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I want my boyfriend's sister out!

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  January 30, 2009 10:31 AM

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More family issues today. Please help this "House Mother."

Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for 9 years. His younger sister (now 21) encountered some issues with her father and stepmother and we agreed to let her move in with us for a short time. What was supposed to have been a temporary, three-month stay has turned into more than three years. His sister has not kept up her end of the bargain (has not saved money, did not pay her personal bills, has not gone back to college, etc.) and has repeatedly made some very foolish decisions that have set her (and us) back financially and personally.

My boyfriend has not held his sister accountable for many of her actions and has been unwilling to set rules and deadlines in various situations. For the rules and deadlines that we have set - he has not enforced the consequences when the rules have not been met and has frequently bailed his sister out of situations in which I feel she should have had to own up to her mistakes. During these three+ years, our relationship has taken a serious hit...primarily because of a lack of privacy and the fact that we, essentially, became overnight parents of a young adult. I feel incredibly unsupported and have voiced my concerns numerous times. For the umpteenth time, his sister was supposed to have moved to the dorms to start school in January and did not follow through with that. I feel that "enough is enough" and expect that she will move out...she has a full-time job and has saved up some money over the past few months (although given that she has not had to pay for rent, utilities or food for the past three years, I am extremely upset that she has not saved up money during her entire stay)...and suggested that a fair time was March/April.

My boyfriend believes this deadline to be unfair. I understand his desire to help his sister but cannot understand why our relationship consistently takes a backseat and why he is not fed up with his sister's rude and selfish ways. I have spent the remaining years of my twenties being a "house mother" and I want my life and my partner back - PLEASE HELP! How can I get him to tell his sister to MOVE OUT!
- House Mother, Boston

A: Your boyfriend isn't a bad guy, but he might not be the right boyfriend for you.

For whatever reason, your boyfriend is a father to his sister. Even if she does move out in March/April, she could come back -- and you boyfriend would probably welcome her. Even if he disciplines her and sets limits, he'll do so as a parent, not as a sibling.

I think you need to spend some time considering whether you're willing to accept you boyfriend's role in his sister's life. Perhaps you want to date someone who doesn't come into the relationship with any dependents.

She was 18 when she moved in -- she was a kid then. She's 21 now, no longer a kid. Maybe there is a possible compromise. I'd be curious to know if there is a deadline your boyfriend would be comfortable with. Have you asked? Has he offered an alternative?

Even if he has, this woman isn't going away, not really. She's like your step kid. At the moment, you're the wicked step-mother (sorry). You can learn to love her -- or leave them both.

Readers? What do you think? Share here.
Also, this problem reminds me of another letter. Remember this guy?

- Meredith

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65 comments so far...
  1. Any time you ask your loved one to choose between you and his/her family, you're playing with fire. You've been dating for 9 years???? This situation proves that he is not committed to you in the way that he's committed to his sister. You can't change either of him, and you can't fault him for caring about what happens to his sister...so if it's causing such a strain on your relationship, end it. There is no future there. You're not married, so don't even give it a second thought.

    Posted by melli_fera January 30, 09 10:49 AM
  1. Your boyfriend has decided to put his sister ahead of your relationship. Get out now and find someone who will put you first in his life. This is not the man for you.

    Posted by Ginger January 30, 09 10:49 AM
  1. If you don't the way he's dealing with his sister, it's your window to how he'll be as a father OF YOUR CHILDREN....a failure.

    Posted by no January 30, 09 11:00 AM
  1. They have been together 9 years and you say he isn't right for you? come on Merrie!!!

    Posted by Josh January 30, 09 11:02 AM
  1. The boyfriend is enabling his sister's bad behavior. He needs to understand that he's not really helping her by constantly bailing her out. When you talk to him, try the tack of "look, I care about your sister, and I want her to be a successful adult. We're making it more difficult for her to be successful by constantly fixing her problems. We'd be able to help her better by letting her solve her own problems, with guidance from us where needed."

    Posted by someone January 30, 09 11:04 AM
  1. How could she have let that situation stay for that long? Unless she is also financially dependent on the boyfriend, in which case he is entirely too generous regarding his own money, having a sister move in rent-free for that long is entirely ridiculous. I don't care how giving this brother is, ultimatums on living arrangements should have been made two years ago after a full free year of room and board. The brother was completely complicit with the sister's irresponsibility. How could the girlfriend sit idly for three years of this? It sounds like two meek mutes being shepherded by a brash but overly tactful younger sister. Maybe we should give credit here to the sister who weaseled herself three years of free living from apparent fools.

