How siblings impact your love life - why ‘only children’ consistently follow the same dating pattern

You'll never guess who only children are usually drawn to

Middle ages couple smiling and embracing
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Psychologists have given a lot of study to the impact of birth order on all aspects of life, and it has a particularly interesting effect on how people approach their romantic lives - the effect on only children is particularly interesting.

Birth order appears to be an endless source of fascination to psychologists, who reveal lots of interesting ways it impacts all areas of life. From the burden of eldest daughter syndrome to traits shared by kids with 'youngest child syndrome', the findings are often backed by studies and not just old wives tales and speculation.

If you grew up an only child not only are there certain traits singletons are said to share, lacking siblings has also been said to have an impact on adult romantic relationships. Alfred Adler was an Austrian psychologist who came up with the original Birth Order Theory stating you can develop certain personality traits depending on your birth order. His theory was hijacked on TikTok, with users applying the theory to dating, coining the new term 'Birth Order Dating Theory.'

However, it's not just a fun trend, as psychologists have confirmed birth order does indeed influence the people you choose to date as an adult. Eldest children are said to be most compatible with youngest children romantically. These first borns are used to taking charge and are comfortable being caretakers. In turn, this means they subconsciously want someone they can look after, and youngest children are the perfect match - they're often used to being cosseted and this behaviour in a relationship is familiar to them.  

Middle born children are best paired with eldest children. Taking their typical traits of leadership and innate ability to care, means a first born partner can offer the support system middle children might've lacked growing up. Middle children also make great mediators, and they can keep an eldest child partner in check if they have a tendency to take too much control in difficult family situations. 

"The Birth Order Dating Theory is not just a fun trend, as psychologists have confirmed birth order does indeed influence the people you choose to date."

Surprisingly, only children are typically more drawn to first borns. Despite the belief only children are fiercely independent and confident, a psychologist suggests when it comes to dating, only children tend to look for certain characteristics in a partner. Speaking to Women's Health, sex and couples psychologist Dr Karen Stewart says only children actually want to be cared for in the same way as middle children.

She says "An only child looks for someone who can take care of them at all times, which is one of the primary personality traits of a stereotypical eldest child. While only children may run away from conflict, firstborns run towards it," which explains why the two might be drawn together.

When it comes to pairings that aren't compatible, same-birth order relationships are apparently doomed according to Birth Order Theory and dating. Two eldest, two middle children, two youngest and two only children will likely clash. Older children used to authority are unlikely to get along with someone sharing that strong trait.

Meanwhile, peace-making middle children can find communication difficult. Navigating big conversations while trying desperately to keep one another happy, often doesn't work. Bringing up the rear, youngest and only children are used to being the centre of attention and have such similar personalities, any combination of these together is likely to end in trouble.

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.