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Ask Lisi: Indulge your sister once. If it's not enough, move on

She might be sharing her obsession with clothes as a way to bond
Advice columnist Lisi Tesher

Dear Lisi: My sister is a clothes horse. She loves fashion, can afford to buy herself whatever she wants, and does. Her closets are full and her wardrobe extensive. I’m not at all similar, wearing whatever I find, rarely purchasing new.

Her obsession doesn’t bother me, but my lack of interest seems to drive her crazy! We don’t live together, so it’s not an issue we deal with daily. However, whenever we need to go somewhere together, she insists I pick her up. Inevitably, upon my arrival, she’s not ready.

She then proceeds to berate me for my outfit while simultaneously trying on several outfits, expecting me to choose. And no matter which I say I like best, she lands on something completely different.

Why can’t she just leave me alone to wear what I wear, and figure her own outfits out?

Sassy Sister

It seems to me that your sister wants to bond with you over the thing that she loves the most — clothes. Would it be so hard for you to indulge her once or twice? Maybe she has some nice clothes that you would like, and she can share with you.

Try this: Next time you have an event to go to, ask her if she could lend you an outfit. Ask if she’d be willing to come to your place and help you get dressed. Appreciate her love of clothing and show her that you care about what makes her happy.

I’m not suggesting you change who you are. I’m just suggesting you indulge her once. If that isn’t enough to get her off your back, you’ll have to meet her at the events forcing her to get dressed on her own. Then find other ways to bond.

Dear Lisi: My 77-year-old friend has received notice that his 18-year-old grandson and his girlfriend, both living in Switzerland, are determined to “visit” him and his wife for a period of six months. While my friend loves his grandchildren, he is unsure of what to tell them. He is concerned that his energy level is not equal to that of a teenager and, that the condominium complex where he lives, which is designated for people over 55, is not large enough to house four people.

What should my friend tell his grandson in a diplomatic way, and in a way that would not sever the congenial ties between grandfather and grandson that presently exist?

Asking for a friend

A similar question came in just recently. Fortunately, in both cases, there are rules in place, set up by others, that take the burden off each worried letter-writer. In this case, the grandfather should check the rules and find out exactly what the age restriction applies to. Meaning, are they never allowed guests under 55? And, if they are allowed younger guests, is there a time limit on their stay? These set rules will help your friend set boundaries, if the grandkids are allowed to stay and for how long.

Once that’s figured out, if the kids still plan on coming for an extended period, your friend should set a schedule and ground rules, explaining lovingly that the place is small, and he and his wife have a very different routine than that of a teenage couple on holiday. I also believe that your friend should discuss this plan with his child, the parent of this grandson, to air his concerns. Hopefully, your friend’s adult child will be able to intervene.

FEEDBACK Regarding the three couples planning a holiday (March 13):

Reader — Would it not be less confusing and more adult to simply email the more well-to-do woman who plans expensive meals and tell her that you cannot afford her level of spending and would appreciate all of you having a say in which restaurants you choose and can afford?

When did we get so squeamish about speaking up for ourselves and others? Sharing the facts is how we grow up and help others learn to be realistic and compassionate.

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your questions to [email protected]