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How to deal with an asshole brother?

CambiataCambiata Social Justice RogueRegistered User regular
edited January 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I come from a rather large family, and semi-annually I get to see most of my siblings and their children. I get along well with most of them, but I have this one unrepentant asshole of a brother who is basically intolerable to be around. We'll call him "Jimmy."

Initially, I resolved this by moving to a different town from "Jimmy," and I figured that with distance he would seem less grating, that I'd be able to deal with his madness more easily. He is the sibling closest to me in age, so there's more baggage with him than with any other sibling, which could cause bad feelings. The problem is that he really is anti-social, I'm not just manufacturing it based on our relationship. When I don't see him for 6 months, I have a tendency to think, "Oh he's not as bad as all that. I'm sure he's just a guy like any other. And having kids has probably mellowed him out and given him some empathy." But then I arrive at my hometown and he instantly makes me regret any kind feelings I had toward him.

Some of his transgressions:
- Slapping our sister "Sharon" on the butt (she's 39, he's 35)
(This one creeped me out quite a bit. Brothers should not be touching their sister's asses.)
- Meeting girls other than his wife to work out with and be texting buddies with, and telling his wife that "this is the American way and she just doesn't understand." (his wife is from Taiwan) Note also that his wife supports him, he has no job.
- generally being a rude dick to everyone, and then whining about how everybody hates him for "no reason." This has been a constant with him for as long as I can remember.
- In the midst of a disagreement with my brother "Randall", it was requested by "Randall" that my opinion be sought on the subject. This is after I heard no part of the conversation and didn't even know that they were arguing. "Jimmy's" response was, "What's the point in asking her? She's a psycho bitch." (Granted, you have no way of knowing whether I am legitimately a psycho bitch or not since none of you know me. It still wasn't a nice thing to say, especially when I hadn't provoked it)

I can't really give details as to the years of crazy from this guy, because it would take too long. Suffice it to say that nearly everything that comes out of his mouth in recent years is fecal, and that he has managed to offend nearly every member of my family. This past holiday, I suggested to my mother, without malice, that I think he needs therapy.

So my question is, how do I deal with his unpleasantness and still have happy times with the rest of my family? Do I just act like he hasn't spoken, or is that just inviting more of such comments? Do I simply avoid him at all costs? (Not always possible). Certainly arguing with him is pointless. My father, who is an old fashioned "man's man" type, thinks that I should slap "Jimmy" if he says things like that to me. I pointed out that "Jimmy" might very well slap me back. When he slapped "Sharon" on the butt, she got her football player son to put "Jimmy" in a choke hold until he tapped out, as a means to let "Jimmy" know that he was being inappropriate. But frankly, I do not think violence will help this situation. "Jimmy" does not have a good sense of what is appropriate socially and what is not, unless you copy his acts and use them on him, then suddenly he understands immediately what's wrong with saying/doing those things - yet he can't seem to apply that knowledge to himself. At this point I have no interest in trying to help him figure anything out, I just want to know how to deal with him without losing my happiness at visiting my other relatives.

Cambiata on
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Posts

  • MagicToasterMagicToaster Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    What's wrong with slapping your sister in the butt? I do it constantly, it's not a big deal.

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  • ChillyWillyChillyWilly Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Well, the simple answers are already in your post.

    * Avoid him as much as possible

    * When he says or does stupid things, don't rise up against him in anger or annoyance. He sounds like he might be the type of person who just likes bothering people and giving him any indication that he's doing so will only provoke him further

    * You say that your entire family has been offended by him at one time or another. This may be a bit extreme, but have you ever discussed having an intervention-esque get together with your family and trying one last time to get him to change before just disowning him and moving on with your life? Surely the rest of your family has a stake in wanting to make this guy less of a prick.

    It's very possible that he is just a straight up asshole and will never change. Some people are just assholes.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    See him as little as possible and just get over it. Make sure his life really doesn't affect yours.
    Fuck it.

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  • FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    You don't have to deal with him. I have been the victim of an asshole brother too, who is stupid drug addict, I cut every contact and let him know very clearly that he is not my brother anymore.

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  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I have (well, had now...thank God they're separated finally) this uncle...

    ...I'm just glad he's not a brother! (Or blood relative for that matter).

    I think it's pretty much what you said, do all those things. Another thing you can do is to start making it uncomfortable for *him*. Not in the same way, obviously...that'll just rile him up. But every time he does something anti-social, sit him down and have a one-on-one about how that was inappropriate.

    I know, sounds like a suck of a deal...but he'll hate it too. Who knows, it could work...

    ...although I doubt I'd have the balls to pull it off.

  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    To be honest? Your sister was completely off base in bringing her kid into her argument and using him to physically harm your brother instead of talking to him about it. If this is how your family deals with each other then I'm not surprised you guys have some difficulty.

    Here's a crazy idea, talk to him. Tell him he's your brother and you love him and it hurts you that you're not close. Tell him why you there's the distance and ask him if he really wants a relationship or if he's really willing to lose a sister because of his behavior.

    What the rest of your family does is up to them and if you do the big intervention someone suggested he isn't going to respond well to being ganged up on and it will not go well at all.

