I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a long time. The only problem I have is with his sister. She is such a negative, evil person. Yes, I wrote evil. She never has a nice word to say about anything or anyone – not about a simchah someone made, what someone wore any day of the week, good news she would hear about someone, etc. She constantly speaks badly of people. She doesn’t just talk about people; she’s vicious when she speaks about them. And, of course, she is two-faced, because out in public she is smiling and nice to everyone. I can’t stand it. I can’t be around someone like that.
Last week was the final straw. I couldn’t take it anymore. I learned to tune her out because it hurts that she never has anything nice to say about anyone. Who knows what she says about me when I’m not around. So, what happened last week? She said something horrible about an almanah and her children. I told her then and there that she had a black neshamah. She looked at me stunned. I wasn’t prepared for my own outburst, but I also told her that I’ve never met anyone who never has anything nice to say about anyone, and her negativity was toxic. Since then, you can imagine, I’m not on the top of her “love list.” I couldn’t care less. I don’t want someone like that in my life. But now that I opened my mouth, and it was in front of my boyfriend and another few people, she is acting very hostile. But I couldn’t take her railing on an almanah. The Torah says that we should protect almanos and orphans because they don’t have anyone to defend them. Hashem is their defender.
My worry is that now she will have it out for me and will say negative things about me, true or not, to my boyfriend. I don’t want whatever she says about me to affect his feelings for me. Actually, I know she will make me her next target and they are siblings and are close. Whenever I asked how he can be around her when she is so mean, he always shrugged and said, “I can’t control her.” I’ve been with my boyfriend a long time. We love each other; do I have to worry about his sister playing dirty and that it’ll affect my relationship?
Sarah, thank you for your letter.
Good for you for standing up and saying something on behalf of the almanah and her children. I don’t know what hate the sister was spewing, but you’re correct: They have no one to defend them and so Hashem is their defender.
You used a few terms that really drove the point home for me. You described your boyfriend’s sister as negative, evil, toxic and told her she had a black neshamah. Those are very strong words. And words count. You can say, “I broke the glass” or “I smashed the glass.” In both scenarios the glass is in pieces, but it’s the descriptive way that it happened that separates the two phrases.
My short answer to you is: No, I don’t think you have anything to worry about where your boyfriend is concerned.
My long answer: The best I can tell you is to try to limit your time around this woman. I understand that you’re dating her brother and there are times when you will have to be around her, especially if the two of you marry. Her family knows that she’s a bitter Negative Nelly. Maybe they’ve tried to tell her to stop over the years or not, when your boyfriend said that he can’t “control her,” which leads me to think that this conversation was had in the past and it went downhill fast. Because family knows her and how she operates, I’m sure that whatever she says about you won’t even go in one ear and out the other because they won’t listen to her. You’ve been dating for “a long time,” so his family knows you; and if they know what you said to her, they may even expect her to wage a war of words against you.
Have you ever asked your boyfriend why his sister has to tear into people and rip them apart? Why can’t she just say, “I just came from the Goldberg bar mitzvah. It was nice,” and leave it at that? According to what you wrote, she goes into detail of what she thinks was wrong with whomever or whatever she is talking about. Did she have anything happen in her past that makes her see the worst in everything and, not only that, but to share it with her family and anyone who will listen. I’m not the type of person or therapist to say, “Maybe she’s taking first jabs, so they won’t take a jab at her first” or “It makes her feel better about herself when she speaks poorly about others,” because she isn’t insulting them, she is talking about them to a third party. Does she want people to agree with her opinion or does she just want to be heard? Maybe she’s mean just because it makes her feel good. It could be as basic as that, but I can’t say. I’m not surprised that she is two faced, and is nice to others in public. She would be a pariah if people really knew what she thought about them or what they did or their simchah. Her attitude goes against how the Torah tells us to treat others, especially the yasom and the almanah.
But she is not your problem. You are dating and love her brother, not her. Do you really think you have anything to worry about if she starts badmouthing you to her brother? How do you know she hasn’t done so many times, and still he loves you? I’m sure she has said something about your clothes, hair, job, family, personality. I don’t think anyone escapes her circle unscathed, and that’s a really sad thought. This is the chance for you to see how much your boyfriend cares for you. Will he tell his sister to keep quiet about you? Will he let his sister drone on and on about you, but not really listen? Will her negativity spread like a cold to others? I don’t think so. Like I said earlier, you’ve been with your boyfriend for a long time, and he knows his sister well. I’m sure he expected this.
You may roll your eyes at this, but I have to say it: It is never wrong to do the right thing. You did the right thing by saying something. Should you have done that with others around? Did you compound the issue because you may have embarrassed her? I won’t address that because it’s done; and from what you’ve written, she doesn’t seem to mind who hears what she has to say. I can’t believe no one has ever told her to stop being negative or stop talking about people. But you did it. The ball is in her court, although you aren’t playing any games with her. She can say and will say whatever she wants about you to whomever she wants.
Remove her and her toxicity from your life. She is your boyfriend’s sister, so that may be a little tricky, because I wouldn’t give your boyfriend the ultimatum of “either she’s in your life or I am. You can’t have both.” But you do not have to see or speak with her if you don’t want to. It’ll be hard to avoid her because she is his family, but no one said you have to buddy up with her. You can avoid her in a crowd, not sit next to her at a seudah, etc.
Hatzlachah to you all.