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Hi. I really don't know how to start this off. I'm 23 and I think I'm falling for my 19 year old Second Cousin. I've been browsing here for maybe a month and this community seems like a group of decent individuals. But it seems like most here have spent a good deal of time with their cousins but until recently, I barely knew mine. This story might run long, so you might want to get some chips or something. Oh, and I'll be using pseudonyms for privacy's sake.  Anyway, here goes...

    This all started with my best friend (who we'll call James) and me getting an apartment together. His old roommate moved out of state and I was already hunting for a place and it just seemed easier. After about 6 weeks, he invited his sister (Anna) and her friend (my cousin). When I walked through the door, my jaw dropped. This was the most gorgeous girl I'd ever laid eyes on. Of course, this is where it starts to get complicated.

    I knew she was my cousin as I'd met her once or twice, but it had been years since I'd last seen her. Given that I had guests, and I was attracted to her, I was warm and inviting. That's how I learned she had SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). She was very, very quiet. Getting close to someone with SAD, let alone a cousin, was gonna be tough if not impossible.

    We had the girls over several times. I thought that if I got to know my cousin better, she'd be less mysterious, less sexy. But the more I learned about her, the more I loved about her. My roomate, however, expressed I interest. The thought of them being together made me sick, but when he tried to make a connection, she said she liked him but didn't want to be with him. I kept working through her walls, but then I got thrown a curve ball. Anna, through round about means, asked her brother to ask me out. Of course, I said no. But she was hurt, even though I tried to be gentle.

    After a while we worked it all out, but it felt like I wasn't getting any closer to my cousin. Finally, I decided that she must not feel the same way, and that the best I could do was try to be good to her and keep my feelings to myself. Then, last night happened.

    Anna, my cousin, and I decided to play volleyball. James was uninterested and my cousin said, "He's no fun." (Score!) It gave me a chance to show off my athleticism by going 1 v. 2 against the girls. In spite of the handicap, I performed well. We're both competitive, so it was a ton of fun.

    After the game, my cousin and I were laughing and cutting up, but Anna seemed distracted. We went back in and played some board games. Anna then made some comments that suggested that my cousin and I were interested in each other but came off jealous. This was the first time someone else noticed the chemistry between us.

    Now I'm beginning to think that maybe my cousin does have some feelings for me. But I feel like Anna is getting in the way. Then there's my roommate, who is interested in my cousin. The whole thing is a mess. I have no clue what to do about all this. I want to get closer to my cousin, see how she feels, but it seems impossible.

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I'm not sure why you're worried about Anna. You are not dating her and you have no obligation to her. Are you ting to let another person dictate your life?

Look, if you want to know if your cuz likes you then you're gonna have to ask her out and get to know her. If she doesn't do well in social settings, then you're probably better off spending time alone with her anyway. Either pursue her or don't. But you will never know if the two of the are compatible if you don't take some initiative.

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Thanks for the comment, that's good advice. However, I skipped over the problem. The problem here isn't my own insecurity. People with social anxiety can attach to others and become dependent. Anna and my cousin have a codependent relationship. My cousin won't go out with anyone who isn't approved by Anna. And I imagine she might be a bit against the idea. It's not as if I have an aversion to a more take-charge attitude, that's where I'm most comfortable. But I don't think that's necessarily the best choice here. Still, you've given sound advice and it may come to that eventually.

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Are you perhaps worried that since Anna is essentially pissed at you for turning her down, that she might try and ruin it for you and your cousin?

It's a tricky situation you've gotten into, indeed.

I know you said you don't want to just jump in and start bugging your cousin to go out, so my advice would be to try and continue getting to know her, and possibly try and smooth things over with Anna as best you can, so her chances of messing your situation are minimalized.

The more comfortable your cousin gets with you, the more likely you'll be able to gauge her possible interest.

