8 Identifying Signs Of A Toxic Sibling Relationship

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Toxic Sibling Relationships: Identifying Signs

National Brothers and Sisters Day and International Siblings Day are around the corner! Let’s spare a thought for those who have experienced, or still dealing with a toxic sibling relationship.

Before wishing someone Happy brother and sister day, be sure they don’t have a toxic sibling relationship going on!

A toxic relationship with siblings can be very harmful to your well-being. It can have the same effect on your life as toxic friends or bad coworkers.

If you feel like you have an emotionally abusive brother or sister, watch out for some of the signs of a toxic sibling and how they affect you.

It is rather harder to take a step back from siblings since you have family obligations to follow and uphold some moralistic and sentimental grounds.

A sibling relationship is likely to be the most enduring of our lives. The impact they have on our young and adult lives is enormous – they shape our history and our character, to a far greater extent than is usually acknowledged.

Siblings know you better than anyone. They may not always admire you, but they’ll always be intensely interested in you.

If you ask a sibling to describe a parent, a friend, or a sibling, it is the sibling that the child will describe with the most sophistication and detail, in terms of their character and habits.

A study tracking almost 300 men from the late 1930s to the present day has shed new light on the importance of the sibling bond.

According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, 93 percent of the men who were thriving at 65 had been close to a sibling in their early life.

Siblings are not always the best part of growing up, not if they are toxic. Not all of us have siblings we get along with.

If you are stuck with a toxic sister or brother, it can leave a negative scar on you for life. Keeping such a toxic relationship with siblings can take a lot of work.

Read 30+ Hilarious Siblings Day Memes To Celebrate An Unbreakable Bond

Where Exactly Does The Dynamic Go Haywire?

Parental favoritism (perceived or actual) is one of the most fundamental reasons behind the rift that has been created between siblings.

When parents treat kids differently, in ways that kids feel are unfair, that’s associated with worse sibling relationships and lower self-concept.

The trigger can range from the littlest of differences to the definitive clashes of personalities or interests between the siblings.

Adjustments, compromises, and respecting their own would go a long way in making it smooth sailing in any normal scenario. 

But the lack of it can create a chasm between even blood relations and when left uncatered, the rift grows wider. This is ample grounds for toxicity to brew between siblings.

So, how to deal with a toxic sibling? The first step is to identify the signs.

8 Signs Of A Toxic Sibling Relationship

Here are the eight signs of a toxic sibling:

signs of toxic sibling info
8 Toxic Sibling Signs To Look Out For On National Siblings Day 2024

Here are the warning signs that your sibling shares a toxic relationship with you. Buckle up!

1. Unhealthy Rivalry

There’s always a bit of rivalry between siblings, right from childhood. Healthy and adorable in nature, it generally pushes you to outdo the other and ultimately results in growth, for both equally. But just like everything else, even this has its own time and relevance. 

8 Signs of Toxic And Abusive Siblings

This competition, if carried on till adult life, can be very uncomfortable and problematic in real life. When your sibling wants to compete with you, in spite of your lives being different, you know there is something essentially wrong in your relationship with him/her.

They are unable to grow out of that competency because seeing your progress might not be in their best wishes. Thus, toxicity prevails.

Read 12 Reasons Why The Middle Child Is The Best Child

2. Negative Energy At Large

Toxic siblings work just the opposite of how a normal sibling relationship helps us. It brings us comfort and positive energy through and through. But Toxic ones drain us of our energies. They keep on taking and receiving, without any proper reciprocation. 

They tend to be dismissive of your needs as a family, unwilling to listen and be a part of your life. All while getting all the help and service meted out to him/her. 

3. Triggering Anxiety

These types of siblings make you doubt your own goodwill. They will imprint such a scare that you will be cross-checking and questioning your motives, your deeds, and your words throughout. Thus, making you anxious.

Whether you are over-saying, over-sharing, overstaying your welcome, or being needy. This negativity and lack of freedom with your own blood are as disheartening as it is exhausting.

Read 5 Moments When You Are Most At Risk of Sibling Estrangement

4. Manipulation and More

Manipulation, lack of respect and boundaries, lack of respect for your belongings. All these come hand in hand when the sibling intends to not only jeopardize your personal space but also your mental integrity. 

A lot of times, there are instances where no mutual consent or agreement is present but decisions are being taken without your knowledge. Decisions that actually will affect your life. That is when you spot the red flag.

5. Playing the Victim Card

In the context of big decisions that you and your siblings have to take on behalf of the family, both parties should enjoy success together or take the fall together.

But toxic siblings actually evade the failure and instead of sharing responsibilities for the issue, they have a tendency to play the sorry, victim card. As if only he/she has been the one affected. This sentimental stunt is to gain sympathy, protect themselves from consequences, and let you alone take the fall. 

6. If There Is ANY Kind of Abuse Involved

It can be verbal, mental, emotional, physical, or even sexual abuse. Abusive siblings can bully you into submission.

They won’t rest until they push your ego to the ground and step on it. If you give such toxic people leeway, they will overpower you within seconds. 

Since they are your siblings, they know your weaknesses and they may even use them to manipulate you. This can get bad. Fast.

Read 12 Signs You Are Being Emotionally Abused

7. Critical and Undermining of Success

Constructive criticism is a good thing as it often comes from the people who love us. But toxic siblings don’t criticize you to help you become a better person, they simply want to make you feel bad about yourself. You will hence find them highly judgmental and because of their toxic criticism, you may feel you can’t do anything right.

There are lots of people who are in such relationships where their parents are never happy with what they have achieved in life. In your case, that toxic person, who is never happy with you, could be your brother or sister.

Whenever you tell them about anything good you have achieved, they simply undermine it, making you feel as if it is not special or worth the basic encouragement or attention.

8. Pulls You Down and Only Down

Brings you down with them because they’re not happy with themselves. Tells you lie about other people/family members to manipulate you. Is super fickle. They tell you one thing and the next day another, and when you remind them of what they originally said they call you a liar. 

“Gaslighting” can be present in a bad relationship with siblings. Deep inside, they are very jealous of you and not at all the healthy type. Criticizes you and gives you their opinion when you didn’t ask for it.

If you relate to these signs of a toxic sibling relationship, address them openly. Establishing boundaries and being distant from toxic siblings is more than okay. If you have made peace and reconciled with your siblings, then Happy Siblings Day to you!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to deal with toxic siblings?

Dealing with toxic siblings may seem tough but you can start by communicating, only if it feels safe. Lastly, establish some boundaries and stay emotionally distant if required.

How do I know if my sibling is toxic?

Some of the signs of a toxic sibling relationship is that they will make critical remarks that are cruel, will be unsupportive of your dreams or goals, disrespect you or your personal boundaries.


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