Of my many obsessions (HBO’s Girls, neon Crocs, kale, Kentucky basketball, and Peacock Punk — just to name a bewildering few) I can’t get enough of birth order. Maybe it’s because my father was one of three boys and my mother was one of three girls, and, as a child, I was able to witness the very real and fascinating phenomenon of oldest, middle, youngest.
Or maybe it’s because I experienced all four appointments myself: I was an only child for three years, until remarriage bestowed me with an older brother; then I was the youngest for three, until the birth of my sister; then I was the middle for eight, until the untimely passing of my brother; then from age 14 on, I’ve been the oldest. Whether this qualifies me as multi-personality or empathetic or a good candidate for politics/used car sales is up for debate, but that game of sibling checkers paved the way for a keen interest in how where we fall in our family affects us in life, and especially, relationships.
According to psychologists, the birth-order position you hold for the longest in your family is the one you typically most identify with, so even though the first 14 years of my life weren’t spent as a Firstborn, I’ve held that role for 25 years now. So, like it or not, I’ve become pretty organized (read: anal) and prompt (read: anal) and particular (read: neurotic). Therefore, it’s probably good I married the youngest of three. He keeps me calm and grounded, if not perpetually tardy. And birth-order specialists tend to agree; they maintain that one of the most successful long-term relationship combos is Firstborn/Lastborn. So, in addition to cheap wine, my husband and I’ve got that going for us.
Other happy couplings besides Firstborn/Lastborn include Only Child/Lastborn and Middle/Lastborn.
(Man. Those Lastborns are getting laid a lot. Hmph. Figures.)
Bad pairings? Well, pretty much shacking up with someone like yourself. Firstborn/Firstborn is, in most cases, a disaster. This merger becomes a twosome based on boredom, obligation, and control. Which means this pair is doing their taxes but not each other. Studies suggest that if you’re an oldest child who wants to team up with another oldest child, you’re better off opening an accounting firm than getting hitched.
Another bad union? Lastborn/Lastborn. When babies of families hook up together, you can imagine that there’s going to be a lot of napping. And gaming. And consumption of cheese puffs. Not to over-generalize, but science says that if two Lastborns fall in love, it’s only a matter of time before they fall into debt.
A final not-so-ideal match is an Only Child female with an Only Child male. I won’t even begin to describe why this is doomed. Just close your eyes and imagine the horror.
Of course, a lot of this birth-order stuff depends on a lot of other stuff, like: genetics, family dynamics, personality traits, and astrology, Tarot, and fortune cookies. So, take everything I’ve said with a grain of pixie dust, or, better yet, go have yourself a t-shirt made that proclaims, across the chest, where you fall in your family. I mean, I may be a dorky Firstborn, but I’m thinking that’s a supercool way to meet your match.
Whitney Collins is the creator and editor of two humor sites: errant parent and The Yellow Ham. Her humor appears on The Big Jewel, McSweeney’s, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Fathermucker’s blog; you can visit her website at whitneycollins.com. She lives with her husband and two sons in Kentucky, where she’s been known to do mediocre local stand-up.
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