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30 Things Only An Only Child Would Understand

30 Things Only An Only Child Would Understand

Due largely to the rising costs of raising children, single child families are on the rise in America and other developed nations, with some 18% of families in the U.S. having only one child, a figure which has doubled in the last 30 years. This means that more children in this generation will experience the joys and challenges of being raised in what comedian John Hodgman affectionately calls the “super-smart, ultra-shy narcissist club.” As an only child myself, here are 30 things that I know to be true about growing up solo.

1. We don’t all match the stereotype

We have heard it all before, only children are spoiled rotten little brats… well, guess what, so are a lot of you “normal” people, and you don’t hear us complaining about it all the time. Not all of us are completely self-obsessed.

2. We prefer to avoid conflict

We didn’t grow up with a sibling to torment or to be tormented by and are therefore naturally averse to peer conflict.

3. We are often voracious readers

Without the existence of a built-in familial playmate, we had to find other ways to occupy our time and add some people, albeit imaginary, into the cast of characters in our lives.

4. We love to hang out with big families

In much the same way that a visit to the country is an exciting and novel adventure for a city dweller, observing the dynamics and inner-workings of a large family is enjoyable for only children.

5. We tend to be closer to our friends

We treat our friends like the brothers and sisters that we never had. We are not satisfied with casual acquaintances, we want the talk-for-hours-on-the-phone-every-day type of buddy.

6. We don’t mind being alone

Have you ever seen someone eating at a restaurant or going to a movie by themselves. Guess what, they are probably having a great time, ordering or watching whatever they want. Only children are completely comfortable being alone.

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7. We like having people in the background

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was invite a bunch of people over my house and then hang out by myself in another room, reading or writing. While this may seem like extremely anti-social behavior, I simply enjoyed having people in the background that I didn’t need to directly interact with.

8. We are old souls

As the majority of our interactions outside of school are with adults, we tend to be a little more mature than our peers and, as such, we act older than our age.

9. We know exactly why we are only children

Every only child eventually gets “the talk” where our parents explain to us why they didn’t provide us with a sibling. In my case, I was a late in life, accidental birth. The whole conversation feels like an apology. It’s awkward.

10. We had imaginary friends

In fact, our imaginary friends had imaginary friends. We crafted elaborate narrative exchanges with these figments of our overactive imaginations and had a great time doing it.

11. We are less prone to PDA

We didn’t grow up being constantly touched and, as such, we tend to be a little more reserved with our public displays of affection.

12. We are less likely to want kids of our own

We do not have fond memories of our siblings growing up alongside us, so we are not inherently drawn to recreating those times.

13. We are a little sensitive

We didn’t grow up being ribbed and constantly picked on. We never built up the emotional callouses needed to live in such a cruel world, so we are often a little sensitive.

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14. We are not likely to throw a punch

…but we often wonder what it would be like to get into a real fist fight.

15. People automatically think we are weird

Telling people that you are an only child is like saying you were raised in a cult, you get a range of looks in response, that span the gap from mildly surprised to outright disgusted.

16. We are not great at sharing

Our things are our things and our food is our food. We didn’t grow up having to share and are therefore not very good at it.

17. We are drawn to other only children

Three of my closest friends are also only children. It’s a little like a private club.

18. We think we are the atypical case

Regarding those three close friends, I feel very strongly that they are all much more stereotypical “only children” than I am.

19. We are obsessive

Without the distractions that siblings provide, we tend to get deep into our hobbies.

20. We are always trying to please our parents

This carries on well into adulthood. We feel a deep need to make our parents proud, mostly because we were our parent’s sole concern for the entirety of our formative years.

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21. We love attention

We grow up never having to fight for attention, in fact, we probably received a little too much of it over the years. We are used to being the focal point in social interactions and that is not an easy thing to give up.

22. We talk to ourselves

And sometimes the conversations are pretty engaging.

23. We have overbearing parents

It’s not their fault, we are all they have, so it is only natural that they would become a little controlling.

24. We are a little bummed out that we won’t be aunts and uncles

Unless we marry into such a situation, we will never have a little niece or nephew to spoil.

25. We don’t always play well with others

Only children sometimes have difficulty operating as part of a team because they did not engage in the same type of group play that other kids did.

26. We don’t always remember our childhoods accurately

We lack a secondary record of our childhood. We have no one to ask if the exaggerated version of events that exist in our heads actually happened.

27. We used to pretend we had older siblings

Mine was a globetrotting college-aged sister with red hair and a fancy car… I genuinely have no idea why.

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28. We are not competitive

We often lack the overwhelming desire, that so many have, to turn mundane events into opportunities for competition. Don’t get me wrong, we like to win just like anyone else, we just typically prefer non-competitive activities.

29. We saved our parents a lot of money

Children are extremely expensive, in fact, it has been estimated that the total cost of raising a child often exceeds $250,000 by the time they reach 18.

30. We are just like everyone else

So stop bringing it up all the time! We’re sensitive about it.

 

Featured photo credit: boy in mumbai slums / pushkar raj sharma via flic.kr

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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