When Twins Break Up

Twins who do not get along with their sibling definitely feel a sense of loss. Although the rupture most likely begins with anger and resentment, the ultimate split results in a distressing emotional upheaval. While this estrangement is not tantamount to the death of one’s twin, the split can nonetheless intensify painful feelings of grief and regret. Acknowledging that one’s twin connection is no longer special or comforting is heartbreaking. In fact, some twins feel tremendous shame over the split.

One twin may become estranged from the other for a variety of reasons. The twin who chooses to separate usually has either long-standing grievances or a more immediate one that justifies breaking off the relationship. One twin may feel disillusioned or fed up with aspects of the twin connection; his or her inability to work things out with the sibling leads to blame, defiance, and self-righteousness.

A split is often precipitated by one twin’s relationship with an intimate other. The third party disrupts the dyadic safety net. For example, a partner, spouse, or significant other may become frustrated with being second rate or second best. Unfortunately, the loyalty conflicts that ensue have no easy solution. A split may not be amenable to repair or resolution. In these situations, the “twinless twins” are left to process and adjust to this painful loss on their own.

Image courtesy of Reinis Traidas (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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