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Having A Secret Affair With My Older First Cousin, Need Advice?

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I don't really have anyone else to talk to about this except my therapist, so here it goes.

I'm Annabelle, 20 years old, and I'm having a secret affair with my older first cousin, named Michael. He's 27, and has a 30 year old girlfriend of about 4 years now roughly. I've always had feelings for him before our affair started, but now things are different.

Ever since we kids I've wanted him. He's bright, smart, funny, sweet and caring and beautiful and he makes me feel at peace. And after many years of withholding myself from him, I found out that he has felt the same way about me too.

We came out to each other about our feelings about a week ago actually, and now we've started this rocky affair that nobody knows about. We have fun when we're together, we really enjoy each others company, and to be honest I don't think we've ever been closer. I'm so happy.

But we haven't told anyone, and he has made it very clear that nobody can ever really know about us. We don't exactly have a family that is very open-minded about these sort of relationships, so we don't have much of a choice here than to just keep it hidden. And what's worse is we work for the same company: my uncle's plumbing business (my uncle, who is my cousin's father). Michael works in the field and I work in the office with my aunt and other cousins (Michael's sisters) but occasionally he has to come into the office to drop off paperwork or just to say hi to his mother, and let me tell ya, the tension between us when that happens is overwhelming. Literally we are surrounded by our family every day practically, and although I'm elated to see him and be with him, it doesn't help but make me feel like a twisted, dirty person to be hiding such a big secret from his whole family. We have to be very, very hush-hush about everything. We can't be seen alone together by anyone we know in public. We can't spend the night at either of our homes, because A) He has a roommate and a girlfriend and B) I live with my mother. We can't talk to anyone we know about this problem, either, so we're forced to bottle everything up inside. The only people we can talk to about us is each other, and I can't even text him most of the time. I have to wait for him to text me first, just in case his girlfriend is around. And THEN we have to delete our texts after sending them.

It's obvious, I think, that we're never going to be able to be together freely while we still live with/around our family members and while he still has a girlfriend. THAT is another problem for me: his girlfriend.

I like his girlfriend a lot, we get along very well, and I know it's slightly disconcerting to say but I don't feel any guilt at all for having an affair with my cousin while he's still with her, even though I know I should. I feel very comfortable, and very grateful to just be able to be with him, no matter what the circumstances are.

But then, I'm conflicted. I'm conflicted because the manner of our relationship makes me feel dirty, and sneaky, and like I'm a sick twisted human being who has feelings for her cousin and they're wrong, wrong wrong. He doesn't help much with this because he also believes that our feelings are wrong, despite the fact that we're really happy when we're around each other. We laugh and kiss and hold hands and it's wonderful.

So I think what I need advice about here is, A) how do I cope with having such a sneaky, hidden affair? I love being with my cousin so much, I love everything about him but what we have makes me feel ashamed just because of how we go about it. I want things to be easier, brighter, and more enjoyable between us! Not so secretive and tense and dark. How can I change this?

B) How wrong am I for having a relationship with my cousin while he has a girlfriend? We've talked about his girlfriend lots before, and to be honest it doesn't seem like he really enjoys being with her. They have a lot of ups and downs in their relationship, but we both know that he can't break up with her. At first I thought this was a good thing, that way we'd have more cover for our affair. But now I just feel ashamed. Not just because he's my cousin, but because he has a girlfriend. And I have FEELINGS for him, so of course I'm jealous of her, despite how well we get along as friends. I'm so conflicted in this area.

C) How do come to terms with the reality that me and my cousin will never be able to truly be together? Our families would never, ever, ever let us. As long as we live and work where we do, we will always be a secret, and he's already told me that moving would be a big change for him. Too big to actually consider. So how do I learn to accept the cards fate has dealt me? I can't stop having feelings for him. They won't go away, no matter what I do, and I'm already talking to my therapist about this. I just want to be with him, no matter what the situation is, but I can't get myself to feel 100% comfortable in this taboo affair we have. How do I teach myself to accept it - whether "it" is a secret affair, or nothing at all?

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ok, let me tackle these in random order. is it wrong for you to have an affair with someone who has a 4 year relationship with another woman? yeah, but he's the real dog in all this. i'm glad he isn't married, i'd be raking you over the coals. but he's not. thing is, his girlfriend doesn't deserve to be treated like that by the man she loves.

and neither do you.

you're being used. it doesn't matter what kind of feelings he may or may not have for you, you know he's never going to commit to you. he isn't ending things with his girlfriend and he isn't promising you any kind of future.

is there really any way a woman can ever come to terms with being used by the man she loves? no, i don't think so. women.... or i should say people... want and need to be treated with respect by those they care about. as long as this affair is in the closet, you'll never be treated with the respect you deserve. years ago i wrote a poem when i was in a 'secret' relationship... i likened it to being 'the blow-up doll hidden in the closet of his privacy'. ever feel like that's what you are?

you shouldn't have to cope with this. if you're just coping, then you're dying inside. you don't "cope" in a healthy relationship. not to say that people in healthy relationships don't have to work at it, they do! but that's WORKING at it, together, for the good of both parties. you're not in a healthy relationship, so what you're doing is trying to find a crutch that will help you limp through life emotionally crippled because you're not being cared for the way you should be. and not only is he not treating you with respect, you're not treating yourself with respect either.

the only way to come to terms with all this is to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and leave his sorry butt at the curb. i know that's a whole lot easier said than done, and it may take you a long time to tear yourself away successfully. but you really need to. and once you finally do, you'll HEAL... and you'll heal pretty quickly. you'll be surprised at how content life can be without him in it. sure, you'll miss him, it will hurt, but you'll start living again. without that crutch, and without the emotional limp.

and the sooner you do it, the better.

