(Some similarities to this question, except that I have explained, and my family is not on my side.)

I have been avoiding / ignoring my sister for the past ~6 months, after she seriously hurt me. I am not ready to forgive her. What she did was the sort of move that people end best friendships over; if she was not related to me, I would have cut her out of my life immediately and never looked back. She has shown no remorse and made no attempts to apologize, although she has sent me trivial texts (e.g. "Happy national ice cream day!") now and again. For context, we are both mid-20's, living independently from our parents.

My parents know why I was hurt and the sort of feelings the situation brings up (including physical symptoms, loss of appetite, insomnia, nightmares, to give you an idea of the intensity), but have taken her side and are pressuring me to make up with her anyways. They have a variety of tactics:

  • It makes your mother so sad to think of her family never having a big happy get-together again
  • You're being selfish, your sister's choice made her happy, don't you want her to be happy?
  • Well, I can see why what she did hurt you, but you shouldn't have done XYZ in the first place
  • It's been months/years, this is how things are now, you need to accept that
  • She's reached out with those texts and you're not even giving her a chance, so the rift is really your fault now
  • But she's your only sister, you don't want to end up like [estranged extended family member], do you?
  • It must be exhausting holding on to all that anger for so long, I can't even imagine..

FWIW there is a religious component; I stopped following my parents' religion a few years ago whereas she is still devout. It is true that this situation would not have hurt me as badly if I had followed their religious tenets, but to any secular observer I did nothing "wrong".

Perhaps some months or years from now I will be able to forgive her, but my parents pressuring me will not speed it up. In the meantime, I'm at a loss of what to do the next time they bring up the subject. I don't want to argue or reveal yet more personal background, I don't want to let my sister sweep this under the rug, I don't want to reach out to her. (Why should that be my responsibility? I don't want a relationship with someone who would do this and doesn't think they need to even clear the air.)

What can I tell them? How do I respond when they try to get me to go to family events with her? Do I just have to accept they will view me as the bad guy for not accepting her "compromise" of sweeping it under the rug?

My family is from Midwest USA.

  • 6
    I cant answer your question as to what you should do. But I made the clear statement a relative did need to be cut out of my life, and anyone who did not respect that decision would be cut right out with them. The majority of them dropped the matter, the rest I was better without.
    – Vality
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 0:14
  • 26
    I realize you intentionally avoid describing what your sister did to hurt you. While I respect that, I think you might get better and more informed responses if you do share it.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 8:20
  • 1
    @DanubianSailor I thought perhaps my family and sister didn't understand why it hurt so much. When I told my parents, my mother said "oh. that changes everything." But when I told my sister, she said "duh, I knew that, do you think I'm stupid?" and ended the call by telling me she didn't know how I could sleep at night because I was such a horrible person. That was the last "real" conversation we had.
    – Em C
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:32
  • 6
    Hey all, please remember that we're here to help the user with the question they have asked. This requires that we accept their decision rather than trying to argue with them about it. Whether their decision is "right" or not, it's irrelevant. We need to look at the information we have and either give a solution or not. As Em C's comment before this one shows, judging decisions makes people less willing to be open about the situation.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 23:37
  • 2
    Something that might give you some additional perspective: No one lives forever. Your sister might be hit by a bus tomorrow. Would you feel any regret having avoided her this long? I only bring this up because I'm going through something kind of similar - my parents are divorcing due to some extremely horrible decisions on my mom's part. I don't forgive her for what she's done to our family, but I'm trying to make an effort to talk to her cordially once a month or so, because I know that if something were to happen to her, I'd be devastated despite the wounds she left us.
    – Mage Xy
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 21:03

13 Answers 13


This seems to be about you taking the time you need to forgive your sister and your parents honoring your decision.

You emphasized:

I am not ready to forgive her.

Emphasize this to your parents.You might have to repeat yourself and it might get tiring but they should get the message. IF you have been firm about this and they still insist, you might have to raise your voice or even take a break for a while. You don't want what happened with your sister to ruin your relationship with them as well but this is the only way for you to have some time to think.

You're being selfish, your sister's choice made her happy, don't you want her to be happy?

Your parents are the ones acting selfish (even if not aware) here by not acknowledging your feelings. I'm sure you want your sister to be happy but your sister should want the same for you and so should your parents. And you aren't happy.

It's been months/years, this is how things are now, you need to accept that

Ask them to accept how you feel and not start conversations about your sister. If you don't want them involved at all tell them this is between you and your sister.

