Why Siblings Grow Apart

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Siblings often grow apart. That isn’t news to anyone. However, what may not be common knowledge is why. And today, I’d like to offer my opinion as to what, I think, is the number reason for so much adult sibling conflict.

Why Siblings Grow Apart as Adults

Imagine, if you will, 2 scenarios:

  1. years and years of turmoil between 2 siblings who never seem to get along
  2. a relatively solid sibling relationship only recently turned upside down due to a disagreement

In both scenarios I’m willing to bet the culprit is…

Perception.

The hardest pill to swallow when it comes to siblings drifting apart is that both may be right from their perception.

If you were to put feuding siblings in separate rooms and asked each to explain their side of the story — with no embellishment, no exaggeration, just the facts — the stories would sound incredibly different. And it’s very possible both scenarios are true. 

That, in a nutshell, is the hardest thing about conflict in relation to siblings.

When there’s…

  • disagreements
  • animosity
  • frustration
  • confusion
  • fights 
  • misunderstandings 

…with almost anyone in our lives, we draw on a relatively shallow well of experiences. 

But because sibling ties run long and deep, memory plays a key and decisive role.

Siblings Grow Apart Due to Memory from Childhood

And what we fail to realize is how unreliable our memory is when influenced by our own perception (and, not to mention, subconscious mind). 

Now, think about when you are the most self-centered in your entire life. It’s when you’re a kid, right?

You’ll never be as self-involved as you were when you were a child, and that happens to be when we formed (most of our) biases around our siblings.

Hence, why we can be really unreasonable and irrational when it comes to our brothers and sisters!

In other situations — friends and co-workers, for example — we might be able to…

  • see
  • have empathy for
  • understand

…the other person’s position and think, 

“Well, you know, they’ve been through X, Y, or Z. I totally get it.”

So, you appreciate their perspective and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Somehow, though, when it comes to siblings, our reasoning powers, tragically, often revert back to their childhood selves. Back to a time when negative beliefs were formed in regard to one’s brother or sister. 

Adult Siblings Grow Apart Because of Childhood Experiences

Therefore, the potentially beautiful relationship between adult siblings is tarnished because reason is no longer part of the equation. 

For much more related to this topic, like:

  • My recommendation on talking (or not talking) about family drama with siblings
  • Why the role of being a sibling is complicated
  • 5 phrases to consider to heal your sibling relationship
  • Why expectations within sibling relationships can be so damaging

Then, you must check out this episode of The Chalene Show now:

And don’t forge to subscribe to TCS for weekly shows geared toward your overall happiness, productivity and quality of life!

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