Why is my sister so selfish?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


Hi, I am 24 and my sister is 22, and she has got to be the most selfish person (family wise) that I know. Anytime anyone from our immediate family asks her for a favor she is too busy or looks at us like she can not believe we are asking her for a favor. A few examples would be our mom had an eye appt and she needed a ride home because she could not drive after, she asked my sister to pick her up and my sister of course was too busy because she was going to go and meet some friends so our mom had to find another way home. When my mom got home my sister seemed like she was so offended that my mom found an alternate way home and didnt call her for a ride………yet she told my mom that she was too busy to pick her up. Another example would be our youngest sister was arriving at the airport and instead of taking a cab home she asked our sister to pick her up, of course again she said no she was going camping so our youngest sister found an alternate way home. My sister who was going camping, then felt she had the right to be upset because she went to the airport to pick her up and she wasnt there, even though she was too busy to pick her up when she was asked for the favor.

In the summer she moved to the same city that I live in and because she didnt have a vehicle at first I lent her mine for a week and had no problem because I was helping her out and thought she could do the same for me, but when my car got a flat tire and i asked her if she could give me a ride to an appointment I had to buy her lunch otherwise she wouldnt give me a ride.

She is only like this when it is myself, our youngest sister or our parents asking the favor of her. If it is a co-worker or a friend or my husband she is always more than willing to help them out. When we get upset with her because we feel that she is taking advantage of us or that she has no respect for us she takes great offence to it and always turns it around and tells us we are all ridiculous and that we have no reason to pick on her and that we are just don’t like who she is etc. Then she wants nothing to do with any of us because we are “mean”……which ends up being her reason as to why she doesnt help any of us.

I dont understand why she is so willing to help out others but it is such a hassle to help out her family. And why she gets so offended when we try to explain to her why we are upset and turns it around in her mind that we are being ridiculous and we have no reason to be mad at her when we are being “mean”

Does anyone have any explanations for this?
(Sorry this is so long)

A: No apologies necessary. Your sister is so selfish because she is immature. I know she’d hate to hear that but expecting the world to be organized around her needs and desires and wanting to be judged for her good intentions instead of her actions are “symptoms” of immaturity.

It’s not unusual for a kid to grow up with other people before family. It’s too easy to slip into old roles with familiar people who have to forgive you. But as you are finding out, this behavior gets old real quick once someone is in her 20s. People do mature at different rates. You and your youngest sister have, for reasons of your own, matured more quickly than middle sis.

Do keep telling her that, as an adult, she is accountable for her actions and that you all expect her to treat the family as nicely as she treats others. Otherwise, how will she learn? But I do suggest that you give your feedback in as loving a way possible so that she’ll listen. If you scold, nag, harshly criticize or put her down, she’ll get so defensive she won’t be able to hear you.

Go about your own business of growing up. You seem to be doing a fine job of it. Fortunately, your sister is getting older by the day and will probably grow up too.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Feb 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Why is my sister so selfish?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/28/why-is-my-sister-so-selfish/