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30 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.

Two cute little girls playing in the playground outside in park. Summer, fun, family and vacations concept. Two sisters having fun.Kate Aedon/Shutterstock

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.

groupe of women sister together with her senior motherLopolo/Shutterstock

Plus now that you’re older, her friends are your friends

Someone else who knows how cool your sister is?! As long as they’re good enough for her, they’ve got an instant “in” when it comes to your friend list. Even if all of your friends are busy, your sister probably has a few who’d love to hang out. What can we say? Sisters share pretty much everything.

Young girl hugging her older sister smiling. Two red haired ladies having the best time of their lives.Lyubov Levitskaya/Shutterstock

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.'” Not BFFs with your sis? It’s never too late to have a good relationship with your sibling.

Two sisters laughing out loudPablo Rogat/Shutterstock

And there’s no one better at getting under her skin than you

Growing up together meant that you knew her pet peeves and fears better than anyone else, and only a sister is ruthless enough to use them to her advantage… all the time. Whether it’s as payback for wrecking your favorite tee shirt, or just because you’re bored, you can make her cringe in record time.

Two women walking together on the street. Female friends walking on the sidewalk by the road in the city.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

You either had double the wardrobe…

Genetics often creates sisters who are around the same size, which means each other’s closets are fair game. 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.

Two laughing candide hipster blond women in trendy clothes. Female posing on street background. Female showing positive face emotions. Lifestyle concept.Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

…or you got yelled at for stretching her favorite sweater out

But hey. It’s not your fault you’ve got longer arms! Just because she said her closet was off limits didn’t mean you listened, right? Even if you were the exact same size, she always seemed to know when you’d worn something of hers. And if you were mysteriously hurt after an event like this…either way, no one was telling mom.

Little sister with her baby brother. Toddler kid Family with children at home.Lopolo/Shutterstock

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 parlor

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 both 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!

Happy young two black women sitting in the couch looking at the mobile phone and drinking coffeeDavid Prado Perucha/Shutterstock

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. Here’s more on what your birth order reveals about you.

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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?” Needing her opinion doesn’t even come close to the most bizarre ways your siblings affect you as a grown up.

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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.

Two little sisters play in a bath with foam. They are very cheerful and lovely.korisbo/Shutterstock

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.

Cute african american kid playing with her dad.bbernard/Shutterstock

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. These hilarious parenting stories will make you laugh out loud.

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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.

happy little girls lying on back top view sistersAndrew Angelov/Shutterstock

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!

Two women friends talking to each other on a couch in apartmentloreanto/Shutterstock

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.

Laughing young woman wearing sunglasses driving a car with her girl friend , close up profile view through the open windowUber Images/Shutterstock

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. The two of you will definitely relate to the funniest family vacation stories after those road trips your mom and dad made you endure.

Young happy Asian girls best friends laugh and smile while having fun with smart phone mobile indoor.interstid/Shutterstock

You had a partner in crime during boring events

Who was there to suppress giggles with while you were 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.

Portrait of two attractive girls dressed in jeans blue and yellow jackets having fun and laughing against a black wall.dekazigzag/Shutterstock

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.

two young and stylish girls walking in the autumn park near water and eating pizzaStock-Studio/Shutterstock

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? These are the best trips to take with your sister.

24-Stay-Young-Secrets-From-Women-Who-Don't-AgeEugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock

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?” Here are the best movies about sisters to watch with your sis.

Senior mother sitting in cafe bar or restaurant with her middle aged daughter and enjoying in conversation. hedgehog94/Shutterstock

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.”

Friends hanging out at some cafeRawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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.” If you haven’t chatted with her in a while, try starting the conversation with one of these 15 hilarious tweets you’ll want to send to your sister right away.

Two young women on the city street. Smiling young women walking along city street, outdoors.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

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.”

Pretty African-American woman telling story to her female friendDragon Images/Shutterstock

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 banned 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. Besides, on those moments she’s not bugging you with the same litany of nagging questions, she’s part of your girl gang, too.

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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. Take solace that you’re in good company when it comes to sibling rivalry; not even royalty is immune: Read about the history behind Princess Diana’s tumultuous relationship with her sisters.

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But you always support each other in your endeavors

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.

Close-up photo of two emotional happy woman friends hugging each other on city streetDean Drobot/Shutterstock

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.” Next, read on for the 18 lessons women have learned from their sisters.

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Tina Donvito
Tina Donvito is a regular contributor to RD.com’s Culture and Travel sections. She also writes about health and wellness, parenting, and pregnancy. Previously editor-in-chief of Twist magazine, Donvito has also written for Parade Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Parents Magazine online, among others. Here work was selected by author Elizabeth Gilbert to be included in the anthology Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir. She earned a BA in English and History from Rutgers University.