18.06.2024

How to Be Friends With Your Sibling

“Sibling relationships, like all family relationships, have a certain amount of ambivalence and ambiguity,” Dr. Greif said — an obvious statement, perhaps, but one he believes is important for siblings to bear in mind, so they don’t set an “impossible standard” for what a solid relationship entails.

And he and other therapists who focus on family relationships believe that it is possible to bolster an adult sibling connection, even if you do not have (or even aspire to) the kind of intense bond that Ms. Findlay and Ms. Rowe share. Here are three strategies that can help.

Nicholas Gant, 40, and his sister Gaybrielle LeAnn, 37, were extremely close as young children — Mr. Gant taught his baby sister to walk and talk, as family lore goes. But during adolescence, they drifted apart. Ms. LeAnn described her brother as a talented singer who was kind and charismatic; she said this created a “natural magnetic field” around him that sometimes made it difficult for her to find her own voice.

Both attended historically Black colleges and universities, or H.B.C.U.s., an experience that they said taught them the importance of building community — and helped them “recognize our need for each other,” Mr. Gant said. He and Ms. LeAnn spent their 20s and 30s not only learning about themselves but making it a point to show up for and understand the other sibling, too: If Mr. Gant, who is a singer, has a show, his sister is in the audience. When Ms. LeAnn had a recent celebration to mark eight years since she survived life-threatening blood clots, her brother was there.

“I feel like we really found each other again,” Mr. Gant said. “We sort of fell in love again as siblings.”

Ms. LeAnn credits their “capacity to grow and love each other as individuals, and not just as blood relatives” with helping to make them “great friends.”

That willingness to see and embrace a sibling’s growth is important, said Nedra Glover Tawwab, a therapist based in Charlotte, N.C., and the author of “Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Family Relationships.”

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