0128 – How Your Siblings Affect Your Adult Relationships


We’re talking about how your relationship with your siblings could be affecting your adult relationships today

By the end of this episode:

  • you’ll learn how all those fights you had with your brother aren’t necessarily a bad thing
  • how one piece of the puzzle between siblings is a huge key to happy adult relationships
  • the #1 tip if you’ve had less than positive relationships with your siblings

Describe the problem

…He put you in endless headlocks after school, or she helped you cut your bangs so short you had to wear headbands for months. Our siblings played a huge part in our growth and development, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively, and we often carry those lessons into our adult relationships. So what are those lessons, and what do we do if we STILL don’t get along with our siblings? Find out in Episode 128: How our Siblings Affect our Adult Relationships.

Segment #1

  1. Bickering isn’t necessarily a bad thing: one long-term study reported many ways in which [sibling] bickering, both as children and as adults, continued to benefit them: it taught some of them how to quell disagreements, and others how to stand up for themselves.
    • Studies of children suggest that the benefits of sibling rivalry are greatest when the conflict is not overwhelming, when the family is able to talk about emotions, and when there is warmth as well as tension in the relationship.
  2. Conflicts are collaborative: That means that any conflict is the outcome of a mutual agreement between opposing parties to jointly contest some point of disagreement between them.
    • This is not a bad thing; it is a necessary thing. Conflict is, after the all, the process through which people confront and resolve inevitable human differences between them. So conflict should not come as a surprise; it should be expected.
  3. How you reacted to the outcome of collaborative or shared situations with siblings can affect your adult relationships: maybe a brother or sister always seemed to get their way when it came to sharing a room or doing chores. How that made you feel then (or how you reacted when you “won”) can play out in both your platonic and romantic relationships.

Segment #2

  1. Siblings often pick fights as children to express emotions they can’t (or won’t) talk about: you got teased at school, and instead of talking about it when you got home, you gave your brother endless noogies. Talking about emotions may not have been fostered in your home growing up, but try to recognize as an adult when you’re projecting negative behavior onto someone else, instead of just talking about what’s really bothering you.
  2. Competition: were you extremely competitive with a sibling growing up? That’s relatively normal, and experts say “Normal sibling rivalry serves growth needs for testing power, establishing differences, ventilating emotion, and relieving boredom (when they can find nothing better to do.) Conflict doesn’t mean they can’t get along; it is a normal part of how they get along.” However, in family situations where competition was rarely checked, monitored or facilitated healthily between siblings, negative feelings arose from the competition.
  3. Conflict resolution (a very important piece of the puzzle): siblings who repaired bonds either earlier or later in life are shown to have a better well being in life and with each other.


Final Thoughts:

#1 Whether you had/have great relationships with siblings or not, or even if you’re an only child, negative things you witness in your childhood relationships with family are things that can be worked through and overcome with a little awareness (or help, if needed).

  • Elijah’s Thoughts
  • Sarah’s Thoughts


In Closing

If you have a question, comment, or funny story about [INSERT SHOW TOPIC] we have a private SafeSpace on facebook where we talk about all sorts of social, professional, and romantic relationship topics, and after every show you can go there and share you story, get some advice from great people or just hang out. Both Sarah and I are there every day and you can be there too, just go to www.relationspodcast.com/join and click the “Join Now’ button.

Until we meet again, keep striving to make every relationship you have the best it can possibly be, including (and especially) the one with yourself. We’ll talk soon.

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