She's reached out with those texts and you're not even giving her a chance, so the rift is really your fault now

Sending trivial texts isn't apologizing. What would you like your sister to do in order for you to forgive her? Is "sorry" enough? Tell your parents what she needs to do IF you want them to help you. It's not your responsibility to approach her if you haven't wronged her. However, if you have answered any of her texts even with a "Thanks" she might misinterpret that to mean it's all good. Your sister might be unaware that she hurt you so bad or she might be too proud to apologize and trivial texts make this less awkward for her.

It must be exhausting holding on to all that anger for so long, I can't even imagine..

It's exhausting to you that they are not listening, understanding.

Look, I don't know what happened but it seems that there is lack of communication between you and your parents (and sister). It's best that they don't take sides. Tell them that this is between you and your sister. (Unless you want them to stay involved).

I understand this is unpleasant to them but this is how you feel. You could say that your feelings might change in the future. Taking the time you need is the best advice I could give you. Avoid going places if your sister is going also and ask that they don't invite you for now.


Not wanting to forgive her (yet) and avoiding her are 2 different things. But I understand this.

My answer for the other question you linked I think are still valuable but I'll try to add some more things.

What would she need to do to be forgiven

It might sound like a stupid question, but what would she need to do to be forgiven? Would she simply have to say sorry and it would be over? Knowing this and giving this practical option to your family and sister might make it easier for her to take the first step.

Bring across your message

It might just still be they don't fully realize where you are and how you are still feeling. Writing a letter will help you to process it and for them to emphasis it. Think of the following points

  • The hurt from your sister is still real.
  • Family is already broken apart (especially for religious people it is good to know that their life is not perfect, to break religion and get out the basis behind their faith).
  • She has not asked for forgiveness yet and she will have to take the first step.
  • You blame your parents for still blaming it on you.
    • This also hurts you.

Not forgiving ≠ Avoiding

While it is understandable that she hurt you and you don't want to talk to her, avoiding her at all cost based on this, is only hurting you more. Not going to family occasions because she is there or other things (it might be a good excuse not to go to family boring occasions but that to the side).

Get over

Whatever it was she broke your relationship, or spilled a big secret. Try to leave it in the past as something that happened in the past. Don't let it influence you in the future. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don't let this be ruined, enjoy it as much you can :)

All I can say is that it's probably best for you to start forgiving her, as it will set you free. By forgiving her you are conquering yourself to no longer be influenced by your sister. But I can easily say that not being in your situation.

I want to wish you best of luck and and to add one more thing

Include an external party

Everybody always says get a therapist but in my life it was always friends who helped me out. The nice thing about friends is that they are on your side (so it's quite safe) but they can tell you when you are over doing something.

  • 2
    You're right that "sorry" wouldn't immediately fix everything, but if she can't even do that, I don't trust her not to hurt me again. It's hard to leave in the past because the results of her actions are ongoing and visible (sorry for being vague). I've confided in my bf about it; he is supportive but also suggested I need to start getting over it (nicely, something like "ok, this isn't going away now, so you gotta think about the next step"). Thanks for the advice though - will keep reflecting on it :)
    – Em C
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 19:52
  • 5
    You're both mid-20 and living independently. You're perfectly capable of cutting ties to both your parents and your sister, especially if they're giving you grief. Don't think that blood ties are anymore special than friendships, they're more likely to make you make poor decisions than good ones. If your parents are so unwilling to understand your feelings, I'd say cut them out of your life along with your sister. They made their choice, you make yours.
    – A. L
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 14:50
  • 1
    @A.Lau the relevant difference here is that you may find new friends, but you almost never find new parents or siblings. Mid-20 is really young actually, it's just a few years of being (somewhat) independent, of many, many years to come. Why give up at ~10% of the race already?
    – mvds
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 16:16
  • 2
    @mvds you're holding special bonds to something superficial. Blood ties means nothing. There are parents kill their children, rape their children and abuse them should their children still maintain ties with them? If despite them being your parents and them being unwilling to care about your feelings, then they're not worth the time and effort. You're the one who's going to lose in the end because you're the one chasing someone who's running from you.
    – A. L
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:59
  • 3
    Hey gents, in this case i think this is for EmC to judge not for us. There is no perfect world and thus never a single solution. In this case i thought not breaking the ties was wished so that's what my answer focussend on. Rather focusing on the long term goals than the short time solution. You are welcome to write your own answer to EmC's question :-) Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 7:12

