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How do I cut ties with my sister?

Tagged as: Family, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (27 January 2011) 6 Answers - (Newest, 28 January 2011)
A female United Kingdom age 36-40, anonymous writes:

I will try to keep this brief but it will take a bit of explaining.

I am the oldest of five siblings. We are three sisters then the youngest are boy/girl twins, ages up from 23 to 31 (myself)

The problem is with myself and the middle sister who is 26. We have had an intense friendship for the last ten years that goes in a repetitive cycle which follows something like this: best friends, hours chatting, discussing, laughing, partying together, cooking together, best friends. Then its sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months but then the digs start. She starts putting me down in front of others, always subtlety though. I get defensive,( though over the years have learnt more to take it in my stride).

Eventually it concludes in her either sending me a series of poisoned text messages or a nasty phone call where she tells me in no uncertain terms what a bad person I am.

The things she says really hurt me, even when I know they are not true. I think the problem stems from a combination of money problems (she has owed me a lot of money for years now and thinks I don't deserve to be paid back as she considers me to be lazy) father problems (dad has always had a soft spot for me) and a difference in 'morals' She tells me I am humiliating the family because I am prone to kissing boys and yes, also having sex with them too sometimes. She's not christian, or a virgin or anything, just believes you shouldn't put out unless you're in love. Her big complaint to me is that I have no self respect and embarrass her.

I don't have any doubt in my own self respect. I know I have achieved a lot in the last few years (put myself through college) and overcome quite a lot of hardship (bereavement and a relationship breakdown). She knows of what I've been through tso for the words that came out of her mouth tonight, it seemed to me to just be pure nastiness. Like she really just wanted to hurt me. Again.

The thing is, she gets on great with my other two sisters and makes sure that when anyone else is around that she is civil to me. She also is a lot of fun, great sense of humour and my two other sisters enjoy her company a lot. When I've tried to explain over the years how she attacks me I get told I'm being paranoid and hyper sensitive.

The cycle goes on, and on . We are great friends, then apropos of nothing she starts lashing out at me, I get hurt, withdraw, heal and then gravitate towards her again.

This time (and it's been a pattern for almost ten years now) I've decided as much as I love her, and miss the good times we share, I want her out of my life permanently. The psychic damage her tongue lashings have on me are too much to take any more. I just want to have a simple life.

Problem is, we're a close knot family and my withdrawal will be noticed.. According to the sister in question, the other siblings are all embarrassed of me anyway and only contact me out of obligation and pity. It is true, I would say, that they dont seem to have the same respect or affection for me as they do for my middle sister.

I'm considering severing all ties with all my sisters. It pains me to thinks about it, but I feel rejected, misunderstood, embarrassed, hurt and angry.

I'm not perfect by any means, but I don't recognize myself in the tirades of insults that fall from my sisters mouth. I've tried asking her where it all comes from and she just tells me it's the truth and nobody else is brave enough to confront me.

I don't know what to do. It seems like I either stick with the family and put up with her outbursts that really hurt me (so much) or I sever myself and cause a rift in the family. Last year I put my sister out my life for 11 months after some particularly bad behaviour from her, I got blamed for causing a family rift but managed to maintain good relations with my other sisters. They all stayed in touch with her too though, despite the things she did and said to me. As much as I can understand their diplomacy, it left me feeling... alone.

For my own peace of mind I want nothing more to do with my sister and if that means cutting off my other sisters as well, it seems to be the only option.

There's little support for me from my family, they're just trying to be diplomatic and dont want to take sides which I can understand in theory. I'm starting to believe that really, as hard as it would be at first, perhaps it would be the best for all concerned if I just took myself out of the family equation. My mum will be upset, but I just cant keep going through this emotional wringer.

I've explained this badly, rattled on for ages and there's so much more to it but it's late and I just needed to get this out of my head for now.

If anyone actually reads this screed, I 'd appreciate any opinion.

View related questions: best friend, christian, kissing, money, text

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 January 2011):


Your sister who is close says and sends bad words to you...text messages etc...

I think deliberatly trying to hurt you ...and using TRUTH as her cover......truth can be delivered in a way NOT to hurt someone...Your sister delivers her truth to HURT. So she is wrong even if some of it is true....she should not WANT to hurt you.

