Left out of family get-together by sibling

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-09-2006
Left out of family get-together by sibling
Thu, 08-02-2012 - 3:53pm

Some quick advice is requested and would be appreciated! I recently found out via Facebook that a family relative came into town last month, and met up with my sister and BIL for dinner. This relative had never been to our area before, and it was someone I had not seen in about eight years.

I found out when perusing Facebook about this. The relative had posted prior to the visit on my sister's FB page. Although I have FB, I only log in about 3-4 times a year, and although my sister knows this, she never contacted me about attending the dinner. And she did this despite knowing several weeks in advance that the relative would be coming into town.

A few days after I heard about this, I purposely let it slip to our mother that I had seen the post on her FB page. Although my mom "promised" not to say anything to my sister, I'm sure she did...which is what I intended anyway. The post has since been removed from her FB page, and she is not in the habit of removing anything from her FB. Of course, I have the screenshot of the post/replies saved already.

I'm sure some of the advice I receive will be to ask my sister why I (and my wife) were not invited to the dinner. The problem is that people rarely tell the truth when you ask them hard questions. My sister and I "get along" to the extent that we see each other at birthdays and Xmas, but that's the extent of our relationship. We get along when we see each other, but don't really stay in touch too often otherwise.

However, that is not an excuse on her part. If a relative were coming into town and contacted me, I would certainly have let my sister know, and not assume she saw the posting on FB. (I'm sick of people inviting folks to things on FB, by the way...not everyone is addicted to FB!)

Another problem with asking my sister is that she has the tendency to tell lies, especially when confronted. She could say she didn't think I was interested (which is not for her to decide), or that she assumed I saw the post on FB (which she knows I almost never use). The other possibilities are that she didn't think about letting me know (which is pretty hurtful) or she didn't want to invite us at all, which I sense is the real reason.

In any case, barring a direct confrontation which I know will lead to me being called "too sensitive", what else is a good course of action? I have considered ending our participation in family dinners altogether...why be around someone if they're only pretending to like you anyway?


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-09-2006
Mon, 08-13-2012 - 2:45pm

Thanks for all the replies. In response to the folks who think I was not being 'mature' by talking to my mom instead of my sister about it, it has been pointed out by some responders that I knew this wouldn't work. This is the truth, as my sister has tended to give vague and passive-aggressive answers in the past. Speaking to my mom about it (who is NOT related to the relative who visited from out of town, btw) was a way to gauge if my sister had at least mentioned it to her...I also know that my mom can't keep her own mouth shut and would bring it up to my sister, so I had to be careful what I said to her without seeming like I was really upset.

I have since spoken to my sister and found out that there is apparently quite a bit of hidden resentment towards me on her part. I asked her why she didn't get in touch with me when the relative said they would be visiting, and she said it's not her responsibility to pass on this information. Instead, I should blame myself for not keeping in touch with the relative like she did, according to her. I let her talk, and then finally revealed that I spoke to the relative and that they told me my sister said I wasn't interested in seeing them. My sister's 'mature' response was to hang up on me. So guess who isn't being invited to dinners at our house any more?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Mon, 08-13-2012 - 12:13am

Also the OP said that contacting his sister directly wasn't going to work, so he did what he has learned is his family dynamic and used that.  All families have these idiosyncrasies that they know work with their family.

Well apparently it didn't work or the OP won't be venting here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2002
Sun, 08-12-2012 - 2:30pm

In my family all my aunts contact my oldest brother.  Now, he's not the oldest, just the oldest boy.  For them culturally the oldest son becomes head of the family once the parents are gone.  My aunts call him and give him all the details of their visits, assuming (wrongly) that he will pass along the information and plan to get family together to visit with theses aunts and uncles when they are here.  My brother does not communicate this information.  He not telling us to be a jerk, it's just who he is, not one to call or email anyone.  We have told my relatives to contact one of two people, because they will make sure that everyone will get the news of their visit, or news of someone's death, but these aunts will only contact oldest brother.  It's their way and their culture. 

Also the OP said that contacting his sister directly wasn't going to work, so he did what he has learned is his family dynamic and used that.  All families have these idiosyncrasies that they know work with their family.  It might not be the "right" way but sometimes the correct way of handling something can be predestined to fail.   

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Fri, 08-10-2012 - 10:50pm

It seems that all communication is triangulated in your family. If you have an affair with "john" you go and talk with "john", you don´t say things to "peter", so he will tell "john".

That creates a lot of drama and confusion, because messages don`t pass as they should.

