke and even more spoiled immature self-centered brat than the first time around. 

    • avatar geekspice says:

      Ugh typos!

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        LW1: Been there, done that. My mother’s death appeared at first to be a catalyst to bring my family together—and for a short while, it did. My brother and I divided up the estate with remarkably little conflict—and my father actually showed some interest in maintaining contact and being in my life. 

        About a year later they both disappeared and quit returning phone calls and correspondence. I tried to contact them about 5-6 times and then gave up. I waited two more years and then changed my phone number when I moved. I heard from my aunt about five years into this silent period that both had contacted her recently (at that time), wondering what I was up to.

        “What I was up to.” Five years later.

        It’s now about ten years later, and every so often I wonder if I should contact them. And then I remember the conversation with my aunt. I would never suggest to you that you cut off contact with anyone in your family, if there is effort there and it is not dysfunctional or abusive. However—if you’re surrounded by emotionally lazy people who contact you every couple of years because they need or want something—by all means you should move on.

        LW2: You’ve supposedly written about your sister, and yet so much of your letter actually says: “me, me, me.” Your visceral dislike for your sister’s BF may be on the money—but since you don’t detail a previous relationship with a BF who WAS liked, it’s hard to determine how much of the problem is the guy, and how much of it is you. Since your letter also doesn’t mention any really dysfunctional behavior on your sister’s part (a TATTOO? Call the crazy hospital!), I’m leaning towards the opinion that you and your family are overreacting, or just snobs. You also don’t mention how the BF treats you—other than to say his feet are gross, which by the way, comes across as REALLY, REALLY shallow.  

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          David – I think you should try contacting them. I’d give it a 50-50 chance of positive outcome, but at least you won’t have to wonder…you’ll KNOW. The great thing about a phone is you can always hang up.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            If this had been the first time something like this had happened—I would. It’s not, and at some point I have to draw a line in the sand and realize that I can’t make someone care, other than in a casual or I-feel-guilty sort of way. 

            If they wanted to find me and contact me—they could. Asking around about me doesn’t impress me in the slightest. 

          • avatar bright eyes says:

            David – I have the same thing going on with two fronts. And I agree with you – they know how to get in touch with you if they want to. My first is my ‘father’ who didn’t have contact with me for 13 years although he knew where we were. How hard is it to drop a birthday card in the mail?!?!?? My sister moved back to where he lives so they have a relationship and he asks her about me. But even when we lived 2 hours away, it was I could go see him if I wanted but he never made an effort to come see me. After 13 years of him not caring – why should I? 
            And the rest of my Mother’s family – they’re the same way. I can visit them if I want to, but no one wants to put out any effort to come see us unless they need something. Each time she plans a trip to see her family she asks me if I want to go. No, why should I? I was told that I was not welcome in my Aunt’s house and that I’m a bad influence on her kids, so why should I want to go back?
            And with my sister, she does the same thing. It’s always that we can travel to see her and her kids, but she can never travel to see us. I make an effort to keep in touch with her kids, but she can’t make an effort to keep in touch with mine. I’m supposed to remind our parents to send her kids birthday and Christmas presents, but when it comes to her getting something for my child – it’s too expensive, she doesn’t have time or she forgets and it’s always a last minute effort. The too expensive reason didn’t fly with me because she went and bought the exact same toy for a nephew on her husband’s side of the family. So after years of this being a one sided effort, I have given up! I got tired of my child wondering why she has to be reminded of his birthday (a few weeks before her child’s) and to get him something for Christmas. While he sees me sending them Easter cards, Valentine’s Cards, Halloween cards, etc. Christmas was the last straw, I sent a big box of goodies for the kids, yet she forgot until the last minute what my son wanted. They sent the wrong thing, so I went out and bought a replacement and stuck a card with her name on it. 
            We’ll see how this new effort on my part goes although I doubt she’ll even notice.

          • avatar Davina Wolf says:

            David Bolton–

            I have the same sort of family and doubt that contacting your father and brother will do anything but stir up sadness.  They could have gotten in contact with you but didn’t–they will not have changed.  Don’t listen to people with romantic views of “family”.  Save yourself the trouble.      