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I really don't get why he's such an asshole from the examples in your post. I mean, he doesn't sound like a cool cat or anything, but you built it up like he's the biggest fucker ever and then gave mild examples of minor douchery.

    Anyway, Vision knows what's up.

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  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Just grit your teeth and minimize contact with him. You're not going to change a person like that. Interventions are for people with addictions or compulsions, not people suffering from the life-long untreatable condition called 'being an asshole'.

    I also don't suggest completely snubbing him at those family gatherings, because you don't want to be the focal point of his rude behavior.

  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah, I'm seeing a few more red flags than just your brother. Putting him in a chokehold, your father advocating you to slap him back.

    What's wrong with working out with girls other than his wife? Is he sleeping with them? In college I had a group of six that I worked out with to keep motivated. Two of them were girls that were not my girlfriend.

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  • BEAST!BEAST! Adventurer Adventure!!!!!Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah...my brother (32) slaps mine (dude) and my sister's asses all the time. It's just how he is, he's always played team sports and got used to it...he doesn't do it to be creepy, he just does it.....if your sister doesn't enjoy it she can sure TELL HIM this, but past that I see nothing wrong there.

    And working out with women other than his wife causes issues? huh? The main people I work out with are married ladies, I hope their husbands aren't jealous of this because uhhh...we're just working out...

    These sure seem to be regular things, yeah he probably shouldn't be calling you a psycho bitch but if you don't like that then tell him and don't deal with him if he continues. Seems like a lot could be solved with just some communication....

  • DoraBDoraB Registered User
    edited January 2011
    You can't "fix" your brother, and if talking to him doesn't help and your family isn't interested in cutting him out of their social gatherings, but you still want to go, you're going to have to learn to deal with him; whether that means ignoring him or taking everything he does with a fixed, blank expression is up to you. His behaviour sounds unpleasant, but it also sounds like a lot of people are enabling him either by retaliating inappropriately themselves or just letting it slide. It's not your job to champion them, and I really don't think you should be letting him ruin your time with your family.

    If you DO decide to talk to him (and you should at least try), don't go in angry. Don't bring a bullet list of his negative qualities, and don't tell him he's an asshole. It's just going to make him defensive and blow the whole thing up in your face. Maybe see if he wants to meet to talk somewhere neutral, like a restaurant or something, and go in with the old, "I know we always don't see eye to eye, but we're family, and I'd like to enjoy hanging out with you and everyone more often." You can tell him that some of his behaviours rub you the wrong way, and if you feel like being generous, you can even point out that you probably get on his nerves too. There is every possibility that, rather than seeing the light, he might blow off your concerns and carry on with how he's been acting. But if by any chance you guys can come to some sort of "agree to disagree"-ment and he agrees to tone down his behaviour, it's a chance worth taking, and at least you can say you tried. If not, there's not much you can do other than avoid him and spend as much time with your family when he's not around as you can.

    My brother is an asshole too. And I don't just mean he can be a jerk; he's stolen from everyone in the family, he's rude, obscene, likes to start fights, and will never, ever grow up. It's just how he is, and unfortunately, some people are perfectly happy to be like that and the only thing that is going to make them change is a massive unpleasant life experience brought on by their own actions. You can't let it get to you personally.

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    The examples you gave about your brother's bad behavior come off, at worst, as somewhat annoying and boorish. But not really extreme.

    The craziest example you gave was this:
    When he slapped "Sharon" on the butt, she got her football player son to put "Jimmy" in a choke hold until he tapped out, as a means to let "Jimmy" know that he was being inappropriate.
    But in that case, "Jimmy" was the victim of what could be characterized as domestic violence and/or assault.

    Does your family commonly use violence to resolve problems?

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  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Figgy wrote: »
    I really don't get why he's such an asshole from the examples in your post. I mean, he doesn't sound like a cool cat or anything, but you built it up like he's the biggest fucker ever and then gave mild examples of minor douchery.

    I know, I know, it's hard to get a lock on this with the small examples I've given. It's also hard for me to explain because I'm not the type of person who holds on to a memory of being hurt forever. There have been times that "Jimmy" has caused me to cry, he can see I'm crying because of what he says, and he still doesn't apologize or even acknowledge that there's anything wrong with what he said to me, rather he thinks it's my fault that I had a reaction. Yet, I can't call up those details because I forget and move on with my life rather than dwelling and remembering.

    So for the most part, there are just these minor douchery examples, but they occur as a constant. So it's the Chinese water torture, thing - a constant bombardment of douchery.

    Example from when we both lived at home: I used the microwave, and he was waiting in line to use it. While he's waiting he starts trying to have an argument about my placement of food in the microwave. I did not care about this and didn't think it was worth an argument, but he kept on pressing. This is the type of thing he would have followed me around the house to continue trying to argue, were it not for the fact that "Randall" was around and redirected "Jimmy's" attention.

    Another example, from after he moved out: He is visiting my parent's house to play a video game on our parent's computer. My 14yr old niece comes over to do her homework on our parent's computer, because her family doesn't have internet at home. When she first arrives, "Jimmy" says he will be "just a minute." An hour later she is still waiting, and it's getting late. I go to "Jimmy" and tell him he needs to let her do her homework. Again with the "just a minute." Finally I have to threaten to unplug the computer so he'll get off. He still won't, until I actually started reaching behind the desk to get at the plug. There were other times, when i wasn't there to stop him, that he basically did not allow the nieces and nephews to use the computer at all, because he was gaming.

