How to get my bf’s brothers to see me as a sister?

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  • This topic has 11 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by Bess Marvin.
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  • Anonymouse
    October 16, 2023 at 6:18 am #1126255

    My boyfriend and I (we’re 21 and 20 respectively) have been together for a little over three years. For context I have only immediate family I know, I’m close with my mum
    and I have a respectful and pleasant enough but complicated relationship with dad (as do my mum and sister). I have an older sister who lives out of state – we also have a distant, complicated but surface-level pleasant relationship but for entirely different reasons. Point being I’m not close with any of my own family except my mum, this is fine. So I don’t have any siblings my bf and I could do a group both families bonding thing, and I’ve never known any of my sister’s partners, or had any guy cousins or anything that would help me here.

    I really like my bf’s two brothers, one is 23 and the other 16, and I wish I could be closer to them. I know it might happen in time, a very long time, but the older brother had a gf for 5-6 years and my boyfriend never once thought of her as anything more than an acquaintance and thinks his younger brother felt the same. It’s embarrassing to admit but sometimes I fantasise about them seeing me as a sister to them or sister-like, or at the least very good friends. I’d honestly love it if one day they loved and cared for me and I loved and cared for them in a close friend/sibling way.

    I’m also a bit unsure of how to take the temperature of my relationship with each of them because a) I’ve only ever had close female friends and b) young guys aren’t really renowned for being forthcoming with their familial love, especially the 16yo. E.g. recently the older brother opened up to me and bf (but his brother and I did most of the talking!) about his recent breakup and I felt like that was a leap in the right direction, but the next time I came over he didn’t acknowledge me. At first I thought I did something wrong but then my bf explained that’s just how his brothers are and they would think it’s weird to greet someone every time they see them, so I feel like I don’t even know how to tell what they think of me. It’s like I speak girl language in terms of friend making and my bf has to translate half our interactions.

    Is there anything I can do to become closer to them without forcing it or seeming obvious/desparate? I’m finding it difficult because any advice I’ve seen online about becoming close with a partner’s sibling/s is advice for women making longlasting close friendships with other women so I’m at a bit of a loss.

    So sorry for the long read and literally any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    Avatar photo
    October 16, 2023 at 4:40 pm #1126270

    I think rather than try to force a more intimate relationship with your boyfriend’s brothers than they seem interested in, you would be better off focusing your energy on managing your expectations and getting your emotional needs met where reciprocity is available and offered. It sounds like you are longing for family-type people in your life and that makes sense, but you’re looking in the wrong place. Creating your family isn’t about partnering with someone and taking on their family as your own. I mean, it *can* be that, but more often, it’s about cultivating a group of people over years who uplift you and support you and challenge you to expand your thoughts and, in general, enrich your life. Your boyfriend’s brothers aren’t enriching your life. You’ve seen no really glimmer that that’s an option at the moment. Quit putting energy there and put energy into making some real friends. You can build bonds with friends that can eventually feel familial, and you have a much better chance building such bonds with people who want that, too. Boyfriend’s brothers aren’t that.

    October 17, 2023 at 7:44 am #1126272

    I agree with Wendy. You’re looking for brotherly love but expecting that from your bf’s brothers is kind of strange to me and unlikely to happen. They do view you as his gf or his friend, not a family member. I think you need to examine what you’re really wanting and find a healthy route to that, such as friendships of your own making. Perhaps you have a bit of a crush on his brothers? I don’t know.

    October 17, 2023 at 8:50 am #1126274

    You’re expecting emotional intimacy but that doesn’t always happen between adult brothers and sisters. More often, brothers are there to help in times of need where they can do something (moving, bad boyfriends, uncle-activities). They don’t typically have chit chats or share intimacies like feelings.

    I think Wendy is right – making friends will give you that outlet.

    October 17, 2023 at 10:20 am #1126278

    “…but the next time I came over he didn’t acknowledge me. At first I thought I did something wrong but then my bf explained that’s just how his brothers are and they would think it’s weird to greet someone every time they see them”

    I can’t be the only one who thinks this is weird, right? Greeting people is just a basic part of communication. Is this a midwestern cultural thing that I didn’t know was a midwestern cultural thing?

    October 17, 2023 at 11:54 am #1126280

    You aren’t a sister. Also quite possible your bf over the years hasn’t wanted his brothers getting too close to his gf. Maybe some prior competition. Maybe brothers just give their sibling and gf a lot of space.

