Joined at the Hip

Understandably, some twins long for immediate intimacy because they have grown up with a constant companion. A friend of mine, an identical twin in his thirties, struggled in many relationships because of this issue. He tends to become too intimate with his boyfriends too quickly. He feels threatened and insecure if the connection is not hot and heavy from the get-go. When the relationship falls apart, he is overwhelmed by loss and grief. His big feelings, as we describe them, seem connected to earlier traumatic experiences of fear and unpredictability related to a chaotic childhood and familial situation.

When the honeymoon period of the relationship ends, my friend is always surprised and overwhelmed by his partner’s wish for more separateness and control. My friend experiences these requests as rejection and reacts with anger and confusion. His boyfriend’s entreaties for more autonomy and a slower time frame feel unfathomable.

For instance, if the men cannot agree on which movie to watch, my friend interprets this as a breach in their connection. As we have found in many twin pairs, strategies for managing compromise and conflict are few. My friend has difficulty handling his sense of abandonment in that interchange. As a result, he becomes needier and controlling and overwhelmed by those big feelings that have little to do with the issue at hand. He explained to me that when he fought with his twin brother growing up, the conflict always ended with a quick resolution and the verbal validation that they loved one another and would always be there for each other.

Fortunately, both my friend and his partner are currently in psychotherapy and committed to working out their relationship issues. They are dating as if they just met. Both are taking it slow and rediscovering how much they enjoy being together. They are learning how to communicate without having discord or hurt feelings erupt into an inexplicable, explosive conflict. My friend is learning how to take responsibility for the feelings that are triggered within him and take care of himself. I am hopeful both men will find happiness and comfort in their new style of relating.


Image courtesy of Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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