The Relationship: Sisterly
You don’t rent DVDs together every night, but you have a deep connection. Still, unlike the “best friends” relationship, an element of competition, similar to sibling rivalry, can exist.
Why it’s good: You clearly like each other because you want to be like the other, and despite your age difference, you understand one another well.
Why it’s challenging: That sense of competition. “There’s always some competitive feeling in families, but we repress that,” says Saltz. “It happens here, when roles are blurred and sisterly, because there’s real ammunition. Doors are opening for daughters as they’re closing for mothers.” That can cause resentment and fights, says Saltz. “Also, daughters often compare themselves unfavorably to moms,” she adds. They may think, My mom’s smarter and more successful than I am.
Improving relations: To mitigate any competitive feelings, Tannen suggests trying to understand what the other might feel rivalrous about and being supportive in those areas. Don’t be competitive in return. If things deteriorate, time apart can help you both identify what you need or don’t need from the other going forward, says Saltz. Talk about it, and start again on new terms.