Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 1:52 am | Fair 58º


Louise Palanker: Sibling Rivalries, Getting Back with an Ex, Feelings for Stepbrother

Question from Monica

Hi, Weezy!! My younger sister is 15 years old and she is very mean to me. Sometimes when she talks to me she can be very rude and hurts my feelings. I usually try to act like her comments don’t hurt me but they do. Lately when she says mean things to me I’ve been telling her that they hurt my feelings, but instead of apologizing and trying to stop hurting me she tells me that I am too sensitive and she tells me this every single time.

I don’t know what to do. Should I just try to grow thicker skin and ignore her hurtful comments or should I stand up for myself every time even though it accomplishes nothing?

And thank you in advance for answering my question! It is so awesome of you to create something that helps so many people when they don’t have anyone to talk to!


You are so welcome. People will develop a style of being that somehow works for them. Creating one’s role in the family and in the world begins at birth, and patterns will set themselves into place that may not be healthy and may be difficult to recognize and undo.

For example, let’s explore the possibility that your younger sister began her pattern of being rude to you at a very early age because that was what would most successfully get a reaction out of you. Maybe being nasty was all her frustrated little being could figure out how to do that would give her any sense of power or control.

Let’s also imagine that you are your parents’ golden joy, and that words of praise for you were often ringing through the air as your sister entered the world. Every human needs love and attention. Isn’t it possible that your sister, at a formative age, decided that positive attention from you was too far out of reach and so she would swing for the negative?

You may be thinking that even if this picture sounds somewhat familiar and reasonable, she should know better by now. Well, people get firmly entrenched in their behaviors. Change is hard. Even the thought of it makes us feel exposed and vulnerable and stubborn.

You are not too sensitive and you should not have to develop a thicker skin. You should work toward more civility by shifting the pattern. In order to do this, YOU will need to be brave, bold and vulnerable.

Compliment your sister. Give her a comforting look and a smile when you agree with her. Say, “Good point.” Laugh when she’s funny. Ask her how her day is going. Offer to help her do something. Play a game with her. Take her somewhere. Ask her for advice.

Use the same tone of voice with her that you use when you are speaking to your friends. Do this until she returns the tone. It may take time. She may at first say things like, “What’s your problem?!!” Expect it. Stay kind and calm. Be patient and resilient. She will catch on. This is, after all, what she has wanted all along. She has just been too proud and stubborn to tell you.

We lead by example. That can be very tough to do when you feel that you have been wronged, but if you learn to do this now you will have the ability to do it throughout your life. All sibling rivalry is rooted in a competition for parental love and attention. That is just a basic, human survival instinct.

Once each child trusts that she is valued and appreciated, then she will reach out for her sister. Your sibling is your longest relationship. You two are on this life journey together. SHOW her how you wish to be treated by her. She will ultimately deeply appreciate and be better for the lesson.

And I know that it doesn’t feel that way right now, but remember that sibling rivalry CAN be adorable:

(Poke My Heart video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Ashton

Why do people get back with their exes even after being dumped by them for no real reason? Doesn’t everyone deserve better than that?​


Of course. We all deserve whatever it is we can envision for ourselves. People get back into an unhealthy relationship for a variety of reasons. Because they are still in love and because even the wrong love is an addiction. Because they feel that somehow the familiar is a better option than the unknown. Because this is what they believe they deserve. Because they can’t picture a life without this person.

The hard thing is often the right thing. Breaking free of a toxic relationships requires:

» That you muster the strength and the courage to break free of an addiction

» That you you become bold enough to be alone

» That you fully grasp that being single is far better than being in the wrong relationship

» That you do something hard and scary

» That you are able to envision yourself in a healthy relationship

Only then will you be cable of both finding what you need but also valuing what you have to offer.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Zoe

OK ... so is it bad if I’m in love with my stepbrother? Our parents are not married. They do not live together and we don’t have the same blood. I’ve known him for about four years now. and I’m pretty sure I’m in love with him. We both have this connection / flirty but that’s all. I didn’t tell him my feelings, and I don’t know if he likes me or not either.

What the hell should I do?


It’s not bad. Let’s start there. We do have societal taboos and laws that set boundaries and help protect us from incest. We tend to extend those boundaries into step-families by choice. It just helps maintain mutually understood and accepted familial roles and constructs.

However, there is no biological reasoning nor legal limitation that prevents you from dating or marrying your stepbrother. Your only barrier will be the reception of your family and friends.

So, before you disrupt that fabric, talk with your stepbrother. It’s perfectly natural for you to have this crush. You have been growing up together and your shared experiences have created this bond. You are attempting to define your bond, and you have every right and obligation to do so. You certainly don’t want this romantic tension extending beyond either of you establishing other romantic partnerships. So, go ahead and get some clarification.

You can start by saying to him, “Why do you think we’re so flirty with each other? Is it weird? Aren’t you my brother?” See how he reacts to your opening up this line of conversation. If he shuts you down and says something like, “Stop. You’re my sister.” Then you have your answer. He’s your brother. If he raises and eyebrow, gets really flirty and says, “I don’t know ...” Then start talking about how you feel and how both of your families would react to your actually dating each other.

You need resolution. So probably does he, so go ahead and get it. Then take the conversation from there.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of John Sener
John Sener
"I am known for tenacity, diligence, honesty, and sound decision making with the ultimate goal of closing every transaction to the satisfaction of all involved parties."

Full Profile >