    Posted by Jaq January 30, 09 11:05 AM
  1. I agree, it's obvious that your boyfriend will continue to enable his sister. You also need to consider that you will likely have even more conflict when raising your own child together. It sounds like it's time to move on, for you can't live with her and it's clear that your boyfriend can't live without her...

    Posted by Tibbs January 30, 09 11:05 AM
  1. Sounds like the parents got the best deal going...they got rid of the nuisance daughter and got to live their life while the son and his girlfriend lost their "life". 9 years living together??? I'd say dump him and get a real man that has a clue. Or are you one of those couples that bought a home and paid more than it is worth today and you are "stuck"? You made your bed and now you gotta sleep in it. Stop whining and do something about it. No one wants to hear your sob story. You don't want to be a Cougar in a few years cheating on your boyfriend of 15 years so you can feel "wanted". At the rate you are going that is exactly what will happen.

    Posted by Brooklines best January 30, 09 11:07 AM
  1. Stop being selfish. Instead of being upset, please try to understand the fact that your boyfriend is a good man.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 11:13 AM
  1. Dear Cruella,
    First of all: Boyfriend? Nine Years? It seems to me that timetables have no real teeth in your house. This is a great time for your future sister-in-law to move out and learn some adult lessons. She should find a couple of roommates, split the bills and enter into adulthood. Let her father come to her rescue. As for Meredith's counsel, be careful...she's 33 and still lives at home...:). Your boyfriend is a saver...And you are going to love it when your mom or dad need to move in with you later in life. I would tell your boyfriend that either you or the sister will move out by the end of May. That will let you know the level of respect he and his father have for you.

    Posted by herekittykitty January 30, 09 11:22 AM
  1. I think she is going to have to leave to make her point clear that this "girl" needs to grow up and grow up NOW!

    Boyfriend is having it both ways here - he doesn't have to do any heavy lifting to make the girl mature properly, and he seems unconcerned about his girlfriend leaving. SIster is making it work for her by being irresponsible without consequences and paying the couple off one another. Girlfriend needs to put her foot down: certain things must happen, or she WILL move out and then follow through with it. Otherwise, brother and sister will never face up to the consequences of their behavior.

    Posted by Infoferret January 30, 09 11:26 AM
  1. Do yourself a favor and go while the going's good. You'll always be on the outside of that relationship. I've been there. My boyfriend's son moved in with us at 16 and out at 21.....I thought when he moved out our relationship would improve - not the case, but by that time we were already married. He remained financially dependent on us for years and anything I had to say about the situation was turned against me. It took me a long time to get out, but I did and wish to God I had done it much sooner. Meredith is right. He has taken on the role of parent with his sister. She is always going to be his priority. Leave them to their own version of happiness and go find yours.

    Posted by Happy Now January 30, 09 11:28 AM
  1. You need to dump the sister & the boyfriend. BTW are you sure this is really his sister?

    Posted by Raffi January 30, 09 11:35 AM
  1. Can't believe I'm responding to one of these, but anyway . . . . Forget about the whole issue with the sister, the number one thing I seized on when I read this was "my boyfriend and I have been together for 9 years." That's the real red flag here. Now you may be someone who isn't ready to get married and is perfectly happy with your arrangement, and you obviously started dating in your early 20's, and I certainly don't support jumping into anything too soon. But I would ask: are you happy that you've been together this long (as you've said you've spent your remaining twenties in this situation) and aren't engaged or married---or alternatively, that you haven't explored another relationship (that’s potentially a better fit)?

    Clearly, to some degree at least, your boyfriend has his priorities and is living his life on his terms and you are just along for the ride. Again, that is unless you don’t want the relationship to be more than it is (marriage, etc.). But all too often I see this, women going along for the ride, moving in, spending years in a relationship, with a guy who is doing his own thing and has no intention of changing or moving forward---unless pushed and prodded . . . and that’s usually only a recipe for disaster & future divorce. Don’t know you or your priorities, but if the relationship is not more “mutually beneficial”, then why are you wasting the remainder of your younger years?

