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So here's our story

In 2015 I was at a funeral for my great aunt, who I'd never even met as an adult before. I think I only went because it meant I could skip a day of school, then I was a junior in high school, and had just turned sixteen. At the time I was four months into another relationship with a guy from my school, which is, I suppose, an integral part of the story as it plays out. Halfway through the long droning funeral, there came a part where everyone would turn to each other and shake hands and say "peace be with you." Well I wasn't aware of this but anyway the guy in front of me in a very crisp looking suit turned around and looked me in the eyes and it was like slow motion, he took my hand and I don't think either of us could speak a word of English at that point. All I could think was "who is this handsome man sitting in front of me and what in God's name do I say to him?"

The celebration of life was immediately after, and I sat a table away from him, not so nonchalantly sneaking glances at him and still wondering who he was. The my grandmother came over and introduced us, saying "this is your second cousin." And once again, slow motion. Like glass shattering in the distance. He told me later that he kept thinking to himself beforw then, "god I hope we aren't related." Hoping doesn't exactly work in those instances though.

After that day we kinda forgot about each other until just a few months later, the husband of the woman who's funeral we met at died, and we saw each other again at his funeral, it playing out almost exactly like the last one, only this time we got to know each other a little better. We had so much in common, we kept making each other laugh and smile something just clicked. So we friended each other on Facebook. 

We started talking as friends, I actually thought he was quite weird at first until I realized he was a teenage boy, and we quickly became best friends so tight that his girlfriend at the time was jealous of me. Looking back, I suppose she had a right to be. Our moms and grandmas always joked that we'd be perfect for each other and would always say "are you sure they're related" or "just how related are they" and joked that we should get married, but as I would later find out, it was 100% just a joke and nothing more.

One night he confessed that he was in love with me and to be honest, I freaked out. For a lot of reasons, because we were both in a relationship, because of our relation which we have decided to just refer to as "the situation", but mostly because I felt the same way. We started flirting a lot more and I felt terrible because I didn't want to be unfaithful to the boy I was dating already who I did really love at the time but somehow I loved my second cousin, this sudden light in my life, light-years more. 

We went on and off talking, we'd flirt for a few months and then I'd tell him we ought to stop because it can't go that far, but then we'd end up going back to each other within a few weeks.

In spring 2017, we both ended our respective relationships for separate reasons, not because of each other at all, in fact we didn't even speak until the fall when I called him from my college dorm for some homework advice. Unencumbered by significant others, we flirted freely, as one might say, and thought about trying to have a relationship. 

It was going amazingly well, I even told my grandmother, the one who introduced us in the first place, about us and she was actually very supportive, and wants only the best for us. It was going smoothly until I tried to tell my mother about it in November, to which she completely freaked out, told me it was just hormones, and even went so far as to threaten me with cutting me off if I didn't end it, saying it was him or her. Well I'm sorry but I'm nineteen and if I can vote then I think I'm capable of deciding who I can and cannot be with, but being dependent still on my mother and her support, I told her I broke it off. I hate lying to my mom, she's my best friend and I tell her everything, except this but I know she'll just react the same way if I try it again. 

So we figured we'd wait until we were both moved out and independent to tell our parents about us so that's a huge thing that they wouldn't be able to hold over our heads as leverage to break us up. But we've only been dating six months and this is killing me. I know we're still young, being only nineteen and twenty years old but we know we're going to get married someday and it just kills me that I have to hide the best thing in my life from the most important people in my life simply because they're small minded. My best friend is the only friend I have that knows about us and our situation and she recommended that I try to find a support group or a forum like this to post on because I guess I just need someone who's been in a similar situation to tell me it's going to be okay, or really any advice at all would be so appreciated because we feel so utterly alone and that's no good for anyone. 

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  • Old Timer

That's a tough situation. I haven't been there, but I've often thought that if my cousin (first cousin, now husband) and I had gotten together when we were younger/ when I was still financially dependent on my dad in college, he would have totally freaked out. The way it went for us, I was 28, financially independent, and living in a different state. I'd had feelings for my cousin forever, but it never occurred to me that a relationship was possible until then. My dad wasn't thrilled when I first told him, but he also knew that he didn't get a say, and he'd had several years to deal with me being an adult and making decisions he didn't always agree with. 

You are absolutely right that you should get to decide who you want to be in a relationship with. Being an adult who is financially dependent on a parent is tough for lots of reasons though, and this is a big one. You shouldn't have to hide this from your mom, but if she's going to threaten your living situation and/or education because of it, it's probably the best option you have right now, and I'm sorry about that. Do you have a sense of why she was so freaked out? She's your mom, so she loves you, and she thinks she's protecting you from making a bad decision. So why does she think it's a bad decision? For example, if she's worried about genetic issues with her future grandkids, you could show her the science that the increased risk of birth defects is extremely small. It doesn't matter if you think you'll want kids or not, since it's just about her fears at this point. 

Like I said, my dad wasn't thrilled when I told him, but over time, he saw how happy I was, and how great we were together, and I talked to him about the reality of the genetic risks to his grandkids and explained that we were consulting doctors and being responsible about it. By the time we got married, about a year and a half after we got together, he was completely over his initial hesitations. I think most parents do, because in the end, what they want is to see is that their kid is having a good life. I bet your mom will too, but as long as you're financially dependent on her, that complicates things. She thinks she still gets to direct part of your future, and it sounds like she's ready to use  whatever leverage she has to do it.  She's put you in a bind, and while her intentions are probably good, it doesn't leave you with a lot of options.

Good luck!

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Well for the most part she's just freaked out because of the whole being related thing, and we're not first cousins but I don't think that makes her any less uneasy. She threw a lot of other things in my face to try to further convince me that we aren't right for each other but she doesn't know him like I do, she knows is what she thinks she's heard through the family grapevine, you know how people talk, ans I'm sure sometimes other people's children look different in comparison to your own, you know? Unfortunately he says his parents probably will react the same way or worse which is why he definitely hasn't tried telling them yet.

She brought up the genetic thing as it pertains to having kids and I told her I'd done plenty of research and looking into it, of course I wouldn't have told her if I hadn't already looked into that aspect and as far as I've seen, second cousins don't have any more of a chance of having children with genetic issues than unrelated couples do. 

Since we didn't meet until we were 16, and we really didn't even know the other existed until that point, it's been impossible for us to see each other as someone we're related to and not just another person we met and found attractive, if that makes any sense. And I said we just can't help it that we don't see each other that way but my mom insists that we can. Believe me, we've tried. I've also tried to tell her that you just can't help who you love and, again, I wouldn't have even risked telling her if I wasn't serious about him, I mean we've been fighting this for three years. 

When it comes down to it, I just feel like she's very small minded and she's very into appearances so my opinion is that she's probably just afraid of what people would say about her if she found out her daughter was dating or engaged/married to her second cousin. Does that make sense? And my mom's always been like that, I don't know how I could possibly change her mind. I wish I could say "well my parents don't control me/I don't care what they think" but I do, I'm very close with my family and it would be devastating if I lost them over this. We figured we'd try to have him over as much as possible and try to indirectly show my mom how good we are together and that we're both adults, to make it easier for when we eventually do tell them I just feel like there's more I could be doing.


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  • Old Timer

It's too bad that your mom is being so closed-minded. It sounds like you have a good plan for handling the situation though, and I doubt you'll lose your family over this. There might be some distance for awhile with specific people, but there's a very good chance they'll learn to accept it over time when they realize they can't change it, and it's not a bad thing. Good luck!

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