Rel­a­tive reaches out to re­sent­ful cousin

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Amy’s col­umn ap­pears seven days a week at wash­ing­ton­post.com/ad­vice. Write to askamy@amy­dick­in­son.com or Amy Dick­in­son, Tri­bune Con­tent Agency, 16650 West­grove Dr., Suite 175, Ad­di­son, Tex. 75001.  You can also fol­low her @ask­ingamy.

Dear Amy: I’m in my early 20s. Since we were lit­tle kids, two of my cousins and I have been very close. My grand­mother babysat all of us. We lived five min­utes away from each other, rode the school bus to­gether and, when we were teenagers, af­ter the loss of their mother, they spent ev­ery night at my house.

Re­cently, an­other cousin con­tacted us af­ter see­ing a photo of the three of us on­line. He said he’s sick of feel­ing left out.

We all re­sponded, say­ing that we did not know he felt this way and that we were so close be­cause we were ba­si­cally raised to­gether. We told him we would want to hang out with him more now and also in the fu­ture.

He ac­cepted that, but then started say­ing things like the rest of the fam­ily doesn’t ever want him around. We told him that this isn’t true and that ev­ery­one loves him, and we are sorry that some­one told him that be­cause that’s hor­ri­ble.

He then kept re­spond­ing about how badly he is treated. This con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ued on and off for three days via text mes­sag­ing, un­til fi­nally I told him that it had gone on too long and I would like to end the dis­cus­sion. He re­sponded with sar­casm and ex­ple­tives and then blocked all of us on so­cial me­dia.

I feel like the dis­cus­sion should have been in per­son. I don’t want the fam­ily bro­ken up. We have al­ways got­ten along, and our fam­ily gath­ers fre­quently. I love all my fam­ily mem­bers, but I don’t feel that I should have to cen­sor my re­la­tion­ships I’ve de­vel­oped with cer­tain fam­ily be­cause it may of­fend some­one else. I would be will­ing to for­give and for­get to have peace be­tween us.

Should I feel guilty for form­ing a closer re­la­tion­ship with my other cousins? How should we re­solve this fall­ing out?

Con­cerned Cousin

Con­cerned Cousin: You are closer to your cousins be­cause you were raised to­gether, like sib­lings.

Your other cousin was try­ing to be hon­est with you, and that’s a good thing. How­ever, it sounds as if he has let a life­time of re­sent­ment build up, and try­ing to ex­press and re­solve this through text mes­sage is sim­ply not pos­si­ble.

You could re­lieve your guilt by try­ing to con­tact him, per­haps through a let­ter, to say, “I was shocked to learn how ex­cluded you have felt. Thank you for be­ing hon­est about it. I’d like to have a closer re­la­tion­ship, but we’ll never re­solve these things un­less we talk about it.”

Dear Amy: I am shocked at how of­ten cou­ples who are get­ting mar­ried de­cide to ex­clude a fam­ily mem­ber. Fam­ily is fam­ily, es­pe­cially dur­ing a wed­ding.

Shocked

Shocked: Fam­i­lies are com­plex and chal­leng­ing. There are def­i­nitely le­git­i­mate rea­sons to ex­clude, but there would prob­a­bly be less ex­clu­sion if peo­ple could sim­ply ac­cept that their fam­i­lies are not per­fect.

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