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Wedding Woes

Bro Joe may be a deal breaker.

Dear Prudence,


I’m a woman in my mid-20s who has been dating an amazing woman for about a year. We’re long-distance, so every other weekend one of us drives to see the other. The issue isn’t the distance. It’s her brother “Joe.” My girlfriend is the youngest of five siblings, and I like most of them. However, Joe is incredibly possessive and passive-aggressive. He’s 30 years old, still living at home (so is my girlfriend), so he’s around whenever I visit. When he walks in a room, he huffs, glares at me, greets everyone in the room besides me, complains if we mention that we’re going to dinner, and generally gives both of us the silent treatment. The other siblings say he isn’t used to seeing his younger sister dating and is just jealous and possessive. But after a year, I assumed he’d get over that.

My girlfriend has talked to him about it, and he always claims he doesn’t know what she’s talking about or that he was just tired from work (he tutors for maybe an hour a day). It’s making me dread my visits, because I have to see a grown man sleeping on the family couch in his underwear all day, just to be rude to me and give his sister the silent treatment. My girlfriend adores her brother. Joe is also rude to the other siblings’ significant others, but my girlfriend is the only one who’s stood up to him. What should I do? I’ve already stayed in hotels on my visits, but then Joe complains I’m isolating her from the family if I do that. I would hate for this to be what ends my relationship.


—Girlfriend’s Brother Might End Our Relationship

Re: Bro Joe may be a deal breaker.

  • If Joe's behavior is a deal breaker then you need to talk to the GF to say that your visits to her home are often met with the feelings of anguish and resentment and they do not feel like a pleasure.  

    The issue isn't just the brother - it's the sister's adoration of him.   If the LW can't provide clear factual evidence of times that she's been made to feel uncomfortable with the GF in agreement that those were times that the brother behaved poorly then this may not be salvageable.

    But if the GF is coming around to seeing that this is an issue then perhaps suggesting that it's time for GF to move out is the next logical step.   They don't have to live together but eventually it may be time to remove yourself from mom's house and a brother in his underwear on the couch.   If that's something that you think others should see then you're the problem. 

    mrsconn23eileenrobOurWildKingdom
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    I dunno, it seems kind of immature to be questioning your relationship because her brother sucks. 

    None of these things sound like that big of a deal to me. Sure it sucks that everyone still lives at home and you have to see this guy a lot but I can't imagine the fact that her brother naps on their parents couch being a dealbreaker. 

    LW needs bigger problems.
    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    MesmrEwe
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited February 14
    I agree SSC, if it was just the brother.

    But the underlying issue seems to be that the GF wants LW to just accept this shit from her brother/family and not make waves.  Even the other siblings are putting pressure on LW to accept this crap.  This situation is clearly uncomfortable for LW.  LW even tried compromising by staying in a hotel and that created another 'issue'.  Therefore, it's really the GF that is the problem here. 

    And GF moving out may not alleviate the issue.  If GF lives on her own, is Joe going to be around there with his dickishness?  If GF moves in with LW, is Joe going to invited over?  

    LW's GF seems to have boundary issues with her family and I don't blame LW for feeling it's an issue that could end their relationship. 
    eileenrobJen4948OliveOilsMomOurWildKingdom
  • I dunno, it seems kind of immature to be questioning your relationship because her brother sucks. 

    None of these things sound like that big of a deal to me. Sure it sucks that everyone still lives at home and you have to see this guy a lot but I can't imagine the fact that her brother naps on their parents couch being a dealbreaker. 

    LW needs bigger problems.
    In his underwear!!!! So gross. 
    mrsconn23eileenrob
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    mrsconn23 said:
    I agree SSC, if it was just the brother.

    But the underlying issue seems to be that the GF wants LW to just accept this shit from her brother/family and not make waves.  Even the other siblings are putting pressure on LW to accept this crap.  This situation is clearly uncomfortable for LW.  LW even tried compromising by staying in a hotel and that created another 'issue'.  Therefore, it's really the GF that is the problem here. 

    And GF moving out may not alleviate the issue.  If GF lives on her own, is Joe going to be around there with his dickishness?  If GF moves in with LW, is Joe going to invited over?  

    LW's GF seems to have boundary issues with her family and I don't blame LW for feeling it's an issue that could end their relationship. 
    Yeah, those are good points. I didn't really think of it as a GF issue, I was more just picturing LW getting all pissy that Joe is napping, which doesn't have shit to do with her. She seems really judgy about him and his lifestyle so I focused on that.

