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Getting back in touch after 15 years

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Apologies for duplicate post!!!

First post - looking for some urgent advice. I am meeting my cousin in the next couple days and don't know where to start!

I'm hoping sharing my experiences may be helpful to others too. It's a long and complicated story but I will try to keep to the main points

About 25 years ago I had a teen romance with my female first cousin. She lives in another country far away and used visit our house alone from time to time. We were always very close and got romantically involved over two summers. The first time we kissed I think we were just 12 & 13. We saw each other a couple of years later when we were about 15 and the relationship became fully intimate and very intense.

From the start there was no hesitation on either side and it felt completely natural and not weird at all. It was just our secret and we got on with it. We never split up, she just went back home and we carried on with our lives. We wrote a few times but over time we drifted apart - no Facebook back then!

About 10 years later when I was 25 my cousin just called me up, and said she was in my country. By this time we each had a young child, I was living with my girlfriend (now wife) and my cousin had recently separated from her partner. My feelings were immediately very intense but we all met up and carried on as if we were just normal cousins. We were obviously both very pleased to see each other, I'm sure there was some tension between us but we both kept it well hidden because we never actually got to spend any time alone. Again she went home and we carried on with our lives

In hindsight I think this meeting affected me very deeply, but I did not understand my feelings at the time. I'm guessing also my cousin came seeking my love after her breakup, but found me settled with a partner and child. If she had anything like the feelings I have had, that must have torn her apart.

I spent the next 10 years feeling like something was missing from my life, chasing all sorts of girls trying to find....something. Although I have never been sexually unfaithful to my wife I had a string of emotional affairs and became addicted to trying to find that intense bond that I had with my cousin.  I understand now that these situations were just my own projection, and I would never find that bond with anyone else but my cousin. My wife doesn't know about my relationship with my cousin and I'm not sure if she could handle it. Our marriage has been chaotic, my wife has some anger issues from childhood abuse. We had lots of fights and several breakups but we always seem to get back together and are quite settled now.

About four years ago I met someone who finally opened my eyes to what had been going on in my life. I got involved with a girl at work, I will call her Jane. We had little in common but over time we developed an intense bond. Her constant flirty behavior, sad eyes and seeming inability to genuinely attach really struck a chord, I realized watching her behavior that she was doing exactly the same as me - looking for something. Later, I found out Jane previously had a romantic involvement with her brother, who now lived in another country and wouldn't speak to her anymore. Despite much flirtation both ways Jane and me never got beyond a drunken kiss which we both brushed off. I have not spoken to Jane for a while but we parted on good terms and are still in touch.

This reminded me about my relationship with my cousin. We had lost touch several years before but I tracked her down and we linked up on Facebook. I desperately wanted to speak to her, but I found out she had remarried, had two more kids and seemed to be very happy. By this time I had figured that our last meeting had turned my emotions inside out, and I was scared to talk to her because I didn't want to spoil her new life.

Last few months I have been getting my life in order with various self help strategies. I have made a lot of progress in my relationships with my Wife, my kids and even my friends and work colleagues. I finally feel like I am taking control of my life. But there is still something nagging me inside - my situation with my cousin. I figured we needed to talk so few months ago I tried to message her but she didn't reply.

I tried again last week, then I found out she is coming to visit my country this week (she has other family here besides mine) so I sent her another message and this time she replied and agreed to meet.

Now I'm terrified because I am about to see her again and I have no idea what to say or where to start. There is a lot at stake because we both have partners and young kids and I don't want to put any of that at risk.

Any suggestions?

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Yeah, do like me and mine have done over 30 years later. You MUST be agreed that there will be no shenanigans. Much too much water has passed beneath the bridge, and there really is no going back. You risk a major trainwreck, with massive grief on the part of several other innocents if you do not come to this agreement.

