Phobias by definition are irrational.
Although these feelings are legitimate, it can leave the person in difficult positions when faced with what triggers their fear. Friends and family are often supportive however, this looks different in every situation.
22-year-old Redditor Old_Ad1998 recently turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if he should have handled his own sister’s phobia differently during a visit.
He asked the subReddit community:
“AITA for telling my sister to leave because of her fear?”
The original poster (OP) laid bare the conflict that arose when his boyfriend revealed a slithery tattoo.
“My sister (17) is afraid of snakes, she hates them, can’t be near them. My boyfriend (21) is the opposite, he loves them, and we actually have one (2-year-old female). Because of this we normally go see my sister or if she comes to our place my bf’s sister will take our girl for the day.”
“So, we have a pool, and it’s been really hot where we live so we invited my sister and my parents round. Like normal my bf’s sister came and took our snake.”
“When they arrived everything was fine until we got into the pool. My bf has a tattoo of a snake, it’s a blacked-out silhouette that wraps around both of his arms and his back.”
”When my sister saw it she freaked out and told me to tell him to cover it. She knew about his tattoo, she just expected him to cover it, which he can’t do without putting on a long sleeve t-shirt.”
“I told her no.”
“She then went over to him and asked him to leave because he knows about her fear. This annoyed me and I told her that if she has an issue with it she should leave, this is his house, not hers.”
“She got upset and just sat inside the whole time.”
”When they left my mom told me that I was rude to my sister and we knew about her fear and that we ruined her day. Now I’m starting to think that I could have handled the situation better.”
After further conversation the OP elaborated on the details of the tattoo, phobia and the house in an edit.
“I’ve been talking to someone in DMs and they said I should add some stuff we talked about to my post.”
“My bf’s tattoo is very important to him, we got our current baby after his old snake died, the tattoo is based on a picture of his old snake draped over his back and arms.”
“Also, self-expression is very important to my bf, he grew up in a very restrictive household, his mother controlled what he did, how he acted and what he wore.”
“We didn’t just move our snake because her enclosure is built into a large bookcase in our living room.”
“Also, this only happens once every month or so, we normally visit her. Also, my bf’s sister is a huge reptile nerd and loves our little girl almost as much as we do.”
“My bf actually has an irrational animal fear of his own (butterflies). He knows that not all phobias work the same but he thinks that her asking him to leave is ridiculous.”
“Also, when I say that it’s his house I mean it’s his house, not ours.”
“Also, to the few people asking how a 21-year-old can afford a house with a pool. My bf has been in the entertainment industry since he was a kid (think child actor/model).”
“He hated it and no longer does it.”
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided OP was NTA.
However, not only did they out his sister as TA but their mom too for siding with his sister’s over the top behavior.
“NTA. I have the same phobia and couldn’t go near a house that has a snake in. I’d freak out about the tattoo too.”
“However it’s my problem to deal with. It would be nice if your bf covered up but I wouldn’t expect him too.”~fledermaus1
“NTA. I am terrified of Snakes and spiders. But I would never expect somebody to even temporarily rehome their pet snake or spider and a tattoo of those does not frighten me.”
“You sister needs therapy, serious therapy. Its time to stop catering to her fear in your home.”~MinsAino
“This is it exactly. Even if it’s true, asking someone to cover up or leave their own home is very entitled behavior.”
“Someone with a phobia wouldn’t normally expect this kind of treatment, so her fear of snakes doesn’t explain her actions. NTA”~lil-G00F
“NTA. First, there’s no way you could have known her fear of snakes would extend to a tattoo.”
“I would not have thought that a tattoo would evoke the same level of fear as an actual snake.”
“Two, you were doing an nice thing by inviting your sister to use the pool. You did not have to do this.”
“You already went above and beyond by removing your snake from your home.”
“Three, if a guest doesn’t like something about the place/people they are visiting, they leave.”
“They do not expect, especially in the middle of the current world situation, people to leave their own homes so the guest can be comfortable.”~krankykitty
“I don’t know about the US, but here winged-snake-on-a-stick/goblet is a pretty fequently used imagery for a pharmacy logo. Wonder if she’d go to every single one of them demanding that it be taken down?”
“NTA. Regardless of whether a real phobia or not, asking someone to leave their own house to accomodate you is not a reasonable request, it’s entitlement.”~MeiSuesse
“NTA. If she really is afraid of a tattoo of a snake, she needs serious therapy. Imagery of snakes are everywhere and that’s a very intense phobia if true.”
“To be honest though this just seems like bs.”
”Fears are hard to face and confront but it seems weird to me that she has no problem making you all jump through hoops for her.”
“Having a fear or phobia is very understandable but the whole world can’t realistically change for you.”~givelilydragons
Hopefully OP and his sister were able to find some middle ground while she receives treatment for her intense phobia.