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Carolyn Hax: Extract self from brother’s affairs

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 10, 2010

Dear Carolyn, I feel stuck. My older brother is going through a divorce. He has been living at my parents’ for the last four months. I have invited my brother into my social life since he has few friends in the area.

One of my friends and my brother have an undeniable attraction for each other. This makes me uncomfortable because my brother just filed his divorce papers last week, and because my friend throws herself at my brother whenever she is around him. I do not want to be the facilitator of a relationship that might go bad, and have tried segregating my social events with them.

I do not respect the way she is “teasing” him and feel like she is using me to get to him. I do not want to be her friend anymore, but I feel like Kate and my brother may end up dating, and I do not want to be the (nasty) sister. – In the middle again

I won’t pretend it’s fun to be used as a matchmaking venue. It is not the same, however, as being in the middle of someone else’s drama. That happens only when you consciously choose a role for yourself and start playing it.

By taking deliberate action to keep your friend away from your brother, you are making that kind of choice.

It’s certainly OK for you to ask your brother how he feels about having Kate around so much.

You are also free, of course, to make your own choices socially. If you don’t want to keep hosting your brother’s flirtations, then it’s OK to be busy or not home or whatever else would credibly keep people out of your corner of the family compound.

But underscore the word “credibly” in that suggestion; you’re right to regard Kate as your brother’s potential new girlfriend, and ducking or obstructing her will look like what it is. Have solid reasons for changing your plans.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.


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