EDIT: As I have seen some close votes for too broad. Please communicate the issue with the question so that I can edit it. Because I believed the question to be "not too broad" as my question is clear: How to communicate to my brother to respect my life choices?

I have a brother that is 7 years older than me. We normally get along very well, spend once or twice a week time with each other because we live in the same town for a couple of month now.

Now my problem is that he is VERY straightforward pushing and confrontational. He is a very very sporty person and wants to push everyone in the same direction, because "it's healthy". Which is true, but you have to respect personal choices and sometimes he does not get that. Especially with me.

For example: We go bouldering* regularly (he goes more often and thats his main sport) and expects me to go regularly with him as well. And mostly I do that because i like it and its fun. But sometimes i just want a lazy evening, or simply not go, and I'm almost afraid to tell him straight up "I just dont want to!" because I know that he will a) be angry at me because he is a person that gets angry fast and b) he will try to convince me and try to make me feel guilty for not "doing the healthy thing which is good for me!".

Or sometimes when he writes me via facebook, and I simply don't want to answer for different reasons, or sometimes can't because I dont see it, he gets angry with me for not replying as if I was entitled to answer him everytime he writes me and at best instantly! As example: he wrote me yesterday to which I did not answer and today morning comes a text why I dont answer him even if I got nothing to do the whole day (not so much to do at work currently). To which I answered that I dont look at facebook during work and he could contact me via whatsapp because I have whatsappweb open at my worklaptop. To which he just answered why I didn't reply to him yesterday in an angry manner. And sometimes he messages me over and over again at different medium which is VERY annoying because I just want to be in quiet sometimes (no introvert or anxiety but just enjoying calm sometimes).

How can I communicate to my brother that he has to respect MY life choices to do sports or do a lazy evening? And that he has to respect it or deal with it that I sometimes don't have the time/energy or motivation to answer his messages. Other than that we have a good family relationship, we get along well, and do other stuff as well like going out sometimes. But as he is a very convincing and dominant character, he can be very rough and pushy and I would like to be able to communicate that to him that he has to respect others personal choices. Especially with me, as he still sees me as his little brother that can't handle himself, but I am 22 now and very well capable of handling myself.

NOTE: Because someone said I should just say that to him. The reason this needs some IPS is because he wont really listen to critique on hist person. He is very resistant in his regard and always only sees his side. And pushing back bluntly is not an option because it's not about standing up to some bully but to make this clear to him without burning bridges as he is my brother and we have a very thight family and we see each other often.

*Indoor climbing

  • 2
    Did you tell him what you told us? If not, is there a reason that holds you back? – user510 Dec 14 '17 at 14:09
  • @henning " But as he is a very convincing and dominant character he can be very rough and pushy" Thats why, and he wont really listen to critique on hist person. He is very resistant in his regard and always only sees his side. Maybe i should include that in the question – MansNotHot Dec 14 '17 at 14:17
  • Maybe you should learn to push back and stand up for yourself. There will be many people in the world more pushy than your brother. – JohnP Dec 14 '17 at 14:32
  • @JohnP Its not about pushy people per se. I have no problem stanting up against pushy people, as i am neither mentally nor physically weak (probably through that sports XD) but its about pushing back without burning bridges here. – MansNotHot Dec 14 '17 at 14:40
  • That description of your brother may feel like he's someone very possessive towards you, furthermore he's the kind to be confrontational. So it seems to me that you won't be able to not have to handle him in a confrontational way. So the IPS way would be as said JohnP to stand up for yourself and fix sane boundaries. By orienting the discussion towards your bondaries like they apply everyone you can avoid a direct confrontation that will likely be ignored. – Walfrat Dec 14 '17 at 15:22

Sounds like you need to sit him down, explain that you are a fully-grown adult, and, as one, are going to have to lay down some ground rules for how he is allowed to interact with you. You have your own life, and it does not revolve around what he wants.

Sounds like he might have some impulse control issues (Attention Deficit Disorder, perhaps?). Some of the ground rules should include when he can contact you and expect a response (for instance, my daughter has told me NOT to send a text to her during school, except during her lunch hour. I always assumed she'd just ignore it until she could answer, but if she gets it during class, she feels obliged to check it in case it's an emergency, so it better be an emergency if I send it then).

