So, my problem is that he doesn’t appreciate or reciprocate any of it. On top of that, he’s the single most touchy, sensitive person I’ve ever known. He really cannot take a joke. And perhaps one of the most difficult things in dealing with him as an adult is that he’s a misogynist and I’m a feminist and he pretty much refuses to reign in his use of words like “bitch” to describe women. He’s too dense to understand why it’s not justified and why I do not like being called a bitch (yes, he calls me a bitch despite my protestations). I know that there’s a lot of complaints here, but I’m trying to paint an accurate picture of what our relationship looks like.
I’m kind of at an impasse. Before, I would just kind of stew in my own anger every time he did something inconsiderate, but then I would let it roll off my back because I do love him and I want for him to be a part of my life. But I’ve realized now that I don’t want his ridiculous brand of selfishness and rudeness in my life. I’m not really sure how to go about this. I don’t want to cut him out of my life, and, quite frankly, I don’t really have the option because the other members of my immediate family rely on me to be a conduit between him and them because he doesn’t pick up the phone often to tell them how he’s doing. Should I quit helping him out? Should I give him an ultimatum and tell him to look elsewhere for support until he learns to treat me with respect? I want to do the right thing, both by my family and by myself. Your input is appreciated. — Oh, Brother!
If your brother makes you nuts and taking care of him or acting as a “conduit” between him and the rest of your family is creating so much resentment, freakin’ stop taking care of him and stop delivering messages back and forth all the time. Quit lending out money, quit being a shoulder to cry on, and quit doing whatever else it is you think your brother should be appreciative of and isn’t. And if you can’t stand spending time with him, quit doing that too. Limit your interactions to special occasions when the whole family is together. And if the rest of your family needs to be in touch with him so badly, they can pick up the phone and call. I just don’t understand why your assistance is needed in that regard. Surely your parents and other siblings and relatives know how to dial a number, right?
And there’s no need to give an ultimatum. I mean, seriously. What do you really think that’s going to accomplish? A bunch of drama, that’s what. And I have a little, sneaky feeling you might like the drama. Because why else keep martyring yourself by constantly taking care of an able-bodied, grown adult who drives you so crazy and never appreciates your effort anyway?? Just quit. Get some hobbies. Better yet, get a dog! A dog will give you something to care for AND it will give you a built-in excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do (“Oh, sorry brother, I can’t call mom for you/ listen to you whine/ drive you to the store/ wipe your ass because I have to walk the dog.”).
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.