Older Sister Should Be Marrying But is Withdrawing and Getting Fatter Instead

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Reader’s Question

I am from India and 24 years old. I have an older sister, age 26. She is of the age where she should be marrying, but:

  • She stays to herself and has been living alone in a flat for the last four years.
  • She does not have a very good circle of friends.
  • She doesn’t talk to me about anything except her career or our family.
  • She has been gaining weight to the point that no good guy would be interested in her.
  • I fear she is losing confidence.
  • She gets annoyed when anyone mentions getting married, yet I know that inside she wants to marry.
  • She doesn’t seem to want to do very much of anything and doesn’t seem to finish anything.

When my sister was in college she never talked with boys or made friends with them. She isn’t really shy, but she doesn’t seem to be worried about getting married at the right age. She is very kind and caring. Still, I am worried about her. If someone tells her she should lose weight, she gets angry and takes it all in a negative way.

What can I do?

Psychologist’s Reply

Many of the things you report (e.g., weight gain, social withdrawal, irritability, negative perceptions, etc.) are indications that your sister might be struggling with some depression. Also, there are many reasons why she might be struggling with issues related to marrying, some of which might be exacerbating any depression that she’s experiencing.

Right now, your sister is likely to feel more judged rather than supported, and this is likely only to worsen her mood. It’s important for those who love her to show their love and support freely and to avoid making unnecessarily harsh judgments. It might also be helpful to suggest that your sister visit with a counselor or therapist. It’s important that she not view such a suggestion as an effort to “fix” her but rather as an opportunity for her to engage with someone she views as unconditionally accepting and who can provide her with an atmosphere in which she can feel free to examine her feelings, fears, and concerns.

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