Sibling rivalry and competition between siblings is all part of growing up with a sibling, but when does a bit of harmless teasing become something more serious, or toxic? People are sharing their experiences with toxic siblings, and highlight some of the warning signs that a sibling's behaviour is becoming toxic.
1. "Brings you down with them because they’re not happy with themselves. Tells you lies about other people/family members to manipulate you. Is super fickle. Tells you one thing and the next day another, and when you remind them of what they originally said they call you a liar. Gaslighting. Is jealous of you. Super codependent. Criticises you and gives you their opinion when you didn’t ask for it. Tries to get you to argue with them out of nowhere."
2. "When you've grown up with them, but thrive without them. When they're abusive to everyone in the house, and appear charming in front of others. Explosive rage, and just generally picks fights over nothing during mundane conversation. They don't care and even mock your mental disorder."
3. "Manipulation, lack of respect and boundaries, lack of respect for your belongings. Toxic siblings are real though, so tread carefully. My brother has been toxic and abusive my whole life."
4. "Putting you down at every opportunity, mocking your clothes, hobbies, friends, calling you ugly and fat, having to have everything you do or more, even if that means taking it away from you, talking badly about you to the rest of the family."
5. "In the case of my brother, I was supposed to always be his shoulder to lean on. He had a fight with our mother and wanted me to sit on the phone with him and hash it out, rehash, discuss everything for hours a day. When I was going through a divorce? Well, I needed to figure that out myself. There was really uneven emotional support expectations which also may be gender roles but I had to be there for him but suck it up for me."
6. "She cannot hold a positive conversation with anyone if other siblings are around, as she’s too busy spending the entire time trying to belittle them. It can be anything, from the clothes you’re wearing, your makeup, to what you’re eating. If she can verbally attack it, she will. Maybe she believes it makes her look better..."
7. "If you're looking for signs that your sibling is consciously trying to manipulate, hurt, or gain power over you, the key IMO is to look for intention, justification, and effect. My older brother was violent for years until he couldn't get away with it anymore, then he started damaging things that belonged to whoever he was angry at. He would always defend himself by screaming that it was an accident. So I started watching him to see which items he grabbed and broke, and they would always belong to the target. I called him out and he justified it by saying we deserved to be punished for disrespecting him. Finally, what was the effect? Every time we fought, something of ours was destroyed - reinforcing the idea that we needed to stay out of his way or we would lose things."
8. "A classic manipulation strategy is to separate different people and tell them different stories. I would come home and my family would be furious, based on something my brother had told them while I wasn't there. Then, I had to simultaneously defend myself and try to carefully suggest that my brother was doing this on purpose."