    Another example: His wife is arriving from out of town, while a lot of the family is at a swimming pool together, including "Jimmy." "Jimmy's" wife is trying to get a hold of him because she needs a ride from the airport. "Jimmy" doesn't have a cell phone, so she calls my parents at home, who call my cell phone. My mother tells me that "Yolanda" (as we'll call his wife) is waiting for "Jimmy" to come pick her up. I tell mom that I'll let "Jimmy" know. I tell him, and he says, "No, she's getting a ride from a friend." I tell him that "Yolanda" JUST CALLED to say she needs a ride from him, and he still insists that she's getting a ride from someone else. So I call my mom and tell her that "Jimmy" is not going to do it, so she takes care of it instead.

    Basically the way Jimmy acts is without empathy towards others, and this includes his young son. It's as if he is the only human being he knows, everyone else is like a cardboard cutout in his life who are there as scenery and nothing else. Like his life is a video game and we're the NPCs. It's one of the reasons, I think, that he gets bent out of shape when someone says something to him that he's recently said to them. He can say what he wants to an NPC, they won't get hurt by it; but OF COURSE he'll get hurt by it, he's a real person!
    Here's a crazy idea, talk to him. Tell him he's your brother and you love him and it hurts you that you're not close. Tell him why you there's the distance and ask him if he really wants a relationship or if he's really willing to lose a sister because of his behavior.


    Of course we've tried talking to him. I have several times, others in my family have. What he usually takes from these discussions is that the problem is with us, not him. They are also confirmation in his mind that none of us "like him", and therefore he can dismiss anything we have to say. In fact, it's difficult to say if he even hears what anyone is telling him. The last time we had this discussion, he took from it that we don't like his mustache. Seriously. I blame "Randall" for this, in his attempt to get "Jimmy" to see he's being anti-social, "Randall" had to go and say that the bad mustache that "Jimmy" was sporting at the time is "proof" of his being anti-social. Dumb. All it did was make "Jimmy" focus on the mustache aspect, rather than the "you're being anti-social" aspect. That was one fucking weird discussion, the parts I heard of it. "Jimmy" kept insisting that because Tom Selleck looks good in a mustache, then so does he, and he kept going back to saying that, repeatedly, even after "Randall" said "I don't care about the mustache!." It sounds funny if he weren't so deadly serious about it.


    As for "Sharon", maybe she shouldn't have done what she did. She felt physically violated when he slapped her. I guess other people have different relationships with their siblings, but in ours there's no slapping of the butts, not between brothers and certainly not between brother and sister. Also on her part, there was a level of the Chinese water torture thing again - "Jimmy" had been wearing on her all day long and the slapping bit (he also said "ghetto booty" as he did so, which again, probably would sound funny if "Jimmy" wasn't so socially aggressive. Also the ladies in our family our a little sensitive about the size of our behinds, even though "Sharon" is a fox and has no need to be worried about it) was the last straw. She did feel bad about it later, but at the same time all of us wonder how physical "Jimmy" might start getting if we don't nip that shit in the bud. I mean, I understand what you're all saying about how it's appropriate in your family circles, but it's really, really not appropriate in ours, it's an invasion and kind of a scary one. Every social circle is different.

    In case you can't tell, most of the shit I mentioned in the first post happened on the same night. It was that night that decided me that trying to be anything but an acquaintance to "Jimmy" is a mistake, and that trying to talk to him about his issues only makes things worse.
    whether that means ignoring him or taking everything he does with a fixed, blank expression is up to you. His behaviour sounds unpleasant, but it also sounds like a lot of people are enabling him either by retaliating inappropriately themselves or just letting it slide. It's not your job to champion them, and I really don't think you should be letting him ruin your time with your family.

    This is the best advice so far, thank you. There is definitely a lot of enabling going on. I guess what I was hoping for are some coping mechanisms... how do I absorb his behavior and not be affected by it?

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  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Modern Man wrote: »
    The examples you gave about your brother's bad behavior come off, at worst, as somewhat annoying and boorish. But not really extreme.

    The craziest example you gave was this:
    When he slapped "Sharon" on the butt, she got her football player son to put "Jimmy" in a choke hold until he tapped out, as a means to let "Jimmy" know that he was being inappropriate.
    But in that case, "Jimmy" was the victim of what could be characterized as domestic violence and/or assault.

    Well I get that people think this is extreme. But I've been put in a choke hold for training purposes, and it's not really painful, just a little scary. But the question is, when a man gets physical with a woman, what is the best defense for her? How does she stop the behavior, knowing that just saying to the molester "do not molest me" will have no effect?

    And I know you're going to say that this isn't molestation, but what if the person doing the slapping was her co-worker, would it be appropriate then? "Sharon" and "Jimmy" do not have the kind of relationship where his touching her ass would be considered anything other than violation. It made some of us wonder if maybe he is abusive to his wife when no one is around. He certainly treats his wife very disrespectfully in public - he treats her as a non-entity at best.
    Does your family commonly use violence to resolve problems?

    No.