Spunky Monkey.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 January 2011):


Siblings....yes sound's very familiar :(

For now i would cut ties before it develops into a real family fallout. Stay civil lay low and get on with your life. Pointless trying to put your side can bet the truth will be distorted and twisted to make you look bad...and you will be provoked into arguments that will leave you with mud on your face. If you withdraw you may even find that your lulled back and off it starts again but different tactics to try and trip you.

This is a time of trial for you and you must not fall....keep hold of the love and special memories and understand there is a secret jealousy behind all this... for what ever reason..and in some way your sister blames you....none of it is real it is HER ILLUSION , you stay to your truth of love or bitterness and hate ENTER and destroys family. Love from a distance can may be ready to leave the tribe!!!!!!

Withdraw gradually but never shrink....become who you are meant to be and keep growing your sister will eventually find her own pathway. Never feel bad it stops growth and brings on the shadows.

Good Luck it's a hard journey this one :)

Spunky and never loose the real love for your family.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 January 2011):

Hello, original poster here. I'm grateful for all responses so far. Three different perspectives and wise words in all.

To the anonymous poster - I don't want to ditch the family but according my sister I'm a humiliation to them all and none of them have the balls to tell me the truth because they all fear my reaction. She might be right. I don't think my behaviour has ever been embarrassing but I'm quite liberal and they are all fairly conservative. It's not like I've been having sex up against the town bus shelter but I've been free and easy over the years. I don't like the idea of being a source of shame to my family, and if I quietly step away it could be the best for all concerned.

Miamine - Sisters argue all the time yes, but we don't 'argue'. Out of the blue she will chose her moment then either phone me up (as she did yesterday) and release a torrent of vitriol down the receiver or alternatively send me a succession of poisonous texts, sometimes saying things like 'I hope you burn in hell' 'You are a c**t and deserve to be unhappy'. Yesterday her main complaints were that 1) I have zero compassion 2) I'm lazy and expect everything for free 3) I have no self respect 4) All her friends hate me, my friends dont even really like me and that's because Im the least friendly person she's ever met and 5)the whole family are ashamed of me.

I didn't argue with her, I just asked her where this was coming from to which I got 'Its the TRUTH, you are in denial, you are completely unaware of your true self'

I don't think any of those insults are completely true, I know I've worked hard, have many good long standing friendships, and have as much empathy as the next woman, if not a little bit more on account of my hyper sensitivity!

The trigger I suspect is that she thinks I've had an easy life (I assure you I haven't) and she's had such a hard life (that's not true either). Our Dad has got a soft spot for me which she throws in my face at times like this and... I went out one night last week with a guy we all grew up fancying. I stupidly thought that she would be pleased for me when I told her that happened and how it had ended in a kiss. . but she went cold on me and just said 'Oh I knew I couldn't trust you' which doesn't make sense as none of us had any particular right to this guy.

She's now claiming that she doesn't give a flip about bim and she's just highly disappointed that I disn't have the self respect to say no. I'm a grown women as she says and shouldn't be out kissing boys like that, willy nilly. It's embarrassing for her - and the rest of the family too .

You're correct in saying I'm sulking, but really this has happened so many times and it's always the same pattern. Best friends for a short while, then she flips out and viciously attacks me (has been phyiscal in the past as well, again completely unprovoked - was making dinner when it happened). It hurts too much to keep going on in this cycle, which is why I am considering other options now. After all, isn't doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results the very definition of insanity.

I don't give up easily on people I love, but I am really sad to say I don't believe our relationship can ever be healthy.

Looking for jobs overseas today. I think an ocean or continent or two between me and the rest of my family would help a lot.

Thanks Wornoutmoomy for the advice on my Mum too and I'm glad things worked out for your situation. I probably will be less likely to exclude my parents, would rather just keep them at a distance (occasional phonecalls etc) . It's only my 3 sisters who are causing the hurt. The one I have the main problem with bitches about the other one a LOT also, (but just behind her back), and the youngest one is a diplomatic peace maker who agrees/empathises with everything everyone else says, which makes her everyones friend but just as two faced as the other two. I want away from that whole set up, and figure I just maybe need to reconsider a life of monogamy and my own family. Never really appealed before but I would like to start something new and loving for myself... Sick of negativity, want no further part of it.

