Ask Aunt Mzansi: Help! My sister is living with a loser

Agony Aunt Mzansi gives advice to a reader whose sister is dating a guy she believes is a loser who is going nowhere fast.


Dear Aunt Mzansi

Please can you give me advice on a situation that is overwhelming me?

My father passed away two years ago. Since then my mother’s health has declined to the point that she is bedridden. My younger sister, who is a nursing sister, lives in the house with my mother and helps to take care of her. She still works as a nursing sister in the day and then cares for our mom at night.

We have a carer who assists in the day. I try and help by going there every weekend and whenever my sister needs me to in the evenings. I have a husband and three children. My sister has never married and has no children.

A few months ago my sister met a man who came to town on business

They became romantically involved and he moved in with her. He had to give up his job to do this. I think the idea is that he will find a job locally. He now lives with her and plays computer games all day. He does not do much around the house at all. My sister gets home and must then cook, clean, etc.

Recently his teenage son moved in with them as his mother could not handle him any more. This boy is a nightmare. He is often drunk and bunks school more often than he attends. I don’t want my children being there around him because he is rude and uses foul language with no regard for anyone else.

I have tried to talk to my sister but she says that she loves him and that she is sure he will eventually get a job. I feel so overburdened for her and I think that she is throwing her life away on this worthless man. To make things even worse he is not even divorced from his ex wife!

How do I help my sister? I don’t want to see her hurt or burnt out.
Thank you.

Dear Miriam

Thank you for your letter. It is so hard to see a family member in a difficult spot and it is natural to want to rescue them. BUT, you are not wearing a cape because you are not a superhero.

It would seem that you have a clear view of the situation as though you were able to sit on the roof and look in (even if you climbed up there as opposed to flying there). Your sister seems to be closed up in the kitchen with the man where all she can see is the yummy biscuits baking.

If she were able to step away from the house a little and join you on the roof, she may see the dent in the couch getting progressively deeper and the whisky bottle getting progressively emptier.

She goes to work every day and works hard to bring home the bacon and the eggs and the bread … while Mr Biscuit man exercises his thumbs all day. This situation will only change when it stops working for someone.

You cannot save your sister any more than she can save Mr Biscuit. You can tell her honestly how you feel and try to support her as best you can without enabling her to continue this pattern

It is clearly working for Mr Biscuit Man. It is also working for his son

I’m wondering if Mrs Biscuit didn’t wise up to the loafers in her house and do a little spring cleaning? When the situation stopped working for her she made some changes and now Mr Biscuit lives with your sister, reaping the benefits there.

He seemed to come with the talk of getting a job. However, not getting one seems to have worked out quite well for him. He still has a roof over his head. Bills are paid and meals are cooked. The cook seems particularly fond of him. In his last experience she could no longer stand him.

This situation seems to be working for your sister as well or she would not be letting it continue. Perhaps she is lonely and feels that this is the price that she needs to pay to have Mr Biscuit.

If she was to remember her worth at some point she may realise that she is doing all the giving and someone is doing all the taking. Possibly she will run out of emotional and financial resources and then she will realise that things need to change. Until she bumps her head and/ or comes to her senses the situation will continue.

You cannot save your sister any more than she can save Mr Biscuit

You can tell her honestly how you feel and try to support her as best you can without enabling her to continue this pattern.

Remind her about who she is and let her know what you believe she deserves. Hopefully in time she will realise the truth and make the choices that reflect her value rather than her willingness to be knighted for sainthood.

You are beautiful!
Love and blessings.

Aunt Mzansi