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Need some big sister advice

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:51 am
by GolfingGirl
I am 17, my little sister is 15. Last Saturday night I came home from work about an hour early and when I got in the house I found my sister at the dining room table on her cell phone, 30 seconds later and a boy walks out of the bathroom. I don't know this boy but I do know of him from high school. I knew they were doing something before I surprisingly arrived, wasn't happy about it, but I didn't say anything about it. My sister and I share the same bedroom, and when I got in the bedroom I noticed one of her bras on the floor right beside her bed, and I again knew what was going on, but I said nothing. What I did with the bra was put it back under the sheets this way she didn't know that I knew what was up. When I looked at my sister I noticed that she wasn't wearing a bra, something that she has never done! The boy left 5 minutes later and I said nothing about him, but she told me that they were studying for next weeks exam. Whatever!
Last night I was at work and my sister texted me wanting to know if I would be coming home early. I texted back and told her yes I was as work was slow. What I really did was asked my boss if I could get off early as I had to help out my mom. I arrived home and it was just sister.
My mom works two jobs and I work a little part-time job. My sister is alone on Saturday nights because of it. But Winter Vacation is coming up and my sister will have many hours of alone time. I am not overprotective of my little sister but I do worry about her. I don't want her doing something that she regrets.
I also don't like that she is doing this is our room. It is my bedroom also!
And I did see this boy at school but I did not say anything.
Should I talk with her about this? Should I tell her NO DON"T DO IT!?!?!? Should I buy her some condoms? Should I buy her some lube? Should I be respectful and tell her to text me when she wants privacy? Should I be talking with her openly about this and giving her advice? Should I tell her to stay out of OUR bedroom as I find it a little sickening or should the bedroom be okay so that she has privacy? Should I this should I that?
I lost my virginity at 15, in the back of a Buick of all places. I don't really regret the sex part, but what I do regret is how it was so fast and how we were worried about somebody finding us and how laying down on the back seat of a car was in no way comfortable! I don't want my little sister to have sex but if she does it I do want her to be comfortable with it. I don't want her to be in some kind of mad rush wondering if she has the time or privacy.
What I will not do is tell my mom, I already know that would be a dumb idea! I want to keep this between us, but I want to do it right.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:38 am
by Alexa
Hey GolfingGirl:

I like how you closed your post - with a couple of thoughts on how you lost your virginity, and you'd like for your sister to have comfier opportunities than you did when you were her age. At the end of the day, the time of life that someone chooses for their sexual debut is entirely up to them. I would agree that you should focus your energy on creating a supportive environment for her, and not necessarily tell her what to do.

How that works depends on what your relationship looks like. It may be as easy as telling her what you just shared with us! That you wished you'd had privacy and comfort your first time, and that she can explicitly ask for that privacy when she needs it. That you'd be open to helping her find resources, such as condoms, STI testing services, or birth control if she needs it (but only tell her that if it's true for you, of course). If those conversations are uncomfortable for you, you can always refer her to other resources that can help her -- like us!

As for your room, I understand wanting to feel like your space belongs to you and is being used in ways you're comfortable with. I also understand her wanting to have the same freedom. I think that, if you're able, discussing this openly would be the best way to make sure you both feel okay and there isn't resentment about how your shared space is used. Maybe she can agree to tidy the room before you come home, or maybe you can agree on another space that is safe and private for her. Whatever works, it's likely best discussed by both of you given that you both deserve to feel at home in your space.

I hope this helps!


Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:47 am
by GolfingGirl
Hey Alexa,

We have a good relationship, but this thing she has with this boy is something that she is keeping secret from both me and our mom. The boy is not a boyfriend. I don't see her hanging out with him at school, and he never did acknowledge me at school when I saw him. I would have known if she was hanging out with him before I found them last week. And I know last week was the first time they were together in the house because my sister was busy with drama activities on Friday nights before this.
You know what's going to happen right? I will help out my sister, give her the privacy she wants, she ends up having sex with him, he dumps her, and when everything is done it will be my sister who is mad at me for helping her out and my mom will be looking at us wondering what went wrong. Tell me i'm wrong, LMAO!
And I already resent her because she did this behind my back and never told me about him. I also resent her because the #1 rule our mom has is no boys allowed. I also resent her as they played around in my bedroom, something that I would have never done towards her. UGH!
I know she is still a virgin, I would have known if she did it, either in a good way or a bad way. But, I don't want her making the mistakes I made, and she is going to do it eventually, but you know it will be blamed on me if I help her out.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:13 am
by Sam W
Hi GolfingGirl,

Can I ask if you've talked with your sister at all about this beyond initially asking her why the boy was there? It sounds like there are a few things you're assuming or feeling that might be sorted out most easily by asking her some things. As Alexa mentioned, one of those things could be a more general talk about the shared space of the bedroom, or maybe your worries that she might be concealing something from your mom and that doing so could backfire on her (is that "no boys" rule only in place when one or both of you is home without your mom, or are you not supposed to bring boys home, period?)

It seems like another thing that's going on is that you feel pretty sure that if this goes wrong somehow, the blame will fall on you. Is that something that happens often in the dynamic between your mom, your sister, and you?

Too, as much as you can, try not to jump to big conclusions about how this is all playing out (or going to play out). Doing so sounds like it's already stressing you out, and it can also make it harder to address what's actually going on. You know your sister had a boy over to study and she wasn't wearing a bra; that can really only tell you so much about what happened (including whether she had sex) and can tell you basically nothing about what's likely to happen. It may be that you're exactly right about what's going on, but getting caught up in the what-ifs can get really stressful really quickly.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:56 pm
by GolfingGirl
I had a chat with her today about him. He is just a friend, yes they were fooling around, yes they were working on homework, yes she wasn't expecting me and wishes I didn't show up.
The boys rule is no boys when mom is gone, and that rule has been in place since I hit puberty. And she is lucky that I arrived at the house and not mom.
She doesn't plan on having him back over, but I don't believe her.
Yes, I have been blamed or taken the blame for stuff she has done.
What I don't want to do is give her privacy. It's like I'm opening a door for her where she can do whatever she wants and get away with it. It's not fair to me. But again I don't want her to have issues like I did with boys, I don't want that for her, but I don't want to make it easy for her either.
I can give her privacy and condoms and let her play around, but that would make it easy for her.
Again that is why I am here and asking all of this. I can help her or not help her. Truth be told I want her to be happy and not have regrets, but I don't want to push anything over the edge either way. Make sense?
Would any other big sister help her young sister out with something like this?
And I am sorry for sounding so stressed with that last post. I am breathing now, lol! I love my sister, but this boy thing she has is bugging me! She just turned 15, she is not like me when it comes to boys, and that is what I want.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:38 am
by Sam W
I'm glad the two of you were able to talk about this, so you have a clearer idea of what's going on. Did you have a chance to share some of the reasons you're worried, such as how your own past sexual experiences went, with her?

It sucks that you've been blamed in the past for things she has done, and that you're afraid that even giving her a bit of privacy or space could result in that same thing happening. Have you ever spoken to your mom or your sister about that pattern of blaming you for things, or even just pointed out that it's a thing that happens?

To answer one of your questions: yes, there are older sisters (and siblings in general) who help their younger siblings navigate parts of sex. Sometimes that's being the person they come to for advice, and sometimes it's respecting their privacy or helping them access what they need to be safe. But, as you're learning, just because other siblings may be comfortable in that set up doesn't mean you feel the same way or know what to do in your specific situation.

One thing that may help is to remove the responsibility for your sisters actions from yourself as much as you can. That might be tricky, given the dynamics you've shared with us, but it may also help you see this from a new angle. You can offer (or not offer) your sister support, advice, and privacy, but at the end of the day whether she chooses to keep exploring sexual things with other people is up to her. You aren't going to be the one who pushes things "over the edge," she and her partner are going to be the ones who do that. If they break-up or otherwise end things and she's upset, you're not the one who caused that by respecting their privacy; that was between the two of them. That process may also mean accepting that her approach to boys, dating, and sex is different from yours, and it's not on you to get her to share your approach. Do you kind of see what I'm getting at?

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 4:02 pm
by SpaceCowboy
Hey GolfingGirl,
As someone with several siblings pretty close in age to me, I completely relate to this post and the complicated feelings we can have when a sibling starts to really hit some more adult-seeming developmental milestones.
I'm hearing mostly that you are worried about (1) your sister, because you don't want her to have a stressful sexual experience OR to regret having sex with someone who later hurts her/is not worthy of her trust,
and (2) your role in this as the older sister in terms of both what your obligations are to your sister as a non-parent guide figure AND what could happen within the larger family dynamic if your mother finds out whatever role you played or did not play in your sister’s sexual debut scenario.
I'll provide a little advice based on my own experience for both.

(1) About wanting your sister to feel comfortable and not have regrets—think of this situation as a microcosm of abstinence-only (tell people to have no sex at all) vs comprehensive sex education (talking about how to protect yourself from risks during sex). There’s considerable research that shows that not only does abstinence-only sex education not work, people who only receive abstinence-only education are more likely to have unsafe sex. The truth is, your sister is going to have sex when she wants to whether you provide any kind of instrumental support (i.e. condoms) or not. By contrast, when people receive comprehensive sex education, they aren’t more likely to have sex earlier, they are just more likely to have sex that’s safe. It seems like based on your post you understand this concept fairly intuitively but also don’t want to be “responsible” for your sister having sex. I want to emphasize that if you just tell her that if she can come to you for support in terms of answering questions or for getting condoms, lube, etc, you will not be responsible for your sister having or not having sex, since only she can make that decision. However, you may be facilitating her having safer sex once she decides to have sex, which is great!

Re: privacy, I think if you want to negotiate about usage of the room for sexual activity, since it is also your room, that is completely reasonable and not necessarily the exact same issue as whether or not you offer help/advice for things like condoms, birth control, etc.

In terms of not wanting your sister to regret who she has sex with—I think it is really nice that you as a sibling feel this way, although I have to say you won’t have a whole lot of control over this. Ultimately, she does have to make her own decisions, and putting a lot of pressure on her to NOT sleep with, say, a schoolmate who she is not dating is not likely to be effective. However, being clear with her that you can be a sounding board for her as she decides what she wants out of a sexual relationship at this stage and whether her chosen partner has compatible interests can help her to figure out some of this new territory herself.

(2) I’m hearing that you may feel concerned that as a sibling you are somehow obligated to either a) help facilitate your sister having sex or b) prevent her from having sex. You are not obligated to do either of these things. I think it is really valuable for people to have a non-parent figure who can help them figure things out like safer sex and when they feel ready to have sex, and if you feel comfortable being that for your sister you can be, but you are not obligated as a sibling (even though you love your sister and want what’s best for her!) to be involved in this situation in either direction. In fact, getting too involved and trying to drive what she does in any direction is not likely to create a healthy dynamic.

As you have identified, your sister is going to have a lot of unsupervised time at home during the holiday break no matter what you do so I don’t think, for example, giving or not giving permission to use the room is going to be the deciding factor in whether she has sex or not.

In terms of the broader family dynamic, I can say the idea that you will be blamed for what your sister does is tough. It’s really not fair to ask one sibling to police another’s sexual behavior but of course that doesn’t mean our parents are always fair. Does your mother know you are sexually active? If yes, how did she react to that? And do you think she would react differently to your sister? Or would your sister be more likely to tell her?

Honestly I’m impressed that you are thinking about these issues and have opened a dialogue with your sister. I think just so long as you know that you can’t control your sibling or make them do what you want (even though you have more life experience than they do), and that you are not personally responsible for the decisions your sister makes, my advice is to just keep the lines of communication open.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 6:58 pm
by GolfingGirl
I don't want to make myself sound ugly here but I have had a few sexual experiences and none of them were good. I never had the privacy that my sister now has and I never had a nice location like a bed that my sister now has. Part of my problem is that she has the opportunity on taking her time and enjoying her privacy, something that is good for her, but it's something I never had.

Like I said I don't want her to have any regrets (like me) but I also don't want her to have the chance on enjoying either, especially since it would be me who would in some way help her out.

Talking about my ugly sex life with her doesn't sound fun. I'm seriously torn with what I should and should not say, but no matter what I am the one who gets hurt in someway. Either she gets lucky and enjoys her sex life because of me or she doesn't enjoy it at all because I didn't help out in some way and I end up hurting for her. Did any of that make sense?

Right now what I am thinking of doing is giving her an early Christmas gift with condoms and lube. Just a little something that we will do in private in our bedroom, but do it in way that makes her feel like an adult. I will also tell her that if she wants some privacy that she could just text me, but I plan on setting some kind of time limit on it as I don't want to be waiting all night, LOL! And Alexa said she should tidy up the room, and I couldn't agree more.

