Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Sibling is frustrated by one-way calling

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm in a one-sided relationship. I'm referring to me doing all the telephone calling (I live out of town) in order to connect with my sister and my cousin, who live in our hometown. I never receive a phone call in return.

It seems to me that in a good relationship I should do half the calling -- just to say hello and see how they are doing -- and they should do the same in return.

They are no busier than I am. In fact, one is retired. But they NEVER call me.

It's been nine months now since I've talked to my sister, and she keeps asking my mother why I don't call. It's the same with my cousin.

I have told them time and time again that I think good friends should call each other, so I'm assuming they don't want to call and are just being polite when I contact them.

Amy, am I being too sensitive? Should I swallow my pride (under the belief that life is short), or just move on, knowing these two just don't care to converse with me?

-- One-Way Caller

Dear One-Way: I believe that this dynamic is quite common. I also believe it is rare, in a family group, for each individual to get the exact amount of attention they would like to receive. Birth order and family dynamics going back to childhood can contribute to this, as well as something as elemental as the fact that you live out of town.

Here's what you need to tell yourself, repeat and then internalize: People do what they want to do. If your sister wanted to speak with you, she wouldn't ask your mother about it -- she would give you a call. You've established a pattern of initiating. She might be perfectly happy to catch up with you when you place the call, but not calling you -- and then blaming you for the lack of communication -- is how she holds onto whatever little slice of power she needs to possess.

It would be best for you if you didn't take this personally; this is your sister's failing -- not yours. Let her know that your own wish and preference is to be closer. If you want to talk to her -- for any reason -- then call her (those are the "life's too short" calls). Once you accept this relationship, as is, and do exactly what you want to do in the future, you will feel liberated from your insecurity.

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