I recently talked with an identical twin in her late twenties who shared an interesting conversation she had with two female cousins a few weeks prior. The three of them were talking about weddings, and my patient, Mary, told them her sister would be her maid of honor along with her best friend. Her cousins looked at her with astonishment and inquired, “But isn’t your twin your best friend?”
Mary was taken aback for a moment. She had forgotten that most singletons assume that your twin must be your best friend. She chuckled to herself, remembering the therapeutic work she did to appreciate her twin connection. She explained that yes, her sister “got” her in so many ways because they grew up together. However, her best friend was her most important intimate other, with whom she felt free to be open, honest, authentic, and comfortable.
Mary explained that her twin had a very different way of seeing the world. She was not emotionally organized like Mary. The sister had a more black-and-white perception of herself and others. Mary was initially unaware of this difference. Consequently, she often felt disappointed and angry about her twin’s lack of emotional depth and insight. However, she adjusted to her sister and no longer gets upset over her twin’s less than adequate responses to her inner life. While Mary still loves her sister and enjoys their twinship, she does not seek compassion from her sibling.
Singletons feel comfortable having different kinds of friendships, and they derive various benefits from each. Yet somehow, a twin is expected to receive all the essential emotional supplies solely from her sibling. Most relationships have ups and downs and do not provide unconditional love at all times. Mary credits therapy for her ability to appreciate her sister’s qualities rather than disavow them. While she can admit to sometimes feeling competitive and jealous, she does not simultaneously devalue herself. As a separate person with her own friendships and strengths, she can appreciate and nurture her own sensibilities.