How To Deal With A Sister in Law Who is Competitive? 8 Ways of Dealing With It

Last Updated on September 20, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester

Getting engaged and married is one of the most exciting and happiest life experiences. Many of us look forward to the day we make the choice to say “I do” for the long run. However, while we are able to choose our spouse we can’t choose the family members that they come with.

Dealing with a competitive sister in law can be pretty disheartening, no matter if it’s your significant other’s sister or his brother’s wife. This can start to be a strain on your own marriage and your relationship with your partner’s other family members.

Since you can’t trade your sister-in-law in for a better version, it’s best to understand how to deal with a sister in law who is competitive

Making sense of her behavior will not only help you deal with her but it may also help you strengthen the relationship. Let’s break down the signs your sister-in-law is jealous and how to deal with her jealousy. 

Why Do Sister in Laws Get Jealous?

There are lots of ways that the green-eyed monster called jealousy will rear its head. They can be rude and nasty for a variety of reasons. There may be days where you scratch your head in confusion trying to figure out what her issue with you is.

There are a lot of emotions that can bring up jealousy and you may find that many of them are the reasons for your sister in law’s woes. 

#1 She Feels Threatened By You 

One of the main reasons for a competitive sister in law is her feeling threatened by you. This can happen whether she’s your partner’s sister or even your partner’s brother’s wife. If it happens to be your spouse’s sister, then she may see you as a threat to her relationship with her brother.

Maybe she was the shining star of her brother’s life and you coming into the picture means that he’s no longer spending as much time with her. The lack of attention from her brother, especially during family gatherings, can immediately cause her to question her self worth – even if it’s totally unwarranted. 

On the other hand, if the jealousy is coming from your partner’s brother’s wife, then she may feel threatened by your marriage. Maybe she believes your marriage looks better than hers or you’re getting more positive attention from the in-laws.

She may want to be the shining daughter-in-law and finds that you are standing in the way of that. While it’s not always rational, these are some of the reasons behind the jealousy. 

Reading Suggestion: 7 Toxic traits of a Narcissistic Mother in Law

#2 She’s Competitive 

If your sister-in-law is the competitive type then she may be competing with you for the attention of your spouse or even your in-laws. A competitive spirit can be great in a lot of situations, but when it comes to interpersonal relationships it can cause huge strains.

When someone is competitive, it can often be fueled by feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem. Your sister-in-law may be the type of person to compare herself to those around her and you’re another benchmark for her to measure her own success against.

If you find her comparing her own accomplishments against yours then she’s probably trying to measure up against you and prove herself as “better.” 

#3 She’s Controlling – (Especially Over Her Brother)

One last reason for her jealous attitude could be a mask for her control issues. Does she claim that she knows her brother’s favorite dish and that you don’t?

She could also be barging into your home at random times of the day and always trying to push her way into the relationship.

This is her way of retaining control over her brother. You may find that she pushes her way into your relationship and tries to make her brother choose between the two of you. 

Signs of a Competitive Sister in Law

It can sometimes be difficult to discern whether someone’s behavior towards us is actually aggressive or not. This is particularly true when the person is passive-aggressive and not entirely transparent about how they feel. Here are the 4 major signs that your sister in law sees you as competition. 

1. She’s unhappy when others praise you

One of the biggest signs of a competitive sister in law is one who immediately gets upset when others praise you. If she feels the need to belittle you with a backhanded compliment after someone says something nice, then you can bet she sees you as competition.

You may notice that she turns the conversation around quickly and brings up her accomplishments to shift the conversation on her. 

2. She is jealous of your accomplishments 

A sister in law who is proud to have you as a new member of her family will be happy about all of your achievements. On the other hand, if she is secretly in competition with you then you can bet that she won’t be thrilled about everything you’ve done in your life.

If you notice her scoffing at your achievements or bringing up her own achievements when the attention is on you then that’s a clear sign of jealousy. 

Reading Suggestion:The Toxic Narcissistic Family Dynamics Explained

3. She gossips about you in front of you and behind your back 

Gossiping and talking about someone behind their back is a clear sign of jealousy. If you find out from others that your sister in law is doing just that then that’s another clear sign of a competitive nature. You may find that talks badly about you in front of you as well. This could include putting you down in front of others or belittling your own achievements or looks. 

