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Reblogged:Selfishly Navigating an Unselfish World

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Editor's Note: Due to an unforeseen disruption in my schedule, I am unlikely to post tomorrow. Posting may also be light or irregular until about June 20. Thank you for your patience.

At Captain Awkward is a good answer to the following question:
How do I convince my sister that I don't want to be roommates?
This question will strike only a relatively few of my fellow travelers as being as bizarre as it truly is, and I bet most of them will remember a time in their lives -- steeped as our culture is in altruism -- that if they might not have had it themselves, it wouldn't have sounded odd at all.

Consider the unspoken implication of that question: The expressed desire or "need" of the writer's sister inherently constitutes enough of a claim on the writer's life that the reason for wanting another arrangement needs to be 'good enough' for her.

Jennifer Peepas (aka Captain Awkward) is far from a fellow traveler (and her column is for practical advice anyway), so her answer, while based on implicitly selfish premises, does not analyze the question or its implications on a philosophical level.

That said, her basic answer is spot-on:
I have good news: You don't ever have to convince your sister that you don't want to be roommates or that your reasons are good enough. So long as you don't actually buy property together or become roommates, you get to win this argument forever. The boundary isn't where you convince her it is, it's wherever you decided to put it. As long as your actions maintain it, it will hold.
The rest of the column deals with the inevitable consequences of the two people in this dispute having been hamstrung by altruism, the letter-writer in the form of having difficulty with self-assertion and the sister in the form of relentlessly pressuring others to commit self-sacrifices on her behalf.

This advice, too is good. Note how well Peepas anticipates moves the sister might try and how to counter them. She continues:
Oddly, she's still not convinced you should have your own living arrangements. (Image by Urban Gyllström, via Unsplash, license.)
Bad news, I know you want to get your sister to a point where she understands and agrees with your point of view so that she'll stop pressuring you, but I'm not sure how realistic that is based on her behavior so far. If you've told her what you told us, and she's still going strong, that's not about you not making your case well enough. If you haven't told her what you told us, start there: "I don't want to get a place to live together, sorry. It's not the right move for me to commit to staying in this area long-term, and our styles are so different that I think we'd end up clashing over household stuff. I hope you can find something you can afford on your own." Keep in mind that you are informing her about a decision you've made, not raising issues for her to "solve" to make it more workable for you.

From then on, if you can stop her before she gets going, do it. "Let me interrupt you right there. I already said no and I don't want to rehash this again. New topic!"
I don't agree with all the advice I read at Captain Awkward. (For one thing, the author is a self-described wokescold.) I have nevertheless often found solid advice there that I would say is in the vein of selfishly navigating an unselfish world.

-- CAV

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