Your Siblings Loved You and Hated You Too

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SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS CAN IMPACT LOVE RELATIONSHIPS, TOO. 

The emotions, conflicts, and relating styles can be projected onto lovers in the same way they are from relationships with parents. This may greatly broaden your source of information.

When recovering from addiction, childhood trauma, difficult marriages, and depression, parenting has been an obvious source of understanding why we do what we do. Self help books have addressed trauma healing, addiction healing, and most aspects of a troubled life.

The role of sibling relationships, however, has not been well addressed. Now that Attachment Theory has become integrated into psychotherapy theory and practice, it has become clear how the attachment style of each child impacts the other siblings. For example, a sib who has developed an anxious attachment due to the mother’s inconsistent and depriving attention may turn to a sibling in search of attachment and attention.

Looking at the role of sibling relationships canhelp understand resulting misperceptions of adult life. This can assist healing from abuse, neglect, and shame. It will offer hope in healing adult sibling relationships. And it will make possible an understanding and acceptance when a sibling relationship cannot be healed.

Here are some examples to educate about sibling relating.

June’s sister, younger by two years, developed an avoidant attachment so extreme that she didn’t develop a primary relationship. Instead she related exclusively with her classical music peers over music. The main attachment in her life was with a teacher and his wife. While calling her teacher Dr. X until he died, she attended their children’s graduations and weddings.

June’s brother, younger by 10 years, developed an anxious attachment with their mother. He projected this needy attitude toward his older sisters, who had little interest in him as they led their own avoidantly attached lives. When their parents both died, the brother angrily attacked both women for not having given him attention. He had carried this into his 60’s.

June understood Attachment Theory, and had been healing emotionally most of her life. She wanted to enhance her relationships with both siblings. However, since neither had expressed an interest in therapy, the chances were small that they would join her.
Here are some typical examples of sibling issues:

The older sibling feels guilty because he or she cannot prevent the younger one from the abuse the older suffered. May be a protecter of others as an adult. May feel guilty for not being able to help people.

Older sibs often abuse younger ones. They pass it along from their own abuse.

Sibs join together to attach against the parents. Supporting each other. They may get some attachment needs met, but neither is capable of doing it well for the other.

Sibs are often turned against each other, as when one is favored by a parent and the other is seen as the cause of all the problems. The favored one doesn’t want to relinquish this for the sake of the sib. The favored one may be an anxious attacher, the other avoidant.

Sexual abuse between siblings.

Six orphaned siblings in WWII attached to each other and became a family.

Feeling loved by a sibling – cared for. My friend had a sister 10 years younger who she mothered. They talked about how they would live together when old. There was enough age difference to allow it to work fairly well. My friend was the oldest of 6 children, so had developed parenting skills. The new child received useful parenting from a child 10 years older. They both gave and received love. However, their strong bond interfered with their relationships with their husbands.

When the younger sibling feels like he or she is really the older one, he or she may take care of the older one. The avoidant takes care of the anxious one. Avoidant children seem older for their age as they are focused on taking care of their own needs.

THE BENEFIT OF LEARNING ABOUT YOUR SIB RELATIONSHIPS

As you study how you projected your childhood relationships onto your partners, you get to add siblings as a possible influence along with parents. This greatly broadens your source of information. Perhaps you will be able to talk with your sibs about their experience, and together understand what you may be projecting now.

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