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We didn’t invite our sister on our trip. Are we jerks? Carolyn Hax readers give advice.

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post) (The Washington Post)

We asked readers to channel their inner Carolyn Hax and answer this question. Some of the best responses are below.

Dear Carolyn: One of my sisters and our husbands are planning a three-day sightseeing trip. We decided not to invite our other, single sister since our husbands can’t stand her and every decision becomes hers one way or another (cost, how to do it “perfectly,” how to drive) and constant “advice.” I made the mistake of telling her about the trip and that we didn’t invite her.

She lives near me and I invite her to dinner at my house, events out, shopping trips, holidays. Most events that involve any of my friends become planning dramas with her wanting to know literally everything about them so that she can have conversation topics and then she begs off.

The trip-sister and I have planned other smaller trips and invited our non-trip sister along and it is quite a bit of back and forth while she debates, demurs, and then she finally declines. So on this trip we didn’t even ask her along. Also this time we are bringing our husbands.

Now she complains that we “decided for her” and she is quite ugly about it.

How do we clean this up? She is demanding apologies which seem like manipulation. We’re exhausted. Help?

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Your difficult sister does indeed sound difficult. The way you write about her, however, gives me the impression that you mostly humor her, then get frustrated and complain behind her back. If so, you need to stop that. That is a poor way to treat someone. As far as the trip, you are certainly free to invite or not invite whomever you choose, so you do not need to apologize for planning a trip with that specific group. If you told her in a way that was insensitive, you might want to apologize for that. And if you told her in such a way that you were trying to act like you had done her a favor by not inviting her, that is an extra-strength jerk move, and you should apologize profusely. If you find it exhausting to invite her to so many things, maybe don’t invite her quite so often. And refuse to engage in her planning drama.

Maybe, once things have calmed down, have a talk with her about how often she would like to do things together, and what sort of things. Then figure out how often you want to see her, under what circumstances, and plan stuff together based on that. Not sure if this applies, but if you are inviting her to lots of things out of pity or obligation, then hoping she ends up begging off, you are not doing anyone any favors.

— drlemaster

Anonymous: This sounds like a challenging situation for all involved. What strikes me is two things. First, she feels left out, which is true. Second, you need some tactics to handle her behavior so that it does not negatively impact you so much.

Feeling left out is completely valid, but it does not imply fault, wrongdoing or the need for an apology. An apology sets a precedent that taking a trip without her is wrong and that she always deserves an invitation, which is not true. You can acknowledge that her feelings are valid and also explain that you do some things with her but not trip sister, and now you’re doing a trip with trip sister but not her. Ask if she wants to plan something in the future together. I would avoid an apology at all costs.

Second, you’ve had a lot of challenges in interacting with her when there are group events, but I don’t see any evidence you’ve discussed this with her or set boundaries to make those interactions easier on yourself.

For example, if she is pumping you for information about other guests, you can directly state that you will give her a rundown of the people there for, say, 10 minutes, but then the topic is closed. That way, whether she begs off or not, you have limited the amount of time on that topic. When making group decisions, choose a decision-making protocol beforehand — is it voting? Taking turns choosing something? Have a bound on the amount of time to discuss it, then take a vote or make the decision or whatever, then close the discussion.

I suggest this knowing it would be very difficult for me, personally, to do. It’s very difficult to change dynamics, but I have found that setting the boundaries in writing in an email (e.g. suggesting the new decision-making protocols) is helpful for not getting into an in-person negative conversation in which I am pressured to give in and fall back on old patterns.

— Anon

Anonymous: Speaking as a single sister who gets left out of trips all the time: What, exactly, is there to clean up? Presumably, you’ve never spoken to her about how her behavior on previous trips has affected you, or tried to find a solution with your sister so that traveling would be a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. You don’t enjoy her company. You didn’t want her along. You didn’t invite her. Trying to get the best of inclusion and exclusion, entirely on your own terms, was going to present issues. Now, this is the outcome. Own it.

— Singleton Sister

Anonymous: Your sister is unpleasant on trips, yet she never goes on trips? And you didn’t invite her because your husbands hate her but also because she is too invested but also not invested enough? Forgive me, but this feels like a lot of justification after-the-fact. And don’t get me started on the implication that, gosh, if she weren’t single she would be so much more likable.

It’s your prerogative to decide how you spend your time. There is nothing wrong with a polite “maybe next time!” But excluding someone, making a point to tell them that they were excluded, and then giving many obfuscating and unasked-for excuses for why they deserved to be excluded seems like a complete disregard for your sister’s feelings. Perhaps your sister is very difficult, but I’m not surprised that you are exhausted when you seem to have taken every opportunity to dig your heels in when a little acknowledgment of your disregard for her feelings would go such a long way.

A few years ago, my sibling and I planned a trip. Sibling 2 found out and wanted to join. So we invited them. The trip was awful; Sibling 2 hijacked the itinerary and we bickered the whole time. We all learned that sibling trips don’t work for us. But I’m still glad that I did it. Life is long and I still have great relationships with both of my siblings (and their families) years later, mostly because we all really care about each other despite our differences. A lousy weekend seems like a small price to pay for Sibling 2 to know we want them in our lives.

— Take a step back

Every week, we ask readers to answer a question submitted to Carolyn Hax’s live chat or email. Read last week’s installment here. New questions are typically posted on Fridays, with a Monday deadline for submissions. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and are edited for length and clarity.