Ask Amy: My boyfriend’s sister is getting in the way of our relationship

Dear Amy: I’ve been with my boyfriend for nine months. He is fantastic.

From the beginning, I knew his family was extremely important to him. One of his sisters died a few years ago and his family has struggled to recover.

His immediate and extended family are extremely close.

He lives with his sister and they are VERY close; closer than any siblings I know. They live together, are best friends, and are inseparable.

I love his sister, but have had run-ins with her because she doesn’t like the time he spends with me cutting into their time together.

I try very hard to be conscious of the time he wants/needs with family, but recently, it has felt threatening.

Last night at their place she told me that I shouldn’t speak up or criticize his cousins or any other family members because, in her words, “You’re not safe yet.”


When I got home and thought about it, that comment really hurt me.

I know that he loves me, but sometimes I feel like I have to stifle my own thoughts or comments out of fear that they won’t like me or approve of me.

Should I address this with my boyfriend? If so, how?

Is this something I should brush off because it’s just a situation I have to deal with in order to be with him?

What do you think?

– Wondering

Dear Wondering: You’ve offered a couple of ideas for how you might deal with this challenge.

I think you should consider what’s behind Door Number Three. The message behind that door says, “Walk.”

These are your words: “I try very hard to be conscious of the time he wants/needs with family, but recently, it has felt threatening.”

You then quote his sister as (basically) threatening you.

Whenever you’ve spent more time with her brother than she would like, she doesn’t confront him – she confronts you.

I’m not saying that you are in physical danger, but the real threat here is to your relationship.

Yes, you should talk to your boyfriend about this. Explain that because his sister has confronted you a few times about your presence in his life, you are going to keep more distance from his household.

Do not present this as a choice between you and his sister.

If he wants to be in a relationship with you, you need to feel safe – and not silenced. If he’s motivated, he’ll figure out how to accomplish that.

It seems that his sister’s goal has been to run you off.

Mission accomplished.

• • •

Dear Amy: Our family is pretty close. We live near one another, do lots of things together and get along great. However, in the last year and a half, one sister who lives three hours away has declined any invitations to events, including most recently Thanksgiving.

We are at a complete loss as to understand what is going on.

I have told her that she is welcome to stay with me for any amount of time and have included her significant other and their dog in the invite.

When I talk to her on the phone our conversations seem completely normal, she just says the drive is too far and the dog gets carsick. She previously made accommodations for those issues.

However, she has pretty much dropped contact with everyone else, only commenting infrequently on family group texts.

None of us can figure out what we’ve done to make her stay away like this.

We even discussed all of us just dropping in on her, but I’m not sure she’d appreciate that.



– At a Loss

Dear At a Loss: Your sister might not want to cart herself and her carsick dog three hours to your hometown. You don’t mention ever visiting her.

Your family should not show up unannounced and en masse.

You should tell her you’d like to drive to her town on a Saturday and visit her at her house, or meet somewhere for lunch. Spend time with her on her turf. Don’t grill or pressure her – just demonstrate your own commitment to seeing her.

• • •

Dear Amy: Our family has become larger over the years. It’s too much of a burden for one person or family to host and prepare all the food for holidays, so each family is responsible for bringing an entree, side dish, and a dessert. We coordinate via group text.

This also prevents duplication with too many potato dishes!

– Problem Solved

Dear Solved: Ahem. There can NEVER be too many potato dishes.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. Email