I’m the middle child out of three boys. All my life, I’ve heard people tell me, “I can definitely tell that you’re a middle child.” It’s the hardest position to grow up in. Oldest and youngest siblings have well-defined characteristics, but the middle child is a real wild card. That said, if you’re dating a middle child, you might not know how to deal with them. Here are 11 things you’ll always find when dating a middle child:
1. We’d like some attention, please!
The obvious stereotype about middle children is that we’re desperate for attention. Which is kind of true but the reality is that we don’t need that much attention. A little bit goes a long way. Middle children don’t need a parade every time they enter a building. Youngest children, however, well …
2. We give and take good advice.
Probably the hardest part about being a middle child is that you’re forced to play two roles. You’re a big brother and a little brother. That dual-role isn’t easy but it pays off later in life. I have no problem giving people advice but if I don’t know what I’m talking about, I have no problem saying that, either.
3. You need to acknowledge our achievements.
It’s not that parents don’t care when the middle kid does something; they just care a little bit less. Childhood is full of baloney accomplishments, and parents can only pretend to be excited about them for so long. The thing is, as a kid, you don’t realize that graduating the third grade isn’t actually that big of a deal. To our dumb child brains, it just looks like our parents don’t care about what we’ve accomplished. We just want people to notice that we did something.
4. We’re unconfidently confident.
Another aspect of being both big and little sibling is a weird level of confidence. Being the older sibling gives you confidence because you have more experience than your little siblings. The younger ones are always being corrected by their elders. I had to deal with both. That means that even when I’m confident about something, I might still seem unconfident. I’m secure in that I know what I’m doing, but I’m also aware that I might be wrong.
5. Being left out is our nightmare.
Look, we just want to be included in stuff. When we’re kids, our older siblings always get to do stuff that we’re not old enough to do, and our younger siblings get to act in ways that we’re too old to act. We never get to experience the “only one allowed to do something” part of growing up, be it seeing R-rated movies without dad or playing on a jungle gym without looking really creepy. We just have to sit around and watch other people do and act in ways that we wish we could do. Just let us come along if we want to! It’ll make us so happy.
6. We understand that things are unfair.
Life’s unfair. You can sit around and whine about it or you can deal with it and learn to still succeed. Guess what? Middle kids totally understand how that works. Being a middle child only comes with the disadvantages of being older or younger than your siblings. There’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to learn to deal or not have a childhood. Any middle child that made it to adulthood can handle all the unfair moments life throws at people.
7. We’re great at negotiating.
Every other kid gets what they want but the middle child has to fight for it. The oldest can just be like, “I deserve it!” and the youngest can just be like, “Stop treating me like a baby!” Since those excuses don’t work with the middle kid, we have to get creative. When I wanted something, I needed to convince my parents I really needed it. If I wanted a toy, I needed to explain why I couldn’t just play with my older brother’s old toys. They were usually too worn out by the time my little brother got them, but that excuse didn’t work with me. So basically: if I want something, I know how to make you think that you want me to want it. (This comes in handy at work, too.)
8. We’re independent, but we’re not mad at you.
Being the middle kid means that you have to learn independence at a young age. My older brother didn’t always want to play with me and my parents were dealing with my younger brother being a baby so I had to learn how to take care of myself. So I don’t necessarily see doing something by myself as a sad thing. I got used to being alone and not being insulted by it. If you’re dating a middle child and they sometimes just start doing stuff by themselves, don’t take it personally.
9. We generally don’t have mommy or daddy issues.
There’s nothing worse than a grown up with mommy and/or daddy issues. That usually isn’t an issue with middle children. They grow up getting used to the fact that their parents love them, but also don’t expect their parents to treat them like princes or princesses. We learn independence at a young age, which means that we’re not looking for a partner to fill some parental void. We’re not looking to date someone just so we can bring them home to our parents and be like “See! I replaced you!” That’s weird and creepyand it’s not what dating is supposed to be about.
10. We know how to stay out of trouble.
One of the benefits of having an older brother was that I got to see him get in trouble and watch my parents’ reactions to it. The youngest kid doesn’t get in trouble because they’re the baby. Since I wasn’t the youngest kid, though, I could still get in trouble. But I knew how to handle my parents. I know that getting caught and in trouble is an option, but I also know how to avoid getting caught, and I know how to act when I do get caught. Basically, middle children are like Lex Luthor. We’re never going to jail.
11. We can handle sharing, but don’t touch our stuff.
My little brother was always sick of getting hand-me-downs. My older brother was always sick of seeing me and my little brother take his stuff. Once again, middle kids deal with it from both ends. I got my older brother’s old stuff, and then saw it get handed down to my little brother. I eventually just started seeing things as belonging to the family and I was ok with that. I really only considered very few things as mine. I’m great at sharing and waiting my turn to get to use something. The thing is, when I do view something as mine, then I’m super protective of it. So please don’t mess with my action figures without asking, okay?