    You sound like a perfectly reasonable and intelligent woman---and certainly your boyfriend isn’t a “bad guy” per se, and his devotion to his sister is admirable---but I am just continually amazed at what women will put up with from guys, and how long they endure dead end relationships and other such negative situations. Not selfishly of course, but I recommend you think of yourself and what you really want a little more, and don’t be afraid to act on it. Ending a relationship isn’t the end of the world; there’s millions of potential mates out there, many of whom may be much better matches for you.

    Posted by RC January 30, 09 11:41 AM
  1. Find yourself another place to live. Maybe you can resume your relationship later. But people don't change, and your boyfriend has already shown you where his priorities lie.

    Posted by Christine January 30, 09 11:42 AM
  1. To Brooklines best.....come on now 'be nice' She wrote in for advice/help/ideas, not to be told to 'stop whining'.....is that the type of thing you would tell your kids?

    Posted by brooklineMA January 30, 09 11:43 AM
  1. Questions for Meredith:
    Are YOU working or going to school? ...or are you also a dependant on your boyfriend? Are YOU independant enough to move out on your own? Have YOU been saving money these past 9 years? If not; WHY?
    Clearly he has chosen to love and support his sister - but he does not have the skills and experience necessary to be a "Parent" to her as well. And clearly he has chosen her needs over yours. You need to move out on your own until he addresses the situation properly.

    Posted by Umgwana Kickbooty January 30, 09 11:49 AM
  1. Happy Now-
    Do you have kids of your own? Your boyfriend has his 16 year old SON move in. Wow...that's a new one. A dad does the right thing by his kid and all you can think of is Paradise by the Dashboard Light. You thought you were flyin' free, but his kid got in the way. If you had kids of your own, you'd expect your boyfriend to tow the line...Unless you are a mom, and are letting their father raise them. That would explain why you are in no way maternal, but a selfish prima donna.

    Posted by cinderella'stepmom January 30, 09 11:59 AM
  1. No. 12 -- Happy Now .. I don't see how your case applies. This is a sister. In your case it was a SON that you decided to resent.

    No. 3 -- no .. I bet this woman would see things differently if this man was treating her own children nicely.

    Posted by zitface January 30, 09 12:01 PM
  1. Well, it's pretty clear who "anonymous" is by that comment above . . . and, true to form for that type of guy, he is trying to project the issue back onto his girlfriend, calling her selfish. GET OUT NOW!

    Posted by RC January 30, 09 12:05 PM
  1. Three old sayings sprang immediately to mind:
    - Blood is thicker than water.
    - Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
    - I don't see a ring on your finger.

    Your boyfriend isn't going to give up on his sister. She's family and if they had some crappy times together, they may have strong bond that you aren't going to break. So it may be YOU leaving when it all comes down to it.

    I'd confront your boyfriendhusband and tell him it's high time the sister flew out of the nest, and if she doesn't, you'll be packing up. Be prepared to deliver on your promise. His sister's going to be around for another 50 years, and could be at your funeral. You can't wait this one out.

    Posted by J January 30, 09 12:10 PM
  1. brooklinema, sorry if I sound harsh but sometimes harshness is needed. She is no better than the sister moving in for 3 years as she has been with him 9 years and hasn't grown up yet either. She is not a "house mother" at all, she is a whiner looking for someone to justify her actions in one way or the other. She knows the answers already but doesn't have the maturity to follow through, much like the sister. Sounds to me like they all need to grow up and move on.

    Met too many people just like her over the years. It's time (was time 6 or 7 years ago) to cut the line and go out fishing.

    Posted by brooklines best January 30, 09 12:13 PM
  1. Housemother: A difficult situation for sure. Kudos for you for trying (however ineffective) for setting rules and accountability. You've been a great surrogate mother. Your boyfriend is not as objective -- it's his sister, there's probably a lot of dynamics in play, and least of all, he probably finds it hard to parent his sister. If you take the family dynamic and the emotion out of the situation, it's pretty clear that if you are supporting her financially and she's over 18, you have every reason to kick her to the curb. Put the emotion back in, here's a young woman who clearly hasn't grown up and taken responsibility for herself, but she's family, and your boyfriend loves her. Now it's tricky.

    What this is going to take to get through -- if you decide to stay and work through it -- is a lot of patience and persistance, and some tough love. And like Meredith says, compromise. And ultimately, if that doesn't work, you've got to look out for yourself and the decision to go or deal with it.

    But don't give up so fast. Keep on. I think it's worth it. You'll learn a lot. Good luck!

    Posted by Lulu January 30, 09 12:19 PM
  1. Is the sister cute?

