The “Sibling Jealousy” Edition

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S1: You produce your prudent here, prudence. Yes, it is your proof here. Do you things that I should contact him again? Help! Help! Thanks. Thanks. Thank you.

S2: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again. And as always, I’m your host, Danny and Larry. And with me in the studio this week is Zelda Gillespie, an eighth grader who lives in Brooklyn with her two moms, two cats, two dogs and one sister. She likes baking Broadway musicals and binge watching. Zelda, welcome to the show. Thank you. I love that you put the moms, cats, dogs and sister presumably in order of importance. That sounds about right. I’m very excited to have you here today because I’ve been sitting with some of these questions for a little while. I’m excited to hear your perspective on these because I think a lot of these are like quite essential and timeless. And so I’m hoping that you would read our first letter.

S3: OK, dear Prudence, I’m an artist who makes work with combined writing in visual elements. I often send the writer written portions poem style length to a good friend who’s an editor to have him look at before I set anything in stone. The trouble is, he’s hard to pin down. I’ll send something to him and he’ll tell me. He’ll look at it the next day and I won’t hear from him for about a week. I get that he’s too busy and a maskey him to do more of his day job in his free time. But is it too much to ask him to keep his word? I’d be fired if he gave me a longer window as long as he kept losing it. I just hate the uncertainty, not knowing if he forgot or if I should bug him about it.

S4: How much fishing is acceptable when a friend is doing you a favor, which is a very like, um, eternal question. I think there’s the. I know that there are some people who feel like if someone’s doing you a favor, you shouldn’t ask them for anything either. Pay for it if you want it quickly or let your friend decide how much time that they have. And I’m curious to know, do you have a sense of what you think would be the most helpful for this person?

S5: Yeah, I think he is doing you a favor. So it’s definitely not something you should just say I need you to do this faster. That would be a bad approach. But if you like, maybe talk to me about it or like say I know. Do you? I know you’re doing me a favor. And I think and I’m very grateful for that. Maybe if you could talk to me about what your schedule’s like, maybe we can figure something out and just make sure you’re being pretty polite and careful.

S4: I was thinking something along those lines, too, and I was wondering if it might even be helpful for the letter writer when they do this, because I’m assuming, by the way, that their friend is actually happy to do this. He hasn’t complained about it. It doesn’t sound like he avoids it. It just sounds like he’s not always great at accurately guessing how much time it will take. So I’m not going to assume that he secretly hates doing it. You’re actually taking advantage of him, but I think it would maybe help to say, here’s something that I would love for you to look at. As always, I really appreciate it. How does two weeks from now sound and I can, you know, check in with you when we’re close to the date. Just as a reminder, because I think that. Giving him more time before he has to ask for it is going to be helpful. And then also taking charge of I’ll check in with you a day or two ahead and see how you’re doing with that makes it a little bit easier for him because I’m sure part of him just wants to be able to do it right away. And he’s not so much thinking about like all promise you one thing and then do something else. He truly intends to get to it. And then because it’s just free work on the side that he does, it tends to fall to the wayside when something that is his actual job comes up.

S5: Yeah, I think he is not intending. So that sounds very.

S4: Do you think it’s also worth asking like, hey, am I doing this too much like D? Do you think that that would be good to ask him whether or not this is actually workable for him or if part of him wishes you did it less?

S5: Yeah, I think that is something you could ask because it’s important for you. Yet the how what’s the best way to do this? Not just figuring out how it could be done better, but if it does seem that it’s more stress, agan takes more time and is something that it’s harder for him to do, but he just wants to help out, then you could figure it out. Work is the more detail you could get. Unlike what’s happening and what’s not happening, the better you can help your friend do this.

S4: I think that’s a good point. I know at least for me, it’s often really hard to say no to friends in a way that it’s easier for me to say no to a colleague or a stranger. So it may be helpful to check in and he may say, like, I’m happy to do it sometimes, but it actually would be really helpful if you need someone to do this like once a month or something, to think about hiring an editor to do a little freelance work for you. So given that opportunity, yeah, I think it is a good idea to like in addition to naming this schedule yourself when you ask him for a favor to also say, hey, do we do this too much? I appreciate this so much. It means a lot to me that you do this. I also want to be mindful of the fact that you have a day job and that you do this for free on your own free time. And if he says, no, I’m having a great time, take him at his word. Maybe take him out to dinner every once in a while to thank him or, you know, bake something or make something, whatever you can afford or spend all the time, something that acknowledges that he’s he’s helping you out. I think would be kind and thoughtful. But yet it’s important to say something. You can’t ask anyone who’s doing you a favor to be communicative, but you also do have to remember that they’re doing you a favor and you don’t want to treat them like someone who’s working for you yet. And congratulations on having, you know, talented friends whose judgment you value, who’s willing to do you a favor on a regular basis. That’s you’re really lucky. Yeah, definitely. All right. This next one, I think it’s my turn to read. So I will go ahead and do that. The subject is making moves. Dear Prudence, I am a woman. In my last semester of college at the beginning of the year, I met a guy through some mutual friends and I’ve had a crush on him ever since. We don’t see each other very often, but when we do, we get along well and I feel some chemistry between us.

