One of my oldest FOF friends (we’ll call her Barbara) recently called me for advice about how to handle her sister-in-law (we’ll call her Paula), and I decided to share her predicament to get your input. After you’ve read about Barbara’s problem, let me know what you’d do in the comments section.
Barbara has never liked her sister-in-law, Paula, but suffered her the handful of times she’d see her during the year. “She’s one of the most sarcastic people I’ve ever met. Sarcastic and nasty! Never has a nice thing to say to anyone,” Barbara told me.”I think she’s become an increasingly unhappy person because she hasn’t succeeded like she thought she would when she was young. She always thought she was better than everyone else, but everyone else moved ahead while her (photography) career became derailed. My brother is very successful and has supported Paula for decades, but she would have liked to be a success, too. The only problem is, with her personality, it’s no wonder she didn’t succeed. It’s really impossible to like her.”
To make matters worse, my friend Barbara is a successful entrepreneur, which seems to make her sister-in-law even nastier to her, Barbara said. “When I started my business, Paula put down everything I was doing, and told me it would never work. Imagine her telling me this. She’s failed at one business after another,” Barbara related. “Now my business is doing well. I honestly believe she would have preferred if it had failed.”
Barbara recently went to a family get-together and Paula was as unpleasant as ever to her. “What are YOU doing here?” Paula said to Barbara the second she saw her. “Even though I know she’s unhappy and can’t help herself, it’s still disturbing to be anywhere near her. I don’t know how my brother has put up with her all these years, but maybe she isn’t sarcastic to him because he’s given her a life she knows she couldn’t afford to live on her own.” Barbara said. “I guess I should feel sad about her unhappiness and rotten personality, but I don’t. “It’s all too bad, because Paula is a smart woman who had so much potential. Smart, unfortunately, doesn’t always translate to niceness or happiness. Such a waste.”
If you were in Barbara’s shoes, what would you do? Confront Paula? Ignore her? Try never to be anywhere you know she’ll be? Recommend a therapist?