My boyfriend has a very complicated family. No one in his family has seen a happy, healthy marriage or relationship. His dad has always cheated on his mom. She claims to stay due to financial reasons and due to the children being young. They are all able adults now but she still stays with him. He barely works and goes out of state frequently to visit his other woman. He comes and goes as he pleases. The woman truly baffles me on how much she lets the bastard walk all over her. His oldest brother cheated on his wife while they had they had a child together. They have two daughters now but are divorced. His second oldest brother has three sons but the mother of the sons and him are not married and they are volatile towards each other.
Now, my boyfriend has known that he’s had a half sister that is a few years older than him since he was young. All his life, he’s refused to have any contact or anything to do with his half sister because he wants to be loyal to his mom. He wants nothing to do that is associated with his dad’s chronic infidelity. The two older brothers often side with their dad and have kept in contact with their half sister. All of a sudden, out of no where, the half sister tells one of the brothers that she is coming to Florida to visit and she wants to meet my her youngest brother (my boyfriend). He was very worried about the whole situation. Should he meet her? Should he not? Would that be disloyal to his mother? How was she react? What would she say? How would this affect him? I told him that it’s not her fault she was born into this mess that was caused by their dad’s. I said that he should meet her once and that if he doesn’t like the situation, then he doesn’t have to keep in contact and just to go back to how things were.
The day that she was supposed to arrive in town, he texts me and says that she’s at his house. Apparently, the mom was okay with letting her come over then even let her stay at their house while she was in town. Then he tells me that she’s nice and says she’s taking a shower in his bathroom. Then he sends me a picture of her in her pajamas sitting on the bed. I guess they were getting friendly and getting to know each other. I should’ve been happy for him that he met his half sister and they seem to hit it off well. But I’m not. I can’t wait for her to leave so things can go back to the way they were. The next day, he asked me if I wanted to come over that night to meet his sister. I said no, I did not. He asked why and said that it would mean a lot to him. I replied saying it didn’t mean anything to him yesterday yet all of a sudden it means a lot? He said that it didn’t dawn on him that it was his sister. It would mean a lot if I met her but if I didn’t want to then that’s okay. I said I did not want to.
I know it’s probably wrong of me to not be happy for him, but I cant help how I feel. I’m sure she’s nice and all but everything was fine before she showed up on their doorstep, then all of a sudden she wants to be a family. Something is eating at me but I can’t really describe it. It’s always been his mother and me as the females in his life. Now this girl just wants to waltz in and claim the title as his sister? I just can’t feel happy for him. What can I do to stay on good terms with him without having to be involved with the situation?
Blended families can be tough. But the core problem of your boyfriend’s family seems to be about boundaries. While I understand your concern and frustration, this isn’t something that you should try to manage for your boyfriend. The work here is for you to take care of yourself and regulate your own boundaries. If you don’t want to meet his sister, don’t meet her. Your boyfriend is going to have to sort through the nature of his relationship with her, and so will you. As you said, there haven’t been many models for good relationships in his family. He is going to have to sort through what his half-sister means to him, and you will have to assess the impact this relationship will have on you.
I wouldn’t try to influence him one way or the other. I would just be clear about what you are willing, or not willing, to do when it comes to her. This may be difficult, but it will keep you out of middle.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). I Should Be Happy for My Boyfriend But I’m Not. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 26, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/11/25/i-should-be-happy-for-my-boyfriend-but-im-not/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.