Signs You Grew up With a Toxic Sibling

Siblings are often the best part of growing up. They are friends to lean on, shoulders to cry on, and occasionally scapegoats to put the blame on. However, if you find that your relationship growing up harbored more bad than good, such as constant arguments, emotional abuse, or a never-ending sibling rivalry, you may want to take a step back and ask if it’s worth it to repair the toxic sibling relationship you’ve been dealing with since childhood.

These eight signs will help you realize if it was more than just a meaningless sibling fight.

There were signs of abuse

UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Twin sisters sharing secrets.

Has your sister always given you a hard time? | George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

Abuse comes in many forms — from name calling to hitting to sexual harassment and more. Abuse is not off limits to siblings. If you find that your brother or sister grew up constantly belittling you with harsh words, punching or hitting or, in the case of Joshua Duggar, sexual abuse, it’s evident that the relationship is toxic.

There were frequent arguments over insignificant topics

Young angry woman screaming at her brother

Not every little thing should cause a fight. |

Everyone saw the Kardashians argue with their brother or pull one another’s hair over the years. But that doesn’t mean the relationship was toxic, unless it was constant. If you fought daily, even over something as little as the TV remote, that is a sign of toxicity. This sibling rivalry can have effects on your mental health in the long run.

You constantly felt controlled or manipulated

Brother and sister running through house

It’s common for one sibling to manipulate the other. | Monkeybusinessimages

Older siblings might feel a sense of control, since most younger siblings want to emulate those who are older. You can use this sense of control for the better, like encouraging your sibling to try the same sport as you, or you can use it for the worse. Constant manipulation, such as making a sibling apologize or feel bad when the problem was not their fault, is belittlement and a sign that something was off in your relationship.

There was a lack of trust

little girls traveling by an airplane

Could you trust your sibling with your secrets? |

The “sibling bond” was never there. You couldn’t share secrets with your brother or sister without friends or other family members finding out. Siblings face issues at school or in their personal lives that can be difficult to share with a parent, which is why they might confide in a brother or sister. If you could not count on your sibling as a confidant because they always spilled the beans on a serious problem, it was not a trustworthy relationship.

The kindness was never reciprocated

Two young boys reading books

Did you constantly have to play nice with your sibling? | Potter/Express/Getty Images

Most siblings enjoy doing nice things for others in the family. Whether it’s picking up your brother from baseball practice or helping your sister get a stain out of mom’s sweater that she wore without asking, kindness goes a long way in sibling relationships. If you frequently found time to help your siblings out when things went wrong, yet they never reciprocated the effort, it’s important to rethink how much they valued your relationship growing up.

You stressed about your toxic sibling at school or work

Cheerful School Children

School should have been a place to learn and have fun. |

It’s common to think about a blowout fight the day after it happens. However, if you constantly carried negative thoughts with you about your brother or sister to where it affected your school work or job performance, it is likely you had a toxic sibling relationship.

Interactions are still forced

Group of people eating Christmas dinner

It’s not a good sign if you’d prefer to stay away during the holidays. |

Your interactions might still feel forced, even if your childhood arguments with your sibling have ended. Not being willing to see the other person is a strong sign of a toxic relationship. If you only run into them at family holidays and have no desire to make plans with them any other time of year, it’s likely your relationship never outgrew a toxic stage.

Financial requests are their main reason for reaching out

Woman taking money

It would be wise to stop lending your sibling money. |

Besides an unwillingness to make plans, if the only time they do reach out nowadays is when finances are in the picture, it shows the relationship is not where it should be. Your sibling knows from manipulating you in the past that you are willing to help them out whenever need be. If they only reach out to you because they are in a financial rut, think twice before handing over money. They likely still don’t truly value your sibling relationship.

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