27 Things Only Sisters Understand

Who has the uncanny ability to both irritate and totally “get” you, often at the same time? Your sister, of course! Here are the things you’ll definitely identify with if you have a sweet, sassy and sometimes sinister sis.

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Young girl hugging her older sister smiling. Two red haired ladies having the best time of their lives.
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You did things just to annoy her, for no particular reason

If you have a sister, especially if you were the older one, you know you bothered her for no reason whatsoever when you were young. Maybe it was sibling rivalry, or repressed anger that she took away your parents’ undivided attention. “I remember once my older sister kept poking her finger in my face,” one little sis says. “After repeatedly asking her to stop, which she ignored, I promptly chomped down on her finger! No wonder she called me ‘alligator teeth.'”

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Little sister with her baby brother. Toddler kid Family with children at home.
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Big sisters never let anyone hurt their littles

But, big sisters were the only ones allowed to tease their little ones. If anyone else bothered them, at school or on the playground, watch out! Older sisters may have been practicing for becoming mamma bears later in life. But you little sisters didn’t hold back either when it came to sticking up for your big sis, no matter how small and scrappy you were—your fierce admiration for your older sib would lead you to rush to her defense.

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You created your own in-home beauty parlour

You know you perfected your makeup technique on your sister. Whether it was bright red lipstick or blue nail polish, your mom’s stash of cosmetics was never safe. Even if you looked like crazy clowns, you thought each other’s makeup came out great. When you got older, you taught your sister (or she taught you) to do your makeup for real. What a sweet bonding moment!

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Two women walking together on the street. Female friends walking on the sidewalk by the road in the city.
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You had double the wardrobe

Genetics often creates sisters who are around the same size, which means each other’s closets are fair game—and even if your sister said hers was off limits, you borrowed her clothes anyway. Although it was annoying to discover the top you really wanted to wear had already been swiped, it wasn’t so bad, because you could just go browsing in her closet instead.

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Two cheerful middle-aged female friends talking while sitting on the bench
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She weighs in on your fashion choices—even from afar

Your sisterly bonding over clothes has no doubt continued as adults. You just have to get your sister’s opinion before any major event: a fancy night out, a job interview, a family photo session. Even if you’re far away, thankfully there are text messages. You know you’ve sent your sister a selfie of an outfit taken in the mirror and asked her, “How do I look?”

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She always tells you the truth

You can trust her answer to the outfit question—and anything else you ask her—because she will always give it to you straight. The good, the bad, the ugly: You can count on her not to hold back. Maybe when you were young she was brutally honest in a mean way, but now you’ve come to appreciate her reality checks. After all, she’s really just looking out for you and isn’t going to sugar coat it to make you feel better.

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Two little sisters play in a bath with foam. They are very cheerful and lovely.
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You were always fighting over the bathroom

Your parents may have had their own master bathroom, but you and your sister were always on top of each other in the shared hall bath. Two teens trying to get ready at the same time is a recipe for arguments. On the one hand, you needed to take your time to look great for your crush at school; on the other, you pounded on the door because your sister had taken so long already.

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Cute african american kid playing with her dad.
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You probably drove your dad nuts

Especially if you had no brothers, your dad was probably caught in the crosshairs of an abundance of female energy in the house. High-pitched screaming, hormones, hair in the drain—it can be hard sharing a living space when you’re the only member of the opposite sex. But your dad also had a fierce love for his girls and cherished the time you spent together.

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Young Adult Female Runners Arms Around each other smiling in country
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Hair can be used as a weapon

Speaking of hair, you discovered early on that it’s great for pulling in a tussle. Braids and ponytails are especially handy when you’re looking to grab your sister. Long hair is also useful for pranks: You said you wanted to brush her hair when really you teased it into a big puffball, or you put something in it that’s hard to get out, like gum or slime. Or, you performed the ultimate hair prank on her: You cut it while she was sleeping.

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happy little girls lying on back top view sisters
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Every night was a sleepover

But even with the threat of waking up with half your hair gone, it was fun having a sleepover every night. You may have had your own room, but you still probably spent a lot of time in your sister’s bed, talking, making up stories, playing with toys, and creating some great sisterly bonding. No need to schedule a slumber party with your girlfriends—you got to have one with your sister all the time.

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You were costars in your own living room productions

What is it with sisters and putting on performances? You know you used a toy or hairbrush as a microphone and belted out the popular song of the day with your sis by your side and your parents as the audience. You probably also made up your own dance routine to go along with it!

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Two women friends talking to each other on a couch in apartment
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She knows your grossest secrets

Living together in close quarters, you can’t hide much. You can count on your sister to tell that embarrassing stories over and over. But it’s all in good fun—the really private stuff you can trust she’ll keep to herself because she knows how much it would truly embarrass you.

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Happy young two black women sitting in the couch looking at the mobile phone and drinking coffee
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She helped you with weird personal hygiene questions

And actually, the private stuff was where your sister could help out (or where you helped her out) the most. Older sisters experience all the changes of puberty first, so she was your go-to person when you really didn’t want to talk to your parents about it. Instead, your big sister was a vast resource of info for all your “Is this normal?” questions. And older sisters had a sense of pride at being so knowledgeable and grown-up that their littles would come to them for advice.