  14. avatar bobkat says:

    LW2: If you know the guy’s name put it into ‘been verified dot com’ and see what comes up. Otherwise just step back and give sis a soft place to land when she needs it.

    • avatar julpfeif says:

      LW#2. Wisconsin has a “simple case search” web site through the circuit courts, where you can check out someone’s criminal history – I’m assuming other states have the same. If this had been available many years ago when I had a piece-of-crap-boyfriend, I would have saved a lot of heartache and money.

  15. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    I wonder about the dynamics of the sisters in letter #2. It struck me that maybe what the LW really found galling is that the man was more interested in her sister than in making small talk with a judgmental house guest. It read like the sister was filled with jealousy and livid that her attempts at “conversation” with her sister’s beau led to nothing. I suspect “conversation” was actually flirting. And the guy shut her down. To protect her fragile ego, the LW has to find things wrong with the man (even that he might be gay) to save her pride. After all, a man who doesn’t respond to HER must have something wrong with him.

    • avatar Mandy says:

      That’s exactly where my head went when I read this.  “Oh, so he blew you off and *that* is why you don’t like him?  Grow up, kiddo.”

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      My mother, and one of my sisters, don’t like my husband. He doesn’t bend his knee to them, think that every pronouncement is worth its weight in gold, that they’re especially knowledgeable or witty, or that either are singularly attractive. He is not rude about it…but he won’t sit passively by while they babble their garbage and revisionist stories about their (and my) lives, the world, and reality…like everyone else does. He is quite gentle about correcting their prevarications with the facts…but it still infuriates them. 
      Sigh. After 18 years they still think I married a monster…in other words, a man with intelligence and a spine.

      • avatar bright eyes says:

        Does he have a brother? LOL

        I was dating a guy and was told by my Mother that in the 5 seconds I left her, my boyfriend and my son alone that she saw him push my son down. She would bring it up every time I saw her. She didn’t like him for some reason and so I ignored her. He had a son of his own, so why hurt mine? He eventually moved and we broke up anyway. Not that I thought he was the love of my life, he was just a guy I was dating.

        Next time I dated a guy she, again, found something wrong with him but she couldn’t say he was hurting my son because he was old enough to tell me if something happened. Plus they weren’t alone together, so she had to find some other reason to complain about him.  Turns out the whole time she’s worried about losing me and my son so she would say whatever she could bad about him to me. She’s one of these people who always has to be the most important person in your life no matter what. So every time I meet someone now I brush off her concerns – unless they are valid – and realize that she’s viewing them through a possessive mother’s eyes and that truly no one will ever be good enough for her. 

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Rusty is an only child, and defies the stereotype. He’s a genuinely good person, quirks and all…friend, lover, partner, confidant, father…sort of a yang to my yin, if you want to be Taoist about it all. Eighteen years is a long time to be married and still be “in love”, passionate and having fun. But…there are other men like him…I’ve met quite a few. Not all of them are the right fit for a given person…but they are kind, decent, funny humans and there is somebody out there for them…and for you.
          As for my mother, she isn’t possessive of me…she just feels that she is “the best of the best” and that she must be worshiped on bended knee. Sadly for her, she is only human, and not the best of our species. She’s never had a single correct intuition about a male in my life…or anything else…except one, single observation. She told my first ex, who was just so confident that I would come crawling back to him, this, “Once Briana decides you’re out of her life, you might as well give up. She’s done with you”. I suspect that this had something to do with my blunt refusal to return home to her no matter how horrible, seemingly impossible, or shattered my life became. I never have…it would be suicide.

  16. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #2 – so you don’t like him, what of it?  While I agree there’s no reason to rush, the things you point out about him are silly.   No real “deal breakers” as I can tell.  You say your family is close. I suspect your opposition stems more from the winds of change in your family dynamics.

  17. avatar Caramia says:

    LW#1 – So Margo says to drop them out of his life since they tend to pick fights.  What if the picker is your doctor, the only one in the town taking on new patients and the only way way out is to move 250 miles away to a bigger city that has multiple doctors?

