Obviously, not all only children are the same. But they do have a lot in common, having had to learn to entertain themselves at a youg age with their imaginary friends Donald Frosty and Kathaleena Donald, listening to Lou Reed at adult dinner parties, going to bars with their parents and eventually learning to tie a cherry stem in their mouths with their tongue… oh wait. Am I just talking about me now? Yes I am. So Only Child of me! Because I’m such a spoiled brat, right?
That was a joke. Maybe we should move on.
“I would never guess you were an only child!”
Say it with me now! Do not say “I could tell you were an only child!” Even if you suspect it. For unfair reasons your only child boyfriend or girlfriend likely has spent his or her life shouldering the burden of being a rich spoiled brat. Even if they were never rich or spoiled or a brat. So making them feel otherwise will make them feel like a million bucks. TEN million bucks.
They seriously deal with conflict differently than you.
If you grew up in a large family, yelling might have been the norm. You might have had to speak up in order to survive. An only child is probably a bit more conscientious and might be horrified by this behavior. A yelling match might seem more life-altering, more damnable. If you yell at your only child, you might not think it’s a big deal, but they will. They might be more sensitive. So you might have to pay a bit more attention, and it might take them a little more time to bounce back.
They might eat slower than you.
Let me guess — you eat dinner in 4.5 minutes, because that’s how long it took before your brothers sucked up every crumb on the table. And they have never had anyone threatening to eat their dinner, so they might chew each bite 1,000 times, use multiple forks, drink water between gulps, or even put down their sandwich to have a conversation. This will do more than put your meals together out of sync, it will affect how you treat each other and each other’s belongings. Only children aren’t more selfish, they are just more used to having what’s theirs be theirs, guaranteed. This goes for the second helping of macaroni, the blanket, TV time, whatever. Just let them know you want to share something with them, because it might not be the first thing that pops to their minds.
Don’t freak out — they’re probably close with their parents.
They have probably spent an extreme amount of uninterrupted time with their parents. So they know them better. They have inside jokes with them that you will never, ever understand and maybe even embarrassing nick names. And their parents probably love them more than yours do, because they only have one child to love. (Haha! JUST KIDDING!) An only child places more stock in what his or her parents think. They might seek approval a bit more than what you’re used to, even as an adult. Don’t feel threatened. Your only child still love you. It is extra wise, however, to get on the parents’ good side.
You should ask them about their imaginary friend/pretend sibling.
They definitely had one, and it can be revealing. Or at least incredibly amusing. Don’t forget to inquire about the imaginary friend’s middle name(s), occupation(s), and any uniforms they might have worn.
They never had anyone their own age protecting them or watching out for them.
So if you do, they’ll feel really extra special.
They have an immense amount of pressure to have children, like now.
HAHA more humor, there. But kind of not. Only children are overanalyzed by their parents anyway, and the pressure of everything is compounded — especially delivering grandchildren. I bet their parents are thinking about it and bothering them about it in maybe a “just kidding!” way. Just be there to listen to your only child boyfriend or girlfriend bitch about it. They just need a sympathetic ear.