Advice and whatnot...

11/05/2011 The Blue Stocking 2 Comments

Dear Anti-Austens,

I find myself in a rather....interesting situation.
My brother is dating my roommate.
Let's just say, now I know why people strongly advise against this.

Being an avid Jane Austen fan myself, I do not believe a situation quite like this happens in her novels. However, I still find the topic somewhat fitting for this blog in that it is a peculiar situation.

Sometimes I feel a bit used by my roommate. We were good friends prior to their relationship, but now I hardly ever see her and I don't feel like we're as good as friends. I know she's keeping things from me, things about her relationship with my brother that she willingly and openly tells my other roommates. While I don't necessarily want to know her feelings or exact thoughts for my brother, I still don't feel like we are good friends. Hardly friends, in fact. Shouldn't a friend be someone you can tell everything to? Such is not the case.

Needless to say, it's awkward. Oh so very awkward. When he comes to my apartment to pick her up for dates, when he hugs or kisses her good bye. Let's just say I'm not too big on the whole "PDA," especially when it involves my brother. When he comes to my apartment to hang out, I don't think he comes to see me anymore. He comes to see her. We were really close siblings, and I think this affects me more so.

I'm kind of hurt, especially by her. She did ask me if I minded if she dated my brother, but honestly, what was I supposed to say? How was I to know how I would even react? I didn't think of it as a sincere question so much as an obligatory one.

And I'm a bit saddened. I feel like Elinor Dashwood, having to keep these feelings to myself, and becoming increasingly agitated as they pile up inside of me. Whether I'm afraid to let my true feelings show or to interfere with someone's happiness, I'm not sure.

I feel like I've lost two of my friends--to each other.

Am I being dumb? Because it's really about their happiness, right? And I think they're happy with each other. But it's not about me. So why am I bothered by it? Why do I seem to be taking it so personally? I just don't know what to do.
I just can't shake of the feeling that either way, I've lost.


Sadly Conflicted

Dear Sadly Conflicted,

You’re taking this personal because it is. Don’t ever feel silly for feeling sad at losing relationships that you value. Here’s the thing though, you can’t think that you’ve lost.

That’s not the case.

Instead view this situation as a time where your relationships to these people is changing and you need to jump on board because resistance will only cost you.

The first thing you should do is talk to your brother. If you guys are as close as you say then explain exactly what you’re feeling…or keep it bottled up and let it eat at you {that’s healthy}. Maybe you could even plan to go out to lunch with him once a week. Then you guys could have a fun tradition where it’s just the two of you catching up on life every week.

Now you need to talk to your best friend about your feelings and then you need to let her talk to you. You as well as I know that girls love to talk boys. If you cut that line of communication off with your best friend, you’re not trying to be a part of her life. Start asking her questions about the dates and if you feel like she’s giving awkward details then let her know. She’ll get the point without feeling like she has to hide things from you.

The point is these people mean a lot to you and you’re letting awkwardness build a wall between you and them. Your brother is going to date and he is going to be married. It doesn’t matter if it’s to this girl or someone else and you need to be able to develop a relationship with that girl.

I’ve been in the same boat as you. My brother dated my best friend and then he married her. It was awkward at first and then it became wonderful. I love my sister-in-law and we are closer now then we were when we were just friends.

The point is, if you really care about these people then you need to try and make it work.

-The Blue Stocking

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Heidi said...

(Warning! this is going to be a long comment. sorry!)
I have a question for Sadly Conflicted (this is just for you to think about): Is it that you feel uncomfortable that they are dating, or is it that you dislike how each of them is handling things in regards to you?

I don't know what it's like to have a good friend or roommate dating my brother, but I do know how it feels to have a good friend/roommate be in a relationship with someone, and have it end up making you feel uncomfortable and/or like a third wheel and/or annoyed and hurt. I have been going through this with my roommate recently, and I was just like you, in that it made me feel distanced from her, it was bothering me, and I was keeping quiet, but feeling guilty for my feelings, and just letting it eat me up inside. It wasn't that I didn't like her boyfriend (he's a really nice guy), or even that she had a boyfriend. It was how I was feeling treated by them. I've never liked the feeling that when friends start dating, it's like they suddenly fall of the face of the earth together, and you matter less. However, I've never been in a relationship, so I don't entirely understand how it is for them.

Now after that long comment, here is my suggestion: You are not being awful for feeling the way you do. You are entitled to your feelings just as much as them. What you need to do is talk to them about it and try to fix this problem. If you don't talk to them, they may not realize there is a problem. Such was the case with my roommate. She didn't know how I was feeling until I told her. When I finally talked to her about it, then everything was fine. We also ended up designating one day of the week (she calls it "bra day") where we would not have any boys over. So far, she has stuck to the agreement and things have been going better for me.
Basically, follow The Blue Stocking's advice. I've tried it and it worked for me.

Jessica said...

Good good good advice.

Also, no matter who your brother ends up dating and marrying, your relationship with him will change. This is natural. When my little brother returned from his mission, he moved in next door to me. We hung out every day. It was awesome. Eventually, once he got over his post-mission awkwardness and started dating someone, I didn't see nearly as much of him as I had before. It was hard to cope with at first, I missed him, but I realized that I can't always be his best friend priority- some things should come before sisters- like wives. They're kind of important.

Blue Stocking gave you some great advice. Talk to them both, be open about the way that you are feeling in this situation, because whether anyone wants to admit it or not, you are a player in this relationship. And, after you talk to them, work on finding a new place where you feel comfortable in your relationship with both roomate and brother. That way, if the relationship continues, you'll be ready for that. If it ends, you can go back to where you were.

Change is good- it can help you avoid the kind of awkwardness you've been feeling. And don't think of this as you losing something, really it's a way for you to become closer to both parties, and get to know them maybe in ways that you didn't before.

ANYways, long comment with little substance- my main point? Be open and welcoming of change.