Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sister Love

I don't like to keep beating up on the same columnist week after week, but (1) Hey Cherie is right in our wheelhouse, focused on kids and (2) Cherie never answers the freaking question. From today:
I'm a girl in eighth grade and I'm sick of my older sister falling in love.

My sister is in 10th grade. I admit that she is much cuter than I will ever be, but not in a scary way that makes boys not want to approach her. Instead, she is pretty in a way that makes boys want to talk to her. She also has the reputation of being very nice, and I think it is deserved.

She is always very nice to me, and she is even nice when boys ask her out and she is not interested. She says no in a way that does not hurt them. I know this because I have seen her do it.

The problem is, with all these boys around her, my sister is constantly in love. She has had about 12 boyfriends since the start of ninth grade, which works out to a boyfriend every six weeks or so. And my sister in love is not a pretty sight. She goes head over heels in love. The boy is the center of her world. She is always on her cell or on instant message with him. She always says that this boy is special.

They are always gone in a few weeks or a few months. I ask her what happened. She always says, "it just didn't work out."

It is extremely annoying to see your older sister walking around with moon eyes all the time.
Cherie responds:
A steady diet of honey on top of cane sugar on top of Splenda on top of molasses on top of Equal on top of sorghum (look it up!) on top of fructose would be enough to send even the most stable-blooded person to the doctor for treatment of diabetes. However, everyone finds their own path to the L-word: Love.

In your case, it sounds like there has not yet been a boyfriend who blew you away and made the world seem like it rested on a pedestal of him, him, him and him. I think you would have mentioned this guy in your letter if there was, and you would have drawn the stark contrast of how you are in love compared to how your sister is when she's in love.

Perhaps, you would revise your letter to me after your first serious boyfriend. Perhaps not.

Your sister's path to love involves a whole lot of boyfriends. She sounds like a really nice person. I think she's entitled to find her own way, the same way you will be entitled to find her own way. Do understand that if she finds herself sexually involved with boy after boy, that's a whole different story!

Ashley: So... she didn't actually say anything.

Lulu: Except to state that things are different if there's sex involved or if there isn't, but not what to do in each case.

Ashley: I guess... stop hanging out with your sister?

Lulu: I mean, yeah: you can't change someone's annoying behavior, you can only control how much you expose yourself to it or get invested in it.

Ashley: It just seems like the girl spends too much time paying attention to her sister if she's so annoyed by how in love she is. Maybe she needs friends or a hobby!

Lulu: She describes how her sister is better than her in all ways, so it seems like she is looking for something to dislike. I feel like this would also be alleviated with a good hobby. If we take her at her word that she's not as nice or pretty as her sister, maybe it would help to explore some skills which do not require being nice or pretty, such as mathletes or boxing.

Ashley: Yeeees. I wasn't sure what to do with her comments about how her sister was better than her, and neither did Cherie.

Lulu: Yeah. I mean, it seems like there are two components to her particular dislike of her sister's lovesick tendencies: (1) it drives home how much more lovable her sister is than her; (2) it annoys her because she knows how it's going to end and her sister never seems to learn. For (1) I would say that the number of boys you date isn't necessarily a good indicator of your worth. As she notes, her sister has the particular looks and personality to attract a lot of guys, and she seems to enjoy dating so she cultivates that, but, you know--see (2): it brings her an endless cycle of dating and breaking up, and it kind of seems--from the LW's comments--that that is not what she wants for herself.

Ashley: It is possible to be jealous of another person's happiness if you think you'll never be happy, even if their form of happiness is not what you'd choose.

Lulu: Definitely. But the fact that that form of happiness isn't what she would choose could maybe provide some kind of comfort? In any case, it does seem like she has to look for happiness via another path, and try not to be too jealous of the sister; she undoubtedly has her own problems.

Ashley: Yep yep. As for the second letter--
If I have a book report that's assigned on a book of my choice from free reading, and I read a bunch of unassigned books over the summer but don't really feel like reading a book now, is it OK if I do a report on a book I read last summer?

Ashley: Yeah, it's fine.


  1. More importantly, somewhere out there is a high school sophomore that I have a shot with.

    But seriously folks. Maybe someone should draw the connection for this girl between her sister's natural good-looks plus cultivated charm and her apparent inability to grow as a person. Pretty people who know how to manage social relations have it kind of easy (just ask Ashley! oh snap Lulu! only joshing!) and without difficulty, they rarely grow much.

    I know. I am wise because of how ugly and awkward I am.

  2. I am... both flattered and offended? I think I need to write in for advice.

  3. My two cents: I know what sorghum is. Bitch.

  4. I don't think there's anything wrong with having brief, serial relationships if you enjoy the ride each time. I can't consider that proof of someone's inability to grow.

    I really can't. It's sort of a self-defense mechanism.