If we don’t think alike, we’re not twins; if we’re not twins, who are we? I only know myself and you through the twinship lens. How can I tolerate a perspective that no longer matches what I believe to be true? I need you to think like me, otherwise we’re not connected. If you don’t think like me, you cannot value, appreciate, or love me. How can we stay connected if we do not see eye to eye? If not, I am alone—the pipeline has gone dry, my cup is empty. I feel so lost and abandoned. I am estranged from myself and from you.
These are the sentiments of twins who come to the upsetting realization that their connection is not what they believed it to be. I had a similar revelation in psychotherapy several years ago. For many complicated reasons, I always assumed that my twin thought about issues the same way I did. After sharing an event with my therapist and telling her I was certain that my twin reacted the same way, my therapist asked, “How do you know for sure?”
I replied, “I just know.” As we continued our discussion, it dawned on me that I had no clue how my sister actually felt. I simply made an assumption and projected my thoughts and feelings onto her.
Until that moment, I had no reason to doubt my convictions. My twincentric perceptions habitually shaped my impressions and opinions. My ironclad presumption that my sister’s thoughts were identical to mine formed my reality. Even though I felt very separate from her in terms of family, friends, and lifestyle, it never occurred to me that I unknowingly believed I knew exactly what she was thinking.
This revelation helped me become more self-aware and understand why so many twins suffer when they discover this incongruous communication. Psychological intervention with twin pairs has to be done on an intrapsychic level. Many twins need help to see that their sibling is different from the person they imagine her to be. Naturally, many twins are frightened to acknowledge these differences because they may create a rift in the relationship.
Ironically, such rifts about differing perceptions often lead to problematic outcomes. This situation forces twins to face their personality differences and understand each other as authentic individuals. To confront these differences, one must dissect the myths of perfect accommodation, unconditional soulmate love, and undying loyalty. In doing so, one’s singular voice and sense of self can be redefined and redirected. Hopefully, these changes will nurture a realistic, rather than imagined, reciprocity.