    My father did spank us when we were little, I don't know if you count that as violence or not. I realize these days spanking is frowned on, so I include it for your... judgment, I guess?

    When they were much younger, "Jimmy" did once get into a fight with the brother closest to him in age, "Tim." The three of us were living at home, and "Jimmy" really wanted to beat the shit out of "Tim" for some reason, so "Tim" agreed to meet him in the park for a fight. I don't know how that ended, I only say the beginning part which terrified me. "Jimmy" also did attack me physically one time, again when we were both living at home, which caused me to tell him that if he ever TOUCHED me again I would call 911. He never has touched me since. A similar event happened when "Jimmy" first married "Yolanda". She had a teenage son, "Clint", from a previous marriage, and something happened that caused "Clint" to call 911 on "Jimmy." I was not there for that event so I don't know what it was. What I heard 3rd hand was that "Clint" was supposedly just being a brat (this is a possibility, I have no way of knowing for sure. "Clint" is a very stand-up young man nowadays, though. Very eager to move away to college, though, as anyone would be after spending a few years living with "Jimmy").

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  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I guess I would like to know, at what point does physical aggression from a brother need some kind of action, and what should that action be? Calling the police? I definitely disagreed with my father's thought that a slap would have fixed anything in that scenario, but my parents are a bit sheltered from the real world. They're in their 70s now, they lived through WWII, it's to be expected that they aren't exactly in tune with the modern world. I don't think they really thought that advice through, either.

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  • BEAST!BEAST! Adventurer Adventure!!!!!Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Where is the physical aggression from him? I thought it was her son that was physically aggressive toward your brother...........

  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    BEAST! wrote: »
    Where is the physical aggression from him? I thought it was her son that was physically aggressive toward your brother...........

    His slap to her ass, is what I was referring to.

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  • OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle and you're not happy, but you're funny and I'm tripping over my joyRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Are you sure you want to define that as physical aggression? Did he bend her over and spank her? That is the level of force needed in my mind, but I guess it's just an... opinion.

    This entire situation sounds messed up, and I don't think he is the only problem here. Choke holds? Seriously? You're okay with that?

    I guess you're not going to get everybody in therapy so maybe you should avoid them. It sounds very toxic all around.

    I'm a published writer and have a very unique and interesting writing style. I'm also sharp and witty. My profile is well-written and hilarious. My messages are likewise brilliant. And I've been doing this stuff for...four or five years. I know what "works" in terms of good internet dating writing. "Works" in the sense of leading to a "date" with a human female.
  • AphostileAphostile Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    You need to get some more examples because all I'm seeing is that he's irresponsible with his time and no one is really making any effort besides insulting him or putting him in headlocks all the time.

    And please stop referring to a spank on the butt as molestation or abuse and worrying that he's assaulting his wife or how his physical nature might spiral out of control if a spank isn't dealt with. Good lord.

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  • OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle and you're not happy, but you're funny and I'm tripping over my joyRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Good, I'm not the only one fairly upset at a butt slap among siblings being called abuse. I think perspective is needed.

    Guy sounds like a selfish asshole, but that is exactly the kind of person you can't convince of anything. Meanwhile, he has to use his parents computer to play videogames and put in a chokehold by his nephew. I think he's being punished by life enough as is.

    I'm a published writer and have a very unique and interesting writing style. I'm also sharp and witty. My profile is well-written and hilarious. My messages are likewise brilliant. And I've been doing this stuff for...four or five years. I know what "works" in terms of good internet dating writing. "Works" in the sense of leading to a "date" with a human female.
  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Are you sure you want to define that as physical aggression? Did he bend her over and spank her? That is the level of force needed in my mind, but I guess it's just an... opinion.

    Well, here's a scenario: Supposing a guy was at a party, and he saw a cute girl he had met a few times but didn't really know well, and he went and slapped her butt and said ghetto booty, all while her boyfriend watched from a few steps away. Maybe you don't view that as violence. The law at least views it as sexual assault: "Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent."

    The above scenario is what happened, except that the two people were related (but still almost strangers to each other) and the man looking on was her husband, not her boyfriend. Does this meet the criteria for being very very wrong yet? To me, and to my entire family, it does.
    This entire situation sounds messed up, and I don't think he is the only problem here. Choke holds? Seriously? You're okay with that?

    After 35 years of goading, this is the first time someone in my family gave "Jimmy" any kind of comeuppance. After being bullied most of my life from this guy, OK, I felt a little lethargic in realizing he had been given SOME kind of punishment for his behavior. I guess that's the wrong thing to feel. I guess I should learn to ignore his constant attacks against my self-esteem (of which "psycho-bitch" is only the most recent) and just realize that his opinion doesn't matter and that violence doesn't solve anything. I guess I should all-around be a better human being than I am. Granted.
    I guess you're not going to get everybody in therapy so maybe you should avoid them. It sounds very toxic all around.

    They're still family. And my parents in particularly won't be around forever, so I want to see them while I still can.

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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Hey people, lets get off our high horses.

    Some families are super close, some aren't. Just because you are related to someone doesn't mean you have the typical sibling relationship where apparently a playful slap on the ass is okay. My sister and I are best friends, and have an outstanding relationship. But I would never consider slapping her on the ass.

    VoC nailed the matter on the head, talk with him.

