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How siblings help you become a better romantic partner
Having a sibling of the opposite sex can help you develop romantic confidence, according to research from Pennsylvania State University. - photo by Lois M Collins
Siblings battle and bolster each other. They are the only people who have a real inkling of what your childhood was like. And, it turns out, those opposite-sex siblings may actually help you develop the confidence you'll need in romantic relationships.

A study led by Pennsylvania State University researchers says that siblings can observe and interact in ways that bolster their ability to relate to others, such as when dating.

It was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "The study found that opposite-sex siblings saw themselves as increasingly capable of attracting and interacting with the opposite sex during the period from early to late adolescence. But no significant changes in so-called perceived romantic competence were found in siblings of the same sex."

The benefit, the article said, came from "natural opportunities to practice relating to the opposite sex and learn important social skills that can be applied in other relationships, such as conflict resolution and emotional control. Siblings of different sexes may have a better idea of how challenging interactions with the opposite sex can be, whereas same-sex siblings may be unaware of how little they know, the study suggests."

Data for the study came from five annual interviews over a half decade with the oldest two children in 190 families that were part of a different research project. The siblings were no more than four years apart and ranged from 12 to 20 years old.

The questions focused on whether they'd be fun and interesting on a date. The researchers noted that at age 12, same-sex siblings seemed to consider themselves more competent in terms of romance. That changed significantly by age 20.

"The results revealed that youth with same-sex siblings showed no change in their perceived romantic competence, but those with opposite-sex siblings exhibited increases in romantic competence over time," the study said.

When they discounted what children learn from relationships with parents, they still saw that the more siblings interacted closely and agreeably with a sibling of the opposite sex, the greater their romantic competence. Those who primarily fought with the sibling had lower average romantic competence.

Lee Lofland compiled a bunch of sibling facts into a blog post, noting that children who have a sibling of the opposite sex are more likely to adhere to gender norms than those with only same-sex siblings.

And Huffington Post noted earlier this year that hanging out with an opposite-sex sibling increases one's comfort level around others of the opposite sex.
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