Forget Peter Parker and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man: With the big sister mantle comes great responsibility. Apart from helping your little siblings navigate school, your family dynamic, and life in general, you also get the privilege of helping them work out the kinks in their love and sex lives. Whether you yourself are the oldest or the baby of the family, you could definitely use some
love advice from older sisters in your life — because we've truly been through it all. Big sisters are the pioneers trekking through flirtation fails and sex fumbles. Big sisters boldly go where no sibling has gone before.
Although many big sisters are eager to share their advice, it's not always easy to share what we've learned. We have to strike the right balance between touting our credibility and
not coming off like our Parents 2.0. But be that as it may, we'll still be here, whether it's 2019 or 2039 — ready to vet potential baes, assess date outfits, slide you a pack of dental dams, or be a shoulder to cry on Here's the advice of eight big sisters on love and partnership.
Life is short. Trust your gut. Love is something you decide.
Focus on being the best version of yourself and often the mate you want will find you, not the other way around. Look for a partner not someone to complete you because you’re already a whole person. Being curious about sex is fine, but please, please, please: Safe sex is better than tough decisions in the future (abortion, adoption, or treating STDs). If they make you feel like sh*t (like all the time, not just an argument), you walk away because that’s not love. And life is too short to put up with that sh*t. Trust your gut. Love is something you decide every day. It’s not just about happiness, but about supporting each other in the mess we call life. This includes the full range of human emotions. It’s not all fun and games, but it’s worth it — and fun and games should be a part of the equation.
— Natalie, 22
Don't let heartbreak win.
Heartbreak is inevitable. You’ll most likely experience it once, although I’ll pray that you don’t experience it twice. But if you’ve found yourself heartbroken by someone, there’s nothing more therapeutic than dancing around the room with some questionable dance moves. Sing, even if you’re not that good and your pitch is off. (It doesn’t matter; life’s too damn short to not have impromptu dance parties whenever you can.) And remember those little pockets of joy and save them for rainy days. Don’t let the pain of heartbreak win. Remember those joyous moments to remind yourself that you are capable of being happy by yourself.
— Barbara, 22
Be honest with potential bae about how you are.
Big sister of two here and advice I give them both is to be straightforward at the beginning of the relationship. Don’t pretend to be chill and easygoing, and then freak out on them a month in. They’ll feel like you tricked them. If you warn, when you do freak out... it’s all fair game.
- Brooke, 27
It's healthy to make mistakes.
I think the hardest advice or lesson to learn for both of you is that no matter what advice or warning you can give, sometimes your younger siblings have to make a mistake or go through heartbreak to learn something. All you can do is not to say “I told you so,” but support them and realize they’re human, too. It’s so easy to be “parent-like” and tell them what not to do, but also, listening is such a big part of it. Because when people are in love, they want to tell someone they trust without judgement, and older siblings are the perfect people to tell without having to fear a lecture or talk. As an older sister, support your younger siblings. It’s such a good opportunity to tell them about your own relationships and what you’ve learned and validate each other!
— Cher, 22
You come first; your partner comes second.
First love advice I remember getting from my big sister was: “Never pick a job or a school or a new location based on a boy. Your life comes first.”
— Tobi, 25
In a relationship, continually check in with yourself and ask yourself how you feel around the person you’re with! Do you feel like you can be yourself around them? Do your values align with theirs? Do they make you feel safe? Do you find yourself trying hard and making yourself nervous about impressing them? It’s okay to want love and look for love, but that should never be your utmost priority...especially as a young woman!!! There is so much more out there for you and so much time to develop yourself, your passions, and your career. (But of course I’ve always loved to flirt so never be ashamed to do so!) Write out your feelings. Or find some other way to externalize them! It’s cathartic and it helps when you have really intense feelings! It doesn’t need to be pretty either; your words can be ugly and cringey and unliterary as hell! It’s not about writing your first novel, it’s about self care.
— Izzy, 18
Your big sister will always have advice waiting when you're ready for it.
A few years ago my younger sister got into a relationship with someone who was bad for her. He’d previously been in prison and had cheated on his other partners. Instinctively, I wanted to protect her and tell her that she was with the wrong guy. But I realized that advice would be badly received at the time... It was hard to just listen to her talk about him especially when they were having problems. But I knew that telling her what I thought about their relationship would only push her closer to him. When the time came, months later she asked me what I thought of him and I could honestly answer that he was a bad person and their relationship was abusive. She left him soon after this.
— Rio, 30
Don’t push your feelings aside constantly in order to please someone you’re in a relationship with, just because you love them. Don’t avoid confrontation or arguments. Instead, argue healthily and communicate often. Communication is the key to being happy and loving someone — because they can’t read your mind and don’t think the same exact way that you do. Explain thought processes. Talk about what you feel and think. Don’t keep it bottled up. Let yourself be unapologetically you. Don’t compromise a whole piece of yourself to desperately fit what someone wants. You are young and you’ll find someone who loves you for you, and not for who they want you to be. You’re beautiful and you deserve to blossom. Let yourself love who you love. It’s a beautiful thing!
— Sara 22
No sibling relationship is perfect, but through thick and thin, you can always count on your big sister for some solid love and relationship advice.