That said, me and mine did have a nice long convo one night, and aired it all out. Part of that was coming to an agreement that we do not have any stomach for cheating, so there would be no shenanigans. Air it out, without making it cumbersome or awkward. Admit it is a part of what makes you two who you are, you are not ashamed of what happened, and, in a different world, things may have been different. But, (as with us) the timing was just never right. Now, at this late date, and current lives, there is no going back to relive your youth. You will be walking a thin line, on thin ice. Don't fall.....

I really think if me and mine had not been estranged until we were nearly 50 yrs old, there would have been times the temptation would have gotten the better of us. If I'm doing the math right, you're not quite as old as us, but close enough to know better than to go getting into something you WILL regret. Be very careful my friend.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks - that's good advice. I guess that distance will help us stay out of trouble

Seeing her again blew me away. The first time we spoke on the phone we just talked totally naturally for over an hour, just like we had never been apart.

Although we didn't get any alone time it was very obvious that we both still have very strong feelings for each other. In fact someone else noticed there was something between us, but thankfully had the decency to be very discrete in asking and even helped cover our tracks. I thought this would freak me out but if anything it was a big release to know that someone else knows about our thing and is cool with it.

What's obvious to me now is that we never understood the depth of our emotional connection when we were kids. Back then I just thought she was hot and exiting and was flattered that she was so into me.

This time I noticed a lot of little things - like how she would interject at the exact point when I wonder if I'm talking too much, or change the subject right at the exact point when I'm running out of things to say. This happens without the slightest pause or hesitation and we just carry on talking. We have lived very different lives on opposite sides of the planet, yet our conversation is fluid and completely without awkwardness. It's almost like she can read my mind.

My biggest fear now is that we will both find all this too much to bear and stop talking. We have been in touch since but she's taking her time, and I think it's probably best to let her.

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Yeah, that whole "finish each others' sentences / knowing what the other is thinking before they say it" thing can be a little unnerving, can't it?

I stick by my previous advice. Tread very lightly. This is why I tell everyone these things are very hard to hide. It's nearly impossible for teens, and, even at your ages, (I'm assuming in your late 30's/40ish or so) someone will pick up on it.

If you think there would have been drama back in the day, ruin two families now, and see what a trainwreck it becomes. Like us, you two had your moment, and like us, you didn't go for it, or, at least stay with it. There's nothing to be ashamed of, unless you do something shameful now. Just do like us, and make the conscious effort to NOT let those old feelings become the driving dynamic of the current relationship. They are what they are, they may bring fond memories, but they have to remain fond memories of times PAST. When that is agreed, the time spent together looses the stress and awkwardness of trying to hide such feelings. Then, being in each others' company becomes that much more enjoyable. No drama.

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The 'knowing what each other is thinking' thing, I don't find it unnerving at all. It's this deep personal connection that I have been chasing my whole life, looking in all the wrong places!

In terms of keeping it hidden, well we had no problem keeping it under wraps for much of our teenage years - if anyone knew, they never said anything. But that was because at that time we were being very open with each other (and ourselves) about our feelings. When we were together we were inseparable, when we were alone we couldn't keep our hands off each other, but due to time and distance we had this kind of on-off open relationship and were quite happy to talk with each other about our other love interests.

As kids, we simply didn't have the life experience to see the magic that we had together, and by the time we both realized it there were too many other things in the way. Now it's like we are both scared of being alone together because of what might happen (well probably would happen, the pull is so strong). So the problem that we have as adults is that we never got any 'alone time' to be honest with each other. 

We are both left stuck with this intense thing that is bursting to get out. We are both on the same page, we just need to get beyond the tension so we can be friends. It's difficult because we both have this naturally flirtatious, powerful magnetic personality. It's subtle and certainly not a conscious thing - I never really noticed it in myself until that girl at work pointed it out.

When I saw my cuz, I think we were both trying not to flirt with each other, but it's like the forces of nature take over. I had been thinking that maybe I need to do the girl thing and 'friendzone' her so we can move forward, which is more or less what you suggested, so I absolutely take that on board.

Thanks again for your help, you were right about my age and yes I'm old enough to know better! I quite like the way you have things with your girl (play it straight but never say never) because that allows to deal with feelings both ways.

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