Expanding a bit on what Joel said as his first point, it would be pretty useful to figure out what, if anything do you want your sister to do to help repair the rift. If nothing else it at least gives you a convenient response to most of the above statements

S: "I wish we could have a happy family dinner"

R: "Get her to do X and maybe we could have it"

S: "She reached out with texts"

R: "When she reaches out with action by doing X the healing can begin"

S: "This is the way things are, you need to accept it"

R: "I'll accept it after she does X until then the way things are is that I don't talk to her and YOU need to accept THAT"

And so on. But ideally, it would be something meaningful that if done would genuinely reassure you that she won't do similar infractions in the future, at the very least

  • 3
    The examples are really helpful, and it's an approach I haven't tried yet. It's hard to be direct with my parents when I know they won't be happy, but this would definitely make my position clear.
    – Em C
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 20:41
  • I'm curious, how would you counter a response along the lines of, "Well, you could make the first step by doing Y" where they are pushing OP to initiate the X action?
    – cheshire
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 20:46
  • 5
    From the question I assume that the sister is the one wronged OP, so I would say "She's the one who caused all of this, not me, so she's the one who should start first."
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 21:30

When being pushed I find it helpful to try to connect with the "pusher" and ask for support from them (the pusher I will call P and Y for you)

P: Your sister really is sorry and I wish we could all just get along.

Y: Look, I get it that you feel ready to move on. I can't really understand how or why, but I accept it and support you in where you are in your journey. What I really need right now is for you to also accept where I am, and it's not where you want me to be. Maybe it will be, but it's not right now and this pressure isn't helping me get there.

It can be very hard if you are a person who is inclined to "peacemaking" to allow people the time they need to make peace, or not. It can be very hard to accept when peace is never going to be made, and sometimes that is also a reality. It may be in the nature of P to believe all rifts can be bridged. It's a lovely characteristic to be that optimistic, but it's also one that needs to respect boundaries. You have every right to ask P to back off. No one gets to decide when your timing is right but you.

As for you forgiving your sister. Personally I do think that is necessary. Do not misunderstand that to mean you tell her she is forgiven, or start visiting with her or anything. It is merely the internal forgiveness I am speaking of. I have forgiven people that I wish I could have back in my life, but likely never can. I will not trust them, on any level, and I do not feel that having them in my life would be good for me, so I don't. Once I have forgiven though, I can see them, in other settings. I don't have to have long conversations or any conversation really. I can then hope for them that they find peace and happiness and let it go so that when we do cross paths or I hear news of them, I no longer have any bad feelings attached to it. That is the sort of forgiveness I mean. I mean the sort that allows you to no longer give them any control over the way you feel. Now if your sister wouldn't allow you space if you see her and would try to insist on additional conversation, etc, then I would support you in doing what you can to not see her until she is ready to accept the boundaries you want in place. Just like P, she also has to be willing to accept whatever your comfort level is if they are the ones asking you to try.


One issue I'd like to bring up with some of the responses here, is that they (and your parents) seem to assume that 'forgiving' means 'forgetting'. That 'forgiving' means being around your sister and the family status quo returning to whatever they believe it should be. This is not true. You can forgive her and still not include her in your life because you realize she doesn't understand that what she did was wrong or why it hurt you so much and therefore will likely hurt you again. You can also figure out a way to attend family functions together without ever forgiving her.

Forgiveness does not mean everything goes back to what it was before. In fact, I would argue that no matter what happens from here, everything should not go back to what it was before. Whatever it was before allowed your sister's behavior that hurt you. Instead, if forgiveness is granted, it should improve your life. Whether your parents see it that way (ie the family ends up 'back together') or not (ie you move on without your sister) is their problem. You don't need to make it yours.

To address your actual question, have you tried asking your parents why they feel you need to 'forgive' your sister and forget the whole incident? They might not see just how selfish their behavior is. Each of the examples for why they say you should 'forgive and forget' benefits them, not you. They might not realize that the image of the perfect, happy family they see in their minds isn't going to be achieved by forcing you into an uncomfortable situation. And that forcing you into said situation to attain that image is selfish and cruel. Asking them, each time, might make them start to look at their own answers more closely.

