Identity Confusion is a Common Issue that Twins may have to Deal with Both Jointly and Individually

Identity Confusion is a Common Issue that Twins may have to Deal with Both Jointly and Individually

Twins have contacted me asking for help in understanding their rage, fear, or just plain unhappiness with their twin after reading my books and blog postings on twin development. Finding a mental health specialist to assist a twin in getting along with their sister or brother has undoubtedly not been easy.

Sometimes a therapist may advise a patient that the solution to their problems might be as simple as mailing their twin a lovely Hallmark card. My twin readers are more realistic and more “in pain.” Being a twin in a non-twin world has left them longing for healing from the confusion, loneliness, rage, and misery that comes with it. The notion that twin problems are simple to comprehend is absurd. Twin relationships are complex, subtle, and frequently deeply entwined.

Identity Confusion Is “Normal” for Twins

I (Barbara Klein Ph.D., Ed.D.) ask myself why finding support with twin disappointment is so hard to come by in our psychologically-minded world that is overflowing with self-help advice. And I think that the underlying reason is that mental health professionals don’t understand the depth of the twin attachment, which can create a highly conflicted twin relationship and identity confusion.

Such proximity naturally and ineluctably leads to “over-identification” enmeshment or entanglement between the twin pair. Twins frequently experience “who is who” identity uncertainty, which they must sort out and deal with both jointly and individually.

Problems With Over-Identification for Twins

Following are some general areas in which over-identification-related issues between twins appear to fall:

  • A love/hate roller-coaster relationship that is based on longings and expectations for closeness. Disappointment, arguments, and subsequent reconciliation have become a typical yet dysfunctional pattern of interaction in the majority of these scenarios. For example, one moment a toy is lost that belongs to your twin and the world comes to an end. Just as quickly, Mom finds the toy, and joy and happiness are seen in the resultant twin play.
  • A relationship that is dangerously out of balance when one partner is extremely exceptional while the other feels invisible or “should be” invisible. Parental favoritism fuels this unfortunate aspect of the twin relationship.
  • Continual fighting over “who knows best” and “who needs to be the follower.” (This is much more serious than a dominance/non-dominant issue and a seemingly impossible problem to solve.)
  • Incompatible twins who prevent their parents, kids, or cousins from seeing one another at family gatherings. Family conflict over these issues is very unpleasant and difficult to reconcile, especially during special occasions and holidays.
  • Anger and resentment at one twin being the more prosperous twin. This kind of competitive behavior is exceedingly tough to control for both of the twins, even with adequate parenting. While the “less than” twin may grow enraged or self-loathing, the successful twin may feel guilty.
  • When the twins meet new spouses, they experience anxiety and anxieties of separation. For instance, the twin who is the bridesmaid, as opposed to the bride, always finds it extremely challenging and puzzling to share in their twin’s excitement at getting married.
  • Deep resentment and fury can develop when twins share the same desires for things like clothes, grades, houses, and even romantic relationships. This can result in arguments and alienation.
  • Twin disappointments are misunderstood by society, who disregard them as an exaggerated response. Twins are caught in the midst, yearning for assistance but receiving no understanding of their shared struggles. Being a twin is a “perfect and ideal” relationship for uninformed non-twins. Really, being a twin is a very difficult challenge.

Twins Inevitably Feel Misunderstood

Regardless of whether they are estranged or have a functional relationship, twins frequently experience loneliness and a sense of being misunderstood. Here are a few strategies for reducing or combating your loneliness.

  • Psychotherapy that views your twin issues as important and deserving of consideration in the treatment session. Therapists who dismiss the twin problem as “secondary” cannot be helpful.
  • Reading and understanding what it means to be a twin in a non-twin world.
  • Finding twin friends who want to explore your twin reactions with you.
  • Tell your family about twinship and encourage them to support you in overcoming the challenges that you and your twin share.

In conclusion, issues with your twin relationship become less serious and much simpler to view in perspective when you find comfort in your own life. It is typical for twins to experience loneliness and look for twin substitutes in order to grow confident.

However, if excessive intimacy from twin replacements is expected, then sadness, disappointment, and loneliness may return.