Who says we like each other?

18. “At least they have a friend for life”

Do they though? Do they really automatically become the best of friends? 

Part of why this blog has laid neglected for the last couple of months, unloved and untouched, is because I, or rather ‘we’ have moved into (yet) another new stage of the experience of twins.  The boys are now starting to talk more and more, and with that have become much more able to communicate their emotions, their needs, their likes and dislikes.  They are becoming ‘sociable’. And with that there is a relationship between the two of them, and indeed between them and their sister, that is developing.

I have often wondered about the feeling of being ‘them’ and ‘other’. What is it like to be a part of that unit, the casualness with which they have been forced to adopt a play mate. I often wonder how my daughter feels about knowing that each and every day they do everything together, and yet whilst she spends a lot of time with them she also does quite a lot of her own thing. They share a room together. She doesn’t. They nap together. She doesn’t. They bath together. She didn’t, but recently I have started to bathe them, feed them, read to them, as the three of them. 

So I started reflecting on the friendship between the two boys. Is it right to assume that they have any good reason to even like each other?

And so I took to reading Winnicott’s book, ‘The Child, The Family, and the Outside World’.  Specifically his chapter on twins, of course. Needless to say it is highly likely that I will make reference to this book in future meanderings. He speaks a lot of sense.  And indeed it was him who wrote, in response to the question ‘do twins like each other?’, “Often they accept each other’s company, enjoy playing together, and hate to be separated, and yet fail to convince one that they love each other.  Then one day they discover that they hate each other like poison, and at last the possibility that they may get to love each other has come.” 

At first I thought blimey, that sounds a bit dramatic, hate each other like poison? I jolly hope not. But on reading further and exploring it a bit more the point he is trying to make is this…. (or at least I think and please feel free to correct me)… when you are a twin, you don’t get to chose the person you spend the majority of your time with for the formative years, they are ‘chosen’ for you, so how can you know if you love them when they have always been there and you have never had to question it. Indeed, it also seems silly to assume that they will even like each other, given that whilst they may of course be identical, their personalities will not. One wouldn’t assume that you could throw two random people, who happen to be born on the same day, together, for weeks on end, and just expect them to get on and become best buddies. So why would we assume that to be the case for twins?

Very interestingly, Winnicott ends the chapter on twins by saying “So it is important that you should not take it too much for granted that your twins will want to spend their lives together. They may, but they may not, and they may even be grateful to you, or to some chance thing like measles, for separating them, it being much easier to become a whole person alone than in company with one’s twin.”

Right then.  


  1. It's so funny you wrote this when you did. We just decided to change our routines around so ours each get more time apart from each other (something I have been pretty poor about, actually). Even with two years between them, I get a lot of "aren't you lucky you have two- easier for you, they practically entertain each other!" Um, yeah, something like that. I think it's important to remember that just because they love each other, doesn't always mean they like each other! Actually, perhaps it's more accurate to say "Just because they're used to each other, doesn't always mean they like each other" haha. Given the comments I get with two years apart, I can't begin to imagine how many more you get with twins!!! Great post.

  2. My parents are both twins. My mother and her sister are so close they have actually, on occasion, physically felt each others' pain (yeah, I wouldn't believe it either if it wasn't my family). My Dad and his twin, on the other hand, were pretty much mortal enemies growing up. So I guess (durr) that since twins are just as much individuals as anyone else, there's a million different ways in which they could feel about each other and at least as many dynamics that could emerge. I would imagine (and lord knows I have no idea what it's like to parent three) that giving the space to be themselves as well as being twins has a lot to do with their view of the relationship and their ability to see it as an amazing blessing rather than some kind of suffocating bind. My mother still shivers at the idea of matching outfits, for example!

    1. I think that's the interesting thing that both you and Marjorie touch on, about giving them the space to be. I've noticed on occasion that Rufus will take himself off into some corner with a toy and play happily on his own. I did however laugh when Elspeth was asked where she gets tranquility in her home, she replied in the kitchen. Says a lot about living in this house. We have often been focused on taking Elsie out to do things one on one, and more recently I've realised that I / we MUST do that with the boys too. Not split them as the twins and the none twin! They so often do stuff together by default. My next job is to assert their independence from not just me as their mother, but each other.