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How to get along with your siblings

Siblings share about 50% of their genes. That’s a lot in common but also a lot of potential differences.


Some siblings get along tremendously well and are each other’s best friends. Others don’t understand how they could even come from the same household.


Illustration of two sisters chatting

Nurturing positive relationships can have an incredible impact on your future wellbeing. Here’s some advice to bond with your siblings if you want to get closer.


Leave the rest of the family out of it


Getting closer to your sibling can be difficult when the only opportunities to interact are at family gatherings. If you’re committed to improving your relationship with your brother or sister, you have to make time for it.


See each other on your own terms without the rest of the family so the dynamic depends on you and you alone. The way your parents or other family members treat you can affect your relationship and your perception of each other.


You need to find opportunities to really be yourselves, together. Why not get a coffee somewhere neutral? If you’re feeling uncomfortable seeing each other on your own straight away, you can invite your sibling to an outing with friends or with your partner or theirs.


Show the real you


The beauty of siblings is that they understand better than anyone else what it was like to grow up in your household. On the other hand, it means the way you see each other is skewed by this shared experience.


You might see them as the “favorite” or as the annoying sibling who kept switching your light on and off. There’s so much more to them, just like there’s so much more to you!


Get to know each other like friends by sharing and opening up to each other’s interests and passions. If you’re creative, why not show them your artwork or take them to a gallery? If they like tennis, would you consider going to see a match with them?


There’s obviously more to someone than their interests, especially if you made very different lifestyle choices. Try to be open-minded and accepting of your differences. Getting to really know and understand what makes each other’s identity is essential to connect on a deeper level.


Focus on what brings you together


It can be challenging to let go of resentment, especially if you feel like your parents treated you differently or your sibling didn’t have your back.


If you’re reminiscing about the past with your sibling, try to focus on shared experiences rather than old rivalries about “favorites.” After all, you’ve spent some key periods of your life together.


There might be some moments of happiness and joy that you hold dear and that made you who you are today. You may have also shared difficult experiences together that you haven’t necessarily talked about before.


Start a conversation about these moments you shared and find the common ground that brings you together. It will make your relationship with your sibling stronger.


Communicate


Is there an old fight or injustice you’re struggling to get over? It can feel insurmountable to overcome grudges from the past, especially when you start forgetting the details. All that remains is often a negative feeling that can affect how you see yourself and the world, even as an adult.


If some tensions need to be solved with your sibling, try to talk them through them together. Remember everyone has a different point of view. Try to explain yours calmly and listen to their perspective.


Talking won’t solve everything but getting things off your chest might be a great help to move forward and better understand each other. You might find that your old tensions aren't as important as they first seemed.


Even if you don’t find common ground, you can end the conversation on a positive note. Share your wishes for the future of your relationship. You might value regular contact through calls and texts, while they ask for more tolerance for the way they chose to live their life. You can both pledge to make efforts in that regard to continuously improve your relationship.


Stop comparing yourself to them


Don’t compare yourself to your sibling. The fact you grew up together doesn’t mean your definitions of success and happiness should be similar, just like your interests and skills are probably different.


You might have made very different choices when it comes to your education, relationships, and lifestyle. Does that necessarily mean one is better than the other? It simply means you are different people with separate identities.


Think about what success means to you – not to your sibling or your parents. You’ll feel better once you realize your goals or your pace are different. And if you’re striving for a similar life as theirs, then who better than them can help you reach it?


If your goals are different, then you can let go of comparisons. They might simply be worried about you, but if your siblings or parents question your choices, help them understand that what makes you feel safe and happy is different from what they chose.


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