I really appreciate the time you all took to share your views.


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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 January 2011):

I am one of 5 girls and have the same issue with my sister who is between me and my youngest sister. She seems to think she's gods gift to earth and always right which means that... Well, I'm always wrong.

What I've come to realize is that we don't pick our family, but they are our family. As the "big sis" we have responsibilities to our younger siblings, and there's nothing really that you can do about it.

What I do to deal is just not get into things with her. I don't tell her much about my life and I don't get involved in giving her opinions on hers. I'm here for her to talk to and acknowledge her, but if I don't get involved - she doesn't get upset. With regards to the money - when things are better with her - you can ask her about a payment plan. Otherwise drop it and know not to do it again.

You can't really ditch family when you're the only one with issues with her.

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A female reader, Miamine United Kingdom +, writes (27 January 2011):

Miamine agony auntYour upset and your venting. Sisters fall out all the time. Cut her out of your life (and the rest of your sisters) and you'll isolate yourself, and feel guilty when your parents, aunts and uncles die off. You'll be a stranger because you ran away.

Families fight all the time, that's what families do. It takes a hell of a lot of effort, time and wisdom to learn to fix things. Usually things get better as you get older.

Your other sisters aren't involved, it's not their issue. You two are not kids anymore. Dear cupid and the rest of your family aren't going to listen to "she started it first, I'm never talking to her again....."

You need to learn how to communicate together. She don't like your lifestyle, well tough, your not having sex with her and she aint your mother. What she thinks is her opinion, just tell her your not interested.

If she wants to spend her life embarrassed by what other people do, then she'll be doing a lot of watching, and miss life as other people take action.

You don't need her good wishes. Stop looking for her to validate your life. You makes your choices, you take the rewards and the consequences.

Never lend money to family. It causes resentment. But since you done it, it's not a loan, your a kind sister who gave her some money as a gift. Write it off and don't do it again.

You say that she just suddenly starts insulting you... mmmm.. takes two to make an argument. What did you say to her.

Put yourself in your sisters shoes. How does she feel about things, what upsets her, what hurts her and makes her lash out. When you walk in another persons shoes, it's easier to understand them.

If she is rude and puts you down. Stand up for yourself. Tell her right there and then. Ask her to come to private room with you and then tell her how she hurt your feelings, how she makes you feel small. You wish she wouldn't talk to you that way. Use "I" statements. Don't argue, just tell her how your feeling. Ask her if you upset her in anyway. Don't look for revenge, look for understanding, honesty and the ability to heal things.

You argue with your sister. Happens all the time. You like her enough to party and be friends sometimes. You'll be friends again in no time. Walk away, and your family will suspect (and I think they'd be right) that your sulking. Learn to talk properly about your disagreements and upsets and dump all this negative talk. You change and she will change and your relationship will become more positive.

Good luck, it's worth the effort and in time you'll find that your relationship with her improves.

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A female reader, wornoutmommy United States +, writes (27 January 2011):

wornoutmommy agony auntok :) Put a smile on, you're not the first in this area!

I severed all ties to both my best friend (through school) and with my entire family. I have not seen my friend since we graduated almost ten years ago, and have just recently (this week) been talking to her and have arranged to see each other this spring.

When I severed ties with my family, it was over my divorce. They preferred my ex to me (their daughter) because I left the relationship. I'd left because he'd sexually abused me, but I was too embarrassed to say anything, so my family didn't understand my 'betrayal'. I didn't talk to them for almost four years. Yes, It is hard and depressing to take the step. For me it was necessary- I was given space and time to 'grow up' and so were they (my mother especially).

If your mom will be upset, tell her that you need a break from everyone harassing you and that its nothing personal, ask her to keep you posted with what happens in people's lives but to not pressure you to come back until you're ready. Trust me, I swore up and down that I would never talk to either my mother or my friend from school ever again! Now my mom is my best-friend, and my friend and I are having babies just a couple months apart.

Do what you feel is necessary for YOU. It will not be easy, but it does get better.

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