S6: I know that he is straight and single. I tried to drop some hints that I was interested last semester, but nothing ever happened. I’ve never dated anyone and every time I try to imagine telling him how I feel. I get incredibly nervous. We’ll live a few months left together at school before we go off to work or study in different countries. And I want to make a move. How can I get over my anxiety and ask him out? If I had a solution to getting over romantic anxiety, I promise I would share it.

S4: I think that is unfortunately something that will probably always be a factor no matter how much you have dated, which is not a very optimistic way to start this. But it might help if you just have realistic expectations, which is maybe I will feel very anxious and nervous while I ask him out. That’s OK.

S5: Yeah, I agree. I think it is very anxious for there’s multiple different situations, but generally tried to tell someone something that you’ve been meaning to tell them or that’s very challenging. And I think you can approach it as if like many people I think have anxiety around talking. So if you approach it like he says, you need to know.

S4: But I think that makes a lot of sense. Like he might be also very nervous. You’re not the only one, right?

S5: Yeah. See you. You tried to approach like that thing the words elected. If the worst thing that could happen is maybe it just doesn’t work out that that’s one thing. But if you just try to think it through and really think what’s the absolute worst thing that can happen? What’s the best thing that can happen? Like it’ll feel good once you’ve asked a thing. Yeah.

S4: Wrestling with it is really hard, I think, especially because as long as you’re wearing about it, it can go wrong in a thousand different ways in your imagination. But in real life, even if it goes badly, it can only go badly once. Yeah. So that’s sort of like endlessly imagining him saying like, no. Or like you. Are you like me? That’s horrifying. I really don’t think that’s actually going to happen, but it will feel easier. I agree. I think it makes a lot of sense. If you’re nervous, just start by saying this like you can say, well, I feel a little nervous asking you, but I really love hanging out together. Would you ever like to go out? I just think that’s gonna be the easiest way to do it. If that feels even a little too straightforward and you want to give him more room to avoid it rather than rejecting you outright, you could probably say something like I feel a little anxious saying this, but I really love getting to see you if you ever want to go out. I’d be really interested. Feel free to let me know. Yeah, because that way he doesn’t even have to say yes or no. You’re just clearly saying if you would like to ask me out, I would say yes. And if you don’t ask me out, I will take that as a no. Yeah. So it gives the possibility of like we can both pretend this never happened. If we need to. And at least then I’ll know that was on purpose.

S5: Yeah. I think it just definitely better. Ask him personally suddenly ask him, but just ask him in a way that you know, once you ask. You’re going to be good. You’ll feel less stress about it.

S4: I think so, too. And I think the last piece of advice I would offer this person is totally make sense that you’re nervous. Totally makes sense that you’re a little anxious, especially because you feel like, oh, I dropped a hint and it didn’t work. You know what if what if I’m overstepping a boundary? It’s totally okay to ask somebody out. It’s not weird. It’s not rude. If they need to say no, they’ll say no. It’s okay. You don’t sound like someone who’s going to ask in such an intense or forceful way that he’s kind of feel pressure. So I just don’t think you have to worry about that. And sometimes when someone’s nervous about asking somebody out, they will present that information or request as if they think it’s bad news. Like you’re probably gonna say no. You probably don’t want to hear this. I have bad news. I kind of like you. And that’s you know, if you say it in a way that suggests that even you think it’s a bad idea, you’re not making a great case. So I would say don’t. It’s totally sweet and I think will help to acknowledge that you’re nervous, but do not present it as if it is bad news.

S7: Yes. If you presented it if it’s bad news, that might cause more stress like I did. Did he think I. I like it, but I don’t want to. Or does will that put thoughts in his head like that would probably make it like harder that. Yeah.

S4: About I think there’s a good balance to be struck between acknowledging your very real anxiety and also manifesting a little bit of confidence cause like I think you clearly do on some level believe that if you two went on a date, you’d have a good time. Yeah. So bring a little bit of that energy in addition to the nervousness. And I think that that will serve you well and it will help, I think, to do it. And if he says no, there will be a part of you that feels like, oh, my God, this is awful. And then you will also not die. You will keep living and you will realize that is just part of what happens when you are interested in people, when you ask them out and you’ll be able to carry on with your day and it won’t be the worst thing that ever happened to you. Yeah. Good luck. All right. If you would read our next letter, this one is just timeless, just timeless.

S3: Yeah. So the subject is jealous sibling Dear Prudence. I don’t know how to deal with my sibling being jealous of me. We have been very close and talk often about our respective struggles with mental illness, but she constantly feels that I have everything figured out. I can’t talk about school with her anymore because I know being proud of my grades only makes her feel more depressed. I feel like I can’t tell her about happy things in my life because then I will say I’m not depressed. I don’t make her feel worse about herself. She has admitted to me recently that is, it is hard to be around me because she feels intense jealousy toward me, that she feels awful about feeling this way, but still feels it. I don’t know what to do. I feel numb like this is something that’s my fault, even though logically I know there’s nothing I can do to make her feel better about herself. I was going to spend my vacation visiting her, but now I don’t know what to do. Do you have any advice on how to navigate this situation?