Keep us posted.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's been a while since I last asked for advice, but I need it now. I took ElizabethMango's advice and kept working to get closer to my cousin. And it worked. Tonight I found out that she has feelings for me. I'm overjoyed, but I wasn't happy with how I found out. My cousin and Anna got into a huge fight while I was at my martial arts class. It came to blows. Tensions were high when I got in but I diffused the situation with humor. They made up, but I have a new problem. Anna's infatuation for me has become full blown unrequited love. Anna is still my friend and I've been upfront the entire time: from rejecting her advances to encouraging her to date guys. Nothing seems to break her interest in me. I'm ready to take things with my cousin to the next level, but I don't want to end their friendship doing it. I also don't want to hurt Anna any worse because I see her as a friend. I could really use some advice. Thanks guys.

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Thanks. I sat down with Anna yesterday and explained to her how I felt. I told her that I valued her friendship but I didn't have romantic feelings for her. She cried a lot. God, I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm losing everything. I love my cousin dearly. I still want to tell her so. But it seems selfish. Don't know which way is up... I feel like no matter what I do, someone I care about will end up getting hurt. And if I do nothing, it'll destroy me...

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In any multiagent scenario (including every form of dating), no agent controls all the outcomes--it is jointly determined. You can take responsibility for your actions, but not for outcomes that were determined by another agent's actions. Continue to treat Anna with kindness, but don't feel responsible for her negative emotions. (The recent YA novel, /The Fault In Our Stars/, actually has a really perspective on this that I like--when Isaac is crying and raging over losing both his remaining eye and his girlfriend at the same time, Gus supports him, plays video games with him, encourages him to smash up chairs, but does so cheerfully and while remaining himself, as opposed to getting caught up in Isaac's emotions. I thought that was a really nice model of how to grieve with someone who's grieving.)

And on a completely separate note, at this point there is just no reason not to ask your cousin out for some one-on-one conversation, you're second cousins not first, and obviously interested in each other. Maybe it will go somewhere, maybe it won't, but if she's actually getting in physical fights with her best friend over you there is clearly no scenario where she reacts negatively to learning that you're interested in her as well--which she probably already suspects.

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Hey everyone. I've got a lot to say and it might be a bit scattered. I've just gone through one hell of a roller coaster night.

ccmdw45, you have no idea how much telling me I wasn't responsible for Anna's feelings helped. I think I needed someone to tell me that, to show me that loving someone isn't selfish.

Last night, I made up my mind to tell my cousin how I felt. I did some of the boldest flirting I had yet via text messaging, but I didn't tell her. I wanted to say it in person. But first I had to tell someone the truth: James.

So I told him the truth. And he accepted it like only a true friend could. He's concerned about what our families will think, but he's incredibly supportive. I'm truly blessed to have a friend like him. With that out of the way, I approached my cousin.

I was nervous and scared but I kept remembering something I read here: A love that truly moves your heart is worth fighting for. So I told her, shaking hands and all, how much she means to me. I told her that no matter what, she'd still be my friend. Her response: "I just don't want to hurt Anna." I told her that neither did I. But that she had to decide for herself whether or not the way we felt was worth fighting for. I told her that she could take her time, that I wasn't going anywhere, that I wasn't putting her on the spot. So she walks straight in the house and tells Anna.

Man what a reaction. Anna was hurt badly. She felt betrayed and hurt. The two of them started fighting and Anna wouldn't speak to me at all. I didn't know what to do, so I took a minute to pray. In the end, I pretty much begged Anna to hear me out. I finally got a chance. So I told her the truth. I was honest about everything. I held nothing back. And after a few more hours of fighting, she gave me the first light hearted comment of the night: "I hate you. And I don't. But I still hate you." It took a bit longer, but the two of them ended up hugging and all four of us were laughing and happy.

I can't thank everyone here enough. Without this site and the support of a few good people, I never could have found the strength to try, let alone succeed and still hold the four of us together. I know that the battle is only just beginning, but my girl and I finally have the room to explore one another, to find out where all this leads. In the end, that's all I wanted. A chance at a brighter future.

This site is a gift from God. Thank you, everyone. I'll still be around. Maybe one day I can help some hapless fool find his way the way you all helped me. Thanks again. Goodnight and God Bless

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