My Twin Sister Says I'm Fat
Prudie offers advice on twins entangled in family rifts, rows, and rivalries.
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My fraternal twin sister always has something to say about my weight. I was the really skinny one growing up. My sister was always a tad chunky, not fat. I never picked on her, but she was always picking on me. Now we're adults, I have had three children, and I am chunky right along with her. She will lose weight for a little while and gain it right back. I have a larger waist, while she has a larger bottom half. I never say anything to her about her hips or her butt, but one day the topic of underwear came up. I happen to wear a couple of sizes smaller than she does. She thought I was lying about it. I don't know what to tell her anymore when it comes to weight. She always treated it as a competition, while I couldn't care less. What should I say to her?
—Guts and Butts
When the topic of your respective weights comes up, you need a nonconfrontational way to make clear this is a subject about which you both need to butt out of each other's lives. Of course it's hard to be the less intelligent, athletic, or attractive sibling. This would be all the more difficult if the person you are being compared to is your twin. But your childhood was long ago, and you're not even skinny anymore—and fine about it!—so it's way past time for your sister to let this go. Next time she brings up weight, tell her that there are so many more interesting things in life than the respective circumference of each of your stomachs and rear ends. Say that if she just looks around she will see that everyone's body is different and people's shapes often differ over time. And on that note, you'd like to permanently close the discussion of who wears the smallest underpants.
Dear Prudence: Stop Poaching My Dessert!
My twin, Tweedledee, and I used to be very close, have the same friends, go to the same places, and share everything. Then I messed up when I was 17 and got pregnant. I didn't tell Dee first. I told our older sister, then the rest of the family. I was the center of attention for several months. I ended up putting the baby into an open adoption, and things worked out beautifully. Except that afterward it seemed Dee had grown to hate me. Every word out of her mouth to me was terse and sarcastic, and everything I did set her off. After several years of this, Dee got some new friends and moved on with her life. I eventually found my own clique, including my future husband, and have been very happy. For the last five years, Dee and I have worked in the same office. On the surface you'd think that everything is fine, but I feel I put in all the effort to make our relationship work. I want her to realize that I didn't get pregnant all those years ago on purpose to hurt her and that she is wrong for holding it against me. What is the best way to resolve unspoken resentment?
It seems clear that Tweedledee experienced your telling your older sister first about the pregnancy as a massive betrayal. That was compounded by your life-changing event and the inevitable attention you got. It's understandable that you would seek the counsel of an older person in this situation. It's also understandable that your twin felt left behind by you. Sadly, she responded in a vicious, immature way. Even though things have been papered over, there is so much psychic scar tissue that your relationship has never been the same. Given the amount of time that has passed and the patterns that have been established, it may be too late to undo this. You might have to accept that while you are cordial to each other, your intimacy cannot be re-established. But it's worthwhile to see whether you can go from a coolly correct relationship to a warmly caring one. Take your sister out to dinner and tell her you want to have what might be a painful discussion, but it's something you wish you'd done years ago. Say that a chasm opened up between the two of you during your pregnancy. Acknowledge that you think a big part of it was your not telling her first. Tell her that if you're right about that, at the time you were dealing with shame and fear, and felt your older sister was the worldliest person you could turn to. Explain how painful your strained relationship has been and that you're sad to think maybe it will never be repaired. Tell your sister you've missed the closeness you two once shared and are hoping there's still a chance to get some of it back.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half. All is good except that his twin brother hates me. He refuses to give a reason for this and won't speak to me about it. He and his girlfriend ignore me at family events and make things very uncomfortable for me. I didn't have a problem with his brother until he called one of my gay friends the F word. He's refused to apologize or acknowledge that he was disrespectful. My boyfriend has spoken to him and I've reached out to him to no avail. I don't want to marry into a family that treats people like this, and I certainly don't want my family and friends to be around a bigot. My boyfriend and I have talked about engagement, but the situation with his brother has deteriorated and I've put all engagement plans on hold. What advice do you have?
Unless you're leaving something out, the reason your boyfriend's twin brother and his girlfriend hate you is that you called him out on his hatefulness. I hope you did it with some restraint so as not to escalate the ugliness. But however you expressed your displeasure, you were well within your rights to speak up on behalf of a friend and against crude bigotry. However, the twin's behavior is becoming ridiculous if both you and his brother have attempted to smooth things over. Genes are funny, aren't they? Here you are, in love with a decent guy, and his twin brother is a crude loudmouth. But your boyfriend's twin is just one person and his lousy behavior should not determine the course of your life. Many people have had happy marriages and good relations with the bulk of the relatives while getting along coolly, or not at all, with one or two. Be cordial and polite to the twin and his girlfriend. If they get pleasure out of carrying a grudge, let them be stuck with the full load.