I went through something similar several years ago, when after months of trying to make a bad situation with a family member better, I decided I wasn't going to speak to them until they showed some sign of acknowledging that their behavior was wrong and showing genuine remorse. After a few unanswered attempts to get me to just ignore what they'd done wrong, the offending family member just stopped contacting me. I was a little disappointed at first, but ultimately, it turned out to be good for me. I hadn't realized how much of a negative influence they were on my life until they were no longer a part of it.

However, some other family members started bothering me about the situation once we stopped speaking. I asked why they felt the need to get me to talk to the other person. It turned out the other family member was either pressuring them to get me to forget the problem or was otherwise making them uncomfortable. I told the well-meaning meddlers that I was sorry for their position, but it wasn't to change mine. After that, anytime it came up again, I asked why they were bringing it up and eventually they realized that they weren't doing it for me, they were doing it for them.

Here are a couple of examples:

A cousin of mine commented that she wished I would let it go because she felt torn between us. I asked her why that was an she answered that she knew if she invited the other family member to an event, I would not attend. I pointed out that the only reason I didn't attend was to be respectful to everyone else, to avoid the scene we both knew the other family member would make. We both knew they would make everyone uncomfortable while not actually improving the situation. My cousin acknowledged this was true and we changed the subject. She later called to tell me she was sorry because she had been thinking about what we talked about and came to understand that bothering me about the other family member was something she was doing to make life easier for her, not for me. I told her it was fine, I understood the difficulty of her position, but still wasn't going to change mine. She never asked me to again and found her own way of dealing with the other relative.

My older sister kept trying to get me to see the estranged family member. After I asked why a few times, I found out that she believed that she was ultimately responsible for us not speaking. She had done something wrong around the same time that caused several family members to fight and the relative made it out to sound as if we had fought about her actions, not their behavior. She was trying to make it right because she thought it was her fault. Once I explained to her that it wasn't, she saw that it wasn't any of her business and was willing to let us handle the situation as we saw fit. My sister and I now get along fine, and she has a relationship with both me and the other family member.

I still do not speak to that family member, but I'm not still angry. I moved on from that surprising quickly once everyone gave me some breathing room. I was able to forgive but was wise enough not to forget.

I hope you are given the chance to forgive at your own pace and decide for yourself what your life looks like after that.


I am/have been in a similar situation. What worked for me was to be direct and unambiguous with my parents about the new relationship:

I do not have a relationship with my brother anymore. That is in the past.

I then made their expectations clear:

If you ever knowingly put me in a situation where he and I are in the same room, I will hold you fully accountable and put you in the past as well.

Then I let them know how I could support it:

I will not visit before calling and I will never ask you not to invite him. Your responsibility will be to inform me when you know a collision may happen and my responsibility will be to choose how to handle that.

The last thing I did was set conversational boundaries:

Any attempts to talk to me about this that I do not bring up will be met with me ending the conversation and leaving.

And finally:

I will be the one to let you know if anything changes.

It helped that I have a long history of doing exactly what I say, so they have seen very consistent behavior from me and to their credit are very supportive of the new relationship dynamic. YMMV, of course.


You can make your position very clear and uncompromising to your parents, as in "she has done me a very bad deed whose details I don't intend to go into, and I am not ready to forgive her, so that is my final position at present. Please do not continue to bring up this topic." You might possibly add "I may reconsider later, depending on her future behavior" simply to suggest your mind is not closed on the matter.

I wouldn't presume to know your personal situation: however we in India believe in keeping 'good relations' and open lines of communication with close family members. It is sad but true that if you have only one sibling, which is this sister, then it is better overall to not be emotionally estranged from her, because family is family and the only source we can absolutely call upon for emotional support in any situation.

I have a sister myself who is 2 years younger and has often had a volatile personality: we had strong differences of opinion at times, but I am always conscious that we shouldn't create a permanent rift that can later be irreparable.

In my experience, the worst thing that can permanently destroy a relationship is absence of communication.

"I am not ready to forgive her (yet)" can therefore have serious consequences, so I can imagine how your parents are anxious.

Your parents may not be helping matters by pushing you but you too cannot leave it too late (or expect your sister to apologise or whatever) if you want to salvage the relationship.

So I strongly suggest taking a step forward yourself, being bold enough and 'big-hearted' enough to take the lead on clearing the air. If you feel uncomfortable with discussing a delicate issue in your parents' presence you can discuss it one-to-one with your sister. However if that would be emotionally stressful you can choose to discuss the issue with her in the presence of parents/ relatives/ trusted friends so that you two can thrash out your differences at the earliest and repair a potentially valuable relationship.

