While family relationships (or substitute family relationships) are indeed essential for everyone, there are instances in which a relationship can become harmful. There are a number of potential reasons for this to occur in the previously described situation, many of which stem from childhood.

Children of parents that have angry, aggressive tendencies must look to someone else to provide them with the feeling of safety. This need for safety is essential to the survival of any species, making it an extremely powerful method of bonding. In cases in which a sibling is also experiencing the wrath of a parent, it is not surprising when strong bonds form that can last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, these bonds can become so strong as to become unhealthy. Both individuals may be suspicious of any person that tries to get close to the other party, expressing their dislike of the friend or potential mate. This can result in alienation from others and extreme co-dependency.

The most intense of these types of relationships will entail the siblings continuing to live together for as long their entire lives. With all aspects of their lives entwined, both people believe that they simply cannot survive without the other one, even while attempting to convince others that they are completely independent and have intentionally made the choice of this lifestyle.

An individual who finds themselves in this position will struggle to find what they consider to be a suitable mate. They will likely look for someone who fits into their particular lifestyle or comfort zone, or for someone that will allow for the fulfillment of their need for control.

However, a search for the perfect mate will be fruitless. No one will be able to compare to their sibling, who is seen through rose-colored glasses. Both individuals will be unable to establish healthy romantic relationships, with their ability to relate to those of the either sex inhibited. Social skills will essentially remain at the awkward stage of adolescence.

Any romantic encounters will also be affected. Women will have learned through childhood experience that simply saying “no” can result in pain and suffering. Men will either be extremely controlling to compensate for their lack of control elsewhere or rely on indirect suggestions to communicate.

Individuals that find themselves in the throttles of co-dependency as an adult have likely received mixed messages regarding proper communication as children. While teachers require active participation to get good grades, parents likely preferred the children to “be seen and not heard.”

Children learn early on the best way to communicate with caregivers or parents, and this is often ingrained for a lifetime. If punishment or other negativity resulted from speaking up, this will continue to have life-long effects on communication style. Withdrawing from everyone but another person that is just as needy, such as a sibling, will likely be the result, and the attempts of others to communicate may be met with a shyness resulting from ingrained fear. In this situation, safety is only felt in the proximity of the co-dependent person.

© 2011 by David Gharat Personal Life Coach. All rights reserved

Author's Bio: 

David Gharat-Personal Life Coach, Relationship Coach, Dating Coach, Self-Development Coach