Several weeks ago, a close friendship crumbled in my life. It devastated me, and it’s taken quite a bit of time for me to reach any level of normalcy since then. In the time following the collapse, I detailed the situation to several of my friends, and one of them asked me something that really got me thinking.
“Are you an only child?”, he asked me. Why would that matter, I wondered.
“Yes,” I responded, hesitantly.
“I thought so.” As my friend explained to me, he had a theory that siblings and friends are linked. If you grew up with siblings, you may have grown up with strong, family ties, such that you consider friends less permanent and the bonds less binding. If you grew up an only child, you may consider your friends to be your family, and fight harder for those friendships, because you didn’t have siblings to bond with.
This theory really resonated with me, despite being overly-simplistic. It’s a connection I had never considered before, and it rings true, at least for me. I grew up an only child. I didn’t have any siblings until I was almost a teenager, and even then, there were none that I saw on a regular basis. The closest other relatives I had were my two cousins, that I saw on school breaks every few months. I’ve always fought for my friendships above all else, often to the bitter end and my own detriment, because I do consider my close friends to be my family. I’ve been willing to go above and beyond, and it simply hadn’t occurred to me that I’ve considered them my surrogate brothers and sisters all these years. I can’t be certain that I would value or fight for my friendships less if I’d had siblings growing up, but I also can’t deny that I value my friends higher than almost anything else.
None of this is to say that all siblings are close, or that strong families lead to weaker friendships, because those are clearly not true. I think the point my friend was driving at is simply the nature of familial bonds. For some, those bonds are formed in the household, while for others, they must be built in alternate ways, and those bonds can shape peoples’ perspectives on their relationships.
What do you guys think? Does being an only child make you more likely to value friendships highly? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