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the only one

how you were raised determines a lot about how you act in life. my dad got me interested in birth order psychology when i was young. he told me one day that he thought i’d marry an oldest child because of my particular traits as an only child, and this intrigued me. as i’ve looked for information about only children, i found that not a ton of it exists, besides the obvious stereotypes about only children being spoiled and selfish brats. though this can be true, it doesn’t describe some more evident factors that my only-ness has imposed upon me–and not all of them are so negative. the following ten statements made about only children define me well:


1. only children are used to relating to others with a high degree of intensity. intensity is what characterizes most relationships for adult only children. it’s not that friendship is hard to come by, more that it’s not taken lightly.

2. only children set high expectations for themselves and those around them, constantly analyzing the actions and reactions of everyone and everything. overall, it is a rewarding, yet exhausting experience.

3. only children receive an enormous amount of love and attention from their parents and are used to reflecting that energy in return.

4. only children are prone to the desire for independence and solitude, as well as deeply felt emotions when rejection occurs. the results of these incidents are varied, ranging from healthy alone time, paranoia, over-indulgence and deviant behaviors.

5. only children are known to give advice, be protective, and become “like a parent” to their friends and relationship partners. the stability of the friendship, confidence, and sincerity make only children great life-long friends.

6. only children build strong friendships and become well-versed in creating lasting non-kin relationships to provide a substitute for the siblings they never had. it is almost as if they are adding to their family.

7. only children tend to grow up faster mentally, which sometimes inhibits their ability to identify with their age mates.

8. common concerns of only children include being the sole caretaker of aging parents, never being a biological aunt/uncle, fear of raising more than one child since there is no basis for knowledge on this matter, and losing all connection with their families after their parents’ death.

9. only children are uncomfortable with conflict from not having the rough-and-tumble, push-and-shove competition with siblings.

10.  only children are prone to stress from self-imposed pressure for right conduct, responsible behavior, and high accomplishment. they tend to be high controlling, and they are frequently anxious about making mistakes and not measuring up to high performance standards she or he has set.


#4, #8, #9 all kind of came as a revelation.
a) often, i have the overwhelming need to be alone. i had to learn to be extroverted to make friends, but i am naturally pretty introspective. when i’m rejected/ignored/misunderstood by those i deeply care for, it seems more difficult for me than others.
b) i get scared of being alone. i always have anxiety that something will happen to my parents. moving three minutes down the street was even hard. i want a huge family, but i’m scared i won’t measure up at playing house. meeting others’ nephews/nieces makes me melt, because the only way i will have one is through my husband. i didn’t realize this until i dated an only child for years. it makes me appreciate the idea of family a lot more.
c) i hate conflict, and i hate unresolved mess. i desire to solve it in order to stop analyzing it constantly. i’ve been a “little adult” my whole life from hanging out with mostly my parents and no siblings while growing up, so i am at an enormous loss when someone childishly perpetuates an argument over a long span of time instead of maturely resolving it.

ultimately, being an only child has helped me to perform well and value my true friendships. i’m sensitive, empathetic, loyal, analytical (almost neurotic), loving, caring, and a little bit complex, selfish, manipulative and contradictory. though i may be spoiled, the qualities above describing only children don’t seem like such a bad plight.

much madness really is divinist sense to a discerning eye.


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