Your friends today might not be aware that when you were a kid, you could throw down a tantrum like the best of them. They might not be aware that you wore leg warmers as a fashion accessory, every day, in the summer. They might not even know that your imaginary friend came to college with you (and had a crazy night at a frat party).
Whether your relationship with your siblings is rock solid or could use a tweak or two, those people know the parts of you that you might hide from others. This means there is potential for amazingly tight relationships.
There’s plenty of advice out there when it comes to family feuds and repairing relationships. But if you’re not sure where to start when it comes to turning a sister into an intimate friend, or a brother into a reliable ally, never fear. We promise; it’s not too late.
1. Facetime (the Real Kind)
The ideal way to build a relationship with anyone is to spend time with them. Many of us live in the same state or city as our siblings, but just don’t see them very often. If you’re not used to scheduling one-on-one time with your brother or sister, plan a fun activity. While you’re reacquainting yourself with the person that you still associate with fart jokes, take the pressure off by being active.
Something like trampolining, an aerial yoga session, or a cooking class could be a great way to spend time together without worrying about awkward silences. If you’re not sure how they’d respond, keep an eye out for activities, shows, or talks they would like and then frame it as: “I really need someone to come to this with me – are you free?”
2. If You Can’t Do Time, Do Talk
Maybe you live far from your sister. Or maybe it would be too weird at this stage to spend an afternoon with your brother because you’re just too different. You can just start a conversation via Facebook, email, phone, or text (group conversations on WhatsApp are great for multiple siblings).
And while a “How are you doing?” out of the blue might work, a “Help – I need your advice!” may be better. Everyone likes to feel needed, whether it’s a question about your mom’s birthday gift or career advice. You might even be surprised by the helpful hints a little brother can give.
Photos can be a great way to get closer too. Snap a pic of your office, pet, or the weather outside and say “Long time no see! Here’s where I am, where are you?”
3. If You Can’t Do Talk, Do Gestures
Let’s say you’ve really drifted in recent years, and a Facebook conversation isn’t going to happen any time soon. You can still keep that channel open for future friendship by occasionally letting them know you’re thinking about them.
Traveling? Drop them a postcard. Birthday coming up? A small gift card and a note can go a really long way. Hear they’re sick? Send flowers or a fruit bouquet. Even “liking” a pic on Instagram or an occasional “you look great!” comment on Facebook can mean a lot and let your sis or bro know they’re still part of your life. This can start to break through any animosity and heal wounds, making a future relationship a possibility.
4. Send Them Love and Kindness
Even though you’d be there if your family needed you, you may not – for whatever reason – be able to keep regular contact at this stage in your life. Try this.
Every so often, close your eyes, focus on a positive image of your sibling, and wish good things for them. Breathe deeply and really mean it. We’re not promising that the “good vibes” will reach them, but working on creating positivity around that relationship in your own mind will make a huge difference in how you feel (and behave) next time you’re face-to-face.
If you’re absolutely committed to turning your brother into your BFF, do all of these! Your loved ones may joke that you’re suddenly turning into a sibling stalker, but will soon see that it comes from a place of love.
After all, when you’re at your lowest, it’s important to have someone you can count on. With brothers and sisters, it’s in the contract. Imaginary friends and tantrums and all.