She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I never thought I would write something like this, but I am at a loss! My sister’s boyfriend sucks, and when they’re together, THEY BOTH SUCK.
My sister has this on again/ off again (currently on again) boyfriend. He is a totally okay person, but a shit boyfriend.
He tells white lies, he is unreliable, he can't do anything on his own — I'm sure you know the type. However, my sister is not really the greatest girlfriend either.
She holds impossibly high moral standards, while at the same time indulging his weaknesses: going out at 4 am to pick him up while they’re in a fight, letting him live with her without paying rent for months, etc.
She will do things like kicking him out after he's lied about something and say "Come back when you've earned my trust.” And she says horrible, mean things to me about him when they’re broken up or fighting, which makes the rest of my family and me not really comfortable having him in our lives — especially when we don’t know when they'll be broken up again.
A few months ago, I told her I thought that the relationship was toxic and that they weren't positive people to have in each other's lives. She seemed receptive, and I thought I got through but nothing has changed, and she rarely mentions him to me now. Should I just leave it at that or try to talk to her again?
It can be extremely uncomfortable to watch our loved ones spend time in toxic relationships. I have often been the friend on the sidelines, watching as a someone I love keeps going back again and again to an unhealthy relationship.
And, I have been the one in the toxic relationship who just can’t seem to get that things aren’t going to change.
Your concerns are completely valid. And you’ve voiced them.
Now, you need to let her figure the rest out on her own.
As she is your sister, it is even more challenging to let her keep repeating this unhealthy cycle. It’s understandable that you want to step in, save her from herself, snap her out of it. But, much like watching someone you love in the throes of addiction, you need to allow her to hit bottom with this relationship.
And when she does, you can be there, as a sister and as a friend. When she is receptive to hearing it, I would highly recommend that she access guidance from a therapist. Because often, when we don’t address our issues, we end up repeating the same unhealthy relationship patterns with new partners.
I believe when we are in a bad place emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, we tend to attract partners who are on that same vibration.
And that obviously does not make for the healthiest of relationships. I know for myself, the more time I spent working on my stuff, the healthier my relationships became, because I was attracting healthier partners.
If at any point, the unhealthiness in their relationship escalates to abuse, then you can and should try to intervene again. Even then, there will be only so much you can do, if she is incapable of seeing things for what they are.
Hopefully, both your sister and her boyfriend will hit bottom in this situation before things get any worse. In the meantime, let her know you’re there for her and take care of yourself.
If you have a question for me about relationships, breakups, friendship, boundaries, sex, Sugilite, reproductive issues, what I’m reading, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo