Sometimes when you begin dating an honorary member of your family – someone who has always been in your home and accepted by your family already – the lines blur between dating and hanging out.
I started dating my brother’s friend. I’m hoping he may be my bashert. But the issue is my brother. It’s not that he doesn’t like the fact that we’re dating. My brother is the actual issue. My brother still lives at home, like I do. Every time Chaim comes over to spend time with me, everything is fine, but when my brother shows up, they start talking, hanging out together. It becomes more of a hangout, and I feel like the tagalong.
I don’t mind them hanging out, but when Chaim comes over and we’re together, it all changes when my brother comes in. I end up being the unintentional third wheel. I told this to both of them more than once. They apologize and tell me not to take it so seriously (mostly, that’s my brother talking). But there is no answer, because Chaim’s dating me and he has been my brother’s friend for years. He doesn’t want to ignore either of us. We only have alone time when we actually go out. But I don’t want to always go out to a place with Chaim; sometimes it’s nice to be at home for an evening.
Thank you for your email, Ilana.
For a moment, I was scared when I read that the issue is your brother. I thought your bother was against his friend and his sister dating, but that’s not the case. It seems to be “two’s a couple, three’s a crowd” when your brother is home and Chaim is around. Are they talking about topics only “guys” know about, that you then feel like the third wheel? I can’t believe that you don’t contribute anything to the conversation. But I understand, you want alone time with Chaim.
I’m not making light of your situation, but you are past a hurdle many people worry about. “How will my family react to him/her? Will they like him/her?” And this can lead to issues down the road if the family doesn’t like whom you marry. In your situation, Chaim is already accepted and seems loved by your family. But now you feel that your brother is getting in the way of you and Chaim spending quality time together inside. I agree, you don’t have to always have to “go out” when dating. Once married, you don’t “go out” two or three times a week. Life sets in and you both find your rhythm. But that’s not a conversation for now. What’s wrong with staying in and watching a movie together or even playing on Xbox together? Nothing.
I think this is a conversation you need to have with your brother and not Chaim. Chaim may feel that he is the one caught in the middle. He’s been your brother’s friend for years and now he’s dating you. He wants to shower you with attention, but then his friend comes in, it’s the friend’s house. All of you belong there, no one is out of place, so he can’t ask your brother to leave. No matter how close the friendship is, it can seem odd for a friend to say, “Hey, we’ll catch up later. I’m here for Ilana now.” It would just get awkward for all.
Sit your bother down for a quick talk. Don’t make this into a serious meeting. Explain how sometimes you feel as if attention focuses on him when he comes in and starts up a conversation with Chaim, or something like that. Make sure you understand and that you let your brother know that there are times when you can all hang out together, but it shouldn’t be every single time Chaim is in the house. I’m sure your brother will understand. He probably doesn’t want to hang out with his sister all the time either. He wants one on one time with Chaim, too. If you are both in the shidduch parshah, your brother shouldn’t have an issue with this. If Chaim is your bashert, your “brother’s friend,” he will be family and the two of them they have their whole lives to catch a ball game, play cards, or do whatever they do.
Your brother may not understand exactly how you feel because men think differently from women. This is the beginning phases of a relationship, so you enjoy and look forward to time with Chaim and like the way you feel when you’re together. Your brother heard you say, “Please don’t always hang out with us in the house because Chaim’s here for me,” or something like that. He doesn’t understand that your emotions are involved. Your brother may just think, “Why is she reacting like this? I’m not cutting her out. I’m including her. What’s the big deal.” Ilana, don’t make it into a big deal and don’t put Chaim in the middle. When you speak with your brother, keep in mind, that he may be clueless about how deep you feel about Chaim and your time together, and you’d love for all three of you to spend time together, but not all the time. Make sure your brother knows that you don’t blame him or think this is being done intentionally. This isn’t about his relationship with his friend; it’s about your relationship with the man you are dating.
Hatzlachah to you all.