If you were not an only child and you then date an only child, there will be some things that strike you right away. I’m with a man now who, like me, has one sibling. We understand each other very well. We know exactly what it’s like to share attention and belongings with another person—we did it our entire childhood. And, since we just have one sibling each, we don’t struggle with any middle-child syndrome stuff, nor are we total selfless martyrs the way the oldest child in a large family can be, nor are we total babies the way the youngest child in a large family can be. Having exactly one sibling is a unique experience that we both understand, and that has shaped us in many of the same ways. Now, having said that, I have dated a couple of only children in the past and it was very clear to me how that affected them as adults and romantic partners. Not necessarily in a good or bad way: it’s just different.
Nothing is private
They didn’t have their siblings to share everything with so they shared everything with their parents. They still do. They talk to their parents often and tell them just about everything. So if you think the things you do and say in your relationship stay between you and your partner, you are mistaken.
Their big news is HUGE
In their family, there was only one child to celebrate so the celebrations were big. Getting an A on a paper warranted two special outings. Getting into college warranted a special vacation. And to this day, you’ll feel like his parents really go all out when something good happens to him. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “I mean, it’s good but, do we need to put aside three different nights to celebrate his raise?”
You’ll have a helper nurse. Whether you want it or not
His parents cannot turn off the urge to take care of him—and closely—when he’s not feeling well. So don’t be surprised if they straight up move into your guest room when he has the flu or is recovering from a minor surgery.
They may talk a lot
They didn’t have to compete with a sibling for the talking stick at dinner. Their parents wanted to hear all about their days and their updates and gave them their undivided attention. So sometimes you’ll have to gently remind your partner to shift the focus on you or…anyone else who is present.
And consult on decisions extensively
They’re also used to having parents who are deeply invested in every decision they make, from which apartment they choose to how they ask for a raise. So if they are mulling over a decision, get ready for this to be the topic of discussion in the house for days on end.
Alone time is important
Naturally, they’re used to more alone time than those who have siblings. You’ll just have to get used to your partner going quiet and retreating to another room during what seems like random times.
They may be a bit particular
They really didn’t need to ask a sibling what color wallpaper he or she wanted in a shared room. They didn’t need to deal with a sibling borrowing or moving something. So you may find they overreact a bit when things aren’t just so.
They likely have some special hobby
They didn’t have a sibling to play with and entertain them growing up so they took up some hobby that they may still passionately adore today, like comic books or building model cars or reading about the universe.
They’ll glob onto your siblings
They will love your siblings. Being near your siblings will be the closest they’ve ever come to feeling like they had siblings of their own! So they’ll want to talk to them and see them often.
They don’t like arguing
They may sort of shy away or become frustrated when you pick an argument. They didn’t have to deal with arguing when they were a kid. They had their parents, who just told them what to do and…that was it. They didn’t have to fight with a sibling and may lack the tools to do so with you.
They lack a filter
For better or for worse, they’ll tell you exactly what they’re thinking. They never had a sibling around to complain that they hurt their feelings.
They have very good friends
They made their own siblings through their friends. They’ll have a good friend group with whom they’re very tightly knit. That’s the family they built for themselves.
They’re very ambitious. Their parents only had them to focus on, so they were always told they could do anything, reach for the stars, and be anything they wanted to be.
They aren’t big on sharing
They may snap a bit if you reach for their French fries without asking or put on their bathrobe. Having someone else just suddenly using their things is a foreign concept to them.
They’ll love you fiercely
While you obviously aren’t their sibling (because that’d be gross) you are a form of deep connection and companionship that they’ve been missing. So they’ll be loyal, dedicated, and fierce advocates for you in everything you do.