When a twin who has seen a therapist in the past contacts me, he often tells me that his previous therapist shamed him by proclaiming that feeling abandoned, jealous, or guilty about his twin getting married, moving away, or having a better job is nothing short of selfish. This therapeutic lack of insight, empathy, and understanding about a twin’s state of mind in these predicaments drives me crazy. I imagine that if a singleton sibling were in treatment and these same emotions surfaced, the clinician might not rush to judgment about that individual’s moral compass and character. Instead, these feelings would fall under the purview of normal sibling rivalry.
Twins who feel upset and disappointed with their twin fall under the rubric of normal twin rivalry. Grasping the nuances of a twin connection demands an in-depth and specialized knowledge about twin challenges.
Nontwins sometimes assume that twins would and should have the same feelings and thoughts no matter what—isn’t that the famous twintuition? Social media, in particular, can’t seem to get enough of twins holding hands, babbling in their shared secret language, and marrying other sets of twins. I am not denigrating the love that twins feel for one another; rather, I am attempting to educate people that the road to healthy twin intimacy can be rocky and full of potholes. Parents and clinicians alike cannot be blinded by their wishes to see twins in a sanctimonious spotlight.
In my experience, twins who confront cracks in their relationship and receive proper counseling enjoy healthier connections with their twin and significant others. When twins are called selfish, it should mean that they are working through the complicated issues that interfere with feeling and experiencing a sense of self separate from their twin identity.