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Publication: Dear Abby
Man Wants Out From Trailing In Younger Brother's Shadow

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             DEAR ABBY - June 17, 2008 

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ABBY: I'm a 24-year-old male. My younger brother, "Chaz," 
is 22 and has always been extremely popular with everyone 
-- parents, grandparents, guys, girls. He is the better-
looking, more talented, smooth-talking brother.

Chaz and I have been close growing up, sharing the same 
hobbies and doing the same things. But ever since I can 
remember, people have walked past me on their way to flock 
around him. The only time girls talk to me is when they 
ask about him. Chaz juggles three gorgeous girlfriends who 
know about each other but are still crazy about him.

I don't consider myself ugly or awkward. I do OK. I'm 
thought of as the nicer, warmer one who people can talk 
to. I'm not bad at what I do, and I do get compliments on 
my talents, but often it's followed with, "But your brother 
... wow!"

I know I shouldn't compare myself to Chaz, but it hasn't
been easy living in his shadow and being seen by everyone 
as "just his brother." It has done a real number on my 
self-esteem. What can I do to not let this affect me so 
much? Should I move someplace where nobody knows him? 

BROTHER: Let's follow that last sentence to its logical 
conclusion. You move far away from Chaz -- and then what? 
Pretend you're an only child? What if he comes to visit? 
What if you meet someone special and want to introduce 
her to the family? Only as a last resort should you take 
such drastic action.

It's time to start working to beef up your sagging self-
esteem. One way would be to schedule some sessions with 
a psychologist who can help you appreciate the traits 
that distinguish you from your brother. Another important 
step would be to involve yourself in activities separate 
and apart from Chaz, which will help you to cultivate an 
identity of your own. 

You are far more than just someone's brother. You are 
already considered the "nicer, warmer one who people can 
talk to." Recognize that those are important qualities 
and something you can build upon.

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ABBY: I am 13 and still haven't had my first kiss. When 
all my friends are talking about theirs, I just hope they 
won't ask me about mine. Boys will ask, "Have you had your 
first kiss?" or, "Who was your first kiss with?" I hate 
having to say it hasn't happened yet.

Abby, how should I answer these questions -- or should I 
not answer at all? I don't know what to do. 

ASHAMED: A first kiss should be with someone special 
because it's an event you will remember for the rest of 
your life. Not having been kissed (yet) at 13 is nothing 
to be embarrassed about, so stop worrying.

As to all those "curious" boys who ask about your first 
kiss, it's time you learned you do not have to answer 
every question that's asked of you. Just smile and say, 
"I don't kiss and tell." Then ask them if they've had 
THEIR first kiss yet, and who it was with. And remember 
-- a guy who would talk about another girl would talk 
about you.

ABBY: Last year I commissioned a friend to make a one-of-
a-kind model lighthouse for my brother. When my brother 
saw it, he thought it was hideous. I suppose I could sell 
it, but how should I handle the situation when I see my 
friend again and he asks how my brother liked the light-
house he made? I don't want to cause hurt feelings, but 
I'm a terrible liar. Any suggestions? 

PATTY: Allow me to offer one. If you are asked about the 
model, tell your friend that the lighthouse "didn't fit my 
brother's decor." It's the truth. You don't have to specify 
that your brother passed judgment on it and found it 
lacking. Then offer to sell the model back to the artist. 
If he refuses, feel free to dispose of it as you wish. 

ABBY is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as 
Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline 
Phillips. Write ABBY at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box  
69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. 

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