Love life influenced by birth order, theory suggests

Love life influenced by birth order, theory suggests

/ 11:45 AM June 22, 2024

According to the "birth order theory" circulating on TikTok, when you were born into your family could influence your personality and, consequently, your love life in terms of compatibility -- whether you're an only child, the eldest, the middle or the youngest child.

Family psychology is often used to help us understand our emotional relationships. From father-related affection issues to intergenerational trauma, there are many theories that can shed light on our behavior. Recently, however, it’s “birth order theory” that has been the focus of particular attention on TikTok.

What if your position in the family influenced your romantic choices? According to the “birth order theory” circulating on TikTok, when you were born into your family could influence your personality and, consequently, your love life in terms of compatibility — whether you’re an only child, the eldest, the middle or the youngest child.


The idea that birth order affects personality dates back to the 1900s. The concept was theorized by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, who argued that where you are in the birth order can influence your personality, your relationships and even your career. Today, with more research, experts have determined certain behavioral traits according to birth order.


Annie Wright, a licensed marriage and family therapist, acknowledges in the columns of Business Insider that “birth order can influence personality traits and relationship dynamics,” including the qualities you look for in a partner. She continues: “There are so many different family variables that occur with a firstborn versus a younger born, including hypervigilance of the parents or the prioritization of resources for the firstborn.”

Notable characteristics include the fact that firstborns often develop leadership qualities and perfectionism due to their status as role models. According to Chance Marshall, therapist and founding partner of Self Space, interviewed by Cosmopolitan UK, “they might feel pressure to excel and be role models for their younger siblings, or feel resentful and act out.” As a result, in their romantic relationships, eldest children tend to be organized and be expert planners, which can be practical but also problematic if they’re constantly trying to control everything.

Only children can share common traits with firstborns, such as coping with the weight of parental expectations, albeit without the sibling rivalry. As a result, they are less competitive and more emotionally independent, having spent more time alone as children or in the company of adults.

As for middle children, they often play the role of mediator between their siblings and their parents. Their personality traits include diplomacy, empathy and a desire for fairness. However, Chance Marshall argues that “they might feel squeezed between the expectations placed on the firstborn and the relative freedom of the youngest.” They may also seek attention in ways such as pleasing others or avoiding conflict within romantic relationships.

Nevertheless, Anne Wright qualifies the theory by pointing out that “we can’t speak in absolutes, whether it’s talking about who you are because of your astrological sign or who you are because of your birth order.”

Chance Marshall observes that the current interest in “birth order theory” is part of “a part of a ‘massive wave’ to overpathologize everyday human experiences,” reports Cosmopolitan UK. The expert adds: “While it’s essential to acknowledge and address why we are how we are, we can reduce complex emotions, personalities, psyches and relational dynamics to mere disorders or theories. By turning ordinary struggles into diagnoses or ‘categories’, we run the risk of oversimplifying the intricacies of the human psyche and inadvertently discouraging self-reflection and personal growth.”

So, while “birth order theory” can be a fun way to test your compatibility with a potential partner, it’s important not to rely on entirely on this or other theories to plan out your love life.

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TAGS: birth, People

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