    Posted by dave January 30, 09 12:25 PM
  1. I can't believe I am responding to this either. Let me tell you my own experience which is quite similar to yours. My husband had his brother living in our basement for 5+ years on and off. It was the same thing with deadlines, etc but nothing worked. He would save up a little and move back in when it got too rough or he lost his job. His mom lives in another state (he tried living there too and came back) and forget about the dad. Needless to say after being married for 10 years with no resolution or fair compromise, I left in October. There were other minor issues in our marriage, but this put a huge strain on the relationship and was the cause of many disagreements. My decision to leave was the best decision I made. I am so much happier now in my own place with no "children" to clean up after. My advise to you is that if you can afford to be on your own, please go now! You are not getting any younger and there are atill some decent guys left out there. Funny thing is my husband got his own place too and refused to let the brother move into his place when he was in a jam. He told him to sleep in his car. He did so for a couple of days and now he has a place with some roommates. Bottom line is that it's ok to help someone out but after time you become and enabler and this person will never grow up or become independent when they can lean on you for free. Good luck!

    Posted by Lisa January 30, 09 12:35 PM
  1. I think you should move out.

    Posted by allie3 January 30, 09 12:38 PM
  1. My sympaties House mother. The posters are right - he's not there for you. But before you storm out, please take a few months to save some more money, and ESPECIALLY to get your name off of any joint accounts, leases and utilities, etc. If questions arise as to why you're doing so, explain that you're considering applying for college or grad school for 2010 admission, and need to clean up your act for financial aid - especially in these times. Also, make sure that you're paying only 1/3rd of the rent. In short, do what little sister and big brother should have done - prepare yourself for a future alone. Best to you!

    Posted by Mac January 30, 09 12:42 PM
  1. Leave a few small items like a tooth brush.

    But it looks like it's time for you to go.

    The sister stays.

    Posted by allie3 January 30, 09 12:43 PM
  1. Why do people still measure success by their marriage status or number of kids they've acquired? I find it admirable that you aren't married but have been happy for 9 years. There's no red flag there.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 12:46 PM
  1. Let the family live their lives...

    It's time for you to exit...gracefully and with dignity.

    Save your self respect.

    Just go.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 12:51 PM
  1. Let the family live their lives...

    It's time for you to exit...gracefully and with dignity.

    Save your self respect.

    Just go.

    Posted by allie3 January 30, 09 12:52 PM
  1. Life is too short.

    I'm sure you find another boyfriend.

    Posted by joe12 January 30, 09 12:53 PM
  1. The problem is not that he's chosen to be a parent to his sister. The problem is that he's chosen to be a BAD parent to his sister. You are not being selfish, you are trying to be a good parent. He may be a good man, but he is a lousy parent. Setting limits, expectations and deadlines are what parents do, but good parents stick to them and use them to teach the child. Some parents fail to set limits, but the worst parents are those that set limits and then don't stick to them. Just as they fail to allow the consequences to impact the child, they often fail to see the consequences on themselves and their relationships. That is your situation.
    Right now, you need to make a decision. Can you live with this anymore? Can you live with the fact that he has jeopardized/destroyed your relationship, not to help his sister (which he's not), but to assuage some feelings (guilt, obligation, revenge, etc.) on his part? You and your boyfriend need to have a conversation in which you lay it all out, including (especially) what this is doing to the relationship. I think it's important to be clear that the choice isn't between his sister and you. The choice is between doing what's right for all of you and doing what is destructive to his sister and to your relationship. Don't issue an ultimatum, but make it clear that your relationship cannot survive much more of this. And quietly make your exit plan, you are likely to need it.

    Posted by Nancy G January 30, 09 12:56 PM
  1. If you really love your boyfriend.
    Just go.
    You can visit on the weekends.

    Posted by al23 January 30, 09 12:59 PM
  1. Girlfriends come and go...

    But a sister is forever..

    Posted by ScottyL January 30, 09 01:23 PM
  1. For all parties concerned..

    it's probably best if you just left...

    Posted by allie3 January 30, 09 01:25 PM
  1. 24.....you post on ATOT?

    Posted by ATOT January 30, 09 01:26 PM
  1. House Mother- you need to team up with his parents, who have obviously cut off the parasitic sister and stage an intervention for both of them. The sister needs to take responsibility over her own life, your boyfriend needs to stop helping her out because she is taking advantage of his good nature. Enlist the help of other friends and family if possible,a nd most importantly, include a therapist that specializes in interventions. This sibling relationship is toxic, luckily he has you who loves him enough to help.

