Signs You’re a Horrible Sibling (and What to Do About It)

Anyone with brothers and sisters recognizes the power of a sibling rivalry. Sibling relationships are life-long bonds that go through plenty of ups and downs.

If you notice your siblings keeping their distance, it may be a cause for concern. Watch out for these red flags to find out if you’re the toxic sibling and how you can save the relationship.

You’re too competitive

Two males having breakfast together.

You always have to be the winner. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Your siblings are often your fiercest adversaries in life. Your parents have the tools to compare your grades, extracurricular performances, and social lives as children. As adults, the success of your relationships, kids, and finances become further competition. If you obsessively compare your milestones to those of your siblings, you’ll negatively affect your relationship in various ways.

While competition is common during childhood, it’s important to grow out of it in adulthood. If you don’t, you run the risk of tarnishing your relationship for good.

You’re a perfectionist

Two women share a hug at a coffee store.

You always think about ways to look better than them. | UberImages/iStock/Getty Images

Perfectionists are known to hold themselves to ridiculously high standards. In an interview with Oprah, Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, recognized the true nature of perfectionism. “It’s … a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.'”

Your brothers or sisters are more likely to resent you if you impose your high expectations on them.

You’ve gossiped about them to your friends

Two females having a conversation on a couch.

You tend to vent about your sibling issues with friends. | Sjenner13/iStock/Getty Images

It’s both natural and healthy to vent about your family. But when venting crosses the line into gossiping territory, problems will arise.

Sherrie Campbell, a licensed California psychologist, shared seven reasons to cut ties with toxic family members. A key reason was living in fear of being talked about.

By discussing your siblings’ personal business, you disrespect their trust; arguably the most crucial component of any partnership.

You frequently borrow money from them

A woman speaks while the other is drinking coffee.

You’re constantly hitting them up for loans. | Lorenzo Antonucci/iStock/Getty Images

You may have reasonable expectations for your brother or sister; love, support, and honesty. Financial expectations may blur the lines between realistic and manipulative.

There are a few rules for loaning money to family members and vice versa. Money is an uncomfortable topic in even the closest of relationships and can become an emotional decision.

You call them with all of your problems

woman with cat and smartphone in bed at home.

Don’t take advantage of your sibling’s kindness. | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

An overbearing relationship can be just as harmful as a neglectful one. If you have narcissistic tendencies, you may seek advice and affirmation from your sibling on a consistent basis.

This in turn abuses your relationship. While healthy sibling relationships are trustworthy and open, pushing your emotional burdens onto a sibling will likely lead to resentment. Your problems, especially those that involve other family members, may put your sibling in an uncomfortable and anxious place.

Your relationship is based on abuse

Young woman at cafe drinking coffee alone.

Watch out for any signs of abuse in the relationship. | Astarot/iStock/Getty Images

Growing up with a sibling often leads to verbal and physical fighting. There may be a larger problem at hand if the fighting exhibits signs of physical or emotional abuse. You may take pleasure in humiliating, judging, and obsessively criticizing your siblings. These actions indicate you’re abusing the boundaries of your relationship.

Psychotherapist Gary Brown, Ph.D., also warns against letting familial duty keep anyone engaged with a toxic sibling. “You aren’t here to take abuse from anyone,” he tells Glamour. “Blood relative or not makes no difference.”

Structural Family Therapy can help

Family and friends posing for a picture on a patio.

You can have the stable family life you deserve. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Structural Family Therapy is a treatment designed to examine interaction patterns that cause problems within a family. SFT’s goal is to improve communication among family members and create healthy boundaries within reason.

You can find SFT treatment through various private practices and mental health clinics.

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