This article originally appeared on VICE Italy
We can all agree that the phrase "no man is an island" is a blatant lie – we're essentially alone in this world and all the more miserable for it. The only exception to this rule are identical twins, who often share every step of at least the first few decades of their existence with each other. Experiencing the same things, while looking exactly alike.
Given that I've always had a few burning questions about what that's like, I decided to interview 27-year-old Marco and Giulio – monozygotic twins who I myself, after years of being friends with them, still struggle to tell apart. I sat down with them to finally and officially ask them the questions that I, in all those years, had never bothered to ask.
VICE: So what is it like to constantly be around another human being who's just like you?
Giulio: Of course there are positive and negative sides to it, but in general I'd say that the positives far outweigh the negatives. You always have company, you never feel alone. You never get bored and you always have an accomplice, a sidekick.
Marco: Yes, we can always count on each other being there. And we more or less lived the same experiences, so our parents always felt quite confident in letting us do certain stuff by ourselves – like travelling abroad, for example. Because there were always two of us and we would have each other's backs. But our younger brother, for example, couldn't do the same things by himself.
Do you also have the same tastes?
Giulio: I don't know if it has much to do with the fact that we're twins, but we have the same likes and dislikes when it comes to food. But we're very different when it comes to anything else.
Twins often dress similarly too – why is that? Wouldn't it be easier to have a different haircut and clothing style and set yourself apart?
Marco: Well, when you're a kid you don't make your own decisions. Our parents basically bought the same things for us but in different colours – red for me, blue for him. And then we grew up in the same circles, had the lifestyle that went with that. We never forced ourselves to look different – we go to the same hairdresser and we often have a similar haircut. Maybe with time, when our lives progress in different ways, that might influence the kinds of clothes we wear. I don't know.
Do you regularly take advantage of the fact that you can easily pass for each other?
Giulio: It happened a lot in school. We went to boarding school and if one of us was ill and the other went to class, but hadn't done any homework and there was a surprise test, the ill one would get screwed with a bad mark. Generally, nobody figured it out in school – one year Marco actually had better final marks than I had, while he'd gotten worse marks throughout the year. Usually our school reports were pretty identical too. The teachers had no idea who they were talking about exactly, so they'd just give us the same marks.
Is it true that you always know what the other is thinking?
Giulio: We always get that question, and I think the answer's kind of obvious. Even if you don't have a twin but someone is always around, your thinking kind of levels. You go through the same experiences at similar moments in life, so it's normal that you often think in the same way or to know how the other will react to something.
How do you behave when a girl shows some interest in one of you, given that you're almost interchangeable looks-wise? Have you ever gotten into trouble?
Giulio: Let's just say that often, we have a strategy. If I know he wants to try it on with someone, I'll usually back off. But it's happened for example that I went out with a girl and it didn't go well, and after a while she got together with Marco.
Marco: Another time there was kind of an awkward situation. I had been seeing a girl from my uni for a while, and it just so happened that one evening Giulio – who didn't know her and didn't know we'd been seeing each other – was in the same bar as her. She sat next to him, so that he would notice her, and he could have easily gotten it on with her if he'd known that she was seeing me. But she noticed something was up because he didn't respond to her – because he didn't actually know who she was.
Giulio: If I had known that she was up for it, I would have definitely tried it. I was wasted that night.
Have you ever slept with the same girl?
Marco: Yes, when we were younger there was a girl who had dated both of us at different times, and then at some point she started seeing Giulio quite regularly. So she often ended up staying over at ours. At the time we shared a bedroom, so we would draw the beds close together and all sleep together, just that. But as these things go, I remember one evening she just took her clothes off. Basically sometimes girls are turned on by the fact that we're twins.
How does your relationship – which I imagine is very exclusive – influence your outside relationships?
Giulio: If one of us has a girlfriend, for example, our relationship as twins kind of dictates some situations — we're often together and we move around together, so we always keep each other informed of what we're up to. I think that's is perfectly understandable, and we've never had any major issues.
Marco: Given that we've always shared our friends, we often tend to be considered as a unit within our group of friends. But that changed when we decided to go to different universities.
What was the most embarrassing situation you ever found yourself in because of the fact that you're twins?
Marco: It got very awkward when we went to China together. People would stop us on the street to take pictures of us holding their babies. They touched us for good luck. I remember that proper queues would form with people waiting to take their picture with us.
Do you ever think about how life would be if the other wasn't there, or if you'd grow apart at some point?
Giulio: No, I don't see us ever having a detached relationship. What is his I've always seen as mine, and vice versa.
Marco: I totally agree.