S6: So this one’s really hard, especially because the letter writer says that they’re very close with their sibling. So it’s not the sort of situation where it’s like we don’t normally talk very much. So if we ended up never talking, I wouldn’t mind. Like, you really do want to be able to maintain that kind of closeness, but it is also exhausting and really challenging when somebody else makes you feel like experiencing any pride in your own accomplishments or any happiness and peacefulness about your own life is somehow hurting them.

S5: Yep, I agree. It’s very, very difficult because you’re so close and it would be hard if figuring this out would make you less close with your sibling. I feel like if she said that she did admit that it makes her feel worse and this might not be the case. But maybe if she can talk about it more, you can figure out ways you can work it out. Or try to find common ground for conversation. Or if you could, doctor, that’s great, because if you can try to figure out any way, you can help out and make her feel more comfortable.

S4: Or I do think it helps that she’s been able to admit this to you. That’s a good first start. You both agree that this dynamic is real. It sounds like maybe she’s not quite yet aware of how hard it is for you like she may be said. This is really hard for me in the hopes that you would be able to provide her with a lot of extra support. And what you need to say is, yeah, I’ve noticed that too, and it hurts my feelings. So that might be tricky, but I just think it’s really good that you both know this is what’s going on. You both agree. So just because you two are close doesn’t mean you have to spend every phase of your life in constant contact. So I think one thing that’s important here is if you both need to take a little time to talk a little bit less. That doesn’t mean that that’s what you’re going to. That doesn’t mean that that’s what it’s gonna be like for the two of you for the rest of your life. Right. Like you can say, I’m glad you know this. I have felt it, too. It’s been really hard and painful for me. I think maybe I should make other arrangements for my vacation time. That’s coming up. And we should wait to travel together until we’re both doing better around this. Does it strike you as reasonable? Does that strike you as loving while also being careful?

S5: Yeah. That’s that definitely is reasonable. I think as much as you would maybe want to. Hey, out, sibling, try to talk to them alone. Alone time is very important because you could just think and just like not like focus on it alone who is very important. So when you’re ready to like talk to maybe discuss. Yeah. So would I think it would be a good idea to not go on vacation together, but when you’re both ready. Discussing it and figuring out the next step of how to deal with this. Yeah. Yeah.

S4: And I think, you know, it would be helpful to also say if I have talked about anything in a way that has felt like I’ve been putting you down. I hope you’ll let me know. I don’t want to do that.

S8: But absent any of that.

S6: It’s hard when I feel like I can’t talk to you about anything that’s going well in my life. I love you. I want you to be well. But it’s also important to me that I at least sometimes can tell you about what’s going on with me. It’s not an indictment of you. So, you know, I don’t know what treatment she’s in right now. Yeah. You say that you’ve both struggled with mental illness. I hope that she is seeing both a doctor and a therapist, possibly a psychologist or psychiatrist, if there’s if there’s any medication that she needs to be on. But if she’s at the level where she can’t talk to you and hear that you’re doing well in school without feeling angry and hurt, I think that that would suggest that she needs more help than just talking to you. So if she’s not getting any kind of help or treatment. I think it’ll be important to encourage her to seek some out if she already is. I would encourage her. You know, I hope you share this with your therapist. I hope we find other strategies for dealing with this. I love you and I’m here for you, but I can’t promise you that. I’ll never say I had a good time in class today.

S5: Yeah. Yeah. It’s definitely a point to keep your. I like it. It is important to make sure if she’s out, she’s gay yet because it would be understandably hard to not talk about much going on with you. So you could definitely start with not just as much, but whatever you need that would help her out. What would help her out. Yeah. Yeah.

S6: And good luck. I really do think that this is not going to last forever. If part of what she needs and you need both are to take a little time apart so that she can figure out ways to deal with her own depression and sadness and other mental health issues without feeling angry and hurt that other people sometimes enjoy their lives like. That’s good. That’s important. She needs to go take care of that. You can still love her and support her. Doesn’t mean you have to like ignore her completely. But it might mean not taking a trip together right now. It might mean having slightly shorter, more condensed conversations. It might mean just sending the occasional text off like I love you and I hope you’re taking care of yourself today. And then also trusting that she has to be the one to seek help about this. You can’t make her life any better by downplaying your own life. Yeah, yeah. And good luck. It’s hard. It’s hard. And I hope that, you know, you don’t have to feel guilty about doing well yet. Good. Yeah. Sell the. Thank you so much for coming by the studio and helping us sort through some of this.

S5: Thank you for having me.

S4: Yeah, it’s been delightful. You know, Phil is the best. And so I love that we’re just expanding the general family. And I hope eventually we get all of your relatives on the show at least once. Yeah.

S9: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence, our producers, Phil Circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. Don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate dot com slash Dear Prudence to subscribe. And remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus, go to Slate.com slash pretty pod to sign up.

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