  18. avatar Noonatic says:

    YIKES!!   My husband of almost 20 years and I, like LW2 sister, got engaged 5 weeks after we met and got married 89 days after we met.  He also LOVES to shop with me and for me.  Sure glad there was no one around like you back then or I could have really screwed up me life.  

    • avatar Lila says:

      Noonatic, have you seen the “Mr. Wonderful” doll?  It talks, and says things like, “Let’s go shopping, and I’ll carry your bags!”  He also promises to cook, or do the dishes.  Uh… but, being made of plastic and all, he doesn’t actually DO these things.  *Sigh*.
      Sounds like you found the real thing!

  19. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#2: I find it amusing that so many posters are judging the fiance to be an example of genus creepus from a letter that sounds like it comes from a spoiled, insecure, jealous teenage girl. He put his bare feet up on the table…call the hygiene police. If her sister, who’s apartment he is desecrating, found the move offensive, I do believe she might have said something. He is “immature and superficial”…this from a young woman who, as a temporary guest of her sister, is somehow shocked, appalled and righteously pissed that her sister’s boyfriend paid more attention to his girlfriend than to her. Why, what a surprise! Was she expecting a menage a trois? Or that her sibling ought to serve cheese and crackers and some vintage Boone’s Farm while she and Mr. Gross Feet intimately conversed? Or perhaps her sister should have silently, respectfully slipped away, so that he could fully concentrate his attentions on her younger, fairer sib. Sure. Right.
    O, and Jeebus-pleez-us, he likes to shop. He must be gay and looking for a beard. Did this girl grow up in Wasilla? Where the only paper is a one-sheet that never uses words of more than two syllables, and the news is confined to bar fights, birth announcements and marriages (simultaneously occurring, in many cases). Where “gay” is a four-letter word (they really might think so…). Somebody save the children…
    People get engaged quickly in today’s society…if you simply read Margo’s column you’d know that as she’s run many letters addressing just that peculiar fact. As several readers have graciously pointed out, this happened in the “Old Days” too, and is not necessarily a recipe for disaster. It is not Ms. Up in the Air’s business what her sister chooses to do…nor do I think that the man’s actions indicate a serious level of trolldom given whose perspective we are getting the so insightful information from. I think LW2 is worried about losing her living arrangements, jealous of her sister’s relationship..and generally a critical, uptight, egocentric snob.

  20. avatar A R says:

    1.Bare feet on a common area, coffee table is pretty gross. He loses  major points for that. Blegh.
    2. It wasn’t your apartment, you were as much a guest as he was, so shut up.
    3. 25 and 30 is not too young to decide to be exclusive on short order.
    4. I’m not really sure you have offered solid evidence for him appearing to “feel part of your family”.
    5. I know lots of straight men who shop.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Sometimes I wish I were straight just so I would have the satisfaction of telling my girlfriend “Sorry, I’m not rubbing your feet. They’re gross.” 

      Personally, I don’t think they are any “grosser” than hands with fingers that have touched or been in God-knows-what. And unless your feet just came out of a pair of stinky tennis shoes—chances are they’re probably relatively clean. And considering we’re probably getting a rather biased view of things from LW1, I have the feeling that Nasty Awful Barefoot Savage probably had his feet propped up on the corner of the table and wasn’t rubbing them all over its pristine and bacteria-free surface. 

      • avatar A R says:

        I see your point, but I can’t help how I feel. Truthfully, other people’s bare feet freak me out. 🙂 I don’t even like commercials with close up shots of feet.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Most bare feet are not bothersome to me, as in my house, we go barefoot all of the time. However…my mother and one of my sisters have some of the gnarliest, stinkiest feet in the world, as did both of my exes. Blargh.
          However, before I raised two sons I had a serious problem with kid grossness. That’s right, children are little filthy germ factories with no filters and a retention problem when it comes to remembering where not to put their hands, and to wash them regularly. And, FYI, kids are still gross…I do not love teenagers’ socks between couch cushions. Well worn socks. I can work with horses in a sweltering stable all day…with all of the associated nastiness…and not notice a thing…but give me a toddler with a cold and…well, please don’t.

          • avatar Lila says:

            Briana, I STILL have a problem with kid grossness.  If I had a kid, I’d deal with it, but it’s one of the many things NOT on my to-do list.

