Growing up, I didn't get along very well with my elder brother. In addition to the usual sibling rivalry (fights and insults), I was always compared to him by everyone including teachers (we went to the same school) and parents because he was great at studies, athletics and socializing (literally a model child every parent wants to have). I on the other hand wasn't that great - average grades (which was considered to be very low here), barely 2-3 friends and not a lot of interest in sports. So this made me hate him even more and I never talked with him much, preferring to spend time with my cousins instead.
Time went on and we became more mature and the fights stopped. He joined a good university and went abroad for his masters. Now we barely even speak with each other (2-3 times a month, that too mostly over WhatsApp texts). We only speak about my future plans and nothing much else. Whenever he visits home, he feels like a complete stranger. I don't have any sort of emotion towards him as I do with my cousins. Just to put that into perspective, I feel more sad when my cousins (whom I can visit anytime I want) leave rather than my brother who can only visit once a year. I want to have a normal sibling relationship with him and have the same family bond I have towards my cousins. What steps should I take to improve the relationship?

I'm 20 and he's 23 if that helps

My main goal is to converse with him more frequently (once a week?)
I've tried to engage in topics such as sports, music, work (etc.) but I can never manage to carry on the conversation. I've tried watching sports with friends, attending parties, going out and exploring but those simply don't appeal to me. Believe me I want partake in those activities too but I've tried a lot and those simply aren't for me. Basically, we have nothing in common

We're extremely casual with our cousins, joking about friends and relationships and my cousins act as a 'bridge' between both of us. I want the same to happen directly between us. My parents also say I'm distant from him and he's made a lot of attempts to reach out too, but there's something nagging in my mind that prevents me from opening up to him


4 Answers 4



Next time you guys meet, make sure that you tell him exactly how you feel: undershadowed, inferior to him (or however you want to word it, but be very very very clear that you don't like the way you feel) and tell him that you want to make your relationship more better. Unless your brother is absolutely nuts, he will understand and you'll be closer siblings, although with a few quirks. You'll eventually find something that you both like. If nothing else, at least you'll both find something the you don't like, and criticise it together :).

Longer answer (with my mirror experience)

From her childhood, my sister always thought was in the same position with me as you are now with your brother. I think I can say that I've been where you are. Moreover, I'm Indian too...

When we both were little, my sister always found studying hard. She wasn't exactly the star student my parents wanted her to be. She wasn't good at making friends either, and never listened to our parents. On the other hand, I was a good student, and had plenty of friends, and basically listened to everything our parents told me.

As a result of this, my sister always considered me a rival she had to somehow overcome. I never thought of her like that, and loved her wanted her to love me back as a brother.

One day, we both had a huge fight, and she told me that she hated me more than anyone else (this was when she was 13 and I was 17). After this, I decided to make things right between us, by asking her how she truly felt about me. After lots of prying, she told me that she always saw me as the perfect child our parents loved more than her.

At that point, I was totally amazed, as I had never put myself in her shoes and thought of how she saw me and how the rest of the world compared her to me. I told her that no matter how much the entire world compares you to me, I will love you always. I told her that these comparisons are not what matters in life, it is the feelings that you have for them. If you start ignoring these comparisons, people will stop comparing you too.

If your brother is anything like me, he loves you deep down in his heart. He just won't show it now as he's probably never seen you trying to show him the same feelings, or he doesn't know how you feel. The fact that he lives abroad and is still asking you about your future plans shows that he truly cares for you.


It is a good thing that you want to rekindle your relationship with your brother. You both are in your early twenties and this is one of the best times to bond together. Have you watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules movie? You can learn a thing or two from there. Or for that matter, Do dooni chaar Hindi movie? Though in this case, it is bonding between a pre-teen/teen son and his dad. In both the cases, initially there is a huge gap between those characters, but they tend to find a common factor that binds them together. Even if there is not any, you'll find one over the course of time or you'll start respecting each others' preferences/choices.

What I would suggest is, talk to your brother when he is alone. Tell him that you want to spend sometime together with him, alone. May be watch his favorite movie together or go to a mall and have some fun time. Do not be particular about the mode of entertainment. Just go with the flow. Ask where he wants to hang out. Take his opinion and value it.