Let him know that if he can't respect your boundaries, then you are going to enforce them. This is also an indication of how serious you feel this is, and should get his attention. And then DO IT. If that means blocking him or de-listing him as a contact on certain social media platforms for a particular period of time (almost as a "time out), then be willing to do so. If it means changing his status on platforms so his messages don't alert you in "sleep/busy" mode, then do it.

It might seem excessive, to read it, but I'm not recommending that you just do it. It would only be in response to his ignoring your requests to respect your personal boundaries, which would make it entirely appropriate.

If you want to ease into it ("don't FB message me and expect me to answer when I'm at work"), that's fine, but it sounds like you've already tried that a bit, and he's kind of steam-rolled right over it. That doesn't make him a horrible person, as an older sibling his entire early life interaction with you was probably one where he could dictate and control, to a certain extent, and he probably has never taken the time to step back and consciously view you in a different context.

So it's up to you to make him do that. Be strong, follow through on the actions you need to in order to enforce your boundaries, and don't allow him to brow-beat or guilt you in to caving in. Since you are both adults, you clearly feel you should be peers now, while he clearly still views you as the "little" sibling. Also, this maybe feels mildly threatening because independence on your part and having your own life maybe feels like a lessening of his role and his importance in your life, and he's fighting against feeling diminished in your interactions.


The obvious answer is to tell him what you need. You can give him The Talk™ about your general impression that he doesn't respect your life choices, or discuss the individual issues as they arise. I like the latter more, because it's less likely to derail into some abstract debate about who's right or wrong.

Also, I find the following recipe helpful:

  • What action of him did you observe that you disagree with? Be precise and describe the action, not any interpretation of it. For example: "Yesterday, you messaged me on three different chats and told me to respond ASAP." This is different from an interpretation, such as: "You're always so pushy and impatient with all these messages."
  • How did you feel when you observed this? For example, "to be honest, I was looking forward to chill and play games, but I was afraid you might think bad of me, so I didn't answer right away". Say "I felt" not "you made me feel".
  • What do you want? Talk action, not attitude: "Please, don't try to convince me more than once when I say no". This is different from "don't be so confrontational all the time".

If your brother doesn't meet your request, you can either try to understand why he doesn't want to. Maybe he loves to go bouldering, but hates going alone. There's room for compromise then: He could join a group, you could agree on a few days a week (meet in the middle). Maybe he wants to spend time with you. Then find some other (lazy) activity you both enjoy. You get the idea.

Or you can insist. Decide what's more important to you: Avoiding a conflict with your brother or having lazy evenings more often. Sometimes fighting is not worth it, but sometimes it is. More importantly, it's not an either/or. You don't have to "burn bridges" in order be firm on your boundaries. Some people just find it hard to take no for an answer, so they need to hear it twice. And some people find it hard to say no, so they need to practice.


You ask:

How to get confrontational brother to respect my life choices?

There are some principals we need to keep in mind.

first, You can't control some one else's actions. We can only choose to change our own behavior.

Second, people do usually respond to incentives. And we usually respond consistently

Third, Change takes time, and even after a long time we can be prone to relapse into our old habits in times of stress or discomfort.

Fourth, when you criticize some one they will almost always get defensive which typically leads to conflict.

When your brother gets upset that you want to do something like stay home just tell him something along the lines of:

I love you man, I just need some time to relax right now. Let's go bouldering next Friday.

If he takes you up on the offer great! you can go home now.
If he is to mad to take you up on the offer at the moment. Say we'll talk about it later then and go home.

If he pesters you by phone of facebook turn of your devices.

Ignoring his poor behavior is most likely the most effective way to make it stop.

The second part is even more important though, when he eventually does what you want him to do, say accept you offer for bouldering another day. Thank him!, Tell him you appreciate him You want to reinforce the good behavior. And giving attention to some one is the best way to reinforce good behavior.

Even if he accepts the offer with a bad attitude thank him for being understanding. Over time he should learn to treat you more politely.

This will take time and patience on your part but it is worth it.

Also, you should watch this clip from Dr. Jordan Peterson. He explains how to "train" a partner very effectively. His advice applies equally to all relationships.

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