#Twinning: Why Lesbian Couples Start to Dress Alike

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It’s very typical for most queer women that have any degree of look-alike-dyke situation to have dozens of strangers inquire whether or not they’re sisters, or to have disagreements about exactly how similarly they can dress before you’re ready to leave the house.

Twinning is something that can happen in lesbian relationships, where either through a similar gender expression or style, women in relationships wind up looking/dressing more and more like one another as time goes by. Sometimes is the result of not keeping separate closet space; sometimes is a larger sign of enmeshment.

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Some of this is a stereotype, but some of it is the egress of sharing space and intimacy with someone—you wind up stealing their hoodies. If you have even moderately comparable body types or styles, there can be a very natural drift toward a kind of stasis.

There is an interesting tension around matching in lesbian relationships. Some people find it comforting to match in certain ways, cozily putting the “same” in “same sex.” But most couples I know prefer to differentiate in small ways. This is particularly true for folks that have a butch/femme thing going on; these create an organic differentiation that most folks can interpret as homoerotic. Other couples I know dress exactly alike but one of them is always wearing socks with things like lightning bolts or Scottie dogs on them.

You figure out what works for you. Most couples reach a natural equilibrium, but the whole ecosystem is exasperated by strangers remarking upon the apparent closeness of two women “You must be sisters!” because homophobia.

Enmeshment is a newer word for codependency, and what it means functionally is that people in a couple get locked in with no room for making individual choices, operating as an independent unit, or differentiating. Differentiating, that thing we mentioned earlier, just means you make some kind of distinction about yourself that makes you different or unique.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. In families, when all the kids are into swimming, this means that everybody has their different events or strokes they do. Enmeshment can feel really cozy until you decide you want to do something by yourself or make a different choice than the same ones you’ve been making for forever.

Wear what you want, come up with some snappy rejoinders for strangers, and negotiate with your babe if you have very similar stylesbecause having a fight about who wore a striped shirt first so the other person has to change is a real drag.

If you two are super enmeshed, start distinguishing yourself from one another in small ways (weird socks, your own interests) and having small boundaries about what you need (maybe you don’t go to bed at the exact same time, or refrain from getting bleached tips the same day that she’s getting balayage.)

If you two are comfortable in the way you dress, but other people have a hard time telling you apart, don’t worry about it. Just feel free to get your own “thing,” whether it’s glasses or bangs or perfect winged eyeliner so that at least you can tell yourself apart.

Maria Turner-Carney is a therapist and writer in Seattle. You can follow her at seattlefeministtherapy.com/blog.

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