She Wants to Punch Her Brother

Q: My problem is my brother. He is constantly putting me down in front of my boyfriend. He calls me an idiot and a dummy. I want to punch him! My boyfriend doesn't like it either. My brother says it's just teasing and that I need to learn to take a joke. He tells my boyfriend stupid things I did when I was little, too. My brother hasn't had a girlfriend in a while, and I think he's jealous that I don't go out to bars with him anymore to help him meet girls. But I got tired of his rude behavior. How can I make him see that he's being mean, not a good brother? Should I ask my boyfriend to talk to him? --Angela, 27

Dr. Susan: It's best if you talk to your brother yourself. First of all, you don't have to learn to like his kind of mean jokes and teasing. I'm sure you dealt with that sort of thing growing up. It's emotional abuse and you shouldn't ever get used to that! So tell your brother that both you and your boyfriend are made uncomfortable by his way of putting you down and sharing embarrassing episodes from your childhood. Perhaps work out a signal to let him know when he's saying something obnoxious. Then if he doesn't cut way back on the hurtful behavior, don't spend time with him when your boyfriend's around. Just don't. He'll get the message. As for your not going to bars to help him meet girls to date, did that really ever work?

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