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Having a sibling is a beautiful thing. Siblings may quarrel, fight for attention, and even drift apart at times – but beneath that, all is a foundation of love and shared experiences. This can all feel amplified for twins (and even more so for those who are identical). And while being a twin is a unique, special experience, there can be moments in which twins may fantasize about what it could be like as a singleton, without another person attached to your hip or lumped in with you throughout life, especially childhood.
Just as there are many challenges when it comes to raising twins, there are also challenges to being a twin. Of course, there are many factors that will impact twins’ feelings about their twinship, such as their age, whether or not they are identical and more. So…let’s have some fun with this! Below I break down the pros and cons of being a twin.
I’ll start with the cons so that we can end on the positives!
Pros and Cons of being a twin:
Twins grow up spending almost every waking moment together. From basic needs (like eating together, napping together) to milestones like birthdays or the first day of school – to simple experiences like getting new toys or having outings with parents – everything is done together. This togetherness, as wonderful as it is, can make it difficult to become your own person or face even everyday challenges by yourself. For identical twins especially, this can contribute to the development of an identity crisis that could have implications later in life. Eventually, twins lead their own lives, and twins who are so used to the constant presence of their “other half,” or being treated like a “package deal” for their whole lives, may feel a huge void when transitioning from “we” to “I.” This dependency could prevent twins from feeling confident on their own, like they are no longer a whole person and don’t have the same capabilities they do as a unit.
This is probably the hardest con for twins to deal with. Twins are always compared, not only by strangers or classmates or friends but also by their teachers, coaches – and even their parents. No matter what, one twin will do better in school, or in sports, or be conventionally prettier or funnier or more outgoing, will get married first, be more dominant in the relationship, or make more money. The list goes on. We as humans make these comparisons about any siblings, but for twins, it is heightened given that they often have the same friends, are in the same grade, possibly play the same sports, and are generally tethered together in the minds of the people they have known throughout their lives. These opinions can of course affect the twins and in some cases can create competition, rivalry, and a pecking order in their relationship.
Thanks to the portrayal of twins in the media, there are a lot of assumptions that the general public makes about twins that are honestly pretty ridiculous! For example, there’s the common theme of “good twin vs. evil twin.” Multiples are often portrayed as hyperactive and mischievous, or like they have telepathic powers and can feel each other’s pain. Of course, none of this is true, but it definitely feeds into the public’s fascination with twins – when in fact, they’re just like everyone else!
At first glance, you might think that “sharing everything” is related to tangible, materialistic items. It actually means so much more than that, and it all starts when sharing the womb. Yes, as twins you may have to share toys, gifts, clothes, bedrooms, and probably a car. But twins also have to share milestones, birthdays and birthday parties, the spotlight at sports games or plays, and even their parents’ attention – which is already wearing thin because, well, raising twins is difficult and takes a lot of time, energy, and effort! This sharedness is something many twins will be fine with, and even if they complain about it sometimes, they’ll survive. It’s when their individual needs aren’t being met that it can become problematic.
If parents have the awareness around checking in with their twins to make sure their individual needs and interests are being taken care of, then twins will feel less like they have to share every single defining experience with someone else.
Despite the above challenges, the special bond that twins share is like the bond of best friends, but multiplied. It can be even stronger than the bond between spouses/partners. The connection between twins is uncanny, but not surprising. They have so many shared experiences, are lumped together throughout life – there’s no wonder that they get to know one another like the back of their hand. There’s no other experience like having a twin (except maybe Irish twins!). They understand each other better than anyone else can, have each other’s backs, and share a tremendous level of trust.
A huge perk of being a twin means always having someone to play with and hang out with. Developmentally twins are on par with one another, so they will likely enjoy the same toys, have the same interests, and make solid playmates for each other (and keep each other occupied). From early on, even if twins are not old enough to actually play together, they can make one another laugh just by looking in the other’s direction and babbling. As a twin, you get to share the mundane, everyday life with someone else from the day you’re born, which is pretty cool and helps to minimize boredom. With a twin, you have a constant source of entertainment. Being a built-in buddy also allows twins to go through new things together, like starting school, or going to camp together, making it a more comfortable experience.
Thick as Thieves
I would be remiss to not at least mention that twins are next-level partners in crime. Whether twins have to stifle laughter because of an inside joke that only they understand, copy each other’s homework, or commit some switching places trickery (shout out Parent Trap!), twins definitely have a leg up on singleton siblings when it comes to being mischievous (I know I said above that twin mischievousness isn’t a thing, but maybe there’s some truth to this stereotype!). When you have your twin there with you, you feel like you can do and get away with anything – and you get to share the impending punishment with someone else instead of going it alone.
The dynamics of twinship can be analyzed, studied, and scrutinized, but unless you’re an actual twin, you can’t fully understand what it’s like. Even though there are challenges when it comes to being a twin and ultimately sharing your whole life’s experiences with another person, it’s truly a wonderful and unique relationship to have. In my opinion, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.