Ask Amy

Dear Amy: There is a lot of an­i­mos­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness be­tween my sis­ter and me. I don’t trust her with my feel­ings be­cause I al­ways get hurt.

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dick­in­son

I’ve al­ways re­ceived good grades, I fi­nan­cially sup­port my­self, and have a sta­ble job. My par­ents have never had to worry about me. How­ever, she is al­ways de­mand­ing their at­ten­tion (and I re­ally don’t like at­ten­tion) and I have started feel­ing in­vis­i­ble.

My sis­ter re­cently had a baby girl, the first grand­child. She never sends me pic­tures but sends them to oth­ers, hasn’t in­vited me to see my niece, and phases me out from the rest of the fam­ily. None of this is sur­pris­ing to me — I ac­tu­ally ex­pected it.

But what is both­er­ing me is that my par­ents are phas­ing me out, too. They send me a text ev­ery now and then to see how I’m do­ing, but they never visit me (I live eight hours from where they live).

I am vis­it­ing their beach house for a short stay. I tried to plan the trip around their avail­abil­ity, but they are al­ways busy. When I asked them if they would be around, they said they are go­ing to visit my sis­ter. We haven’t seen one an­other since Christ­mas, and my feel­ings are hurt that they aren’t mak­ing an ef­fort to see me. I didn’t re­al­ize I’d be­come so ir­rel­e­vant when my sis­ter had her baby.

I thought about talk­ing with them about it, but then, how will I know if their re­sponse is gen­uine, or just some­thing they have to do to make me happy? Am I be­ing self­ish? — Up­set

Dear Up­set: You aren’t be­ing self­ish to want to have a re­la­tion­ship with your par­ents. The trick is how to have that re­la­tion­ship when you feel so alien­ated.

It is ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber’s right and re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­spect­fully ex­press their hon­est feel­ings, re­gard­less of what the re­sponse might be. I sug­gest you do this with your par­ents, rather than let this con­tinue to fes­ter. You say that you don’t re­ally like at­ten­tion, and so this sets up a con­flict; if you don’t like at­ten­tion, then how are you to get it when you do want it? They may read your in­de­pen­dence as a lack of in­ter­est.

You should tell your par­ents that you un­der­stand they are busy, but that you re­ally want them to be in your life in a more ac­tive way. Ask them if there are things you could do dif­fer­ently to make this pos­si­ble, and ask them to ac­com­mo­date your mod­est needs, too. I don’t think you should frame this in a way that calls their re­la­tion­ship with your need­ier sis­ter into ques­tion, but sim­ply ask for what you want.

You should also at­tempt to have a re­la­tion­ship with your young niece, even if your sis­ter makes this ex­tra chal­leng­ing.

Dear Amy: My niece is get­ting mar­ried. When I made my ho­tel reser­va­tions at the four-star ho­tel the bridal cou­ple se­lected, I dis­cov­ered that our group rate was higher than the reg­u­lar rate listed on­line.

When I asked the reser­va­tion­ist if there was an er­ror, she said this was the rate ne­go­ti­ated by the bride and groom!

It has been my ex­pe­ri­ence that re­serv­ing a block of rooms gives you a lower — not a higher — rate. There will be a large group of rel­a­tives at­tend­ing from both sides of the fam­ily. At an over­charge of $25 per room for two nights, I be­lieve we are foot­ing the bill for the en­tire wed­ding party! Are we be­ing taken ad­van­tage of ? — Irked Aunt

Dear Irked: You are in­sin­u­at­ing that the mar­ry­ing cou­ple is fi­nanc­ing their own (and the wed­ding party’s) ho­tel stay by over­charg­ing you and other wed­ding guests.

Ho­tel rates seem to vary widely, de­pend­ing on many fac­tors. These chang­ing rates will be re­flected on­line. I can imag­ine an on­line rate for one room to be lower than a rate for a block of rooms which has been locked-in in ad­vance.

You could have as­sumed that this was a mis­take, or glitch, or an op­por­tu­nity for the mar­ry­ing cou­ple to rene­go­ti­ate their rate. In­stead you as­sume the worst. This seems par­tic­u­larly unkind.

Dear Amy: I loved your def­i­ni­tion of a bully for “Up­set Daugh­ter”: “Bul­lies re­ceive their fuel from oth­ers’ re­ac­tions: fear, in­tim­i­da­tion, be­wil­der­ment — along with the drama of dom­i­nance.” I also liked your ad­vice, “Don’t feed the beast. Laugh about it.” This is ex­actly how I han­dled the bully in my life, and I feel lib­er­ated. — Been There

Dear Been There: Good for you!

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