  • It is true that this relationship is valuable. People in their 50s may benefit from talking with siblings who grew up in nearly the same family. For instance, my mom and her two near-aged older siblings have a very different perspective of their dad then her two younger siblings that were born several years later. Despite me recognizing this relationship as valuable, I've studied in college how family/group/collective plays a more significant/important social/life role in Asia than America which has attitudes that value individualism by notably higher amounts.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 4:44
  • Yes indeed @TOOGAM. Thanks for sharing your family experience. It's true that Asian societies put greater emphasis on family and kinship bonds. On the other hand, individualism leaves a person with even fewer people that will unconditionally support you emotionally, so it is not good for OP or anyone to permanently alienate close family members such as an only sibling. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 6:47

This may not apply to your situation, but have you considered whether you want your parents in your life under these circumstances? It sounds as if you've been clear about where you currently stand. Once that position is established, further attempts to sway you show a profound lack of respect for your intelligence, decision-making skills, and your perspective of this life as a human being. Certainly, nothing about a situation like this is easy, but at this point, it sounds as if your parents may be a bigger problem, because they've either taken a position that your perspective on the matter is either wrong or that they're simply going to disregard your opinion in favor of doing whatever fits their world perspective best. It's important to realize that each individual's perspective is his or her reality, and those that choose to disregard another's perspective are demonstrating that they don't respect that individual's reality. It doesn't sound like there's much give and take in this situation, and I'm deeply sorry you're having to deal with such a difficult position.

  • Thank you. I am still unsure about my relationship with my parents. There were some things I was hiding which they ended up finding out due to this conflict. Although they were not happy, I felt like they tried to understand or at least reassure me they still cared about me (unlike my sister). So I hoped maybe our relationship would improve now that those secrets are out. However, there are events coming up which will make it more clear where I stand with them.. I guess I will have to wait and see.
    – Em C
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 21:13

What can I tell them?

It sounds like your parents are having a hard time emphathizing with you. From the comments bellow the question it sounds like you may have already done the following but if you havn't then you should now,
Tell them the exact reprucussions you are going through.

Tell them about your nightmares, Tell them about the insomnia.

Make sure you tell them these things to your parents in private, you don't want interuptions from other people to derail the conversation.

Be warned your parents are likely to respond with something along the lines of

"if you would just forgive all that stuff would go away."

I hope your parents don't say that to you but if they do, it will be important for you to remember that they don't understand your pain. If they did they woundn't be pushing you to gloss things over.

So respond to them with something like this.

"How I feel is a direct result of my sister knowingly betraying me, and insulting my worth as a human being by telling be that I'm a horrible person." Can you honestly tell me that if she had done this to you that you wouldn't not feel exactly as I do?

You may want to consider doing the above in writing so as to avoid an argument. If you do tell them in a letter make sure to tell them that you are cominicating via letter becuase you love them and want to avoid a fight. The "love them" part is important because it precludes the claim that you wrote the letter out of cowardice.

If showing them the full extent of your pain does not diminish the preasure they are putting on you to reconcile, well, you will either have to keep repeating yourself, or stop seeing them as much.

"How do I respond when they try to get me to go to family events with her?"

Tell them "I simply will not hang around some one who deliberately betrays me. I don't want to get close enough to her for her to betray me again, and it's too painful for me.

Do I just have to accept they will view me as the bad guy for not accepting her "compromise" of sweeping it under the rug?

Probably. Unfortunately many people seem to lack the ability to tell the difference between some one who repents of something did wrong and some one who just want to gloss over their mistakes and pretend they didn't happen. Which is a shame because when you paint over rusted metal, it starts to flake off awfully quickly.

Were you don't follow your families religion It will be tempting for them to use the narrative that you are the black sheep of the family and your "lack of forgiveness" is just one more of your supposed shortcomings.

You can counteract this narrative by making extra efforts to show your family that you do care about them. visit them more then you normally would (when your sister is not there). Send them little letters thanking them for something recent that they said or did that was nice. If there is nothing recent thank them for something from a long time past. Call them just to say hi and see what's going on in their lives.

Side note if they try to talk about you and your siste say "I don't want to talk about it" and then ask them about work, your cousin, the dog whatever (to distract them) if they persist, Tell them kindly that you will end the call if they insist on talking about it.

