General Question

cookieman's avatar

If you have spent 20-plus years of trying to get along with a relative, is it wrong to call it quits?

Asked by cookieman (41691points) June 26th, 2008

A close relative is a pathological liar and very manipulative. Aside from that she has a hellacious temper (often unleashed in public). I recently wrote her a very heartfelt letter explaining that I cannot abide this behavior any longer, but “left the door open” should she wish to express regret and attempt to change. That was 3 weeks ago and I haven’t received a response. What do I do next?

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15 Answers

playthebanjo's avatar

let it go. move on. it is not worth your time.

charliecompany34's avatar

at least you gave this particular relative an option. i know someone very close to me who will not show you to that “open door.”

babygalll's avatar

NOTHING! You did what you were able to do. You tried and the ball is now in her court.

I have had similar problems with family and I learned I can’t change them. They are who they are. They are like strangers in my life. I could care less about them.

Just move on people like that aren’t worth your time and energy. They obviously don’t care, so why should you.

marinelife's avatar

When we are dealing with someone like that, manipulative and a liar, it is my experience that we, the nice people, usually hang in there way too long and continue to show our soft underbellies only to have them ripped again. This type of person takes advantage of that.

It is great that you had the courage to write the letter. It was an accomplishment. Be proud that you expressed your feelings. You will need to get that affirmation from within yourself though, because this person will not respond in a positive or reasonable way. They may well, in my experience, be incapable of apologizing. Many liars also lie to themselves! Acknowledging what they have done to others means having knowledge of their real selves that they can’t tolerate in their fantasy world.

If you really are ready to move forward, you will have to be firm about the new boundaries you have created. I know how hard it is when it is family, because it is never just you and that relative. Everyone else chimes in, takes sides, etc. Plus, there are holidays and other family events. It is very hard, but persevere.

Your peace of mind and not having that sick feeling in your stomach before (will there be a big scene today?), during (it is like waiting for a bomb to go off) and after encounters with this person will be worth it!

scamp's avatar

It sounds like you have done all you can do. This person may be offended even tho you worded your letter very nicely. Manipulative people tend to get angry when someon takes the wind out of their sails. Don’t be surprised if the silence lasts a little longer. I doubt that this person will change, but at least they know what you will and will not tolerate from them. Good luck!

Knotmyday's avatar

Everyone said it.
Sometimes it’s better for all involved to tell that person to pound sand.
Aside; @cprevite- What is that thing on your icon?

cookieman's avatar

Thanks everyone for the great advice.
@Knotmyday: My icon is a large chocolate chip cookie, freshly dunked in milk.

susanc's avatar

What you do next: enjoy!!!! You’re off the hook. The ball may stay in her court for
the rest of history. Cool, cool, cool. You did good.

But there’s more.

Let’s say you must be with her at, say, Christmas. You immediately sense she is there and you feel tense. This is natural. Don’t worry. Drift over toward her, not looking at her at all, and when you get within a couple of feet of her, suddenly
notice her, put the largest most possible fake smile on your face (it must be demonstrably fake) and
say, through your bared teeth, “Oh! Hello!” Then keep walking, in a relaxed and
partyish way. This is called “cutting someone dead”. If she wants to talk to you, she can find you. If she wants to tell the family you were rude to her, you won’t be able to imagine what she might mean; you said hello, didn’t you?

Knotmyday's avatar

@cprvite- Mmmmmmm.

scamp's avatar

Great advice susanc ! I am actually doing that with someone at work right now, and it works beatifully! There is a woman who started on the same day I did on the new job. She seems to want to compete with me for some reason, and she has become quite nasty. I ignore it and give her my biggest smile daily. The others have all seen her for who she is and she is making herself a lonely woman on the job. Such a shame, but it’s her own doing.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

I have the same problem with an uncle of mine. We use to be really close. Then one day he disrespected me in my own house during one of his drunken fits. I said sorry along time ago and he still acts bitter and doesnt want to let go of his pride.

Sorry to say he’s going to be a lonely man.

bridold's avatar

I would say just move on. I know it’s hard because you are relatives, but there is only so much you can do.

scamp's avatar

You may want to send her this.

Miss_Lys's avatar

i can relate to that very much except its with a whole group of family, well at least i could tell you my dads story, well he had a bad childood grew up in bad neighbor hood but when he left he tried all he could to help out his side of the family, you know like get them an apartment, buy them a car, stuff like that but eventually they started taking that for granted and it just got to much, (mind you im talking about more than once) anyway he always tried to get along with the family but everyone just took advantage of him. what im trying to say is he hardly talks to his side of the family and believe me that effects his children (me) much because i would like to see my grandma and uncle and even his kids and that suck when it just has to do with there problem and it effects everyone else so, its your call

kornered's avatar

You have done what you can. The next move is up to her. A person can only lie down and be walked on as long as that person permits it. Once one gets up and shakes the dust off, there is no going back. The relationship should change for the better-much better. Right now it is in an hibernation stage but hopefully it will emerge into a much friendlier and happier relationship. If it doesn’t and your relative wants to pick up the pieces and continue as before-don’t allow it. Doormats are great for floors, but horrible things to be for people.
Changing a relationship is hard to do, but you have done the right thing.

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