  • skeldareskeldare Time for adventure! Gresham, ORRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Well, here's a scenario: Supposing a guy was at a party, and he saw a cute girl he had met a few times but didn't really know well, and he went and slapped her butt and said ghetto booty, all while her boyfriend watched from a few steps away. Maybe you don't view that as violence. The law at least views it as sexual assault: "Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent."

    The above scenario is what happened, except that the two people were related (but still almost strangers to each other) and the man looking on was her husband, not her boyfriend. Does this meet the criteria for being very very wrong yet? To me, and to my entire family, it does.
    Unless he slapped her in a sexual manner, I'd say it's more assualt and not sexual assault. And even then a bit more perspective and context is needed to dertmine that.

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  • AphostileAphostile Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    skeldare wrote: »
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Well, here's a scenario: Supposing a guy was at a party, and he saw a cute girl he had met a few times but didn't really know well, and he went and slapped her butt and said ghetto booty, all while her boyfriend watched from a few steps away. Maybe you don't view that as violence. The law at least views it as sexual assault: "Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent."

    The above scenario is what happened, except that the two people were related (but still almost strangers to each other) and the man looking on was her husband, not her boyfriend. Does this meet the criteria for being very very wrong yet? To me, and to my entire family, it does.
    Unless he slapped her in a sexual manner, I'd say it's more assualt and not sexual assault. And even then a bit more perspective and context is needed to dertmine that.

    And, sorry to say, both situations would probably be handled in the same way. A stern talking to and reaching an understanding that spanking people who do not want to be spanked isn't ok.

    Maybe this thread shouldn't be how to deal with an asshole brother but learning how to communicate with difficult family members, your sister's son included.

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  • Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    It's probably better to stop trying to split hairs on various definitions of abuse and annoyance and try and address what the OP is really after: how to deal with a brother that causes more problems than he is worth.

    OP, I've had similar family problems in the past, including the "continual low-grade nonnegotiable-aggravation" that is occurring with you and Jimmy.

    The honest best solution that I've come up with is three fold: 1) Get over other people's traditional definition of family, and realize you need a solution that will work for you. 2) Avoid contact for as long as possible. Whenever a situation does arise where Jimmy might be there, honestly evaluate if the aggravation you KNOW will happen is worth the possible enjoyment of the event. Do not feel you have to go just because it's family, you have to get over that silly goose nonsense. 3) Whenever you do eventually decide to be in a situation where Jimmy will be present, always make sure there is a predetermined endpoint. Always have something else to do at 7 PM, so you have to leave. Always arrive in your own transportation, so you won't be stuck. At first this may seem immature or sulky, but the reality is that the only thing you have control over in this situation is your own presence, so control it.

    And have a look at some of the other threads in H/A about family problems. You're by no means having the hardest problems, but that doesn't mean you should just suck it up and pretend those problems aren't there. You need to find what will help you the most, even if it means offending some family members who won't be able to understand.

    Re: communication: I think the opportunity to fix communication on your own has passed. You could either see a counselor yourself for advice, or attempt to go with other family members. Because you are part of the family, it's hard to be in a position where you are trying to "fix" things because it's too easy for the asshole to decide it's your fault for stirring the pot.


    Aphostile wrote: »
    And, sorry to say, both situations would probably be handled in the same way. A stern talking to and reaching an understanding that spanking people who do not want to be spanked isn't ok.

    The brother is not 12, nor is he (officially) mentally handicapped. If you find yourself in the position of needing to educate another adult on acceptable social behavior, it's okay to decide that person is not worth your time.

    Sceptre: Penny Arcade, where you get starcraft AND marriage advice.
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  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Good, I'm not the only one fairly upset at a butt slap among siblings being called abuse. I think perspective is needed.

    Guy sounds like a selfish asshole, but that is exactly the kind of person you can't convince of anything. Meanwhile, he has to use his parents computer to play videogames and put in a chokehold by his nephew. I think he's being punished by life enough as is.
    To me, it sounds like this family has boundary issues. Slapping your sister's ass is not really all that acceptable behavior, but putting someone in a chokehold is even worse.

    I guess the question to the OP is, what are you looking to accomplish here? It doesn't sound like your brother is going to change, and it doesn't seem to me that you're looking to be friends with him or whatever.

    From your examples so far, I don't see any evidence that the guy is physically abusing anyone, or cheating on his wife or anything of that nature. He's just selfish, rude and generally unlikeable. There's no real recourse for that.

    If you don't like the guy, thats fine. It's probably best to limit your exposure to him as much as possible. He's not your problem and making him bearable isn't really your cross to bear.

    I think your family needs a bit more distance from each other.

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Look, your brother isn't a very nice guy. Not everyone is a nice person. After 35 years of this, if you haven't sat down to tell him you're not going to put up with his behaviour, I doubt you're going to now.

    You've got two options: ignore it like you seem to have been doing all these years, or avoid him.

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  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    It's probably better to stop trying to split hairs on various definitions of abuse and annoyance and try and address what the OP is really after: how to deal with a brother that causes more problems than he is worth.

    OP, I've had similar family problems in the past, including the "continual low-grade nonnegotiable-aggravation" that is occurring with you and Jimmy.