I am not going to tell her about my sex life, but doing this little Christmas gift could maybe open up some dialog between us if she needs it.

I still don't like this idea btw! But it's better than having my little sister lose her virginity in the back of an ugly uncomfortable car.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:45 pm
by Gone.Sorry.
Hi, GolfingGirl. I also have a younger sister, though we have a bit more of an age gap of four years (ending up five years apart in school). I still vividly remember the night she excitedly yanked me into her room to tell me all about losing her v-card, how she'd been excited about this for years, and how disappointing and not great it was but how she was still excited to have done it. I think she was about 16 and me 20 when it happened. I had a lot of conflicted feelings about what she was telling me.

On one hand, I didn't have a libido or sexual attraction and had been sex repulsed most of my life, so I really couldn't relate to or understand her urges or excitement at all. As well, I had just gotten out of an... well, let's just say very toxic relationship with... nonconsensual experiences, had not told anyone in my life what really happened, and was a little afraid of my sister's enthusiasm for sex and afraid that the same thing that happened to me might happen to her. I wanted to protect her from that so bad. On the other hand, being a libidoless asexual and not understanding those feelings at all, I'd done a lot of research and giving myself a thorough sex education trying to understand how other people felt, and wanted to tell her all the ways she was allowed to stand up for herself and ask for her own pleasure and how sex could be good and it didn't have to be boring or disappointing. But she also knew I was ace, and I was, admittedly and kind of shamefully, embarrassed to tell her everything I wanted to tell her for fear she might think I wasn't really ace or something. I also didn't want to reveal too much and reveal the bad things that had happened to me.

But I also doubted that what she wanted or needed in that moment was some lecture or lesson from me. So, I simply took my cues from her attitude and did what she wanted from me: I listened and I didn't judge. I let her tell me all about her experience, I asked a few questions, I told her I was happy that she was overall satisfied with what happened and that I hoped it'd be better in the future with more experience.

And you know what? It worked out. Because my sister is her own person. She was young. She's grown tremendously since then. She's educated herself way more. She learned from her experiences. She has more confidence and has more practice asking for what she wants and upholding her boundaries. She's exploring her sexuality in the ways she wants to, and in doing so, she's figuring things out way better than she would have if I had just tried to tell these things to her.

It sounds like you're carrying a lot of responsibility around for your sister, her feelings, and her experiences, and it sounds like this has been extremely unfairly put on your shoulders by your mom and maybe a little bit by your sister. Try not to forget that, in the end, your sister is her own person. She's gotta make her own mistakes and have her own experiences and go through her own growth. You had some experiences with sex you haven't 100% enjoyed and seem to be struggling with a little bit of needless shame over. But you learned from those experiences, right? You now know better than you did. Your sister is capable of doing the same thing! Even though this pressure and responsibility has been put on you to take care of your sister, she's her own person, and she's growing up. Not only is she going to make her own mistakes and do her own thing and take her own path - she needs to do this. As a younger sister, she probably really wants to do this. Older siblings can often struggle with the accountability they feel over their siblings, but younger siblings can often struggle with feeling like they're living in the shadow of their older sibling(s) and never getting to do anything first. So try to do some work in letting go of the responsibility you feel over the path your sister takes. She's as capable as you are - and if she's struggling, she knows she has you to come to for support/advice/comfort/help.

Also, you're 17. You're nearing an age where you might be thinking about leaving for college or potentially getting a job and living with some friends. You can't be there to always be watching over her (and she likely doesn't want you to be). My mom and sister had a really rough relationship with each other, and I was often the buffer for them and the interpreter between them. Going to college was scary because I seriously wondered if they might kill each other without me there to balance them out. But you know what? That also worked out. Without me there, my mom and sister had to learn to live with each other without me as a buffer between them. Plus, my sister was getting older and growing out of some of the hormonal teenage acting out. They slowly learned to live more peacefully with each other and eventually grew to have a close relationship.

So, it might help for you to think about the fact that you're doing some moving on in your own life, and it's good to focus on the things you're going to want to pursue and experience and go after. You're allowed to live your own life. You can't hold back your own life in order to try and protect your sister. Just like she's gotta make her own mistakes and figure out for herself what she wants, you've got to keep doing this for yourself. Maybe instead of focusing on your sister's first time, you could spend some time re-evaluating your own desires, boundaries, and wants. Do you feel you have a good handle on what it is you like/want? Maybe you want to focus on a break from sexual encounters right now and spend time on yourself. Maybe this is time for yourself is masturbation and exploration or maybe it's re-connecting with an old hobby or getting into a new one you've been interested in. I'm not sure how close to graduation you are, but maybe this is just time to dream your biggest dreams about what you want to do after graduation.