He might or might not oblige your request. If he does, then you need to take the lead, tell him how much you love spending time with him, that you really miss bonding with him or for that matter hug and tell him how much all these moments mean to you.

If he doesn't, still, go and hug him tightly and tell him that you love him. Do it to your heart's content. And it is okay to have a small pillow fight with him, tell him that all you want to do is spend time with him.

There is always something that would work between you both. Try everything that comes to your mind. But, do not stop attempting. And, most importantly do not ever bring out the comparisons that others do. Not now.

  • 1
    Don't compare life with movies. Movies are idealizations that have nothing to do with real life, they have been created by other people the way they wanted it to be depicted. Most of your advice (e.g. hug him tightly etc.) isn't exactly realistic. But on the whole, a good answer.
    – Abhigyan
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 15:42
  • @AbhigyanC The reply never says about real/reel life comparison. All it says is to take a thing or two from those. Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 16:43

You could be open with your brother about how you feel: tell him that it bothers you that you're not as close as brothers should be, and that you'd like to change that.

Go do something fun together: a movie, a football game, a beer - whatever the two of you would enjoy. This would give you an opportunity to talk, find out what you have in common, and also have a good time.

And there, you've laid down the foundation. Now you can build on it. Now you can chat over WhatsApp about more stuff than your future plans. You might find something that would be interesting to your brother, and forward it to him. You might go see the same movie in different countries, and then talk about how you liked it. You might make plans together for his future visit.

  • that's kind of the problem. We've never had anything in common. We tried talking about sports, movies, hobbies etc but never found a middle ground. Conversations end in silence after a few minutes
    – user16476
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 16:15
  • 1
    @kiiler And you are sure this has not changed? As people grow, they acquire more stuff they are interested in. If you are that different, however, why not ask him to tell you about what he does, his studies etc.? If he studies it (whatever he studies), it must be interesting to him, so he might be able to show you the interesting sides of it. (Interesting enough for a conversation, at least.) Then the other way round - you could share what you're doing, and what makes it interesting for you. Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 16:24
  • yes we tried talking. He's into finance and I have a CS degree. Sometimes I ask questions about stock markets, taxes, company finances etc and he asks me for tech related advice but those barely go for a few minutes. He's more of a outgoing party guy who can talk about almost anything except tech and I have no idea about anything non-technical. I did try learning to play the guitar because he can do it too but I dropped it because it wasn't right for me.
    – user16476
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 16:39
  • @kiiler my brother and I are also opposites in personality (engineer vs musician) and almost never talk about work but still have some things in common. We discuss music (we don't have identical tastes but we do discuss why we like certain songs). Or movies. Most people have some kind of music geanre they like. My brother and I exchange links to songs we like. we also play chess together. There are lots and lots of options. Career choices are not the only ones (and most people don't enjoy talking work anyway). Ask him what he does in his spare time.
    – user6818
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 20:21

From experience I can offer my perspective from the side of the older brother. Even now my younger brother tries to connect, but at this age we really chase down our dreams, especially in the position he’s in. We may have other interests and goals we work for, but the dissociation comes from them moving forward, looking at degrees, jobs, relationships all leading towards marriage and security. I doubt he would “hate” or “dislike” you for not having common goals or interests, he’s probably trying to take advantage of all the new things in his life, new abilities, opportunities and so forth. It’s hard to catch someone trying to live life, because to relax means slowing down.

This also provides what I feel is the best way of connecting, when they deliberately “slow down”. Like at family reunions, Christmas visits, or holidays he chose family over his other opportunities and I feel that’s the best time to capitalize on. Find what both of you can talk about, such as the future, partying, school, video games, sports, etc. Ask him for advice, or ways to tackle life. Ask him about his day, or support him as he races down life. My best connections comes from people who can listen unbiased, who I can vent to, or complain with, it’s nice having someone who will listen to you, especially with the endless things we face.

Edit: This answer is based off my experience in America. I’m not quite sure how foreign relations are. (Culture, education, family, etc)

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