College Caretaking Casualties

photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc

photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc

Though the majority of calls that I receive are requests for advice, I had the pleasure of speaking with a female college-age twin about her journey of separating from her sister. I was delighted to hear how she and her sister have been approaching this subject honestly and mutually.

Both women realize that their familiarity with one another has limited their ability and motivation to socialize with others. They recognize that they need to do more on their own and that their twinship has contributed to limiting their experiences. Also, the sisters are beginning to get ridiculed and pigeonholed. On one hand, their peers derisively inquire why they are always together. On the other hand, many of their teachers automatically assume that they will need the same appointment times and schedules.

The girls talk to one another about their needs and desires without resentment. One of the twins has been dating for about four months. She was texting her sister constantly when she first began to go out with her boyfriend. When he gently inquired why, the woman recognized that she had no real awareness about what she was doing. Her boyfriend has gradually helped her get in touch with this habitual behavior, and she has learned how to curtail the contact.

Similar to so many twins who begin to develop other intimate relationships, the dating twin has had to learn how to express her feelings and needs. Living with your twin–who understands what you need and think without having to verbalize it–makes learning how to navigate a new intimate connection understandably challenging for twins.

I am so delighted to find how mutually supportive twins can be when both recognize and respect each one’s right to live her own life, to move toward a future of independence and separateness, and to recognize that twins grow not at the expense of one another but rather along with one another.

Do you know twins who have created their own paths as successfully as these women have?


  1. patricia lesage

    I am a mother of 16 year old twin girls. They just got their license and are sharing a car, they share the same circle of friends since grade school, share clothes, shared rooms until age 13 and pretty much go every where together. up until freshman year of high school they played the same sport, dance on the same team etc. they truly are best friends, but very different and also very a like. One is very shy the other very out going, although academically & athletically very alike. We are getting close to college application time, our out going one says she wants to go to a different college, of course our shy one doesn’t say, but i know she wants to be with her sister. Financially it would help for them to be together. What to do?

    • Dear Patti,
      It is so helpful that you are beginning to address this issue now rather than at the last minute.
      In either case – whether they end up at the same college or not – it is crucial to begin to have open discussions with both of them about their feelings. The daughter that wants to be separate from her sister might feel guilty and her sister probably feels upset that she is too dependent on her twin. I would suggest buying a copy of my book The Same but Different because it will give you the insight and tools to begin talking with the girls. Good luck and let me know how things go.

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