    The honest best solution that I've come up with is three fold: 1) Get over other people's traditional definition of family, and realize you need a solution that will work for you. 2) Avoid contact for as long as possible. Whenever a situation does arise where Jimmy might be there, honestly evaluate if the aggravation you KNOW will happen is worth the possible enjoyment of the event. Do not feel you have to go just because it's family, you have to get over that silly goose nonsense. 3) Whenever you do eventually decide to be in a situation where Jimmy will be present, always make sure there is a predetermined endpoint. Always have something else to do at 7 PM, so you have to leave. Always arrive in your own transportation, so you won't be stuck. At first this may seem immature or sulky, but the reality is that the only thing you have control over in this situation is your own presence, so control it.

    And have a look at some of the other threads in H/A about family problems. You're by no means having the hardest problems, but that doesn't mean you should just suck it up and pretend those problems aren't there. You need to find what will help you the most, even if it means offending some family members who won't be able to understand.

    Thank you, this all sounds like good advice, and thank you, too, for actually addressing my question.

    Because I usually stay at my parent's house when I come into town, there's no easy way to escape him. I can see now that this is a mistake. I think from now on staying at a hotel will be preferable, then I can leave when I need some distance.

    I might consider telling family that I will only appear at events where Jimmy will not be, from now on. Not sure I want to go that route but it is a possibility, and I think a wise one. This will mean much less frequent visits to family, though, so may not be feasible.
    Re: communication: I think the opportunity to fix communication on your own has passed. You could either see a counselor yourself for advice, or attempt to go with other family members. Because you are part of the family, it's hard to be in a position where you are trying to "fix" things because it's too easy for the asshole to decide it's your fault for stirring the pot.

    I guess I haven't really explained in this thread, but I have been trying all my life to learn how to communicate with him. I've tried hugging him and saying I love you and I don't want to argue. I've tried laughing and taking it as a joke when he tries to goad me. I've tried seriously talking with him. I've tried ignoring him. Basically nothing worked except moving away. Back to the video game/NPC analogy, I'm not entirely sure it's possible for me to say anything to him that he will ever care about or absorb because I'm an NPC. Nothing I have to say is of value, though he does seem to be bothered by the fact that I'm not programmed to give him constant adulation. The only way to communicate with Jimmy, so as to not lead to an unpleasant episode, is to agree sincerely with everything he says or does.
    Aphostile wrote: »
    And, sorry to say, both situations would probably be handled in the same way. A stern talking to and reaching an understanding that spanking people who do not want to be spanked isn't ok.

    The brother is not 12, nor is he (officially) mentally handicapped. If you find yourself in the position of needing to educate another adult on acceptable social behavior, it's okay to decide that person is not worth your time.

    Thank you.

    -Tal wrote:
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  • Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Because I usually stay at my parent's house when I come into town, there's no easy way to escape him. I can see now that this is a mistake. I think from now on staying at a hotel will be preferable, then I can leave when I need some distance.

    I might consider telling family that I will only appear at events where Jimmy will not be, from now on. Not sure I want to go that route but it is a possibility, and I think a wise one. This will mean much less frequent visits to family, though, so may not be feasible.

    Staying in a hotel is a great idea. I do the same thing.

    I think you're in a good place now to start considering your options. Given that, I hope you see that announcing your decision to your family regarding Jimmy might not be the best option. If you do, it's very easy for them to decide it's your fault for not loving your brother, rather than a reasonable reaction to a family problem. I'd just start making the positive decisions you have to make, and if and when your family asks you why you don't hang out around Jimmy anymore, you can have a plan on how you want to deal with it then.

    The point is that you shouldn't need your family's support or permission to make this decision. You have exactly ONE thing you get to control in your family: how much you are around. That's it. (There's a great Dan Savage talk about the concept, but about a much more serious situation.) If other people want to change so you'll come around more, great. However, I think it will backfire if your family thinks you're forcing a change rather than simply making a decision for yourself.

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  • ceresceres Just your problem OoSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Slapping someone on the ass who does not want to be slapped on the ass should be by anyone's definition an unacceptable violation, and that argument is over right now because anyone who says otherwise frankly disgusts me.

    I've got my own life and I've got my own plans
    I hope you understand, and like the way that I am
  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Because I usually stay at my parent's house when I come into town, there's no easy way to escape him. I can see now that this is a mistake. I think from now on staying at a hotel will be preferable, then I can leave when I need some distance.

    I might consider telling family that I will only appear at events where Jimmy will not be, from now on. Not sure I want to go that route but it is a possibility, and I think a wise one. This will mean much less frequent visits to family, though, so may not be feasible.

    Staying in a hotel is a great idea. I do the same thing.

    I think you're in a good place now to start considering your options. Given that, I hope you see that announcing your decision to your family regarding Jimmy might not be the best option. If you do, it's very easy for them to decide it's your fault for not loving your brother, rather than a reasonable reaction to a family problem. I'd just start making the positive decisions you have to make, and if and when your family asks you why you don't hang out around Jimmy anymore, you can have a plan on how you want to deal with it then.

    The point is that you shouldn't need your family's support or permission to make this decision. You have exactly ONE thing you get to control in your family: how much you are around. That's it. (There's a great Dan Savage talk about the concept, but about a much more serious situation.) If other people want to change so you'll come around more, great. However, I think it will backfire if your family thinks you're forcing a change rather than simply making a decision for yourself.

