Why Do Twins Decide to Live Very Separate Lives?

While images of harmony and seamless closeness permeate our cultural and popular presentations and understanding of twins, the dark and disconnected feelings that twins share are very alive and real for countless twins. Indeed, twins who don’t get along or who are actually estranged from one another are burdened with feeling that they are “not normal” twins by onlookers or non-twins. The reality of harmony and disharmony between twins is in my opinion is a difficult one for non-twins to understand. Superficially explaining the twin relationship to others is very challenging to impossible. Twins know that getting along with your twin is often fraught with anger, pain, and confusion. The pressure from others to get along in order to be “normal” compounds deeply conflicted issues such as who is smarter, prettier, shinier, richer, more popular. and more successful. When there is an actual imbalance in a twinship because one twin is labeled good and the other bad, or one twin has a serious disability or other distinct problem, disharmony can create feelings of guilt and shame for both twins.

The inability to get along with your twin can be totally real and, to me, understandable. Living separate lives is a reasonable solution to anger or even deep rage at your twin. Continual fighting can create deeper rifts that may be more impossible to resolve than childhood identity confusion and enmeshment. Think about what you value in your twin relationship. Compassion, understanding, and all kinds of hands-on support are building blocks of positive twin relationships. Anger, disappointment, humiliation, jealousy, and shaming are non-productive ways of dealing with your adult twin. Wanting and expecting that things will all of sudden be different and harmonious is another fantasy that creates more pain for twins. If non-productive interactions such as anger, rage, and disappointment or fantasies about how things will magically get better is the basis of your twin relationship, then living very separate lives works for you.

When you live separate lives you can embrace your independence. You will find yourself as an individual who is also a twin. Feeling guilt or shame about a lack of closeness and attunement you share with your twin is understandable, but really not necessary. In other words, you do not have to get along with your twin no matter who thinks that you should. Developing a workable compassionate relationship with your twin takes a lot of time and energy. Screaming at each other or even physical fighting are not ways to embrace your twinship. Feeling satisfied with your own efforts is the first step to getting along.

What I am saying here is twins live separate lives for many reasons. One reason is to learn to be themselves as an individual so they can put their twinship into the perspective it belongs.