Sure, having your brother or sister around 24/7 was fun when you were kids. There was always someone to play with, someone to plot with, and someone to pin the blame on when you got in trouble.
But living with a sibling as adults can have its ups and downs – even if you consider your bro or sis to be your best friend.
Just because you’re cut from the same cloth doesn’t mean you’ll agree on everything. Consider the pros and cons of living with a sibling when you’re all grown up and your parents aren’t there to play mediator.
Living with a Sibling: Pros and Cons
Reliving your childhood cohabitation situation as adults can be trickier than you think. Sure, it can have its perks, too. But depending on your dynamics, you could be right back to living with the same pain points you experienced as kids, but with all new awkward, adult, family-drama undertones.
- You already know each other’s living habits – After growing up under the same roof, chances are you already know at least some of what to expect. This way, you can avoid the growing pains you may experience when adjusting to life with a friend or acquaintance.
- You’ll be living with your support system – Is your brother or sister the first person you call when you’re having troubles at work or in your love life? Living with your trusted support system can be a great alternative to crying alone in your bedroom and hoping your roommate doesn’t hear.
- You can share stuff without walking on eggshells – With a regular roommate, you might feel awkward about using their butter. You might even feel obliged to replace that dollop of shampoo you needed. But with a sibling, sharing stuff isn’t a big deal – as long as it’s fair and equal.
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- You might regress into old habits – Do you become co-dependent around your older sibling, losing your independence and relying on them to take the reins? Or perhaps you take on a bossy older sibling role, offering unsolicited advice and judgement? Living with a sibling can see you regress into old patterns, and potentially cause tension between you.
“We often fall back into these roles subconsciously, but they can cause a lot of friction. You may have to actually verbalise it, and say something like, ‘I know I’ve been bossy in the past but I want you to know I’m trying to get past that and let you do your own thing.’”
– Joseph R. Sanok, Family Counsellor
- Privacy can be an issue – Your sibling may be tempted to grill you about that special someone you brought home last night, or feel totally comfortable rummaging through your wardrobe to “borrow” an outfit. Just because you shared a room as kids doesn’t mean you don’t deserve privacy as adults, and this can be harder to address with a sibling than a friend.
- They might take advantage of you – When you live with a stranger or friend, you generally want to keep the peace and be on your best behaviour. If your sibling knows you’ll love them no matter what, they may take advantage and cut corners on pulling their weight.
Tips for Living with a Sibling
Some adult siblings live together without a hitch. You might be one of the lucky ones, or you might need a little help to get your new living arrangement off on the right foot.
Set Some Ground Rules
It’s important to set some ground rules from the get-go to ensure you’re on the same page. These might include restricting guests and loud music to before 10pm, and having a ‘whoever doesn’t cook has to clean’ rule. Whatever works for you.
Avoid Family Drama
Don’t go running to your parents when you’re not happy with your sibling. Be an adult and confront your brother or sister to stomp out the issue without making it a family drama.
Maintain Your Independence
Just because you’re living together doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. Remember you’re both adults with separate jobs, friends, and lives.
Know When to Say Goodbye
Some siblings just don’t hit it off living under the same roof, and this is totally fine. Know when to end your living arrangement before your relationship becomes beyond repair. You can find a new roomie, but you can’t find a new sibling.