Oftentimes, when we have relationship issues and issues in general regarding how we interact with others, we blame our parents. However, a lot of research has begun to surface that points in another direction: our siblings.

In a 2014 study, scientists discovered that the people who have siblings are more likely to be caring, generous and empathetic than people who ere only children. And that is likely because these children had to learn to share and sacrifice their desires for their siblings. However, this isn’t the only way sibling relationships define us.

If you think about it, we often lump people into categories based on their birth order, with only children being considered to be spoiled, and then first children are considered to be authoritarians, while the second child is more rambunctious.

Ruth Glover, a child psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust says, “Your relationship with your siblings plays a defining role, sometimes more than your relationship with your parents,’ says Glover. ‘It’s the first social grouping that we’re exposed to and something we refer back to throughout our lifetime. The ability to socialize and talk about emotions is something that I’ve noticed more in people who have brothers and sisters. Those who have an affectionate relationship with their siblings tend to cope better in stressful family situations. But bullying and rivalry between siblings can be disastrous – you can change schools if it happens there, but you’re stuck with your family.’

And the more siblings you have, the less likely you are to end up divorced, according to a study conducted in 2014 that was published in the Journal of Family Issues. And this could be because they are more adjusted to relationships and because of the emotional support provided by their siblings.

“We’re tethered to our brothers and sisters as adults far longer than we are as children; our sibling relationships are the longest-lasting family ties we have.”

If you think about it, people who have had siblings have learned more about loyalty, and are quite possibly more resilient to bad behaviors from the people they love.

And while there isn’t much research on the role that sibling relationships play in our adult life one study from 1983 found that people who had siblings of the opposite gender found it easier to make conversation with potential partners.

While ultimately we are in charge of our relationships, it is still important to understand outside influences and how they shape our adult interactions to come. And with our birth order giving information to how we relate interpersonally, as well as our overall upbringing, we may be able to uncover the blocks that hold us back and the advantages we have to have more successful relationships to come.

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