    Posted by pinkkittie18 January 30, 09 01:37 PM
  1. I don't know, he sounds like he just doesn't want anything bad to happen to his sister. Maybe the parents are out of the picture and he's afraid she'll end being a drug addict prostitute.
    I think what both the boyfriend and the girlfriend need to consider is how they would feel about the situation if it were the girlfriend's sister that needed the help. For the boyfriend, he might decide he wouldn't be happy with that situation, or the woman might then understand why her boyfriend has allowed his sister to stay the way she is.

    Posted by hbk2369 January 30, 09 01:50 PM
  1. A man shall leave his mother and Father (and the rest of your family) and cling to his wife. He ain't a man and you aren' t a wife. Quit Bitchin about the sister growing up until you do.

    Posted by David Jaroszewski January 30, 09 01:52 PM
  1. Never under no circumstances have a house guest for longer than a week. It always ends badly. If it didn't, it would not end at all.

    Posted by jim ashland January 30, 09 01:57 PM
  1. what's that new movie just out? He'd Just Not That Into You? Riiiight. Sounds like after 9 years he is still more supportive of his sister than he is of your relationship...especially when you say it has put a strain on you both emotionally and financially. If he wants to raise his sister, I think he needs to do so as a single parent. You should move out and move up -- not necessarily on...but until he's ready to grow up a little to, this is going no where....

    Posted by frog January 30, 09 02:17 PM
  1. If your boyfriend has been dating you for nine years and you don't have a ring it means that you are like an old pair of gardening shoes. I know of what I speak. Do him and you a favor and break it off. You are both wasting your lives. I know b/c I dated a girl for five years that I frankly didn't like that much. If I could get one thing back it would be those five years.

    Posted by jay January 30, 09 02:20 PM
  1. If he won't make his sister move out, but YOU manage to make her move out, you will always be the bad guy. His sister will always be part of his life. You don't have to be. It may seem a ridiculous penalty to pay for trying to do the right thing--as I think you are--but this guy is not behaving like someone who deserves your commitment to him. Get out, now.

    Posted by TJ January 30, 09 02:47 PM
  1. I would dump the boyfriend and start dating the sister, yeah baby.

    Posted by joemac22 January 30, 09 03:06 PM
  1. If after nine years he doesn't see this as a joint decision you have to make as what's best for you AS A COUPLE, then he is not putting his relationship with you first, he is prioritizing his sister. Is that what you want out of a relationship? He is not mature enough to make a commitment to you and will always put her first.

    It took you three years to speak up about this? You need to figure out how to speak up for yourself. The sister has been treating you like a doormat.

    Posted by susan January 30, 09 03:19 PM
  1. I agree with J on the 3 old sayings:
    1. she's blood-you're not
    2. He's got his cake and eating it, too. A gilrfriend to satisfy his needs and babysitter for his loser sister
    3. You're not married. After 9 years I'd say you're just a roommate with benefits.
    Get out and don't waste another moment. Don't let 10 years go by!
    A wise friend once said-"you're worried about leaving him because you'll be miserable-but you are already misable with him! At least on your own you will have the chance to meet somebody who will make you happy!" She was right and I did- Six months later I met the guy I ended up marrying. It's been 16 years. Wish I did it sooner!

    Posted by Bambinosmom2 January 30, 09 03:35 PM
  1. After several days of reading these letters being written to Ms. Goldstein, I'm just stunned at the utter STUPIDITY of the people writing in about their problems and asking for help. A complete lack of any common sense seems to be the theme running through this week's letters.
    ~~~~~~~~
    1. Someone's 9-year live-in boyfriend won't have his sister move out, despite her being there 3 years.

    2. A Cougar can't understand why her 10-year-younger boyfriend won't commit after finishing his dissertation because he can't "provide for her" (even though she's able to do so on her own)..

    3. A woman moves back to her hometown to be with her boyfriend and pursue job opportunities, only to fall in love with a co-worker, who has been in a 10-year relationship and wasn't ready to leave his longtime girlfriend, so she moves back to Boston (without her now ex-boyfriend - who moved to be with her!), but is in daily contact with guy she left, who now says he's leaving his girlfriend for her... should she move in with him?
    ~~~~~~~~~
    All I'll say is "Please have them all buy a BIG clue, Alex, for $500!"

