When It Comes to Sex, Love and Marriage, Many Twins Late Bloomers

There are two intriguing twin studies out this month, both published in the April edition of Twin Research and Human Genetics. Although the studies were conducted in different countries (Hungary and Denmark) and each focused on a different subject (one looked at the role of heredity and environment on sexual disorders; the other compared the rate of marriage and divorce between twins and singletons) there were remarkable similarities in their findings. Namely, when it comes to sex, love, and marriage, many twins are late bloomers.

In the Hungarian study, for instance, researchers collected data from 420 same-sex twins to determine the heritability of common sexual problems. I will spare you the titillating details surrounding much of their study and instead focus on their secondary objective—to examine the sexual development of twins. It seems that MZ (or identical twins) are a bit older than DZ (or fraternal twins) when it comes to their first sexual experience (first kiss, getting to “first base,” loss of virginity). Researchers speculate that this delay (about six months on average) is due in part to the intense social relationship that many identical twins share with one another. The desire to experiment sexually just isn’t there at an early age. Since they are content within their own twinship, they don’t feel the need to “look for love in all the wrong places.”

In the other study, Danish researchers compared marriage and divorce rates between 35,975 twins and 91,803 singletons. They controlled for such confounders as marriage age, children within the marriage, education level, age difference between partners, and so forth. They discovered that the overall marriage rate of twins is lower than singletons. In other words, there are a lot of single twins out there in the world. The researchers also found that twins who do marry, do so at a later age than singletons. And finally, the study found that female twins have a significantly lower divorce rate than female singletons. Researchers contend that since twins are masters at negotiation within their own twinship, once they do marry, they know what it takes to make the relationship work. At least female twins do! (These results are very similar to another study done years ago by French psychologist and twin researcher, Rene Zazzo.)

three-tier wedding cakeI find these results fascinating as well as very positive. While the authors of both studies suggest that twins are so wrapped up with one another that they have “difficulty” finding and maintaining a relationship that results in marriage, I don’t completely agree. Yes, there are those twins who are so tightly bonded that the thought of breaking their union is just too painful so therefore they remain single, but I believe that they are the exception rather than the rule. (Author Abby Pogrebin writes about such twins in her must-read book on twins, One and the Same.)

Instead, perhaps these findings can be explained by the fact that twins don’t feel the immediate need to go out and seek the love and attention of the opposite sex since they have each other as steadfast companions. If their twin keeps them from succumbing to peer pressure to get a girlfriend or boyfriend before they’re emotionally ready, have sex at a very early age, or elope with someone with whom they not compatible simply to escape a lonely life or an unhappy home, more power to them! With the statistics we hear every day surrounding teenage pregnancy as well as the divorce rate, holding off on both should be seen as a positive. Right?

Still, there is a takeaway lesson from both studies, and that is the need for twins to gain a healthy sense of individuality. No one would want their twins to be so dependent on one another that they become paralyzed with fear at the thought of venturing out alone. As parents of twins, we need to continue our vigilance in helping our children develop a strong sense of self.


7 thoughts on “When It Comes to Sex, Love and Marriage, Many Twins Late Bloomers

  1. Heather

    Great article, I love the fascinating research! Although I don’t have twins and am not a twin myself, I know several, both fraternal and identical, many of which are in their late 30s and unmarried. So for parents of twins, how do they foster a positive sense of individuality for each of their children?

  2. Jamie Monique

    Oh, this article just depressed me. I am an unmarried, 28-year-old, identical twin. I HATE how much being a twin has negatively impacted my social and relational life. Both my sister and I are lonely, dependent on each other, and longing for real relationships. We both would love to get married one day. But I don’t think it is even possible. Being twins is a curse. I envy those who can have normal, deep, relationships with others.

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that. Of course getting married is possible. You are only 28! Perhaps you should both seek counselling so that you can understand your dependency on each other more. A good therapist could help wean you from each other. Good luck.

  3. Erica

    My identical twin sister and I are 36…and single. Never married. No kids. We’re pretty devastated about it, to be honest. We assumed that our futures would hold husband’s and babies. Our friends say that our standards are too high. But it’s very hard to find someone that’s worthy of essentialy replacing your twin, and becoming your new best friend. It’s a hard thing to do. We have felt so fortunate to be twins, and we love each other so much. But I can’t stress enough how import it is that twins grow up being treated as unique individuals, and not “the twins”.
    And please give them each a birthday party! I never had my own cake. LoL
    Thanks again, Erica

  4. safa

    I was finding for a research topic to conduct a research in twins and I found this article apt for my research.But I need to ask you one thing will it create problems for twins in their marital life if they marry non-twins??As far as I think it WILL cause problems (since I’m a twin..!!)and I really feel difficult when I think of parting my twin…Though there may be issues in later life I couldn’t find any study supporting my assumption.

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      There are anecdotal stories out there that talk about this very subject. When some twins marry, especially closely-bonded identical twins, the marriage becomes secondary to the twin relationship. And spouses of those who are married to twins sometimes resent the strong twin relationship. But I don’t have any specific research on the subject.

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