In general, I have a certain squeamishness about books that promise to help you with your love life by examining some discrete and involuntary aspect of your person, such as when you were born - whether it be astrology or, in this case, birth order. The subtitle is "How the #1 Personality Predictor Can Help You Find the One." Author William Cane is also noted for studying kissing and teaching folks how to go about it, another subject I find less than compelling - I didn't seem to need lessons for that. However, Da Capo doesn't award a book "lifelong" status if it doesn't have merit, so I delved into The Birth Order Book of Love with an open mind.
I found more useful material in the book than I had anticipated. Everyone knows that the older sister is bossy (at least, anyone who's ever had one) and that an only child may grow up without good peer skills (Frank Sinatra was one - he pursued his career with exacting perfectionism and never found a soulmate). But there's more to it than these superficial observations. For one thing, there is "rank conflict." If a woman is the older sister of sisters, she may be able to bond deeply with women but how will she do with the men in her life? Will she neurotically tend to dominate, not able to identify with masculine needs? How can an only male child find a comfort zone with a female who was always in the middle, used to the give and take of straightforward boy-girl relationships, not wanting to treat a man like a king, as the only child is used to?
Each chapter examines a particular birth order personality, from "older brother of brothers" to "female only child" to twins and middle children. It's impossible to pick up a book like this one without looking for oneself in the headings. Being the third child with an older sister and brother, and having enjoyed lastborn status until a surprise younger brother came along when I was nine, I got to choose among several scanarios. I suspect this would be true of lots of people, making Cane's categories less than absolute. I settled on the chapter dealing with "younger sister of brothers." Not only did I see how my life had followed patterns suggested by that category, but I noted that my relationships with men had stood or fallen by most of Cane's predictions about younger sisters of brothers, from the "rank and sex conflicts" I had with a "younger brother of brothers" to my success with my current husband, an older brother of sisters and a middle child. Hmm. A famous example of the "younger sister of brothers" - who is not like me in some important ways, it should be said - is Marilyn Monroe. According to Cane, Monroe enjoyed the romantic flattery of men and was able to handle male attention with grace, stemming from her experience dealing with several foster older brothers.
If you are a firstborn, male or female, chances are you are used to wearing the mantle of responsibility and organization. By Cane's reckoning, you will experience "rank conflict" with other firstborns but may be frustrated over the long term with the laid-back style of lastborns, though their charms will also attract you initially. If your college roommate is an older sister of same-sex siblings, and you are a middle or lastborn female, expect friction. If you marry a twin, forget about establishing total intimacy - he or she will always reserve that for the twin. In fact, by Cane's reckoning, twins mate best with other twins, who are willing to put up with having a constant rival for communication because they have their own.
Birth order is not something we can control. But in Cane's universe, it is something that can control us if we're not careful. As with astrology, it's a system that can help us find a soulmate or hinder us by making us feel like rejecting potential mates because they're the wrong sign or the wrong birth order. I would guess that his system can be revelatory after you've made a decision about your chosen partner, but that it could keep you from choosing someone whose challenges are growth-producing and therefore both necessary and exciting. Still, Cane's system could help in warding off some pitfalls for people within a relationship. If you're a firstborn and you realize that you'll always be fatally attracted to lastborns, you can avoid temptations to get involved.
So now instead of asking, "What's your sign?" you'll need to ask "What's your birth order?" - and consult this book - before entering into a new relationship. Should liven up the party!