My in-laws are so nosy!

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

Some of my in-laws have never accepted that I am different from them. They often make juvenile or blatantly rude remarks and behavior toward me; these in-laws are generally antagonistic people, and they have sensed that I am not, which compounds the problem. I feel much of their behavior does not deserve a response, but at the same time they need to simply back off. For example, I recently found my sister-in-law going through my home office and later my closet, entering closed doors to nose through my personal stuff. She is very competitive (insecure?) and does not like to feel that anyone has anything that she does not, especially me. I have been told she has been jealous of my husband all his life, which may be underlying her behavior. She is consistently nosy about what my husband and I do (fill in the blank about utmost personal information). One of her favorite questions is how much we paid for something. Sometimes I make a game of it by making up answers. I have tried telling her not to (fill in the blank with blatantly rude and disrespectful behavior), and I have tried asking her nicely not to (fill in the blank with blatantly rude and disrespectful behavior). Family events have become trying and simply undesirable.

Recently, the behavior has been affecting my health (migraines), so I am taking the issue more seriously. Any suggestions in the form of "in-law repellant"? It is very hard for me and my husband to distance ourselves from those one or two in-laws we do not care for at the risk of alienating those in-laws we actually wish to be around.



Dear gribbin:

Okay, this person is jealous and malicious and you don't need or want her in your life. I don't want her in your life either. But there she is.

My first question is, does she do this sort of thing to anyone else in the family? Can you compare notes? You wouldn't seem such an ogre for avoiding her if you were in good company, so to speak.

My favorite retort to an invasive question is, "If you'll forgive me for not answering that question, I'll forgive you for asking it." Another approach is simply to ask, "Why do you want to know that? Why would you ask me that?" Then don't back off until you get answers. Remember that you also can say that something is a personal matter that you and your husband never discuss. Period. End.

Meanwhile, avoid this toxic person as much as humanly possible. Good luck!

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