Does birth order affect relationships?

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A recent article regarding birth order and relationships on AOL's Personals site got me thinking of a conversation I'd recently had with my mother. We were talking about how many kids I wanted (I have one with another one on the way). I'd said ideally I'd love to have three someday, and then the topic of the middle child--and middle child syndrome--came up. Is it really true that middle children behave a certain way? They're neither the oldest, firstborn, nor are they the baby in the family. And, just perhaps, that birth order of being in the middle has an affect on their relationships when they get older.

According to the article, written by the folks at eHarmony Advice, firstborn children make good mates because they're reliable; of course, they can also make poor mates because they're not given to spontaneity and like to maintain control. Middle-born children are more likely to be laid back, which everyone enjoys, but they're also not inclined to deal well with conflict, avoiding it at all costs. This can be both good or bad for a relationship. And the youngest, the baby of the family, can be the most fun and exciting in a relationship, but that can also translate to not being accountable for actions and abuse of power.

What about the only child? According to the article they act much like the oldest child, and make great communicators who've been around adult relationships their whole lives. Expectations are the downfall for the only child, as is moving too slowly. Is this a load of hogwash, or is eHarmony on to something here? Does birth order really affect how an adult treats his or her mates in a relationship? Or is it more a matter of nature AND nurture--how the parents treat a child regardless of birth order? I'm going with the latter on this one, as it seems to easy to pigeon-hole someone into a type of behavior based on his/her birth order. Still, some say it's as real as anything else psychology has to throw our way. What do you think?

Pic by dsearls.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.