Help me not hate my boyfriend's brother

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Vierran, May 1, 2015.

  1. Vierran

    Vierran small and sharp

    (If you, like me, are sometimes triggered by creepy attitudes around reproductive rights, you might not want to read this.)

    So. My boyfriend's brother is a white, straight, middle-class, geeky 19-year-old who grew up in a place where there basically aren't any republicans. He's going through the important process of trying to figure out how to think for himself. This would be great except sometimes he ends up with some weird and wrong ideas. He's open to discussion about them; he loves to discuss and debate.

    The thing is, I don't love to discuss and debate all the time, and I especially don't enjoy it with him, since he tends to privilege "logic" and "rationality" in ways that aren't actually rational, and are coming from his very limited perspective on the wide range of human experience. This can make things strained between me and him, but I'm trying to get along with him despite it, because 1. he does seem like an interesting person to know, and 2. even if he didn't, he's part of my boyfriend's life and I want to remain part of my boyfriend's life.

    An unrelated piece of background: I had an abortion when I was 16 (8.5 years ago), and have been somewhat emotionally fragile around reproductive rights as a subject ever since. On tumblr, I blacklist that phrase, as well as abortion, because I've found that once I encounter creepy attitudes, I can't stop reading, and I work myself into a really bad emotional state. Like, can't talk, rapid heartbeat, strong urges to self-injure. Unfortunately, life does not come with a blacklist.

    Which brings us to last night, when I found myself in a conversation with boyfriend's brother and his mother about surrogate mothers, contract law, and reproductive rights. It was an interesting conversation, and not a triggering one for a while. They'd had neighbors who made a contract with a woman to be a surrogate. The surrogate had been inseminated with the husband's semen, but with her own egg. The neighbor couple had agreed to financially support her, but had also gotten her to sign a contract saying that any multiple pregnancies would be aborted, so that only one embryo would be carried to term. Naturally, she got pregnant with twins, and felt strongly that she didn't want to abort the second child. The neighbors then stopped their financial support.

    Boyfriend's brother took the position that neighbors were perfectly within their rights to stop paying. Boyfriend's mother took the position that, while technically true, this was inhumane, and that sometimes when bringing children into the world, things don't go the way you expect. Boyfriend's brother called the surrogate's ability to make decisions about her own body and her desire to or not to abort into question, using the phrase "flooded with hormones." I froze and then walked suddenly out of the room to find someplace to curl into a ball.

    How do I get from there to trying to have a reasonable relationship with boyfriend's brother? I really don't want to tell him about my abortion (but I guess I can if that's the thing that will help). I also really don't want to be alternately furious and terrified when I think about him, which is how I'm feeling this morning.
  2. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    *hugs* that must have been really hard.
  3. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry you went through that.

    It's not unreasonable to ask to change the topic if something like that comes up. If he insists on continuing and keeps pushing it, he's being an asshole and you don't have to engage him. You can just say 'as I said earlier, I'm not comfortable talking about this.' Again, if he keeps pushing, he's being an asshole. Of course you love your boyfriend and want to get along with his family, but you're under no obligation to be part of a conversation that triggers you. Explain to your boyfriend that occasionally his brother gets onto topics that make you uncomfortable and that you don't feel able to engage him at those times.
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