I have to admit I’ve had many issues with siblings, including not speaking to them for years. I was very ashamed, as it appeared that other people have Fun with Dick and Jane lives with their own brothers and sisters. It just seemed easier not to try. After all, they’re only relatives.
But let’s not start there. Why do we have such intense feelings towards these relationships? Reader’s Digest says:
Siblings are hardwired to engage in rivalry because they compete with one another for one of life’s most critical resources—parental care. “Two hundred years ago, half of all children did not make it out of childhood,” says Frank Sulloway, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “The intensity of sibling competition makes much more sense when you realize that very small differences in parental favoritism could determine whether a child is taken to a doctor or not.”
Or lives, or dies, at least in olden times. Ah, sibling rivalry! This explains why so many kids start squabbles over nothing. It’s not for nothing, it’s survival.
Even if your relationship with your sibling isn’t so great, it’s worth working on. You might be closer to a parent, or even your friends now, but no one will be as similar to you as your brother or sister, as you age. After all, you shared all the early formative events and years right next to them, those memories and events that psychologists say mold you for life. Plus, siblings are the longest-lasting family ties we have, since parents aren’t around as long as we’d like them to be…
NPR points out how important siblings are and how they help us deal with conflict as adults, especially intimate ones.
Most such relationships are close — two-thirds of people in one large study said a brother or sister was one of their best friends. (I interpret that as: one-third of us are no such thing.)
Siblings are a crucial part of a child’s development, too, teaching one another socialization skills and the rules of dominance and hierarchy, all part of the eternal struggle for parental resources.
A study by the University of Kentucky says, go ahead: blame your slow love life on your brothers and sisters. Our Problems Are Your Sibling’s Fault: Exploring the Connections Between Conflict Styles of Siblings During Adolescence and Later Adult Committed Relationships
Results indicate that multiple types of conflict styles used with siblings during adolescence correspond to similar conflict styles used in adult romantic relationships.
So whether your relationship with your impossible brother or annoying sister is a stony silence or just throwing occasional insults or sarcasm, you might want to take another look to see if there’s a coping mechanism somewhere in there. Probably that would help in other parts of your life, too. Because your lover is bound to be just as annoying from time to time, and then what will you do?
Do you get along with your brother or sister? Do you think it helps or hurts your other relationships? (I think it has not helped my relationships. I don’t always trust men, and can sometimes feel competitive.)
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If you can’t read my handwriting: “Mom, if something should happen to my dumb sister, could I get an imaginary friend?”