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Laughing young woman wearing sunglasses driving a car with her girl friend , close up profile view through the open window
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Long car trips could be a battleground

The dreaded family car trip stuck together for hours on end. You know you annoyed your sister in the backseat. Why? Just because she had no escape, and car fighting had a strangely gratifying appeal. “Don’t make me come back there!” your parents would shout. Although your family vacations ended up creating lifelong memories, getting there was definitely not half the fun.

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Young happy Asian girls best friends laugh and smile while having fun with smart phone mobile indoor.
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You had a partner in crime during boring events

Who was there to suppress giggles with in church? Make faces across the table at boring family get-togethers? Sneak off for mischief when the adults weren’t looking? You and your sister made your own fun when the grown-up world just couldn’t cut it. You might have gotten in trouble, but discovering you always had someone to make you laugh just brought you closer.

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Things only sisters understand
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You’re full of inside jokes together

Through all of those bonding moments, you created some lifelong inside jokes just between you. You probably quote the same obscure movies and TV shows and know exactly what the other is talking about when no one else does. Maybe you even made up your own language! Even as adults, you remember those jokes and still use them to this day.

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Two cute little girls playing in the playground outside in park. Summer, fun, family and vacations concept. Two sisters having fun.
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Younger sisters always wanted to tag along with their older sisters

For younger sisters, your older sib was the coolest, and you always wanted to come along with her and her friends (often much to her annoyance). You were like a little puppy dog, but unfortunately, your older sister probably wanted her own space—although she probably bestowed the privilege of letting you tag along once in a while. Even after you grew up, littles always feel like you have someone to aspire to be like, because you hold your older sis in such high esteem.

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You can be total opposites, but still find common ground

Even if you look alike, you and your sister may have completely different personalities. Like practical Elinor and impulsive Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, uptight Kat and outgoing Bianca in 10 Things I Hate About You, or composed Dottie and hotheaded Kit in A League of Their Own, you might have felt like your sister was from another planet. But underneath it all, you always had a foundation of love and acceptance you could never share with anyone else. As Dottie tells Kit, “How many sisters do you think I have?”

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Senior mother sitting in cafe bar or restaurant with her middle aged daughter and enjoying in conversation.
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You have a shared history only you both will remember

Part of this unflappable bond comes from being the closest family members of your generation. Your parents will get older and your cousins may drift away, but sisters will always have the memories of growing up together. No two siblings could have fought as much as Mary and Edith in Downton Abbey, but they made up because, as Edith explains, “in the end, you’re my sister, and one day only we will remember…any of the others who have peopled our youth. Until at last, our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike.”

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Friends hanging out at some cafe
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You stay close, no matter how far away you are

You and your sister may not live near each other as adults, but chances are you’ve found a way to stay close. “[My sister] and I have this thing where we have a running message on Instagram where we send each other the wackiest memes we find,” one sister says. “They usually represent how we are feeling that day or anything that might be going on. It may seem trivial, but we always look for ways to stay connected now that she lives out of state and we see each other two to three times a year.”

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two young and stylish girls walking in the autumn park near water and eating pizza
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You’ll always have someone to do a girls’ weekend with

You may be far away, but at least you always have someone to get away with for a girls’ weekend. It’s like the grown-up version of sleepovers, and you can chat for hours like you used to do when you were kids. Whenever you need a break, who better to share it with than the person who’s always been your true best friend?

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Two young women on the city street. Smiling young women walking along city street, outdoors.
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You have an almost magical ability to sense when the other is in trouble

Stories abound about witch sisters: the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus, the Halliwell sisters from Charmed, the Owens sisters from Practical Magic. Could this be because even among regular sisters, you seem to have a near-magical ability to read each other? No one knows you as well as your sister, and she can no doubt sense when something’s not right with you or you need her help. As Practical Magic‘s Aunt Jet says, “There’s a little witch in all of us.”

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Pretty African-American woman telling story to her female friend
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She’s your therapist

Even as adults, female friendships are often wrought with drama, and it can be hard to truly let your guard down. That’s why your sister is still such an important part of your support system: You know you can say anything to her and she’ll listen. Even if you don’t always want to hear her advice, you know it’s coming from the heart. She can help you work through any problem without judgment.

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Your mom drives you both up the wall

You band together against your parents as kids, and now you still do it as adults! Your mom (like your sister) has the ability to get under your skin, and who better to complain about it with than the only other person who understands? Family relationships are complex, but you know in your sister you have someone to work through them with.

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You’ll always have some sibling rivalry

The sense of competition with your sister may never completely go away, even as grownups. If you’re very different people, you probably ended up with very different lives and lifestyles, and sometimes you can’t help but compare who’s more successful. Just don’t let it overtake your relationship—you both can be happy and accomplished in different ways.

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But you always support each other in your endeavours

Even if you feel in competition with your sister, you ironically also burst with major pride when she achieves one of her goals. Like the Brontë sisters, all three of whom were successful writers, you support each other and push each other along in your pursuits. Seeing your sister in a school play, getting her college diploma, or landing a great job, you can’t help but cheer her on.

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Close-up photo of two emotional happy woman friends hugging each other on city street
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You’d do anything for each other

You may butt heads from time to time, but even if you’re vastly different you’d never shy away from an act of true sisterly love like Anna does for Elsa in Frozen. No matter how much she hurt you in the past (or how much you hurt her), deep down you know you’ll always have her back. You’re sisters, and you don’t need any other reason besides that. As Jo says in Little Women, “I could never love anyone as I love my sisters.”

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest