How Growing Up With A Brother Shaped The Way I Date

While brothers can be the sole source of your irritation growing up, they do provide some unintentional insight when it comes to dating. Sure, they’ve farted in our faces and ratted us out to our parents for coming home three hours past curfew. They drive us crazy and make us want to pull our hair out, but brothers actually give us an honest perspective of the male mind and how it functions. Though I may not have realized it when I was in high school, my little brother actually taught me a lot about love:

He showed me the importance of bromances. Guy friendships get a really bad rap. A night out with their buds is often met with a lot of panic about them having “too much fun.” While I may have experienced this feeling a time or two, seeing the way my brother acted with his friends really calmed my nerves. Despite what movies want us to believe, guys going out for a drink usually does not end in an orgy with a bunch of supermodels.

He taught me to have high standards. I’m always a little hesitant when I tell my brother about a guy I’m dating because he’s hard to impress, and he’s not one to hold back. Half of the time, I find myself searching for some cool thing to tell my brother about the new dude, and all while realizing that he might not be as cool as I thought he was. My brother will quickly point out things about a guy like his sh*tty job or if he has a bad reputation. My favorite one is the classic, “Emily… no.” The fact that he has high standards for me always encouraged me to have them for myself.

He showed me how guys act differently when they actually care about a girl. Watching the way my brother acts when he really likes a girl is the weirdest, cutest thing ever. He’s not really what I would consider the romantic type, but I can always tell he’s serious when he introduces us to her like right away. Little things like remembering the kind of candy she likes or stopping by at the store she works at after school are always big indicators he was into her. It made me realize that big romantic gestures are a lot less common, and small, subtle hints are much more revealing.

He showed me how most guys actually say what they mean. Too often we can get caught up in wanting to know what a guy is thinking. I know I can have a bad habit of always probing and trying to figure out what’s going on their brains. My brother often heard my frustrations with feeling like I was in the dark on how a guy felt, and how if I just knew what he was thinking then I’d feel so much better. He said, “Honestly, he’s probably not thinking about anything.” And as a chronic overthinker, that can be hard to believe. But more often than not, he was right.

He made me see that guys can get hurt just as much as women can. We like to paint men as emotionless creatures that we force into relationships, but we couldn’t be farther from the truth. Their hearts break just like ours do and they find themselves battling mixed signals more than we think. Seeing my brother get upset by a girl, and how similarly he reacted to when I was upset by a guy, really opened my eyes to how I treated the men I was dating. I was so convinced they didn’t care, that I hardly ever took their feelings into consideration. Guys can be bad about not telling you when you’ve hurt them, but it doesn’t mean they’re not hurting.

He made me only want to date guys with an adventurous side. I based a lot of what I wanted in a guy on my little brother. He’s so energetic when it comes to trying new things and being risky and it makes life so much more fun. Why would I ever want to date a guy who wasn’t going to get a little crazy?

And guys who know how to go along with a joke. Another super important quality he taught me to look for was a good sense of humor. I’m not about to date someone who’s too uptight to poke fun at themselves. Life’s too short to take everything so seriously.

He showed me the importance of logic when it comes to dating. There have been countless times where I was freaking out about something going on with the guy I was seeing, and when I would try to explain the situation to my brother, he would look very confused. The problem was usually either a) all in my head or b) so simple to solve it wasn’t even funny. Now when I feel myself getting emotional, I always try to pinpoint the logical reason behind it. If there isn’t one, then it usually isn’t worth being upset over.

He made me realize how some typical girl behaviors can really be sabotaging to a good relationship. Intentionally making a guy jealous or waiting a certain amount of time before texting back, are all things girls think we need to do to keep a guy interested. If a guy is actually interested in you, these silly tactics will only drive him away.

He made me understand that no matter what, I was always enough. Whenever I get a boyfriend, I always sense from my brother that he’s a little confused. Never once has he made me feel like I needed to settle down or find someone. In fact, it’s always been the opposite. He thinks of me as someone who’s good all on their own and doesn’t need anyone to make them feel better. And because of that, he makes me believe it for myself.

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