DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My older sister has dated a few really nice guys, but even if they’re cruds, she gives up all her interests and a lot of her own social life for whoever she’s with.
Sometimes that can be hurtful to the rest of the people in her life. I know my dad was hurt by her not helping him out during his post-surgical rehab because she was so busy helping her then-boyfriend launch his new business.
She did the same kind of thing to our mother, who had a really hard time when our grandmother passed, and our mother kept reaching out to my sister to just come and keep her company. At that time, my sister was living with a guy who was big into sports, and they spent most weekends chasing his favorite teams during a really dark winter for our mom.
She’s stood me and her friends up, dropped her own interests to become obsessed with whatever the guy of the hour is into, and just in general becomes invisible with each relationship.
I love my sister, and hate seeing how she is when things end with a guy, but I also want her to understand there are more people in the world counting on her and caring about her than just the guy she’s with at the time.
How do I do that? --- SISTER OF THE INVISIBLE GIRLFRIEND
DEAR SISTER OF THE INVISIBLE GIRLFRIEND: While I see it as healthy in a relationship for both parties to take some interest in each other’s pursuits, I agree with you that when one of the parties completely loses themselves, it’s ultimately not good for the relationship, the people in it, or those close to the couple.
It might help if the people who count on her and keep getting let down go beyond asking for her help. She needs to directly and clearly hear how much her not being there for them hurts. If it comes from both family members and her closest friends, and if she hears it enough, maybe she’ll start stepping in and showing up when she’s needed.
Otherwise, in her love-blinded state, she’ll most likely continue to take it for granted that all’s well with the world outside her happy little bubble.