I don’t imagine most adult singletons experience insufferable conflict over whether or not to invite a sibling to their birthday party. Most likely, singletons have the luxury of celebrating their special day without having to share it with a sister or brother.
However, the likelihood that many same age siblings celebrate the majority of their birthdays together is quite probable. Shared birthday parties are expectable, practical, and natural. So, birthdays can be very emotionally challenging for some adult twin pairs who are struggling to individuate and celebrate their own milestones—not as a twin and not with their twin. A nontwin may not be able to appreciate the psychological stakes involved in this decision. Even some twin pairs cannot conceive of such an arrangement without feeling an incredible sense of betrayal and guilt. To make matters worse, if one factors in the disapproval and shock of other family members, that twin may feel as if his sanity and self-assertive entitlement to deliberately exclude one twin from the other’s celebration will be called into question. I have known a number of twins who have confronted this painful situation, which is especially troublesome when twins live in close physical proximity to each other.
However, as one twin told me, “I don’t get along with her [my twin]; my friends don’t like her; and I have to walk on eggshells when I am around her. I want to celebrate my special day in the way that makes me feel special.” This particular young woman had struggled for years to create an emotional balance with her identical twin sister.
Many twins require support and validation when making these tough decisions and “self-ish” proclamations. Rather than questioning their motives, help them be comfortable with the rationale they have given for their decision—even if you feel badly for the other twin. Twins need to feel comfortable choosing what makes them happy rather than giving up what they truly want to avoid feeling guilty about their twin’s feelings. Twins need to figure out what they need rather than defer out of shame or habitual accommodation to dyadic expectations.