I do think your idea of a secret gift exchange between you two of condoms/lube is smart and thoughtful, though. It opens the door to let her know that you're there for her, discuss some boundaries regarding your shared bedroom, and stays more within your comfort zone. As well, since this has been weighing on your mind so much, doing this may help you feel as though the situation has been adequately addressed and you can spend less time worrying about it. I also want to confirm that you do not have to share your experiences with your sister if you don't want/aren't ready/are uncomfortable with doing so. It's okay to have experiences that are just yours for you alone. They do not have to be a lesson for your sister.

I think the best thing for you to focus on right now is yourself rather than your sister. You said you didn't really have regrets about having sex, but I'm hearing a whole lot of shame and self-judgement about your experiences. Your sex story is not ugly. Your sex life is not ugly. You are allowed to have your own experiences. Things will not always go perfect or how you want or exactly as planned. That doesn't mean you need to put yourself down for this! I think it's time to do some work in letting go of the feelings you have and moving forward from them. Try spending some time re-framing your thoughts. Instead of "my sex life is ugly because I lost my virginity very rushed in an uncomfortable car" try re-framing it as "having sex for the first time - nor any of the times after - doesn't define me, nor does it have to define any potential future experiences. I learned that I don't really want to have sex in a car again, nor do I want to do it in a more spontaneous manner when there may not be time to really enjoy myself. Now I know, and if/when I pursue this again, I know more about what I want and will be able to advocate for that. One less than great experience doesn't make me bad or ugly. My story is made up of all sorts of highs and lows of all sorts of intensities. That is life. I will have more bad times, but I will also have great times. And that's all okay." Does this sound like something you could do?

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:13 pm
by SpaceCowboy
Hey GolfingGirl,

I think your approach sounds good in terms of providing some support you feel able to provide and also setting some boundaries. You definitely do not have to tell your sister about your own experiences if you don't feel comfortable doing so or don't want to rehash them and you should not feel like you have an obligation to tell her about your sexual experiences even in the context of giving her condoms/lube. I would echo what horriblegoose said that having had some unpleasant sexual experiences does NOT make you sound "ugly." Sex can be all kinds of things, but it never changes your inherent worth as a human being.

Also, I think one thing that is not often discussed about sex is that people are not born knowing how to navigate healthy sexual relationships, and I think we often don't get a whole lot of education or support around learning how to do that before they start having sexual experiences, so we have to kind of learn by trial and error. It doesn't sound like you live in a household where sex and how to navigate sexual relationships was discussed particularly openly. You have been doing the best that you can. It's not your fault your experiences have been not good! I hope you can learn to view your own self with compassion instead of judgement. Do you have any supportive resources you can talk about some of these issues with? A trusted adult, maybe? Is therapy an option?

(Also about sex - I have also found the book What You Really, Really Want by Jaclyn Friedman to be very helpful in assessing my own sexual values and comfort level and building some of the skills I feel like I did not get when I was first growing up.)

I do want to probe around the idea that your sister having more comfortable initial sexual experiences than you is somehow hurtful to you. I *completely* understand that this situation is surfacing uncomfortable feelings and that you may feel like you wish you had someone looking out for your well-being, like your sister does now in you. Ultimately, though, your sister's sex life doesn't say anything about you. Her having more comfortable sexual experiences than you does not make you worse than her or less deserving or anything negative like that. You sound like a well-intentioned, loving sister but I agree with horriblegoose that once you follow your plan of having a brief conversation and giving condoms and lube, it might be good to focus on yourself and your needs and not so much on what your sister is doing.

Re: Need some big sister advice

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:41 am
by Siân
Hey GolfingGirl,

SpaceCowboy and horriblegoose have pretty much covered everything I'd say here, so just popping in to second them and to say that a private gift exchange and agreeing some etiquette on the room sharing sounds like a really thoughtful response to your sister.

I'd certainly be open to talking more about the feelings you have about her having the opportunity for more comfortable first sexual experiences than you did, too.