A woman in her late twenties recently told me that her identical sister’s boyfriend planned to break up with her because of her twinship. Twin pairs who marry other twins often avoid the heartbreaking complications that burden singletons who are romantically involved with a twin. In my experience, the issues are more dramatic if the twin pair is identical. I have spoken with many women who are blindsided by their husband’s relationship to his twin. If the male twins essentially raised one another, they feel obligated to one another on many levels—emotionally, financially, and personally. They may have difficulty trusting anyone other than their twin, whose advice and counsel they seek secretly as well as overtly. The girlfriend or wife is blatantly relegated to a secondary position, with little to no regard for how this deliberate exclusion may affect her or her attachment.
Identical twin men in this scenario present a united front so their bond remains intact. If one or both of the significant others attempt to disrupt the status quo, both men team up to quell the insurrection. Perhaps the only way to instigate change in this situation is to have both women confront the brothers together to air their grievances and anger. They must present as a powerful duo to stand up to the brothers and make their feelings heard. Maybe a divide-and-conquer strategy will loosen the twins’ control. Nevertheless, in this volatile situation, the twins may emerge even stronger if they perceive a threat to their twinship.
Men involved with a female identical twin frequently complain that she is too involved with her sister and puts the sister’s needs and feelings above the significant other’s. The couple experiences the constant, overbearing intrusiveness of a third wheel who impinges on their bond and intimacy. Privacy seems nonexistent since identical twin sisters grow up sharing pretty much everything—thoughts, feelings, experiences, and friends. It may seem incomprehensible to an outsider that the sisters know no other way of relating to one another. Nonetheless, the twins themselves have difficulty understanding why others might feel threatened or annoyed by their closeness. From their perspective, this enmeshment is their normal.
Singleton lovers and spouses of twins would be wise to develop an understanding of the twin bond and be prepared to handle any issues that may arise. While some people welcome their significant other’s twin relationship because the singleton partner is spared the intense ongoing attachment obligations, others think just the opposite. They believe they are being cheated out of feeling special, chosen, and preferred. There is no right or wrong in this situation; each of us has to define our own relationship criteria. Yet, forewarned is forearmed—falling in love with a twin has its challenges and rewards. Romantic partners of twins should discuss the possible impact of twin dynamics before they become a battleground and undermine a loving connection.