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Why Twins Need Their Own Friends

An explanation for twins and parents, relatives, and friends of twins.

Sharing, caring, and comparing are the most obvious and inevitable roadblocks that a twin faces as they grow up and define their own sense of self. Unfortunately, even as adults, twins often want what their co-twin has collected or accomplished. It is not unusual for twins to be jealous and angry that they can't have their co-twin’s house, car, career, and husband or children. In fact, jealousy can be so serious that twins won't let their own children see their aunts and uncles on a holiday as a form of superiority over their sibling or as just plain “not wanting to share anything.” Yes, twin sharing can be so intense that cousins are not allowed to be together at family events. Social interactions for families with twins can be just plain weird.

My thought about this weirdness is that too much comparison is inevitable and painful for some twins, who know they are being evaluated under a microscope by fascinated guests. And sharing children and spouses can easily lead to criticism and one-upmanship.

While it is never easy for twins to decide what belongs to which one of them (what belongs to whom) or to decide who is in charge of making a decision, parents of young twins can try to take charge of sharing issues concerning friends. Setting limits and having rules about what can be used cooperatively and what is not sharable (what is off-limits for sharing) is essential if you are to avoid chaos and fighting, screaming, and yelling. Individuality is developed when each child or teenager has their own toys, books, video games, and friends.

Finding like-minded friends who are not shared is a blessing that lasts a lifetime for your children. Parents and grandparents often think that sharing friends is cute and fun. In reality, when twins share friendships, attachment problems will arise. One twin may become the favored twin, which means their co-twin is second best or not favored. Alliances between a friend and one twin may make the other twin feel left out and invisible. I have spoken with so many young twins who feel hurt and ignored when their brother or sister is the chosen one.

In my own experiences, my twin sister Marjorie was the chosen one in many, many situations. She was favored by our older brother, and Marjorie always blamed her own misbehavior on me. In social situations, many of our girlfriends found her more fun and more willing to be adventure-seeking. The fun-seeking friends played with her and not me. Marjorie was indifferent to how I felt about being not important or being second best, which was also extremely painful. She felt entitled to special attention and regularly asked for it.

My story of favoritism is very common to twin pairs. The reality is that friends take sides with twins and so serious social and emotional problems can develop and grow. For example, who is invited to the party at Disney World or the Hollywood Bowl concert can cause a twin fight with or about friends which can include crying, throwing shoes, biting, spitting, and horrific name calling. The war of shared friends can be amazingly heated and hurtful.

From my perspective, it is best to make rules that set limits for friend sharing. While at first, it may be hard to be firm about not sharing friendships, the avoidance of twin drama over “who is whose friend” and “who goes where” is a beautiful reward that parents will cherish. Hopefully, twins will learn to respect each other.

What helps twins stop fighting over friends?

Parents need to exercise authority over twin friendships and make it clear that sharing friends causes problems. Sharing is especially dangerous when twin girls fall in love with the same guy and both want physical comfort. Disaster is inevitable when twins act out wanting to share the same guy or girlfriend or adult companion. Parents should early on make it clear that sharing friends on a very superficial level such as being on the soccer team or going bowling together is okay. But deeply felt sharing, which includes possible romantic relationships, is not acceptable.

Maybe you think I am being harsh and judgmental, but sharing friends of the opposite sex really should be off-limits. Sharing same-sex friends can be a different experience (and acceptable), although problems can arise. Friendships become a source of identity, which contributes to the freedom to separate from your twin and to develop a sense of individuality and more complicated interests. Friendships teach twins how to relate to the non-twin world, which is a steep learning curve.


Of course, there are many reasons that twins fight because competition between twins is a part of who they are and who they become as they mature into adulthood. Fighting encourages individuation if it is not cutthroat. Different opinions are fine, of course. Twins find their individuality and can get along better if they have the opportunity to know friends on their own. While sharing a dress or a car or even a business may have good results, I have very rarely seen friend-sharing as a very enriching experience for the twins who consult with me.


  1. Talk about the problems that arise when twins share friends with your partner, caregivers, teachers, and grandparents. Encourage these helpers to separate your twins whenever possible in social situations.
  2. Work with other parents to find special non-sharing friends for your children.
  3. Occasionally let your children play with the same friends.
  4. Talk to your children about the importance of having individual friends.
  5. If one child is invited for a special outing and the other is left at home, be sure to have the one left alone feel “taken care of” in their own special way.
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