carolyn hax

Carolyn Hax: Brothers at odds over same woman

 

Dear Carolyn: Our oldest son, “Jay,” lived with a girl I’ll call “Stephanie.” He and our youngest son, “Sean,” were the best of friends and went everywhere together.

Jay and Stephanie didn’t work out, and she broke up with him. The breakup was pretty rough on Jay, and he wanted Sean to un-friend Stephanie and not hang around with her anymore. Sean refused and the two of them fell out over it.

Fast-forward two years, and now Sean has started to “see” Stephanie as something better than just a friend. He has told me he wants to have her move in with him. I have told him what I believe will happen if he does: All hell will break loose

I understand there is nothing to be done for affairs of the heart, but couldn’t he have chosen another girl? My wife and I are at our wits’ end trying to figure out what to say and what position to take on this.

St. Louis Dad

Clearly the easiest thing for all of you, even Sean, would be for Sean to break up with Stephanie and live happily ever after.

Just as clearly, that’s an outcome you don’t have the power to choose; you have already requested nonetheless; and Sean has already rejected.

Plan B time. To start, look at the angle you and Jay took from the beginning. Both of you reflexively blamed Sean. He’s the one who didn’t drop Stephanie out of respect for his brother, and he’s the one who, as you noted, “had to pick this one.” Have you ever asked yourself, though: Why couldn’t Jay himself be the bigger man, and recognize that his wounded feelings didn’t — and don’t — give him the right to ask his brother to surrender a friend?

If it so happens that Stephanie is using Sean for her own ends, then my only advice here is for Sean: Break clean of everyone for a while to get your bearings again. Barring that, my advice is for you, to consider that Sean’s reason for maintaining his friendship with Stephanie was more compelling, more worthy of support and celebration, than Jay’s reason for asking him to end it.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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