Loving a Twin: An Emotional Roller Coaster

I received an email from a distraught young woman describing how her boyfriend of five years struggles with divided loyalties between her and his identical twin brother. The young woman says that her boyfriend’s twin frequently requires rescuing due to chronic problems with drug use and unemployment. Her boyfriend’s family has always been insistent that he take care of his less fortunate twin. The family resents their son being in a committed relationship because it derails his commitment to his brother’s care. As a result, they blame the girlfriend for fragmenting the twin attachment.

I imagine that the young woman writing this email is at her wit’s end. Either consciously or unconsciously, she must feel defeated and frustrated that her boyfriend seems unable to make significant decisions so that she can get on with her life—with or without him. She is certainly not being treated with the respect and devotion that she deserves. I think that she was initially optimistic that her boyfriend would find a solution to this conundrum. She had no idea when she became involved with this young man that his twinship might lead to a break-up.

However, as many intimate partners of twins discover, some twins suffer from tremendous heartache, sadness, and a sense of betrayal when they switch their allegiance away from their sibling. My heart goes out to all of the involved parties. This disconcerted young man has been forewarned by his family that refusing to accommodate his twin’s needs will result in being abandoned by the rest of his family members. So, he must choose between his loving girlfriend and his demanding family.

Sadly, this scenario is not terribly uncommon. One gentleman shared his experience of being married to an identical twin. Fortunately for both him and his wife, they had a nine-year relationship before they married, and he helped his wife navigate many of the separation difficulties that arose between the sisters. Those long years together facilitated a smooth transition to new dyadic and triadic dynamics.

With a big smile on his face, this gentleman told me a story about the twin sisters. At his wedding, his wife’s twin was the maid of honor; she defiantly wore tennis shoes rather than dress shoes underneath her gown. She claimed not to have had time to buy an appropriate pair of wedding shoes! Both he and his wife were able to laugh about her twin’s passive-aggressive behavior rather than feel angry or disrespected.

When I give presentations, I often discuss the struggles of the many people who contacted me over the years about the emotional difficulties of being involved with a twin. Men and women alike have suffered because of their significant other’s relationship with a twin sibling. I frequently muse that twins who marry twins skillfully avoid this emotional upheaval.

Image courtesy of Stas Knop from Pexels


  1. Jessica

    I’m in a similar situation, and it feel hopeless. My partner is an identical twin. He and his brother had an atypical childhood and are incredibly co-dependent. When they are apart, one is depressed and the other has a drinking problem. Its incredibly difficult to be a part of it.

  2. Jamie

    Same situation here… I’ve been with my husband for 20 years and his family has always been extremely close, to the point where my husband, kids, and I lived together with his twin and his family. Their parents never wanted them to venture out, they kept them close. Now we live separate and I think my husband resents me for it, and I never voiced my opinion on it. He is the one that told his twin that he needed to leave and go somewhere else.

    • Thank you Jamie for sharing your experience. Too much closeness can sometimes become quite toxic.

  3. I am suffering a lot. I cannot describe with words the pain I feel at this moment. If had known, I would have never ventured into marrying my wife, who has a twin sister. My life have been like hell since we got married My wife and her twin sister are toxic Co-dependents, which it seems that things are nce going to be normal. We have a 2 year- and 7 months old son. My wife and kid are currently living with her other co-ependant, my mother in law, and maybe her twin, I don’t know anymore at this point. The 3 of them ganged up on me. They blocked me, rejected me, and they are not allowing me to see my kid. It’s hell.

    If you have any advice or suggestions, I am more than open to read them.

    Right now, I will never ever in my life date a twin, let alone marrying one. It traumatized me for Life.

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