Flinging accusations and criticisms often occurs at the beginning of couples counseling. Both parties want the opportunity to air their grievances and hurts. The back-and-forth exchange allows for deeper issues to emerge eventually.
A pair of identical twin women in their thirties contacted me because both felt they could no longer stand to be in the presence of the other. One accused the other of being pretentious and selfish, while her sister countered that her sister’s thoughts and beliefs were disrespectful and mean. Each of them attempted to defend her position by giving examples of recent events that had taken place.
One of the sisters remarked that she would have to end the session because she could no longer listen to or tolerate her twin’s hostile barbs and degrading remarks. At that point her twin stopped her barrage of criticisms and tearfully shared her most vulnerable feelings. She apologized to her sister for speaking to her in a degrading fashion. She felt ashamed and guilty for what she had said and how she had acted. She continued in a very genuine and heartfelt tone about how much she craves a relationship with her sister. She repeated a few times how much she desires to be known by her twin and that she feels abandoned and unimportant. She worries about being authentic with her sister because she is certain this authenticity will hurt her sister’s feelings. So how can she work on becoming close to her sister when her authentic self might drive her away?
This wish or need to be understood and honest with one’s partner is certainly an important component of close relationships. Yet the twin dynamic adds additional layers of complications and expectations. Twins are supposed to be soul mates and best friends for life.
Within this framework, then, how can twin conflicts be resolved? What if one twin seeks a deeper connection than her twin wants or is even capable of? How can the twinship be redefined or reframed in a way that works for both parties?
There are no right or wrong answers, and certainly one size does not fit all. Over the course of their lifetimes, twins will need to reassess their relationship and hopefully find the means to communicate responsibly as well as make room for differences, jealousies, and inequities.