7 Definitive Signs You Have A Toxic Sibling

7 Definitive Signs You Have A Toxic Sibling

Is your relationship with your sibling making you feel emotionally exhausted? This is one of the many signs that you have a toxic sibling.


Siblings are not always the best part of growing up, especially if they are toxic.

When people talk about toxic family members, they usually speak about a dad they don’t get along with or a mom who tries to ruin their lives. But toxic family members can include siblings, too. And it can be incredibly upsetting.


Getting along with siblings is difficult as it is, usually due to the well-known “sibling rivalry.”

For folks with toxic siblings, it can take a lot of work to keep a relationship going. And a lot of times, you find that you don’t even really want to try.


Is your toxic sibling taking a toll on your mental health? Read Why It’s Okay To Cut Toxic Family Members Out of Your Life

Here Are The 7 Definitive Signs You Have A Toxic Sibling

1. The Relationship Is Based On Abuse

Abuse comes in all types and forms — mental, physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional. It can really get to you and leave you feeling like you’re unable to handle your own life.

This was the case for the anonymous poster on Mamamia.com, whose sister made them feel like a total screw up for almost forty years. “Nobody can upset me like her. Nobody can leave me feeling like such a loser,” they wrote.

Even though you can simply chalk this up to mean words from a sister, it’s still abuse. The poster put up with it for decades, saw no change, and finally decided to cut ties. That’s not always the required course of action, but it’s important to respect how you feel and what’s best for you.


2. They Give You Anxiety

It’s normal to feel a bit of anxiety around family members, especially the ones you don’t see very often. Maybe you’ve struck a nice balance between having a sibling in your life, just not too often. And that’s OK.

It’s when the anxiety gets out of control or becomes pervasive, that problems can ensue.

As Genevieve Shaw Brown notes on AbcNews.Go.com, “When you are living in constant anxiety never knowing or being able to predict how any engagement is going to turn out, it is time to love yourself enough to let go.”


3. Your Sibling Is Too Crazy To Talk To

You may have an eccentric sister or a weirdo brother, and that can be quite charming. But when every interaction with a sibling leaves your head spinning, and you find yourself in cyclical nonsense arguments, then you may be crossing over into toxic territory.

According to Shaw Brown, “When crazy-making, no-win games dominate the relationship such as the silent treatment, blame-games, no-win arguments that spin around on you, there is no point in continuing in this battle.” When this is the case it may be time to cut ties, seek therapy, or at least to back off for a while.

Are you struggling with a toxic family member? Read 11 Ways To Cope With A Toxic And Estranged Family Relationship


4. The Rivalry Is No Longer Cute

My brother and I have totally different career paths, and it used to be a point of rivalry (at least for me). However, now that we’re older, I feel so much pride when I hear of his accomplishments, and he’s always happy for me, too.

But some siblings never grow out of that competitive phase, and it can cause some real problems as adults.

According to Jane Mersky Leder for Psychology Today, “While few adult siblings have severed their ties completely, approximately one-third of them describe their relationship as rivalrous or distant. They don’t get along with their sibling or have little in common, spend limited time together, and use words like ‘competitive,’ ‘humiliating,’ and ‘hurtful’ to depict their childhoods.”

8 thoughts on “7 Definitive Signs You Have A Toxic Sibling”

  1. My Sister constantly plays me off against someone else, “she bought me this” you only bought me “that”

  2. From the age of 3, I was bullied, terrorised, frightened by my older sister who is 3 years older than me. I was teased to the point of absolute frustration that I put my fist through the glass window at age 6! When my folks were around, it was less noticeable and if we had an argument, older sister blamed me and would actively seek to get me into trouble. All of this culminated in sexual abuse at her hands from when I was 11 until the age of 13. I managed to stop the sexual abuse by physically restraining her one day and threatening to kill her. The verbal abuse and torment carried on right until she got married and moved out. I only finally told my parents when I was 44 years old (10 years ago) and only because my older sister had an affair with my younger sister’s husband! Needless to say this has caused terrible trouble in my family. My parents have as little to do with their older daughter; my younger sister and I have nothing to do with her at all. The terrible consequences for me is that I have had to deal with very serious depression in my life. As a child, I did not have the language to tell my parents. As an adult, my older sister has tried to gaslight me. I attempted suicide in 2013, basically my entire life just collapsed, I was carrying way too much baggage, most of which started in childhood.
    I did get the help I needed, for which I am grateful. Most people though do not understand what trauma I suffered and survived. As I explain to people, I have looked evil in the eye and survived.
    Thank you for this article.

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