Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I have been dating "John" for several months now. When John and I met, I thought one of the coolest things about him was how close he is to his younger brother, "Pete." But I've found it is nearly impossible to get John alone without his brother. When we make plans for dinner, Pete tags along. Movie night at home is never just the two of us. I can't cook for John without Pete wandering in, praising my cooking, so of course I ask him to join us. If we head out to drinks, Pete always seems to show up. I love that they're so close, but I want one boyfriend, not two. Pete has dated here and there but generally is on his own and doesn't socialize much without John. How can I handle this without pissing anyone off?
If things don't work out with John, the good news is, you have Pete to fall back on! He sounds like a perfectly pleasant guy, not to mention a big fan of your cooking. Poor Pete sounds pretty lonely too. Next time you and John make a plan and Pete pops up, have a girlfriend on speed dial ready to inject into the mix. Attempting to fix Pete up with one of your friends could take some of the pressure off the two of you to provide entertainment -- or, conversely, it could annoy him enough to keep him at bay. Good luck!
Wanda's hook-up plan is nice and all, but you're not trying to increase the number of people on your dates. Time to give dear John a dating ultimatum -- either he starts to balance his time better or he can start trading ramen cooking duties with his brother again. You aren't kicking little bro to the curb, but you are asking for compromise and more quality time alone. That's not too much to ask in a committed, adult relationship. Pete is still welcome for the occasional dinner and drink -- emphasis on occasional. If John is serious about a relationship with you, he'll understand and adjust accordingly.
Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I love my girlfriend but I can't stand her older sister. She is 30, we are 25, and I can't talk about anything that's going on in life without her giving me preachy input like she knows everything and I have no idea what I'm doing. Besides being kind of a know-it-all, she just isn't a very nice person. She talks a lot of crap about people and has a pretty negative attitude. I always feel like she is judging me and sizing me up. This is the opposite of my girlfriend who is sweet, caring and nice. The problem is they are really close and my girlfriend loves having her sister along when we do stuff. Ugh. I don't know what to do.
Well the good news is you are dating your girlfriend, not her sister. Establish clear boundaries and explain this early in the relationship, you want to be a little selfish and spend time with just her as much as possible so you guys can get to know each other on a deep and intimate level. In the meantime, the bratty older sister with the negative attitude sounds like she might be a bit protective of her little sister. Give her the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind -- and some distance.
I'm right there with Wanda: she's protective of her sister, doesn't want to share her, and is probably really lonely and sad inside. So kill her with kindness and honesty. Smile when she pouts. If she's being ridiculous with her trash talking, call her out on it. If she steps over the line and tells you how to run your relationship, tell her to dedicate her energy to finding ways to find a happier life for herself. You don't have to be rude -- just real. And oh, if you think her sister is bad, wait until your meet her parents! In-laws have ALL the answers and know more about what you should do with your life than you do!