    My own brother is a total douche and we simply avoid him, so I guess I was assuming that everyone can/should do that too. H or I snap back when he says something shitty but other than that, we just kind of leave him be. But that's WE, not me loving him and sitting there while he's an ass to H. 
    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    short+sassymrsconn23eileenrob
  • I feel like so many of these types of problems could be solved by not living at home.  There are so many letters that could easily be solved by living independently. 
    STARMOON44ShesSoColdeileenrob
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    edited February 14
    I guess the biggest thing with this for me, is that this is all happening at the parents' house. It's not LW's house, it's not even the GF's house. I'm of the opinion that if you don't like what goes on in someone else's house, leave. I don't think LW gets to have an opinion on the pants or lack thereof of a person who isn't in her home. 

    If this were all happening in the girlfriend's apartment or something, then yes, this is a problem. But, like, even from her perspective right now, what is she supposed to do? She stood up to him and said something and he didn't change. What else can she do besides try to minimize the contact between the two? 

    Maybe I'm jaded or whatever by my brother. He's an ass and we all just brush it off because "that's the way he is". But I also don't live with him. 

    ETA - I keep thinking about this and I was just reminded of H's dad. His dad is literally the most negative impolite person I've ever met. He's awful. He's awful to everyone. In his home, I avoid engaging with him. In mine, I don't tolerate it. After he got mad at me for not allowing him to smoke in our first apartment and he was a total ass, H sat him down and told him that we would not deal with his shit in our space. And he's somehow managed to keep his assyness to a minimum. But it works because H and I are on the same page. If this sort of thing continues if/when LW and GF live together, then yes, it's an issue (to me).
    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    short+sassyCasadenaeileenrobOliveOilsMom
  • I guess the biggest thing with this for me, is that this is all happening at the parents' house. It's not LW's house, it's not even the GF's house. I'm of the opinion that if you don't like what goes on in someone else's house, leave. I don't think LW gets to have an opinion on the pants or lack thereof of a person who isn't in her home. 

    If this were all happening in the girlfriend's apartment or something, then yes, this is a problem. But, like, even from her perspective right now, what is she supposed to do? She stood up to him and said something and he didn't change. What else can she do besides try to minimize the contact between the two? 

    Maybe I'm jaded or whatever by my brother. He's an ass and we all just brush it off because "that's the way he is". But I also don't live with him. 
    Even though it's the parents' home the lack of rules for this guy is off especially in front of others.   It's smacking of deeper issues.

    But it's not about telling her brother that what he's doing is wrong - it's an inaction on her part.   If someone she loves is clearly uncomfortable and she makes no effort to make that significant other MORE comfortable how signficant is the LW to her GF?  Ultimately that's the message here. 

    We say this in other scenarios:  If you are living in your MIL's home and don't like what's going on then get out.   But if your SO is defending the MIL and sees no reason to make a change when the behavior is problematic enough for you to be uncomfortable there comes a time when you have to have a long talk with the SO to decide exactly what is the priority here and where do you see things going?  And if you're a grown up then one of those discussions becomes "Do you think that you plan to live with your parents for a long time?" 

    mrsconn23MyNameIsNoteileenrob
  • banana468 said:
    I guess the biggest thing with this for me, is that this is all happening at the parents' house. It's not LW's house, it's not even the GF's house. I'm of the opinion that if you don't like what goes on in someone else's house, leave. I don't think LW gets to have an opinion on the pants or lack thereof of a person who isn't in her home. 

    If this were all happening in the girlfriend's apartment or something, then yes, this is a problem. But, like, even from her perspective right now, what is she supposed to do? She stood up to him and said something and he didn't change. What else can she do besides try to minimize the contact between the two? 

    Maybe I'm jaded or whatever by my brother. He's an ass and we all just brush it off because "that's the way he is". But I also don't live with him. 
    Even though it's the parents' home the lack of rules for this guy is off especially in front of others.   It's smacking of deeper issues.

    But it's not about telling her brother that what he's doing is wrong - it's an inaction on her part.   If someone she loves is clearly uncomfortable and she makes no effort to make that significant other MORE comfortable how signficant is the LW to her GF?  Ultimately that's the message here. 

    We say this in other scenarios:  If you are living in your MIL's home and don't like what's going on then get out.   But if your SO is defending the MIL and sees no reason to make a change when the behavior is problematic enough for you to be uncomfortable there comes a time when you have to have a long talk with the SO to decide exactly what is the priority here and where do you see things going?  And if you're a grown up then one of those discussions becomes "Do you think that you plan to live with your parents for a long time?" 

