Why aren’t all twins best friends?

Nellie Brosnan

Let me explain something to you. As a twin, I understand that it is a difficult job to undertake. It does not come with a manual; there are no instructions or places you can go to for advice. I think other people should be get a manual on how to treat twins. There are some people who expect you to be exactly the same as your twin. They believe that twins go together like salt and pepper, like two peas in a pod, like fish and chips and chips and cheese. But the fact that twins may look alike does not mean they are best friends.

A major factor that affects the friendship for many twins are the comparisons people make. One does not have to be a twin to understand the reality of comparisons. If your older brother practices law at Harvard University and you are expected to do the same, or both your parents are engineers, but you really want to be an artist, then you are familiar with the fact that it is difficult to live up to expectations. But as a twin, I assure you it is much more difficult for us.

As for myself, I prefer to be outdoors and to do things in my life while my twin is more of the sit-on-the-couch type until she finishes the entire seasons of Gossip Girl. With twins, assumptions are made and identifiers are given. People label you as the “smart twin” or the “good twin” or the “athletic twin.” I am the “fun, spontaneous twin,” she is the “flashy, preppy twin.” These markers have the ability to push two siblings farther apart from each other, as it has happened to us, because the pent-up frustration ends up getting directed toward your twin. Some people cannot accept the reality that twins may have different interests and are dissatisfied to find that they are not exactly the same. They romanticize the lives of twins and are disappointed to find it not true, but they do not realize that they are contributing to the problem of dividing the twins.

According to cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Sisters are probably the most competitive relationship in a family, but once the sisters have grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” Some people assume that because they share childhoods and grown-up dreams, twins have an easier time making friends because they have a built-in buddy. Because they are the same age, most twins are in the same class and are generally around when the other is, resulting in many of the same friendships. They may feel pressured to be the “favorite twin,” causing a friend to choose between two siblings. Competition expands to other relationships, whether it be teachers, boyfriends or coaches. True, it is unhealthy and divides them even more, and it is a natural factor in the life of a twin.

The twin bond is strong, but not that strong, and a key reason of why all twins are not besties is the fact that they are constantly together. This may be nice for some people, but for most, too much time together can be exhausting and overwhelming. I see my twin plenty during the day. From walking to school together to sharing classes together to going to practice together, we spend about 90 percent of our time together, and believe me, it is more than enough. Twins especially need personal time to themselves and it is in their best interest to take breaks from one another.

There is a saying that you love and hate the one you are closest to and that only you share their best side and worst side. This is the case with twins. They live in the same home for the most part and share the basic bond of family love, but certain things, such as temporary rejection, difference or anger can smother that out for a while. This constant time together that takes place on top of people assuming that they are the same person result in twins’ frustration of their unidentified uniqueness.

There may not be an “I” in team, but there is an “I” in twin.