By proactively seeking connection with the rest of your family you will over time (probably years) show them that you are a loving caring person, who won't betray or abandon them. And their narrative will slowly change.


In this portion I've included some response to all of the tactics your family uses to pressure you into forgiving your sister, or at least the ones you listed in your question. Please be aware that these responses are not designed to calm tensions. They are designed to set your accusers on their heals so to speak. To show the fallacies and short comings of their arguments. I include them because I believe it is important for us to be able to stand up for themselves. Don't just use these responses verbatim. They will be most useful to you if you think about them and write down how you feel about both the accusation against you and the response provided bellow. Writing down how you feel about the accusation and response will help you understand yourself, and the situation better. Which will in turn strengthen your ability to defend yourself.

It makes your mother so sad to think of her family never having a big happy get-together again

Don't you think it hurts me too? My sister betrayed me, how do you think I feel?

You're being selfish, your sister's choice made her happy, don't you want her to be happy?

That road goes both ways isn't my sister supposed to want me to be happy as well?

Well, I can see why what she did hurt you, but you shouldn't have done XYZ in the first place

Two wrongs don't make a right, they just make more wrong. Just because I made mistakes doesn't excuse her for betraying me, and telling me that I'm a horrible person.

It's been months/years, this is how things are now, you need to accept that.

How does accepting the situation help me heal my pain? I know that this is how things are now, That makes the pain worse not better.

She's reached out with those texts and you're not even giving her a chance, so the rift is really your fault now.

She's not mending anything, what she's doing is pretending that she never did anything wrong. If the rift between us is ever going to be mended she must give me and honest heartfelt apology. Until she does our relationship can not heal.

But she's your only sister, you don't want to end up like [estranged extended family member], do you?

No I don't. I also don't want to associate with some one who is willing to betray her own sister. I want to avoid being hurt by her again.

It must be exhausting holding on to all that anger for so long, I can't even imagine..

Ya, it sucks, but you know, your passive aggressive comments only make the pain worse.

Personal Thoughts,
I'm glad your getting professional help. I'm not a psychologist, or a counselor, but I have seen first hand the trauma cause by personal betrayals. And it is indeed traumatic. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

I've learned some things about forgiveness that it may be worth thinking about. From your question, and my experience with this sort of trauma I'm going to guess that talking about forgiveness is frustrating to you. So if you find any thing I say below frustrating please feel free to call me an A** hole and quite reading.

1) People talk about Forgiveness as if you can just say "ok I forgive you" and poof everything is magically better. That is not how forgiveness works at all. Especially when betrayed by a close loved one. After all the lowest level of Hell is reserved for traitors right? (paraphrased from Dante's Inferno or Pirates of the Caribbean)

2) It's a lot easier to forgive someone when they are actually sorry for what they've done. Forgiving some one who's not sorry is somewhat a kin to grabbing a red hot rod of metal. your probably going to let go after 1/10 of a second because it's just too d**n painful.

3) Forgivness for this sort of hurt usually takes years. Also, you can forgive some one and still not trust them.

4) forgiveness is not about making the other persons life better. It's about making our life better. It's about escaping all the anger, and then healing from the pain (the anger is often a way of coping with the pain)

Good luck working all this out.

  • IMO your last point (4) is key; forgiving isn‘t directed towards the other person, but a way to promote one’s healing.
    – michi
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 23:17

I am not going to be able to repair the damage done to my relationship with my sister until I've healed from the injury she inflicted. I hope you understand that this will take a long time. Unfortunately the pressure you are adding to forgive her before I've healed only makes the wound deeper, and worse it harms the relationship I have with you since it reminds me that you do not understand just how much I've been hurt. I don't want the harm she caused me to sour the relationship I have with you, so please don't ask me about it again. I will certainly let you know if our relationship improves.

Repeated each time they bring it up.

  • Hey Adam! We really want to encourage answers that support themselves. The big way to do this is to explain why your answer will work and (if possible) support your answer by explaining any personal experience you have in this situation. We're certainly a subjective site but we still require answers to be more than simply "try this answer I pulled out of thin air". Thanks!
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 21:47

If you have physical symptoms about the issue, it would likely be also in your own benefit if you could genuinely forgive your sister. On the other hand, genuine forgiveness is nothing that can be forced.

It's likely that there's a way that your sister could apologise that allows you to forgive her. You can make it clear to your parents that you will need an apology to move on.