    This. And again, "that's just how he is!" should be unacceptable when the LW is being made uncomfortable.  I cannot imagine going somewhere every other weekend, and STAYING in the same space as someone who makes it clear I am not wanted in the space and actively tries to make me uncomfortable.  Then when I *TRY* to alleviate my discomfort by making alternate arrangements, I'm cajoled (?) back into the uncomfortable situation to pacify the person who doesn't want me there.  

    Furthermore, the comments from other siblings about him not being comfortable seeing his sister date?  And they basically dismissing his jealousy and possessiveness over his sister? Allowing him to be this way to all the other partners of his siblings? And him saying that LW's trying to 'isolate' GF from the family by staying in a hotel?  AND THE GF STILL 'ADORES' HIM!  That's a LOT to WTF here.  If this family really is the way the LW is describing, that's a high level of dysfunction.  The more I think about it, the more LW should run away.  
    banana468eileenrobOliveOilsMomOurWildKingdom
  • VarunaTT said:
    You guys, maybe in my old age, i'm getting cranky, but I would've already been like, "Ew, gross" and peaced out.
    Yeah I don’t do “lives with parents” at all. Thank you, next. 
    Yeah - maybe if this girl is in her young 20s she hasn't been ready to move on yet but GF needs to figure out what her priority is.   And if the priority is an adult relationship that means moving out of a home where your SO has to see your brother in underoos that fit a 30 yo.
  • The GF adores her brother and doesn’t seem interested in getting him to change. I think that’s your answer. 
    eileenrobMyNameIsNot
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    I think the rude brother on the couch is a red herring.  This is more about"This is my rude asshole brother.  Everyone eats his shit with a smile and there are no consequences for his behavior.  Ever.  You need to fall in line and take his abuse as well.  *That just how he is".  

    No.  No.  Nu.  Nyet.  Nem.  Nine.  No.

    * I hate those words with the white hot fire of a thousand suns because it's always used to enable assholes.  "Yes I know he called you a cunt and set fire to your kitchen but that's just how he is, you need to accept that and move on"
    I agree with this. I hate the phrase too, which is why I put it in quotes because I know it's such a cop out. But if I cut every person out of my life who was an occasional asshole, I'd have a pretty small life and no contact with like, any of either of our families. Or friends. Or hell, myself. 

    But at the same time, I don't understand what LW's GF is supposed to actually do here. Moving out is obvious, yes. But if for some reason she can't or won't soon, what else? What consequences should the brother have and where should they come from?

    In another letter we're telling LW that she can't change her SO. Now we're saying that LW's GF needs to demand her brother change? 

    Like I said, if anyone here were paying the bills, I would have a completely different opinion. But this guy is living in his own home (ish) where his sister's girlfriend occasionally spends weekends. If she's uncomfortable with him, that's on her.

    I've read the letter several times and I don't really see him huffing at LW or whining about them going out to be abusive, either. Maybe that's another spot where I seem to disagree with everyone. The things LW mentioned that he does aren't that bad to me. It sounds like immature annoyances, more than anything.
    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    charlotte989875Casadenashort+sassy
  • I think the rude brother on the couch is a red herring.  This is more about"This is my rude asshole brother.  Everyone eats his shit with a smile and there are no consequences for his behavior.  Ever.  You need to fall in line and take his abuse as well.  *That just how he is".  

    No.  No.  Nu.  Nyet.  Nem.  Nine.  No.

    * I hate those words with the white hot fire of a thousand suns because it's always used to enable assholes.  "Yes I know he called you a cunt and set fire to your kitchen but that's just how he is, you need to accept that and move on"
    I sort of disagree with this.  

    And I do only because I know that in general someone who has a difficult personality is going to be difficult and many are resistant to change.   My MIL will be 67 next month.   She's not bad or abusive but she's....a challenge at times.   And she won't change because she never has.   So I acknowledge that she wont' change and rather than continuing to expect things that simply won't happen, what I can do is adjust myself:
    -I can adjust my expectations of a conversation if its difficult.
    -I can opt to remove myself from a situation.
    -I can arm myself with the tools to react and remove myself if a situation is problematic.

    It in no way means that I acknowledge or condone a time that an outburst that's loud or intrusive is acceptable.   It means I will know that I can modify my behavior when someone else won't and that can mean exposing myself to it if it's truly a bad day.

    But if she set my kitchen on fire and called me names the hell to the no.   It means that when she's stompy I can leave or ask her to. 
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