DEAR NATALIE: My sister and I get along great. However, she and her husband copy everything my boyfriend and I do. It’s so annoying. If my boyfriend and I mention anything we do or anywhere we go, my sister and her husband go and do the exact same thing. They want to live in the same neighborhood where we live, golf where we golf (even though it is very out of their way) and eat where we eat. They traveled where we’ve traveled and stayed at the exact same hotel as us. They want to use our realtor. What’s even worse is that they act like some of our good friends that they’ve only met once or twice are “great friends of theirs,” as well. I know imitation is a form of flattery and they’re probably just trusting our judgement, but it's annoying when my boyfriend and I do months of research and they just sweep in after us. It’s like they’re using us because we’ve already done the hard work for them. We love doing things with them, but we would like to keep little things just for us. I know we can’t gate-keep these things but It’s gotten to the point where we don’t even want to tell them any plans we have. How do I address this?– SOMETHING TO CALL MY OWN
DEAR SOMETHING TO CALL MY OWN: There may be some things you need to keep offline, off the radar and to yourselves if you really want to have something of your own. It does seem like they are just enamored with your life choices! But I can also see how this would be annoying after a while. I don’t think it is worth having a conversation with your sister, though. It will most likely cause hurt feelings and ruffle feathers – and for what? Instead, accept it as flattering, and don’t share everything you do for a while. See if that helps to create more of a natural boundary. This isn’t worth fighting about.
DEAR NATALIE: I recently moved in with my girlfriend and I absolutely hate living together. I didn’t realize what it would be like. We’ve been together three years and with the pandemic, we spent a lot of time together. It just made sense to get a bigger place together. I love her. But I feel completely suffocated. Part of the issue is that we work for the same company and we both work at home. We never have any time apart. She doesn’t appear to be bothered by it, but I feel like the walls are caving in on me. She’s also really messy – and I’m much more organized – so I am also tired of picking up after her or doing all the dishes or cleaning up after the dog. Is there any way to back out of this without causing a breakup? — DIRTY DISHES ARE A DEALBREAKER
DEAR DIRTY DISHES ARE A DEALBREAKER: If you don’t like living together, why not sit down first before you do anything drastic and tell her how you are feeling. I hear that you are feeling overwhelmed, suffocated and frustrated. It seems as though some of this tension can be remedied if you share what you need now that you are living together. You could start the conversation by saying, “Now that we have moved in together, I’m noticing some things that I wanted to address so that we can both feel good about this arrangement.” This way, you aren’t being accusatory. If the chores aren’t being divided in a way that is healthy for you both, naturally resentment will build up. If you need space and time apart, that is healthy and normal. Address these issues together before you make any rash decisions. Who knows? She may be feeling similarly and afraid to talk about it. Take the next step in a way that puts you both on the same team and not as adversaries in the same house.
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