Annie's Mailbox: Woman won’t talk to sister who’s dating her ex

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Dear Annie: Six years ago, my sister’s ex-boyfriend found out I was divorced. He called and invited me for a drink. I accepted with some reluctance, as I didn’t think my sister would approve, but I needed some lighthearted company after the dark days surrounding the end of my marriage. “Jim” and I had a nice time and began seeing each other.

My sister dated Jim for eight years before they split up. At the time I began seeing him, she had been happily married to a wonderful man for quite a few years.

After Jim and I had been dating for a couple of weeks, I tried to tell my sister, but she immediately shut me up and refused to discuss it. I wrote an e-mail explaining the situation and my feelings, but she didn’t reply.

Jim, along with my sister’s friends and relatives, all agreed she would get over it in time, but she hasn’t. She has not spoken to me in six years. I have sent her Christmas cards, get-well cards, etc. One birthday card came back marked “Return to Sender.” My father once asked her why she had a problem with me, and she told him she didn’t. Annie, why can’t she get over this?

— Crying in California

Dear Crying: We suspect that while your sister was dating Jim, she thought he had “a thing” for you. (And if she didn’t then, she certainly does now.) There is the additional possibility that she might not be able to deal with seeing him at family functions. Her refusal to deal with it shows a lack of maturity, and she may not want to consider that she is also jealous. However, you knew dating her ex was going to cause a problem and you did it anyway. Try apologizing for your lack of sensitivity. Tell her you miss her, and ask for another chance. You might also see if a family member can intercede on your behalf and broker a truce.

Dear Annie: My brother and sister, both in their 60s, have decided to move into a small apartment together. I find this inappropriate, and I told my brother it doesn’t look right. He disagreed. Am I wrong?

— Bad Move

Dear Bad Move: Many siblings who are single choose to live together in order to share expenses with someone they are comfortable with. We assume they aren’t sharing a bedroom, so unless something else is going on, we wouldn’t worry about it. It only becomes a problem if one sibling becomes involved with a person who objects. At that point, they can rethink the arrangement.

Dear Annie: You told “Tennessee” to let sleeping dogs lie when it came to getting a DNA sample from a grown daughter he suspected wasn’t his.

I was adopted as a baby and couldn’t find peace until I located my birth parents. “Tennessee” is already being eaten up by this secret, or he wouldn’t have written you. And if the difference in appearance is so noticeable, the daughter is not oblivious. The secret could be eating her up, too.

This is old-school thinking — that if you don’t tell the child the truth, they will not suffer. Children feel the truth, and when they are lied to or the truth is hidden, they suffer. The message she needs to hear is: “You are the product of your mother’s affair, and I love you as much as my other children.”

What a gift that would be for both of them. Even if she turns out to be his biological daughter, being honest and loving can only bring them closer by putting old doubts to rest.

— Holliston, Mass.

Dear Holliston: Most adopted children know they are adopted. This girl believes “Tennessee” is her biological father. Asking for a DNA test would turn her world upside-down, and there’s no way to know whether and how much it would hurt their relationship. Your heart is in the right place, but if Dad doesn’t plan to tell her regardless of the DNA results, we say leave it alone.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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