    I didn't think about this. Thanks for pointing it out.

    There was an incident last year, where one of my nieces, "Andy" was getting married. My parents kept badgering her to "let her know" that she "forgot" to send an invitation to Jimmy for the wedding. It came out later that she had deliberately not invited him. This was generally frowned upon in the family, and my parents said some unpleasant things about Andy at the time. I felt bad, wishing that Andy had invited him, not for his sake, but for his lovely wife and children. But I understand better now why she didn't want to invite him. Jimmy is not someone you want anywhere near such an important event in your life. Socially he's a terrible liability; he cannot function in a way that is acceptable. But I also understand it from the other perspective - "Yolanda" (Jimmy's wife) was offended at not being asked. So it probably would have been better if she could have kept it a secret, that she wasn't inviting them, because they weren't able to go anyway (Yolanda had other plans, and Jimmy just didn't want to go). But since everyone knows that she didn't invite him, now there's drama and hurt feelings.

    So whatever my choices, there's no reason to bandy them about as family gossip. I can have any number of reasons for not coming to visit.

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  • bwaniebwanie Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    lol @ everyone getting offended at the asshole being left out by people not forced to associate with him.

    reallly, how oblivious is the rest of your family to all this?

    i mean by now, at some point he must have stepped on everybodies toes?

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Cambiata wrote: »
    There was an incident last year, where one of my nieces, "Andy" was getting married. My parents kept badgering her to "let her know" that she "forgot" to send an invitation to Jimmy for the wedding. It came out later that she had deliberately not invited him. This was generally frowned upon in the family, and my parents said some unpleasant things about Andy at the time. I felt bad, wishing that Andy had invited him, not for his sake, but for his lovely wife and children. But I understand better now why she didn't want to invite him. Jimmy is not someone you want anywhere near such an important event in your life. Socially he's a terrible liability; he cannot function in a way that is acceptable. But I also understand it from the other perspective - "Yolanda" (Jimmy's wife) was offended at not being asked. So it probably would have been better if she could have kept it a secret, that she wasn't inviting them, because they weren't able to go anyway (Yolanda had other plans, and Jimmy just didn't want to go). But since everyone knows that she didn't invite him, now there's drama and hurt feelings.
    We were going to not invite my offensive uncle...and then she split up with him, thank heavens.

    I don't see the choke-hold as being that out of line. I mean, I guess it depends on how you construct the rest of the situation in your mind, but Cambiata said he had been verbally badgering her all day and generally being annoying. I picture her trying to physically separate herself multiple times (afterall, that's what almost everyone does to people like this) and finally he gets physical, which is not okay, so she gets physical.

    This really reminds me of my uncle, I've often thought that he doesn't consider anyone else a "real person". He's just always inconsiderate of others feelings...or possibly he does consider other's feelings, but only so far as his own amusement to make them squirm or suffer. My uncle (not sure about your brother) was an incessant liar. It was a common saying among my family that you could only believe about half of what he said, and the rest was an exaggeration. When he worked for my grandpa, he would go on what should be a 2-hour job and be gone all day, and then come back at the end of the day and say he wasn't finished and needed to go back the next day. His truck was often seen elsewhere (not where he was supposed to be working) during these times. My uncle is chauvinistic and racist in many of his comments...

    I listed that line of faults for three reasons: to possibly remind you of more offenses or descriptions that may help people understand the type of person he is (and it's difficult to understand if you haven't actually met somebody like this...and been forced to hang around them). To possibly help people understand better just how extensive it can be, and, honestly, because I needed to get it off my chest.

    I think the hotel is a wonderful idea. You can also try visiting your parents more on non-prescribed family-holidays. That way, your brother won't be there. You could also try to do things with your other siblings individually more, if you want to see them (and not him). The advice of always having a way to leave and a place to go is very good advice. I think most people here agree that just because he's family does not entitle him to time to abuse you. Whatever you decide to do (for your sanity) just know that "family" isn't a magic word. That relationship is just like any other, and it takes both sides working at it sometimes to work.

  • Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    bwanie wrote: »
    lol @ everyone getting offended at the asshole being left out by people not forced to associate with him.

    reallly, how oblivious is the rest of your family to all this?

    i mean by now, at some point he must have stepped on everybodies toes?

    There's a saying that "Parents are only as good as their worst child." It's pretty harsh, but I've seen plenty of families where the most needy child never gets better because the parents feel the need to keep supporting him. As parents get older, they can get even more protective because they know that no one likes "Jimmy" enough to help him after they are gone, so it causes an internal conflict. Just your normal, every day cognitive dissonance. :?

    Sceptre: Penny Arcade, where you get starcraft AND marriage advice.
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  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I think that if you don't want Jimmy to part of your life, that's fine, but I would strongly advise against telling your family that you won't attend events he will be at. That forces them to choose betwee the two of you and really isn't fair even if he is a silly goose - it just creates more drama which your family doesn't seem to need any more of.

    If talking to Jimmy about how his actions make you feel - not Jimmy, you're antisocial, doesn't work, then absolutely cut him out. Based on what you've said so far, the discussions your family has had with him seem more like accusatory attacks and I'm not surprised that nothing constructive have come of them.

