How Birth Order Shapes Your Personality and Relationships

May 10, 2022

Curious how your birth order affects your relationships? Read more about how your birth order shapes your personality and relationship compatibility.

There are so many factors that weigh in on our decision to date someone or continue to see someone romantically. We might look out for shared values and goals, specific characteristics, similar lifestyles etc., to figure out our ideal match. Dating apps even give us prompts that reflect many of these determining factors to help guide you and your swipe sesh towards your ideal match. While I appreciated the wide selection that dating apps gave users, I always thought of one specific prompt that could have been of use for singles looking for that special someone and that prompt was birth order. Before you go “WTF is this girl saying?!” hear me out…

As the youngest of four kids, I have always been aware of what it means to be the baby of the family. The rules were always bent for me, and I never really had a curfew because my parents were usually asleep by 8pm.

In addition, my siblings gave me a lot of advice – both solicited and unsolicited – which has made me an incredibly indecisive person. For this reason, I always find myself looking to others to help me make decisions.

Generally speaking, being the baby of the family means sometimes being treated like, well, a baby. I was made especially aware of my status as the baby whenever my siblings and friends would comment on the lack of rules and pressure applied by my parents. Their comments led me to become curious about the ways in which their upbringing and their relationships to their parents were different due to their birth order. While I had zero desire to ever trade places with that of the middle child, only child, or oldest, I remained curious as to how the different birth order status would lead to different personality traits and characteristics. This curiosity led me to the works of Alfred Adler and his theory of birth order.

Researcher Alfred Adler developed a theory that suggests that the order in which you are born directly impacts your personality and development. In addition, many psychologists suggest birth order impacts our relationships, though understanding your birth order could make for some interesting and fun first date questions.

According to WebMD, Adler developed his birth order theory back in the twentieth century, and this theory is still widely frequently referenced in modern psychology. While there is a much more in-depth analysis of Adler’s theory, I broke down some of the general ideas of what personality traits you’re likely to have based on your birth order:


The firstborn child in the family is typically given more patience and attention from their parents, which, in turn, benefits the child and helps shape them into strong leaders and role models for their younger siblings.

In my family, the oldest is the most cautious and likely to follow the rules, making them seem far more responsible than the rest of us were growing up. My oldest sibling was also very studious, striving to achieve and get good grades.

What’s ironic is that my oldest sister actually married another oldest, and I’ve come to make a lot of friends who are older siblings dating other oldest siblings as well! The only qualm I have noticed is that sometimes these couples tend to butt heads, as both people tend to want to take charge and be the leader!


We’ve all heard of middle child syndrome, and I hate to say it but the stereotypes are often accurate!

Middle children can sometimes feel neglected by their parents, as they aren’t the responsible older child, but they aren’t the cute younger one either. Because of this, middle children often tend to be the most independent of all, as they sometimes feel like they have to “fend for themselves,” so to speak.

It’s not uncommon for a middle child to seek relationships outside of the family unit, whether that means spending a lot of time with a romantic partner or staying over at their friends’ houses. In my family, the middle child has gravitated towards other middle children when it comes to friendships and relationships.


The youngest child, AKA the baby of the family, is often given more freedom than any of the other kids. This is typically because many parents have a “been there, done that” mentality by the time they have their last kid, which can lead to the youngest kid being used to getting their way and having a desire to do things their own way.

Youngest children can also be more rebellious and may dislike authority, which isn’t thrilling to most parents! (sorry Mom and Dad) But they also tend to be the more creative, falling into entrepreneurial work or entertainment.

Only Child

Last but not least, we have only children. An only child takes on different personality traits from all three places in the birth order. The only difference is that only children don’t have to compete with anyone else for their parents’ attention.

This can be both good and bad for an only child, as all of that doting can make them more dependent on their parents. However, this can also help them mature faster, as they only have the influence of adults in their family unit.

Only children can also often feel immense pressure to succeed and make their parents proud.

First Born Female Or Male:

In addition to the works of Alfred Adler, Dr. Kevin Leman wrote a book on birth order called The Birth Order Book: Why You Are The Way You Are in which he discusses how gender plays a role and how it can change the personality differences of each birth order. For example, you could be the youngest but if you are the first female or male to be born in your family you may be likely to fall under certain oldest traits and characteristics.

The Importance of Birth Order and How it Affects Relationships

What I personally found interesting while reading about birth order is how the strengths and weaknesses of each one can influence a healthy relationship dynamic. What I found even more interesting is how it seems like youngest children often have a desire to date someone of a different birth order, and how two youngest children seem to be the least likely to be paired together/ would have the biggest challenge to making their relationship work.

As the youngest in my family, I totally agree, as I tend to look for partners who can reassure me of what to do in a tough situation or who have the confidence to make executive decisions because my executive functioning is not my greatest strength so I seek those who do possess those strengths.

As I mentioned in a previous post, love languages can be used to help you better navigate your personal relationships and can serve as a helpful tool to understand the needs of you and your partner. I think the birth order theory can work in the same way, and while I may take it to the extreme by refusing to date fellow youngest children, I think acknowledging our birth order and how it shaped the way we grew up can help us understand ourselves better and what we may want or need in a romantic relationship.

In turn, having knowledge and understanding our birth order can help make us better partners in our dating lives.