    Posted by Linda January 30, 09 03:42 PM
  1. He is showing you how he will behave as a parent.

    He is showing you how he handles conflicts between family members and his partner.

    He is showing you how he deals with conflict in a relationship.

    Independent of the kind of person you are and the kind of person he is, do you want a partner who will behave as he does in these three areas? If you can accept that because of his other attributes that is one thing. If you cannot accept him with those attributes, you can either stay and be unhappy or can leave.

    Sometimes life is simple, but not easy, and this is one of those times.

    Sorry for your plight.

    Posted by kei-o-lei January 30, 09 03:45 PM
  1. Run ! ! ! Run, like hell ! ! !

    Posted by alan January 30, 09 03:52 PM
  1. 9 years and he's still your BOYFRIEND? Get the hell out of there, don't be stupid.

    Posted by Susan M. January 30, 09 04:10 PM
  1. I hear that this couple do not have any united front and that they have lost or perhaps never had any "we-ness" or couple identity. After nine years of this amorphous chaos, a case can be made that the sister triangulated them into this marginally committed state. I suspect it existed before her arrival. Before anybody moves out, I would recommend couples therapy for he and she and see how that can address their lack of couple identity and united front. Find a good couples therapist that has experience with thousands of couples! BTW ... This certainly does not bode well for parenting children together.
    -As an aside ... how old is too old to refer to someone as a "girl" or boy" friend.
    bon chance :)

    Posted by steeplejack January 30, 09 04:11 PM
  1. This will not work out, ever. You've got to leave. But I've always been a big believer in the fact that people don't take action until they are absolutely ready. You know what you need to do. By writing in for advice, you are getting yourself ready ... now read all of the above comments, take strength from them, believe in your self-worth, reclaim your self-respect ... AND LEAVE. You're ready. Time to go.

    Posted by Jetta January 30, 09 04:24 PM
  1. I love all the ninnies who think a relationship should end after X amount of time because there is no marriage. As if marriage should be the goal of every long-term relationship.......

    Posted by dave January 30, 09 04:44 PM
  1. I don't have the true "inside story" and we are hearing one side of what I am sure is a 3 sided saga.
    All I can say is that 21 may be considered not a child legally but there are not a hell of a lot of 21 yr olds that can survive in this current economy without some help. If this sister has no college degree...good luck getting a job or one that can support her with the cost of living so high.
    All that being said...BEFORE she moved in the BF/GF should have written out a "contract" of sorts and had the sister sign it. A compromise may be to do that now with specific goals and timelines set up that everyone can agree on.
    Clearly the kid had troubles...those just don't go away cause you change your location. HouseMother....maybe you have been an amazing host but you sound selfish, self-centered and like a martyr....if you don't like what has been going on that do something....if that means you leave do it but stop complaining.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 04:44 PM
  1. Housemother, the situation is clear from our view from the outside: He doesn't consider you his family. Hence why you are not more than boyfriend/girlfriend after all this time. I think that you have been more than patient and, as a mother, you have done the right things to set limits and consequences. You will make a great mom someday, but not with this guy. Not that he's a bad guy. He clearly loves his sister. Be gracious, take the high road and get out of the relationship. Even if his sister leaves, your relationship will never be the same, probably won't progress to a successful marriage and the sister will come back to haunt you. She'll either move back in or she'll have his ear in all matters. You're young, kind and understanding. The right guy is out there for you.

    Posted by Jan January 30, 09 05:01 PM
  1. I like how others impose their lifestyle on this poor woman, forgetting that some people might not want marriage.

    If he can't hold his sister to a deadline, hold him to one. If he can't kick her out by, oh, I don't know, June is a good and easy time to find an apartment, then you will go find a place of your own. Let this be known to him and follow through. Don't break up with him, but just show him that people have to be held to deadlines or there will be consequences.

    Posted by Kenji January 30, 09 05:36 PM
  1. they are both walking all over you.
    how does that feel?
    be selfish.
    flee.

    Posted by catherine January 30, 09 05:50 PM
  1. I suspect that the House Mother would like to end the 9 year relationship and the related move-in sister - and get a real guy -
    Except for the fact she has probably let herself go and may not be to excited about the work ahead for her to get attractive again - weighing in at ?????

