July 21, 2024

Dear Abby: I blocked my overbearing sister and she went to my in-laws

Dear Abby counsels a woman whose sister is overbearing.
Dear Abby counsels a woman whose sister is overbearing.
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DEAR ABBY: My sister has bullied and controlled me most of my life. She has said many very unkind things, and I have reached a place in my life where I need peace and distance from her. Because of this, I have blocked her from texting or calling me. 

The problem I’m having is that my sister texts and sends pictures and presents to my in-laws. I feel this is inappropriate. She’s married and has her own in-laws to grow a relationship with. I feel she does it to stay relevant in my life and also to show my in-laws that she’s a nice person. 

I know she’s an adult and can have relationships with whomever she chooses, but it feels to me that she is overstepping boundaries. I can’t breathe or have a life outside of her. My husband’s family are MY in-laws, not hers. Are my feelings unreasonable? — SMOTHERED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR SMOTHERED: Your in-laws can have a relationship with anyone they wish. You cannot control who sends them texts, photos and gifts, particularly if they enjoy them. You may feel your sister has no place in their lives, but unless they agree, you are out of luck. 

Of course, your feelings are your feelings and, from what you have written about your sister’s past treatment of you, you’re entitled to them. But to allow her to take up any more space in your head than you already have is counterproductive. 

Talk with a therapist about this, if necessary, to help you quit obsessing about her. The problem isn’t her — it is how you continue to react to her.

DEAR ABBY: Growing up, my best friend was a female. We had a strong platonic friendship for many years. Our primary method of communication was letter-writing. We wrote hundreds of letters and emails to each other before we drifted apart during college. 

We recently reconnected after 10 years and quickly began talking like we used to. I’m excited to write to my fellow letter-writer again, but we are both married now, and I want to be respectful of the spouses involved. 

Is there a right way to revive our constant flow of letters and emails, like in the old days? The letters are respectful, and we write about a wide variety of topics that interest us. — CAUTIOUS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CAUTIOUS: Letter-writing is fast becoming a dying art, and it’s a shame. I hope you and your friend have been saving the correspondence you’ve exchanged because they are valuable keepsakes that reflect your activities and opinions as you both have matured. 

I see nothing wrong with continuing the exchange of letters as long as your spouses are aware of it and don’t object. More people should consider doing what you are doing. I have been told by friends (pre-“Abby”) that they have kept mine and enjoyed rereading them.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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