This is the most painful person in my family… Is it yours too? 127



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“Your oven stopped working? Well my oven stopped and then the gas bottle for the stove ran out plus the shops were closed so we had to eat toast!” 

“You’re going to Canada for Christmas? Oh we’re going on a very expensive, six week tour around Europe – it will be amazing!”

“Oh your grandson Tommy got into the school swimming team? Maureen’s grandson will be going to the state championships in Western Australia, he’s just so great”

“You had the flu? I almost just died from an illness so rare that it hadn’t even been discovered yet, and they’re probably going to name it after me”


All right, the last example is an exaggeration, but the others are all very real things that my sister in law has said to me over the last two months.

You see, she’s a one-upper and I’ve been living with these occasions at least twice a week for the last decade. My husband’s brother remarried after a divorce and in came Jan. Jan was lovely, she was fun but Jan’s story is always bigger than anyone else’s. Jan’s problem is always more important than anyone else’s. Jan’s health is always more serious than anyone else’s.

It doesn’t matter what it is, but no matter what anyone says, Jan has something that doesn’t just equal it, it blows it out of the water quite extravagantly. She never expresses an interest in what other people say, their thoughts, opinions or lives, it’s always about what can she relate to and compete with.

Jan’s been like this ever since Derek married her and I have to wonder, what drives people to do this?

I think that everyone knows someone who is a classic one-upper. Some of them have been doing it for so long that they don’t even realise it! In my opinion it has to stem back to childhood. Either they had parents and role models who were one-uppers and so they were taught that’s simply what we do, or they were made to feel like they needed to one-up those around them. Perhaps it was bullying or a hard start to life?

I don’t know what the reason is for Jan, but my goodness it’s annoying. We have a lot of annoying people in the family. I’m a worrier and so I am incessantly annoying everyone with my undue worries, my husband is the classic grandpa who takes too long to tell a story and one of my daughters is the constant complainer… We’re definitely a kooky lot and we have our own issues, but there’s just something totally frustrating about dealing with a one-upper.

It in some ways is quite sad that other family members occasionally make comments about her behind her back and sometimes dread sharing good news about their own lives with her because they know it won’t be acknowledged and something bigger and better about her own life will be told.

It’s sad that she can’t celebrate anyone else, not even the young ones because of the competition and I hope that someone might know how to deal with someone like her.

Tell us, do you have a one-upper in your family? Do you know someone like Jan? How would you handle it? Would you even try to change the situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. In the past four years I gained 200 kilos because I adore drinking alcohol and stuffing my face ALL WEEK, not just on weekends!

    One way of dealing with one uppers is to one up them. Take it to extremes and laugh about it. She might be able to see it then, and laugh at herself and tone it down a bit. 🙂

  2. Ladies don’t let these people get to you. Remember while they’re boasting to you they’re leaving some else alone. This may be your bit to save the sanity of the World. Some fights are worth fighting others I’d just turn off and think of something pleasant like them leaving. Maybe try singing a song in your head and just smile and nod.

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  3. I once told a friend (ex) that no matter what I said she would always outdo me, she looked stunned, didn’t see her after that.

  4. you’re right -every family has one. And we all know people like this. Good listeners make good communicators.

  5. I have a sister and a MOTHER narcissists it does not matter whether I have an opinion or justification or just something to share they still manage to squash my enthusiasm.

  6. I actually feel sorry for one uppers. Think about it, there must be a psychological problem to have the need to do this. Perhaps it’s a low self esteem, jealously or a need to sound that their is perfect when in fact it’s not. I have a relative who has done this ever since I was a child and still does it at 85yrs old. I just look listen & feel sorry for her.

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    • I have a daughter in law who suffers with this attitude. I just try to be kind. I think she was made to feel unimportant in her child hood by her parents.

    • I agree with your comments Julie. We all know a one-upper I would imagine, and like you I feel sorry for them. I have a friend like this, but I just say “oh that’s great” and change the subject. It does get a bit wearing at times. I did have a good chuckle lately though when she told me her grand daughter was going out with a barrister. Turned out he was a barista coffee maker.

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      • Barrister /Barista !!!! Hahahaha!!! I love that !! So funny it’s made my day !!

    • My sister is like that .if you say someting is black she will Insist it is charcoal .if you say it’s white she will insist it is light cream .say something is brown she wil say its not brown its tan .and so on .

    • Used to have this problem with my Sister in law even as far back when we were in the same grade at school. Then i married her Brother which was hell on earth with her then she is no longer with us as Cancer has taken her. But i ignored her alot an it was nt a good relation ship all thru those yrs with her at all .

  7. Maybe comment ..” Oh.. so its competition time again is it ?? Let’s go !!! See who can out do the other “!!! Lol!!

  8. I have 5 sister in laws and I must say that weall get on well together it was the mother in law that sometimes rocked the boat

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