How To Deal With A Toxic Sibling

by Chrissa Hardy
East Road/ Ascent Xmedia/Photodisc/Getty Images

The older you get, the harder it can be to deal with family drama. And the worst form of family drama is dealing with a toxic sibling. When you are young, you either get along swimmingly with your brothers and sisters, or you fight with each other constantly. It's all very cut and dry. But as time passes, you grow further apart, you start your own lives, and the relationship you have with your sibling gets more complicated. If they are a person who is fueled by drama-seeking, jealousy, and pettiness, having to face them at family events can be a terrible situation. You dread it, still somehow hope they've changed, and feel the wave of disappointment wash over when you realize they haven't changed at all.

But there are ways to handle these scenarios. Remember, this goes above average sibling rivalry. If your sibling is truly a toxic person and it affects not only your relationship, but your entire family dynamic, it is imperative that you resist the urge to emerge victorious, because this is not about winning. At any rate, trying to beat a toxic person at their own game — regardless of whether or not you are related — will only make you feel worse in the end, not better. Here's how to deal with a toxic sibling without losing your mind.

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1. Bite your tongue

With a toxic sibling, it can be tempting to want to say the first thing that pops into your mind, especially when you feel like you're on the defense. Instead, take some time to think about what you want to communicate. Sometimes, when they start trying to push your buttons, it's best to just zip that lip. You don't want to say something that you will regret, and you also don't want to provoke them further.

2. Keep it real

If the disrespect continues, there will come a point when you must stand up for yourself. And it doesn't take much to do that. A simple, "You know what? I'm sick of your attitude," will do.

3. Minimize contact

If you know your sibling will likely start to pick a fight with you, avoid sitting next to them, being alone with them, or going on vacations with them, if at all possible. Sometimes, you won't be able to accomplish this, because they are family, so just do what you can to keep the contact restricted.

4. Walk away

Nothing bothers a bully quite like being ignored. And many times, a person with a toxic personality has moments of acting like a bully. So just remove yourself from the neggy vibes and mean comments by just leaving the room.

5. Rise above the BS

People who try to get under your skin want to see you mad. It replenishes their bully electrolytes. If your sibling is doing this to you, do the opposite. Tell them you love them. Give them a compliment. It'll throw them off their game entirely, and will give you a few moments of quiet.

6. Embrace your BFFs

Your best friends are the family you choose, which means they are possibly more caring and loving than the family you were given, simply because you've hand-picked them, so they must be pretty wonderful.

7. Be grateful

Even though things with your sibling have reached a low point, you probably have at least a few good memories with them from childhood. Be grateful for those.

8. Be vulnerable

If you've never opened up to your sibling about how badly you feel they treat you, then you should give it a try. They might not realize how you're feeling, and you'll never regret being honest.

9. Give them the benefit of the doubt

If they are aware of how they act and vow to change, you need to trust that they will. That trust will instill confidence that they so desperately need to become a better sibling, and person. Innocent until proven guilty, after all.

10. Cut them out

If you've been honest with your sibling, gave them the chance to help repair your sibling bond, and they still treat you like garbage, then it might be time to cut those ties. I know it's hard and you might still have to see them again, but choosing to let go of a person who hurts you is a choice that will make you stronger and ultimately, happier.

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