Having a sibling can be an amazing thing, but just because someone is related to you doesn't automatically make them a positive part of your life. Everyone wants a good relationship with their family, but if you feel negatively after every interaction, you might want to look out for some signs your siblings are toxic. Family members can cause as much strife in your life as friends or coworkers, and sometimes it can be hard to take a step back because of your familial obligations.
"The things that make a sibling toxic are the same things that make a friend toxic — only with a sibling, it's even hard to separate yourself from the drama," says Jill Whitney, LMFT over email. "Toxic people consistently make you feel worse about yourself, in an unhealthy way. Some siblings might give honest, kind feedback that kind of stings or might make you feel bad in comparison because they've made different choices that have worked well for them. Those are not toxic situations. They're just uncomfortable information that you might learn from."
Everyone has to find the right way to deal with their unhealthy family relationships, but the first step is identifying that your sibling is causing harm to your life. Here are eight signs that your sibling is toxic.
"A toxic sibling might borrow money to resolve crisis after crisis and make you feel bad if you say 'No,'" says Whitney. "Sometimes, these people have an addiction. They may constantly need money for food or rent because they've spent their money on something else, and you wouldn't be so mean and selfish that you won't help them out in their time of need, would you? It's hard not to help, even when your gut is telling you that more help is really enabling."
2They're Overly Critical
Constructive criticism coming from a place of love is one thing, but toxic siblings will intentionally make you feel bad about yourself. "This is when your sibling is highly judgmental and overly critical of you," says Christene Lozano, LMFT over email. "You may often feel as though you can't do anything right because your sibling will 'nitpick' and find 'flaws' in you."
3They Blame Others
In a toxic relationship, your sibling is never wrong. "This is when your sibling blames others and does not take responsibility for their own part," says Lozano. "They often have the mentality that nothing is their fault, and everyone else is wrong."
4They Never Show Remorse
A toxic sibling never apologizes, no matter what they did. "This is when your sibling doesn't express remorse, which ties into the previous sign of blaming others," says Lozano. "If others are at fault, then there is nothing to apologize for."
5You're Always Exhausted Around Them
"Another sign that your sibling is toxic is that you feel exhausted around them," says Lozano. "Due to their unhealthy behaviors, it is natural to feel depleted of energy when engaging with your sibling."
6They Betray Your Confidence
Your siblings likely know a lot more about you than the average person, but that doesn't mean they have the right to share it. "If your sibling often tells other people private things about you, you can't trust them," says Whitney. "Give them as little personal information as possible."
7They Actively Undermine Your Relationships
If your relationships are often tarnished once you bring your sibling around, this likely isn't a coincidence. "Out of jealousy or competitiveness, some siblings go out of their way to damage your connections," says Whitney. "They might tell your new boyfriend about the time you cheated on your boyfriend back in middle school. They might tell your mom the mean thing you said about her when you were frustrated. Or they might tell your old friend how much time you've been spending with another friend. This kind of interference is destructive and mean-spirited."
8They Ignore Or Ostracize You
Sometimes, the toxicity of your sibling is a bit more subtle. "They don't deign to consider your opinions or they treat you as if you have nothing of value to offer," says Holly Brown, MFT over email. "In some ways, this can be even more painful than being criticized directly, because it's about a refusal to recognize your worth. That can contribute to low self-esteem and self-hatred. And what's more toxic than that?"