    October 18, 2023 at 10:14 am #1126287

    I mean, I think not acknowledging someone is less strange than wanting your bf’s brothers to love you like a sister and feel hurt when they maybe walk by and ignore you? I find this situation odd and maybe the bf told the brother to back off, he’s getting too close to his gf, who knows?

    Maybe this relationship isn’t really fulfilling to you if you need more love and affection, and are craving it from his brothers.

    Avatar photo
    October 19, 2023 at 9:13 am #1126300

    A little late to this, but yes, this does seem to be a desire stemming from the state of your relationships with your own nuclear family. I don’t have the best relationship with my nuclear family, either, and I get it — it can feel lonely or like you’re missing out on something that others have. I don’t think you’re wrong for wanting to be close to your boyfriend’s family, but you can’t force it. I like Wendy’s suggestion to look for your chosen family in your friendships. A good rule of thumb in life is to invest your energy in the people who are happy to meet you halfway when it comes to building and maintaining a relationship. Your boyfriend’s brothers aren’t interested, and that’s ok.

    “Is this a midwestern cultural thing that I didn’t know was a midwestern cultural thing?”

    This made me LOL. I’m in the midwest but not originally from here and can’t imagine anyone in the Midwest doing this. I find the whole Midwest Nice thing exhausting, even passive aggressive sometimes. I was mistaken for being from the east coast often when I first moved to my current city. Like no, I’m just mean? (I’m not at all, but… you know.)

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Avatar photoCopa.
    October 19, 2023 at 10:38 am #1126303

    The first time I went to the midwest someone said hello to me in an elevator. My fight response kicked in “Why is this person talking to me? Am I about to get mugged?” until I remembered… Chicago… midwest… not East Coast… be normal.

    As for a brotherly greetings, if the dude is in another room or in a corner gaming or working – then I wouldn’t expect any acknowledgement. While you’re a guest, you’re not really a guest of the house, just of one roommate and slight head nod or hand held up as acknowledgement is about all I’d expect on a good day.

    October 20, 2023 at 10:27 am #1126307

    As someone who has brothers and has always had more male friends than female, I can assure you that you are putting way too much thought into this. You and your bf are pretty young, and if you’ve already been together 3 years you were very young when you met. Your bf’s siblings may still view this as a temporary college situation. Guys are lazy about relationships and will not bother making an attempt to get close to someone they fear may be gone in a year. Also, they have siblings, so they don’t feel your need to collect more. Stop pushing the issue, and let things develop (or not) on their own.

    October 22, 2023 at 11:32 am #1126341

    This is my north east coast take on social relations with casual strangers:

    Like, being an awkward teen or a boy and generalizing, clueless about manners is not that strange to me at all. I grew up east coast, suspicious of everyone, and feel more at ease with someone sizing me up, as well, than someone who is overtly friendly and wants to shake hands.

    I did spend about ten years+ after college on the west coast, which dimmed my suspicious nature a bit. Being back in PA (not technically NE, but east) has made me as suspicious as ever.

    That being said, I’m super friendly, talk to every shopkeeper and salesperson I know, my next door neighbor is an elderly Korean man who doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak any Korean and were like, best buddies. We garden together and share seeds, cut flowers for each other and trade cooked foods weekly. So, I’m suspicious but I trust you unless you show me I can’t. And I will say hi to you, bloody mediocrity, but not if I was 17 because I was shy sometimes.

    Bess Marvin
    October 26, 2023 at 12:13 pm #1126399

    I have been with my husband for 30 years, married nearly 25, and I consider his brothers “fond acquaintances.” We are friendly, we see each other a few times a year, hug at family events, send cards and gifts, etc.

    But they don’t consider me a sister. Because I’m not their sister! I didn’t share their childhood, etc. They’re closer to their cousins than they are to me.

    I don’t think there’s anything unusual about this. My husband chose me as his family; his brothers accept me but did not choose me as their family and I’m not part of his family.

    (For example: my husband and I have been together a long time and are unlikely to split, but if we did, I’d probably never communicate with his brothers again. That’s because we are not family, where you are enmeshed for a lifetime whether you want to be or not. If you know what I mean.)

    LW I think you need to make some good friends, female and/or male. Choose your own family.

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How to get my bf’s brothers to see me as a sister?

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