  • 1
    Physical symptoms are anxiety-induced, when I am forced into a situation. Ex: she bullied me into attending a party where she'd invited someone I strongly did not want to see. The week prior I had trouble sleeping and eating, nightmares. I asked my mother for advice; she said I should still go since my sister wanted me to. So I did (bf came to make sure I didn't hurt myself to get out of it though), felt nauseous the whole time. Afterwards my sister got mad at me for not eating, even though I had said I wasn't feeling well. But if I never had to deal with that sort of thing again? No problem.
    – Em C
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 13:08
  • “Bf came to make sure I didn’t hurt myself to get out of it though” - if I was a friend or relative and I suspected you might hurt yourself to avoid seeing your sister, I would never, ever allow you to see her.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 16:59

You are your own person, responsible only to yourself. If your sister has done things to you that you don't want to forget, and that you don't want to forgive her for, that is your decision and nobody else's. Usually it is the case that having someone on your mind all the time that you are angry with isn't good for you; either forgiving or removing her from your life and mind as thoroughly as you can are the reasonable solutions. From what you are posting, the second seems much more reasonable. Especially if it is so bad that contact causes physical symptoms for you.

What your parents want is different. Understandable, but it's your life and not your parents'. If they can't accept you as you are - including not ever wanting to forgive your sister - that should be their problem. I'd suggest that whenever they talk to you and try to convince you to forgive your sister, you tell them as explicitly as possible that this is not going to happen, ever. Don't give them the slightest indication that you might ever change your mind. A sequence of replies would be: "No.". "Never". "Never in a million years". "Not over my dead body". And if that isn't enough you'd have to criticise your parents' actions. "Can't you understand what 'No' means?" "Don't try talking to me about her, ever again". Since you don't want arguments with your parents, combine it with a strong indication that this is only about your sister, not your parents. "I love you, but please try not to talk to me about her, ever again".

Why should you never give them any indication that you might forgive? Because any such indication only tells them that they need to work harder to change your mind, exactly the opposite of what you want. Give them a strong no ever single time and there's a good chance they will give up which is what you want.

So: Clear indication that you will never forgive her and you will never want to talk about it. At the same time clear indication that this is against your sister alone, and not against other people.

I heard someone say "Never burn bridges. Either leave them, or blow them up to smithereens. Nothing in-between". I also heard someone say "friends are the relatives that you choose". Make your choice, and do what you can to make your parents accept that choice. According to your comments, your sister isn't interested anyway.


How to stop family from pushing me to forgive and forget?

Forgive and forget.

Seriously, if you do that, why would they keep pushing you to do that?

Why should that be my responsibility?

Because it's the right thing to do.

It's like a saying I once heard:

All of the miserable rotten things that have screwed up your childhood and upbringing are 100% not your fault, and when you become an adult, are 100% your responsibility to fix.

It doesn't matter much whether we want life to work a certain way (e.g., "life should be fair"). Our best response is handling how life really is, not how it would be nice to be if it worked the way we wished it would.

What can I tell them?

Okay. You're right.

How do I respond when they try to get me to go to family events with her?


Do I just have to accept they will view me as the bad guy for not accepting her "compromise" of sweeping it under the rug?

No. You can give in.

Another gem I've heard:

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.


Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Your family's motives may be more than just hoping for the best for your sister, but also caring about you. If you win this battle with your family, it will be at an even worse cost, so there is no way to win the way you are hoping to.

  • 2
    Your answer presupposes that I am ready to immediately forgive her, and just have chosen not to. I am not, which is the whole reason I asked this question.
    – Em C
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 21:51
  • You can make your position very clear and uncompromising to your parents about that, @Em C, as in "she has done me a very bad deed whose details I don't intend to go into, and I am not ready to forgive her, so that is my final position at present. Please do not continue to bring up this topic." You might possibly add "I may reconsider later, depending on her future behavior" simply to suggest your mind is not closed on the matter. (I have now added this paragraph at the beginning of my answer.) Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 22:17
  • @EmC : To be clear, I was fully aware (while writing this answer) that you would likely be opposed to this answer. I did not expect a green check mark coming from you anytime soon. However, even if the provided information seems disagreeable with your current desires, I have directly answered multiple questions, providing details on an option that is available. I'm simply saying that I was not overlooking what your comment mentions; I was well aware of that, and, being fully aware of that, still decided to proceed with providing the hopefully-helpful-to-someone-someday answer.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 4:33

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