    Posted by The Captain January 30, 09 06:00 PM
  1. No one can take advantage of you without your permission! And you've allowed him and his sister to walk all over you for the past three years. Please tell yourself the truth. Nothing will change until you do! Star packing, get out and make a beautiful life for yourself, either alone, or with someone who will appreciate you.

    Posted by Richard January 30, 09 06:02 PM
  1. Not again. Here's the point of the entire letter that wasn't addressed.

    "...I want my life and my partner back..."

    Ugh. You have your life and your partner. That's not the issue. Your issue is that you aren't accepting both of them the way they are, and you can either choose to do so or you need to move on. More importantly, even if the sister moves out, your relationship is never going to be the way it was before, and you haven't accepted that either.

    The sister is not the cause of your problems with your boyfriend. It's his choices and his priorities that you neither like nor respect, and that's a real problem for three reasons. First, it means that for whatever reason (his intransigence, your desire to butt in on how the sister should behave, got me) you two haven't been able to act as a couple when it comes to his sister. That's bad. Second, since he's acting as a parent and you don't respect his parenting, once you two have kids this is just going to pop up again and again - and the pattern is now set for you to continue not just having parental differences but not being able to resolve them maturely. And finally, as you've noted, this spilled into other areas of your relationship, because lack of respect in one area tends to lead to others blowing up too.

    Unlike others, I have no idea if he's raising his sister wrong or if you're entirely right and he has the backbone of a jellyfish. If anything, I'd probably lean your way, but frankly that's not all that important.

    What is somewhat important is that you don't have the right to tell him how to parent his sister and then tell him off about how he's not doing what you told him to do. Like parenting stepchildren, it's not your relationship to manage. You have the right to be able to say "here's how this is affecting our relationship" and let him decide how to deal with it - on his own.

    How he deals with it doesn't reflect how he feels about you, but it does determine whether or not you are compatible because your priorities and values are on the same page...or they're not.

    Much more important is that you can either accept him and your relationship for what it is, or you can move on. The sister is incidental to this. You aren't.

    I'm not wise enough to tell you which to do, but perhaps some professional help (on your own) to help you work out seeing the situation in front of you would be of use.

    Best of luck.

    Posted by observer12 January 30, 09 06:59 PM
  1. I think you make some important points observer12 but I do want to quibble about some of them. You say she doesn't have the right to tell him how to parent his sister. I would argue that she does indeed have that right since he brought the girl into their lives and their home. He has crossed the line from what is just his to what is theirs. It also sounds like she has taken some financial hits on this and to that extent she has a right to some significant input. It sounds as if he has set her up as the wicked stepmother and yet she is being told it's not hers to manage.

    Posted by ritan1 February 4, 09 01:56 AM
  1. Here's the bottom line: this guy will always put his sister, himself, his family, whatever, above his girlfriend (or wife, is anyone is dumb enough to marry such a selfish guy). Run! Make arrangements right now to move out and take your life back. There are lots of nice guys out there. Travel. Find them. Forget this dud.

    Posted by Run Run Run February 6, 09 02:46 PM
  1. I llike all the discussions.keep it up.

    Posted by tt February 28, 09 05:11 PM
  1. Thought I'd weigh in, as I just got out of a similar situation. I moved from NY to Australia to be near my (now ex) boyfriend of three years when he moved over there for a job opportunity. We had lived together previously and all had gone well. Right before I left to go over, he tells me that his sister is moving in with us for the first three months. I was really disappointed because I was so excited for it to be just the two of us after being in a long distance relationship for quite a few months. The first few weeks were okay and then it just got to be too much. (My boyfriend had really taken on a parenting role with his younger sister after the death of their mother right after we first started dating.) For a time I understood (or tried my best to understand) this incredibly tight bond between them and let them have their space. But, it became clear over time that she would always be his priority. When I asked my bf if we could set aside one night a week to have our own privacy (i.e. dinner, movie, etc.) he said that it was not fair to exclude his sister like that. This bothered me for months--even after she moved out. Three months after the sister left, I flew back to NY. I cried the whole way home (honestly thought I was gonna marry this guy) but now, am relieved. Both he and his sister are wonderfully good people, but they just have different priorities. For me, I want to put the guy that I marry as my number one priority and I would expect that he do the same for me. Leaving is the hardest thing to do--but it sounds to me that you will experience the same relief that I have if you go. Best of luck! My thoughts are with you.

    Posted by MS March 30, 09 04:33 PM
 
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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