Emotional Blackmail

As occurs frequently among twins, tensions escalated significantly between Jamie and her twin sister, Jackie, when Jamie began dating her first boyfriend at the age of nineteen. Jackie complained frequently that Jamie was spending too much time with her boyfriend.

Jamie was torn apart emotionally. She loves her sister and is heartbroken that Jackie becomes angry and nasty when Jamie is away with her boyfriend. Intellectually speaking, Jamie knows that she is “entitled” to her romantic relationship; however, she is conflicted about Jackie’s accusations that she is abandoning her and choosing this outsider over her.

The girls have always been very close. Jamie has taken on the caretaker role because she has been able to navigate her social and academic life with a bit more success than her sister. Jackie relies on her twin to be her sole confidante and rescuer, refusing to tell any other family members what she feels or what she is going through.

Jamie described what happens repeatedly when Jackie argues with her. Jackie will accuse Jamie of betraying her or letting her down. When Jamie attempts to share her side of the story or her recounting of the events, Jackie gets upset. In such moments Jamie becomes paralyzed. She tries to share her point of view but is frozen emotionally in the face of Jackie’s anger. Thus, she shuts down and cannot articulate her feelings, needs, or free will.

This emotional freezing by one partner in a codependent relationship occurs frequently. Whether in a twinship or a marriage, if one party does not have the freedom to assert oneself or one’s feelings, the partner exerts control and power and the other shuts down. This can evolve into a toxic situation that can result in emotional and physical abuse. Sadly, Jamie is controlled by Jackie’s feelings and becomes incapable of asserting herself in their conflict-laden interactions.

Jamie’s dawning awareness about her position in this twinship is daunting. She had no reason to think about such twin issues before her boyfriend came on the scene. She habitually accepted the role she played without question or fear. She has quite a long way to go to begin to get her head around the present situation. Yet better now than later as this dynamic can worsen with time and age. It is incredibly sad that her first romantic encounter has incurred her twin’s wrath, making her feel guilty, undeserving, and unhappy.

Photo by Gustavo Lanes on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. Mary Ann Maher

    I always love your articles and this one is particularly poignant! Being hostage to a bond that is supposedly built on love is such a smoke screen for domination and control. . As a twin, it takes a long, long time to see what’s going on because the love is so great. Thank you so much for always providing the guidance that all we twins need!

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