          • avatar Frau Quink says:

            Lila, I had problems with kid grossness – until I had my own child. That changed everything, and that’s the way it is with many of us………

          • avatar Lila says:

            Sehr geerhte Frau Quink, it would probably change the way I feel too… but no kids here, so I will never know for sure!

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            There are certain things I never quite got over, even when they were very small. The worst is the whole nose business. I cannot handle nose picking or the…results.
            My youngest, when he was about two, would sing in his wicked, small-person/space alien way, “Guess what I got on my finger! A booger! Guess what I got in my mouth!…”. Trying to maintain a neutral expression and voice while saying, “That’s nice, M., go wash your hands” is hard to do when you’re trying not to barf. The refusal to react made him stop out of boredom…before stomach acid eroded my esophagus.
            I was sooo ecstatic when the diapers were gone…and when midnight bouts with bellyaches didn’t involve projectile vomiting in my lap. I love my sons fiercely, with all my heart…but gross is…well, now it is the unique funk of a 14 year old’s bedroom. Wet dog, dirty socks and something like day old chili dogs with chopped onions. And he keeps his room relatively clean. And showers every day and even uses deodorant.
            I will miss him someday, all too soon, when he achieves terminal escape velocity.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            I dealt with it…but I never thought the poo-poo was adorable, and I never quite got the mom convos that were devoted to, mmm, diaper subjects. Uh, no. My limits for funny stop at pee, as the baby variety is fairly innocuous…and gaseous emissions…which can be astonishingly loud for such tiny homo sapiens.
            Have you seen those “funny videos” of Mr. New Dads yarking, keeling over, and wearing hazmat suits to deal with newborn babies’ diaper changes? The barfing and passing out applied to me the first time I changed one…at about 20 years old. I never played at mommy-baby stuff, and never had any plans to be a mother. Never baby-sat either.
            When it was time, there was no girl-friend or familial pressure, no bio clock ticking, no baby hunger…it was just time. I would have adopted first, except actually having one was less expensive. Then, it was time again…and we shut down the plant. I like my kids, and M.’s friends, and my friends kids (all two of them who have them). ..but not other kids. I expected my babies to grow into everything that babies grow into, and welcomed the changes and have loved each phase, but I am finished. I hope M. does not have children, if he and whoever he might find want them (no pressure from me or dad) any sooner than thirty. I’ll love my grandchildren too…but I’ll be able to give them back to their parents.
            So it goes.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        You’ve never had a male partner who asked? Truly curious…Rusty loves a foot massage. Of course, he has neat, non-malodorous feet, so…
        I had a gay male friend who would rub my feet, but then I am fanatical about keeping them clean and free of nastiness of all sorts…including painted claw-nails. Shudder. I rubbed both of my sons’ feet until they passed the little guy stage (it would have been too creepy after that). It was necessary with the oldest, his left foot was deformed at birth and careful massage of the soft bones reshaped it without surgery or a brace. But I would never rub my mother’s feet…just…no.
        At our Renaissance Faire, there is a foot massage booth, where comely young lads and lasses have to rub paying customers’ feet. I. Cannot. Imagine. Just…ew. No way. Walking all day in tennis shoes without socks in the Southeast Texas heat while sucking down tall boy beers on the dusty paths laden with dropped food and horse manure and deciding, “I’ll have a cute girl with her chest hanging out rub my size 15’s with their horny yellowed nails and calluses and…”. I can’t stand it. No more…

  21. avatar HelliePie says:

    LW#2, You sound pretty articulate for a 16-year old girl, which is also what you sound like. It’s difficult to grow up and see your family change, but that’s what it sounds like is happening. It’s pretty normal. Keep the focus on yourself and on developing your own friendships and interests, instead of worrying so much about your sister. Yes, 25 is young, but not abnormally so to be doing the kinds of things you describe. Other commenters have made the very good point that gut feelings are important and should be listened to, and maybe even expressed and discussed with others involved. This you have done. Now butt out. If your family is truly close, it’s likely you should remain close (and loving) when other new people come along. Perhaps your loving closeness is what attracts them.