My mom was an expert in trianglulated communication, and now in my family we don´t talk to each other.

To be honest, not sure if my mood is not perfect now. Why do you want to attend to a dinner with a relative you haven´t seen in 8 years? He didn't´t take the time to be in touch with you. He also used a triangulated communication with your sister.

Guess communication has to be checked.


Just my sense of it.!

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-11-2011
Fri, 08-10-2012 - 6:52pm

ITA. The relative may not know the sister and the op are not getting along. The relative thing is a moot point anyway. Clearly, the OP has a beef with his sister that goes beyond this one incident.

I also agree that the OP should just directly tell his sister that he would appreciate a phone call to let him know when relatives are visiting and leave it at that.


Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 3:43pm

I think it works this way in many families. There are always a few "weak links" but it generally works, even if everybody doesn't stay in contact with everybody else some members are in contact so messages get relayed. 

So in this case I can understand the out of town relative assuming that by telling the sister, and putting it on FB, that the rest of the family would become aware. S/he likely had no reason to know that the brother and sister rarely talk to each other or that the sister might purposely keep the info from brother. OP didn't tell us why nobody else in the family (mom? other siblings?) knew about the relative's visit, or knew but didn't tell him. Often there are a lot of backstories that could explain things.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 10:56pm

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your son. 

Yes, your sister keeping the "news" of your cousin's death to herself was inexcuseable!  A few years before her death, my favorite aunt decided she didn't like me.  My sister-in-law started twisting the knife by suddenly inviting my aunt to every family function, then calling ME to tell me that Auntie wasn't coming because I might cause trouble.  My sister-in-law had never invited this Aunt to ANYTHING until my aunt got mad at me and suddenly sil could cause drama.

I had never had a disagreement with this aunt and though I tried to talk to her many times, she simply refused to even speak to me.  When my aunt was in the hospital dying, my SIL drove my mother to see her.  When SIL came into the hospital room, my aunt mistook her for me.  Aunt started crying and saying how bad she felt for having "thrown me out" of her family and that she was the one with the problem, not me.  My mother heard this whole conversation, and told me what aunt had said.  My sister-in-law never told me that Aunt said she'd regretted her behavior towards me and that the problems were her own, not mine. 

I think it's despicable that my SIL never shared aunt's apology on her death bed with me.  The ONLY reason she didn't tell me is because she didn't want me to have peace over my aunt's previous behavior. 

I agree people can be despicable in their actions.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2004
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 4:10pm

Something similiar happened to me when my sister and I were on the outs...only a family member died, my Aunt made 1 phone call to my sister so she would not upset me because her granddaughter was killed in a car accident and my son was killed in a car accident 4 years prior to her granddaughter...she contacted my sister who lied and said she would tell me and she did not.  My nephew called me and said my mom got a call last week about your Aunt's granddaughter dying in the accident and he got my aunt;s new phone number off my sister's caller id.

When she found out what he did she was pissed...but it goes without saying if you want to tell someone something (ie a relative coming to town) it's best to make your own phone call.

what my sister did was despictable.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 2:27pm

>>In this case, the sister didn't want to include her brother & lied. <<

You're assuming the relative was telling the truth when they blamed not seeing the OP on his sister.  As I stated before, it's just as possible that the relative wasn't particularly interested in seeing anybody except the sister but opted out of responsibility for saying so by saying the sister had lied.

I don't know who lied, but I do think all this intrigue over going through Mom in hopes of her thinking she's not going to talk to sister, but knowing she IS going to talk to sister indicates a pretty odd family relationship.  

And, I stick with my opinion that if one wants to be in the familial loop, they need to do something to STAY in that loop. 

Maybe I feel that way because my own two brothers can be quite lazy about communication.  We have great conversations when I call them and have a good time together when I go to their homes, but they just get "too busy" to pick up the phone and call me.   As with any relationship, neglecting to work on the relationship leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and even loosing out on the "goodies of life" like getting to see out-of-town relatives who are visiting.  JMHO

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 11:39am

I still considered all the indirect communication dysfunctional.  Not saying the OP is wrong with regards to the relative's visit, but very odd that they are not in more frequent contact.  As to using his mother to tell his sister that he is upset, it IS dysfunctional and immature. 

My family is in three different continents and we email/text/talk at least once a week, if not more, even when I was working full-time and going to graduate school and getting my pilot's license all at the same time.  I also keep in touch with friends 10 time zones away.

Guess every family is different and everyone is free to express his/her opinion.  I maintain that if people really want to communicate with each other, they will find a way regardless of how busy or far apart (geographically) they are.