  • AphostileAphostile Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Aphostile wrote: »
    And, sorry to say, both situations would probably be handled in the same way. A stern talking to and reaching an understanding that spanking people who do not want to be spanked isn't ok.

    The brother is not 12, nor is he (officially) mentally handicapped. If you find yourself in the position of needing to educate another adult on acceptable social behavior, it's okay to decide that person is not worth your time.

    Thank you.

    You are both kidding right? Talking to someone and communicating that an issue is unacceptable is equivalent to the brother being a child or mentally handicapped? Really?

    And your solution is to avoid the situation at all costs? You don't see that as being immature and not how adults deal with something?

    Oh well, approach things as you wish Cambiata. You seem to have your own view on this and only you can figure out the appropriate solution.

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  • CambiataCambiata Social Justice Rogue Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Aphostile wrote: »
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Aphostile wrote: »
    And, sorry to say, both situations would probably be handled in the same way. A stern talking to and reaching an understanding that spanking people who do not want to be spanked isn't ok.

    The brother is not 12, nor is he (officially) mentally handicapped. If you find yourself in the position of needing to educate another adult on acceptable social behavior, it's okay to decide that person is not worth your time.

    Thank you.

    You are both kidding right? Talking to someone and communicating that an issue is unacceptable is equivalent to the brother being a child or mentally handicapped? Really?

    And your solution is to avoid the situation at all costs? You don't see that as being immature and not how adults deal with something?

    Oh well, approach things as you wish Cambiata. You seem to have your own view on this and only you can figure out the appropriate solution.


    I have come to the realization, based on the responses in this thread, that there are people who have met Jimmys in their lives, and people who haven't, and for people who haven't, then "Just explain to him that this behavior isn't acceptable!" seems like a perfect solution. Why not just talk to him? As long as you are adult about it, then surely you can get through to him, right?

    But even asking that question shows how little you can understand about this situation without ever having met such a person. I've even tried a couple of times to explain it - I am an NPC to him. In a video game, if you see a non-quest NPC on a street corner, how much do you consider what it has to say? Do you think any human being would change the course of their life based on something an NPC has said? Would the words of a non-quest NPC even change the course of their gameplay?

    Based at least on the symptoms I have read about it, I think that Jimmy has Antisocial Personality Disorder - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder. I'm not sure why anyone thinks that "talking to him" will fix that, or why anyone thinks that I haven't tried, many times, in an adult and non-acusatory manner to talk to him already. I'm at this point 30 years later because I've tried all that and finally, FINALLY realized that nothing works, that I'm just getting hurt over and over again in trying.

    Thanks all for the good advice in this thread.

    -Tal wrote:
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  • Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Aphostile wrote:
    Cambiata wrote: »
    Aphostile wrote: »
    And, sorry to say, both situations would probably be handled in the same way. A stern talking to and reaching an understanding that spanking people who do not want to be spanked isn't ok.

    The brother is not 12, nor is he (officially) mentally handicapped. If you find yourself in the position of needing to educate another adult on acceptable social behavior, it's okay to decide that person is not worth your time.

    Thank you.

    You are both kidding right? Talking to someone and communicating that an issue is unacceptable is equivalent to the brother being a child or mentally handicapped? Really?

    And your solution is to avoid the situation at all costs? You don't see that as being immature and not how adults deal with something?

    Oh well, approach things as you wish Cambiata. You seem to have your own view on this and only you can figure out the appropriate solution.

    My statement was not complete, and therefore it could be a little confusing. You absolutely should, ONCE, be able to have that conversation with a reasonable, responsible adult. In this case, it is clear that the conversation has already occurred, multiple times, and that having that calm conversation has never been effective. If "Jimmy" were a child, or if "Jimmy" were in some other way not responsible for his own actions, I would personally feel obligated to try and teach Jimmy the error of his ways. Again, in this case, Jimmy is an adult. It is not anyone's responsibility to take Jimmy's free will away and "force" him to behave, nor is it your responsibility to put up with unacceptable actions from an unrepentant adult.

    As I said before, the only thing you can truly control in your family is how much time you spend with them, and no outsider should make you feel that you should give up that choice.

    I'm envious that you've never had things work out that way for yourself.

    Edit: Multiple edits because I messed up the quote trees.

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  • HorusHorus Los AngelesRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I have the same deal as you, my single siblings always criticize me from on getting my MA, planning to buy a house, running a non profit, getting into shape ... the list can go on. At first it got to me why are my siblings bringing me down when everyone tells me how I have so many things going on for me.... sometimes our siblings cruel attitude can be their own insecurities and sadly... they may be jealous on how other siblings are doing better.

    Right now I am dealing with one sibling who is using my dad's prostate cancer against me from pursuing my dreams, just cause she can't accept my life (fit young guy(lost 40lbs) with lots of friends, getting his masters, buying a house, having a career etc etc) she has thrown at me family drama before I was born, how I am the mean one in the family. Just to let you know my nonprofit, is about encouraging low income kids to enjoy going to the library and reading nuff said about the person I am.

    Best medicine to this..... ignore them, do not feed their fire at all. If your brother slaps your butt, do your best to ignore the situation and walk away.

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
    ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
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