The Atlantic

Dear Therapist: My Sister Constantly Complains, but Won’t Do Anything to Change

I want to have a good relationship with her, but I feel overwhelmed by her negativity.

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at

Dear Therapist,

My adult sister is a thoroughly unhappy person, but according to her, it is because no one in her life treats her well: Her children don’t call and visit enough; her friends don’t want to spend enough time with her and talk too much about themselves when they visit; she is a widow and is lonely, but none of her friends will fix her up with a man; her boss treats her poorly, etc.

When we get together, her “conversation” with me is a litany of complaints about her life, and I’m concerned that this is the case with others, as well. Needless to say, suggestions from me about changes she can make

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