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Ask Athena: I Think I'm in Love With My Stepbrother


Published August 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear Athena,

I think I'm in love with my stepbrother. His father has been married to my mother since we were teenagers. We are both single, and I think it's because we both love each other. I don't know what to do or if this love can be possible. What should I do?


Family Love

Dear Family Love,

Part of me is ironically singing "It's a Family Affair" by Sly and the Family Stone, and the other part of me is just like, No! This might fly if you were characters on "Game of Thrones," but it's not going to work in the real world.

I can understand how you could have feelings for him. You're single — maybe you're lonely — and you've known each other forever. Your parents fell for one another, so it's not impossible to see how their kids could easily connect. And he might seem like a safe choice. There would be no work involved, no awkward get-to-know-you phase. You wouldn't even have to introduce each other to your parents. But, honey, if that's the story you're telling yourself, you need to write a new one.

You haven't explained whether you have evidence of him reciprocating your feelings, but I don't recommend inquiring. In fact, unless your parents break up, this is not — and never will be — viable romantic relationship territory.

You know that expression "Don't shit where you eat"? Yeah, I hate it, too. But it sums up my point here very neatly. Maybe you think he's your one true love, but it can never work with him. Acting on this impulse would break bonds with the most important people in your life. Imagine how your parents would react to learning that their children are lovers. And suppose your relationship goes horribly wrong — what would family get-togethers be like? How would you possibly keep your dating drama from polluting family waters? It's hard enough to get along with relatives. Don't turn one into your boyfriend.

Shake up your life a little to curtail this crush. Take yourself on a getaway, talk it out with a therapist, create an online dating profile — do whatever it takes to stay away from brother dearest.

Someone else is out there for you, I promise. But you need to look beyond your literal backyard.



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