What’s so special about twins anyway?

Written by Diane on. Posted in on everything else

What's so special about twins-

“Are you twins??”

My husband and his brother were recently in New York City on vacation and were excitedly asked the same question multiple times by a whole host of people. You see, they’re twins, and although not identical, they do look a lot alike. They were asked at least 10 times if they were twins, and after the first few times, they found it really funny. In France when they’re together, not a single person would ask if they were twins — and French people’s eyes work just fun. So what’s with Americans??

Read on!

Americans are known for a lot of things, but are we known for being discreet?

Not exactly.

are americans too curious

So who asked if Tom and his brother were twins?

The inquisitive people asking weren’t random people approaching them on the street but were people they’d interact with like a cashier, airport employee or hostess at a restaurant. They said mostly women asked and the first and only question was if they were twins, to which they replied yes, but fraternal not identical, and that was that. No other weird twins questions were asked.

After about the sixth time someone inquired as to their twin status, Tom’s brother found it really weird and it caught him off-guard every time. It was his first trip to the USA (and Tom’s first time in the USA with his brother) and he figured that twins were really rare or something. At this point, they had their own question for the woman doing the asking this time around – a cashier in Burger King.

He asked her flat out, “Why does everyone in the US keep asking us if we’re twins? Americans have seen twins, right? I mean we’re French, and in France, that hasn’t happened since we were kids.”

The Burger King employee said that Americans aren’t used to seeing adult twins together.

But is that it?

I guess I understand her point, but I think it’s more than that. It’s not like twins are always separated in the US. The likelihood of seeing adult twins together is probably the same in both countries. Twins aren’t THAT rare. Maybe I’d be more likely to gawk at quintuplets…

What’s really going on?Are you twins

It comes down to a major cultural difference. I think Americans are curious by nature and want to be friendly, so they make conversation. Small talk is something that’s not the norm in France, but in the US we like to make conversation with strangers. I know I have. When two people in front of you appear to be twins, that’s a much more interesting topic of small talk while in line at Target than the weather, right?

In France, people surely notice but they just don’t say anything.

No one was rude with their questions toward them or anything like that, but Tom definitely noticed this marked difference between Americans and the French when it comes to polite social topics of conversation with strangers.

Would you ask two adults if they were twins? If it was 100% obvious? If you were kind of unsure? If they were foreign?

So what is it about Americans that makes us speak up and ask questions? Are we curious? Are we more forward? More twin-obsessed? More friendly? More nosy? And are French people just blasé by nature and too cool to care?

I don’t know.

But I think I should make Tom ad his brother t-shirts that say “Yes, we’re twins” for all future trips to the USA together. 🙂

Tell me your thoughts about this twin thing!

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Comments (7)

  • Kimberly, The Fur Mom


    I wouldn’t ask people. I always assume that people are related and if they really look alike, but aren’t identical, then I assume fraternal.

    But I have to admit that I stare a little when I see adult twins together, because I rarely see that so when I do I think it’s cool. I grew up as an only child and today I have a very distant relationship with my family, including my mother, so adult twins together warms my heart, because I love family and think twins have the ultimate bond and would love to have someone that was always there for me.



  • Vanessa


    I can’t speak for all Americans, but I would probably ask this question not out of curiosity, but just to be friendly — to start conversation — in the same way I might ask a cashier where she found such an unusual ring or compliment her on her colorful manicure. One of the most interesting conversations I can remember happened when I asked a guy at Zumiez about his earlobe plugs: How do they do that? Do they hurt?

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing to make people feel noticed and interesting, but I also can see why it might get annoying to be asked the same thing repeatedly. In this case, I don’t think the askers are really asking anything, any more than someone asks, “How are you?” They’re saying, “Cool! You’re twins!” We Americans have something to say about everything — we’re all free-speechy like that. 😉


  • Christine


    For me personally, I’d ask because I’m writing a book with twins — one twin being the protagonist. So I’d be curious as to know if they were twins so I could probe about any special bond they may share to better inform my work. But in general…

    I think people want to confirm their instincts when processing information… (“Those two people look extremely similar, almost identical… are they identical?”) Perhaps Americans are just bold enough to ask for confirmation? Or simply interested enough to ask? Or maybe it is just curiosity… Or a need to be right. If I saw two individuals who looked nearly identical (kids or adults), I’d wonder if they were twins or merely extremely similar siblings. If I didn’t ask, I’d forget about it eventually, but it would bug me for a little bit if I hadn’t asked for the facts when I had the chance.


  • Alex


    I’m French and I would never go to a person to ask that, it is their private life and I wouldn’t interrupt them in their life with an obvious question.
    I don’t undersand the big deal about twins …


    • Diane


      Guess that’s one difference between American and French culture 😉 Americans are really friendly and talkative in general!


  • Lizzie


    Hi! I’m an identical twin and I often go away with my sister. I find that there are always a few people in places we visit that ask whether we are twins or not. And, you’re right, it’s usually people we are interacting with such as cashiers and waiters etc, although sometimes we do get stopped on the street which can always be a bit awkward. Once they’ve asked whether we’re twins and we reply with a simple ‘yes’ they often don’t know what to ask afterwards. I’m not quite sure what people aim to get out of knowing whether we’re twins or not – does it really matter? I understand people are curious but it’s a pretty boring thing to be curious about!


    • Diane


      I think people just love the twin phenomenon although I would never randomly approach two people on the street to ask if they’re twins. For directions, maybe, but not to ask if they’re twins. People probably have 100 questions about if you read each other’s minds or have a twin language, etc. Thank you for sharing your experience, Lizzie!


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