4. She tries to manipulate you 

If she sees you as competition then she’s going to want to control your decisions and possibly sabotage you. This one may not be as obvious in the beginning, but over time you’ll begin to feel the effects.

If she tries to get you to make decisions that go against your best interests or gaslights your feelings and emotions then you may want to be more vigilant around her. 

8 Ways How to Deal with a Sister in Law Who is Competitive

Marrying into a new family and having to deal with the stress of impressing the in-laws is tough enough to begin with. Your sister in law should be the person that you can turn to for advice during these times.

However, if she’s competitive and doesn’t have your best interests at heart, then this can make adjusting even more difficult. Knowing the signs is the first step to helping fix the relationship. The next best thing is learning how to deal with her jealousy. Here are the 8 best ways you can deal with and handle a jealous and competitive sister in law. 

1. Don’t take her behavior personally 

Having her attack you or be jealous of you can easily hurt your feelings. It’s perfectly normal to feel rejected or feel like you’re doing something wrong. However, one of the best ways to deal with the situation is to remember that it has more to do with her than it does with you.

Many people’s behavior is a reflection of how they are feeling about themselves. The best way to deal is to remind yourself each time that this has nothing to do with you who you are as a person. 

2. Don’t trust her with secrets

If time and time again you find that she is gossiping about you or is telling your personal business to others, then it’s time to quickly stop that. One way to avoid your personal business getting out there is to avoid telling her anything.

Try to limit your personal interactions and do your best to keep the conversation as surface level as possible. Remember to always be polite and come across as the bigger person to avoid creating more tension. 

3. Keep your distance 

If it comes down to it, keeping your distance may be one of the best ways to handle the situation. This may be more difficult, however, if your partner’s family is quite fond of hosting family gatherings.

Still, you may want to limit your interactions to family gatherings only. This will help limit how often you two interact and may help cool the tension from her side. 

Reading Suggestion: 7 Strategies for Setting Boundaries with Toxic Parents

4. Talk to your partner about it

Your sister in law is your partner’s sister or his brother’s wife, which means she’s part of his family. He will more than likely know them better than you and can give you a better perspective on the situation.

Tell your partner what she is doing or saying and the feelings that it brings up in you. Do your best to remain calm and be as honest as possible. If she is actually acting out of character then he will immediately recognize that.

Work together as a unit to come up with a solution. After all, this is his family and it’s important for the two of you to be on the same page when it comes to family issues. This will ensure the longevity of your relationship and make sure that you’re both tackling issues with the same mindset. 

5. Talk to your sister in law 

One of the best things you can do is talk to her directly. Directly confronting the issue will give you both the space to air your grievances. Do your best to show her that life isn’t a competition and that you aren’t there to compete against her.

Asking her to speak in private, using unemotional language, and keeping your cool throughout the conversation are all key to having a constructive conversation.

While this may not solve the issue entirely, this will help open the door to a better relationship and will also allow for your sister in law to be vulnerable as well. 

6. Set clear boundaries. 

When dealing with a competitive sister in law, setting boundaries is key to having peace of mind. If you find yourself constantly getting disrespected by your sister in law then you will have to set some clear boundaries in order to show what you will and will not allow.

Express your boundaries clearly and calmly and be ready to enforce them should she choose to not respect them. Shut down her negative comments immediately or step away from a conversation where she is putting you down.

Boundaries will help ensure that your limits aren’t pushed and that you can continue to have a respectful relationship with your sister in law. 

7. Be as kind to her as you can be

Being kind to someone who is riddled with insecurity and trying to measure up is a great way to throw them off their mean streak. Keep your comments about her positive and uplifting. When you see her trying to get attention, reaffirm her importance and let her know that she is great.

This not only shows that you are capable of being the bigger person, but it also puts her in a more difficult position. After all, it becomes a lot more difficult to insult you and put you down, especially in front of others, if you’re always uplifting her and showing her kindness. 

8. Do your best to empathize 

Finally, do your best to empathize with her and the situation. Compassion and empathy are both superpowers and understanding where your sister in law’s competitive and jealous attitude is coming from can help you better relate to her.

Is there something that she’s been feeling down about in her life? Do her parents make her feel like she has to compete with you? Being empathetic could help you better relate to her and can help you with creating a better bond. 

Reading Suggestion: 15 Toxic Grandparents Warning Signs

Photo of author

Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

Leave a Comment