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Home » Ask the Therapist » What Do I Do about Intrusive Sister-in-Law?

What Do I Do about Intrusive Sister-in-Law?

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From the U.S.: Met my sister-in-law in 2004 she is heavy set and had an ordinary style. I have pin up style and platinum blonde hair, several tattoos. Soon after she went from dark brown hair to blonde. Started wearing flower clips in her hair, buying same brand pin up purses as me. Then she bought the same car as mine (black) hers white and had my bro buy same truck as my husband (black) his white.

She got two monarch butterflies tattooed on her back shoulders like me, lily tatted on right foot like me, and yellow hibiscus on left arm like me. Pierced her nose like me. Started dressing like me, same style, same lipstick shade same brand of purse if I try to change to have my own style. It feels like fatal attraction.

Before I learned how bizarre this is I shared with her that I was getting hair extensions at so and so. The receptionist told me she went in and requested an appt right before mine with the same hair dresser. So when I went in for my appt she was already in the chair getting hers!

Everything is the same. became Christian and got baptized 7/2018 she became Christian and started going to same church as us within 2 wks. It is a 30 to 40 min drive for her. Now my hair is brown to blonde ombre cute;, she now has brown to blonde ombre cute;.

She acts like everything was her idea or she is trying to out do me and insults my tattoos while constantly getting her redone to stay bright. Mine are old they were my first tattoos. I have a sleeve on my left arm and now she does. The Christianity thing is what is scary. How far will she go?

This has been going on for 15 years. When I confronted her about the tattoos the first time she lit up at my reaction like she enjoyed it. My bro defends her and and says I’m just jealous of her when I brought up anything. She has had my young kids hide video cameras secretly to “see what we talk about” during gatherings. She asked me if my husband would like her more if she lost weight. There’s a lot more. This has caused a division in our family. My bro doesn’t want to deal with the drama but she has created this.

What Do I Do about Intrusive Sister-in-Law?

Answered by on -

A.

There is a saying that imitation is the best compliment. But your sister-in-law’s behavior suggests something serious. Taping your conversations goes well beyond flattery. I think you are correct to worry about how far this will go.

Although a certain amount of copying others is normal — that’s after all where fashion trends come from — this level of excess is not normal. It speaks to a kind of desperation. Not knowing who she is or maybe not liking who she is, she cloaks herself in your identity. I can only begin to imagine how empty she must feel to go to the lengths she does to become your “twin”. It must be frustrating indeed for you to feel like she is intruding on your self-expression.

I’m sorry her husband won’t deal with it, although I can understand that he may just want to minimize drama in his relationship with her. It may be that he is already making many concessions to live with her. I do think that loving her means getting her some help for how bad she feels. A therapist would help her develop a stronger sense of self so she would feel more comfortable in her own skin.

As for you: Forget about “confronting” her. It just feeds into the problem. Ideally, distance yourself as much from her as possible. Don’t make any big announcement about it. That will only trigger her. Just quietly try not to see her so often. Switch things up whenever you feel like it. Try out different churches. Experiment with different styles. Don’t tell her in advance. Just do what you want to do. Above all: Compliment her on anything she does that is unique to her, and encourage your brother and other members of the family to do the same.

You might want to see a therapist yourself — not because you own the problem but because a therapist might have suggestions that are more specific to your situation than I can offer.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

What Do I Do about Intrusive Sister-in-Law?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). What Do I Do about Intrusive Sister-in-Law?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/04/19/what-do-i-do-about-intrusive-sister-in-law/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Apr 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 16 Apr 2019
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