Two Sense: My Boyfriend is “Married” to His Twin
After a year with my boyfriend, I am realizing that his relationship with his twin brother is not at all the typical sibling relationship. It is so close it almost creeps me out. Case in point: He and his twin answer each other's texts immediately, no matter what time of the day or night. They have a special ring tone they use only for each other. His twin has texted at 3 am and he's woken up to respond. He has even interrupted sex with me to answer a text. These are not crises; they are regular chatty texts! When I bring it up, he says there's no way I can understand their bond because I am not a twin. It really makes me wonder about the viability of our relationship. I have siblings too, and I'm very close to them, but I feel like my boyfriend shares an intimacy that no partner or spouse will ever supersede and it makes me uncomfortable.
He Said: Twins are notoriously close, so in some ways this may be a situation you adapt to and work with your boyfriend to manage. You might try thinking about it as a good thing about him. His loyalty and devotion to his twin brother are qualities that he surely can apply to your relationship as well. In a way, you are going to be in a de facto relationship with the twin as well, and that does not have to be a bad thing. On the other hand, now that your BF is in a serious relationship, he needs to show you respect by making you the primary focus, especially in intimate moments. There really is no excuse for interrupting sex (how could that be good for him anyway?) or romantic times together. That should be non-negotiable. In the end, you might have to make a difficult decision about what you consider a healthy sibling relationship. I once dated a guy who was constantly replying to texts from his mother about his whereabouts. (He did take time out for sex.) To me, it felt like there was, as you say, a "creepy" codependence, and I backed off from getting serious. That's a decision only you can make.
She Said: I’m no psychologist, but even a casual scan of Google—where there are support forums for those married to twins—plus a little common-sense life experience will tell you that your boyfriend’s relationship to his twin is indeed different than a regular sibling’s. Your boyfriend is right, the twin bond is probably deeper than we non-twins can imagine, a combination of shared genetics and history tracing all the way back to the womb. Most of us only glimpse this kind of primal attachment with our own mothers and with our children, and lo and behold, those have also been known to burden our intimate primary relationships.
Judging by the identical twins I've known, who mention each other’s name at least once an hour, I’m betting it will be futile to try to assert your primacy in sweeping terms. Instead, target the one or two behaviors that really offend you—interrupting sex would be at the top of the list, I’d think—and tell your BF to please silence his phone during your intimacy. This is a little test to see how flexible and psychologically individuated he can be. If he can’t mentally separate from his twin for 45 minutes of lovemaking, take that as your cue to what a lifetime with this man would feel like.
Chris Bull is cofounder and editorial director of GayCities.com & Queerty.com. Robin Rinaldi, the former executive editor of 7x7, is currently at work on The Wild Oats Project, forthcoming in 2014 from Farrar Straus & Giroux.