When it comes to dating, growing up with sisters gives guys an unfair advantage.
It isn’t fair, gentlemen. It just isn’t fair.
We try, heaven knows we try. We brush and floss. We press our clothes. We learn to be confident without being cocky. We don’t stare at other women and we do our best to keep our gaze north of neckline level despite provocation that is sometimes nearly impossible to resist. We do everything we can to be charming dates, reliable partners, and loving boyfriends.
But when it comes to romance, there’s one thing we can’t do. We can’t compete with guys who grew up with sisters.
Guys with sisters get a head start on understanding women, on learning to live with them, on mastering skills like listening sympathetically and being close. If we’re going to compete for a woman’s attention on anything like a level playing field, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
1. WE NEED TO BE PROTECTIVE
Boys grow up protecting their sisters from bullies and other boys. They understand that other guys can be a threat, and coming between women and harm becomes second-nature. To be as good a partner as a guy who grew up with sisters, we have to start by being protective.
2. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND MEN ARE JERKS
Boys see their sisters go through break-ups and heartbreak over and over as they grow up. They understand the pain they go through, and they know how to comfort their suffering siblings. Women know that a guy who grew up with sisters won’t hurt them like that because he knows the pain is real.
3. WE NEED FEMALE MENTORS
Guys with sisters don’t have to wonder what’s going on with their partners. They just ask their sisters. Sisters can guide guys through date ideas, birthday gifts, and the perilous straits of a deepening relationship. Those of us without sisters don’t have anyone to ask. It’s not fair.
4. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WOMEN
Guys who grow up with sisters understand mood swings and emotions. They know what makes women happy and what disappoints them. They know how to interpret silent half-smiles and raised eyebrows. They know when it’s safe to cheer a woman up with a joke and when it’s best to let her be. Men who grow up with sisters know what’s behind the make-up, what’s under the Spanx. They are ideally qualified to be understanding and supportive. Damn them.
5. WE NEED MORE EXPERIENCE WITH EMOTIONS
Ordinary men get confused when their girlfriends need a good cry or they get randomly cranky for a day or two, then act like nothing happened. Feminine emotions can be a mystery. Guys with sisters get it. Women have rich emotional lives, mood swings, laughing and crying jags, with and without PMS. They learn to make room for a woman’s emotions, to be there when needed and to be silent when their sisters can’t tolerate anyone else in the room. It’s second-nature for them. The rest of us have to learn that somehow.
6. WE NEED TO BE MORE RESPECTFUL
There’s a difference between avoiding disrespect and actually being respectful and liking women. Boys with sisters learn young that it’s bad to tease or be mean to girls. They learn respect in a natural, organic way. There is no mystique about women when you grow up sharing a bathroom with multiple sisters. Guys with sisters grow out of being annoying brothers and grow into recognizing women’s worth. It is a radically unfair advantage.
7. WE NEED TO LEARN TO READ MINDS
Guys who grow up with sisters learn to hear the things that aren’t said, to interpret the silent language of women. Guys with sisters don’t have to be told when their dates want to trade desserts. They know when a woman is ready to be late with the rent payment if only she can have those shoes. They understand when “just sit with me” means “I’m lonely” and when it means “I’m craving intimacy with you.”
As you can see, the situation is dire. Guys with sisters are the ideal boyfriends and romantic partners. The only promising sign is that women don’t seem to have figured this out yet. When they evaluate a potential partner, they rarely ask if he grew up with sisters.
So let’s keep this just between us.