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LadyC is totally correct.  It is hard on you and we have deep sympathy for you.  He is treating you, his gf and the entire family in an abusive, selfish way.  If this situation. as is likely, becomes known to the rest of the family, you can be sure he will blame you and take no responsibility.

He deserves to be dumped both by you AND his gf - you both deserve better.

There is light in the future for you once you get through the pain.



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I appreciate these opinions, and if my cousin were just a normal guy I hadn't known my whole life and was related to then I'd be agreeing whole-heartedly, but I'm not.

We've known each other since we were kids. Our feelings for each other occurred out of circumstance and are just something that we're dealing with, it's not just a mutual friends-with-benefits sort of thing. We haven't even been intimate yet. And although that is definitely something we've talked about, it's obvious that we're both too hesitant and afraid to let that happen. We can barely even hold hands together without freaking out about it. The most we do is talk.

So how is he using me? What is he using me for?

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And also, I feel that I should note that if my cousin did break up with his girlfriend, we still wouldn't be able to have a proper, exclusive relationship together because our families would tear us apart. We could lose our jobs, and be disowned by everyone we know. The only choice we have really is to be sneaky with each other. I just don't know how to accept that or move on from it. I know that if anything, if he broke up with his girlfriend, it'd probably just make it more likely for us to be found out and for everything to hit the fan. Staying with his girlfriend might be beneficial to our affair. But I really don't think that's a good thing.

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sorry, i was under the impression the two of you had been intimate. that IS what an affair usually means.

if you WERE to become intimate, everything i already said would probably become the reality. but what you said is fear talking. you wouldn't lose your jobs. people don't get fired because they date a cousin. as for family, about half of all families are not nearly as objectionable as couples usually think. those that do object usually get over it given time. those that don't should be ashamed of themselves.

i hope that the two of you do not allow this to become physical... especially as long as he's with this other girl. it would be so unfair to her. consider how you'd feel if you were in your shoes, and then rise above becoming the kind of person who would knowingly do something that you know would hurt someone else for no reason other than personal gain.

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Sorry, I should've noted that in the original post. I understand that in a normal business setting a person wouldn't be fired for dating their cousin, but this is a family business. My boss is his mother, and my coworkers are his sisters. Knowing my family, I just don't think they'd be as understanding as anyone ideally should be about this sort of thing.

Yes, you're right about the intimacy thing. I'm skeptical about that whole issue, not quite sure it'll actually happen, and that'd be for the best if it didn't.

Thank you for the replies. I think I'll talk to my therapist about this a little more, and hopefully come to terms with a solution.

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Here is what sticks out to me from your posts:

and also, I feel that I should note that if my cousin did break up with his girlfriend, we still wouldn't be able to have a proper, exclusive relationship together because our families would tear us apart. We could lose our jobs, and be disowned by everyone we know. The only choice we have really is to be sneaky with each other.

You are 20 years old, he is 30, your family does not get a say in how you live your lives.  There are other jobs available out in the world; don't let your family blackmail you with fear of losing your job. You are never obligated to live a life of secrecy or one that is not satisfactory to you simply because your family is controlling and overbearing.  Putting the cousin thing aside, you need to decide to live your life on your terms and not feel beholden to what your family determines is the right path for your life.

That being said - this guy sounds like a loser.  The fact that he is your cousin and that you have known him your whole life does not change the fact that he is acting like a jerk.  He is being dishonest with his girlfriend and dishonest with you.  Trust me, you do not want to be romantically involved with someone you have to hide from the world.  If he was openly embracing the possibility of a relationship with you, I'd tell you to "go for it".  But he's not.

So, to answer your questions:

1. You cope with having a sneaky, secret affair by bringing it to the light.  If you can't do that, then you get out of the relationship.

2.  Yes, it's wrong to keep seeing him while he has a girlfriend.  Trust me, you don't want to ever be "the other woman"

3.  You come to terms with you and your cousin never truly being able to be together by walking away from him.  Listen, if he was willing to invest in a relationship with you and you two were having this wonderful, romance, I'd tell you to tell your family to go blow it out their ears and the two of you should live happily ever after.  But since he has already told you that he isn't willing to come out in the open about your relationship, 

he has made it very clear that nobody can ever really know about us
, you would be wise to walk away from this one.

Go back to school, get a college degree, get some vocational training; do something to make yourself more employable and then go find a job elsewhere so you don't have to ever run into him at work. 

I'm glad you have not been intimate with him yet; it will make walking away from him much, much easier.  And you do need to walk away from him.

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  • 4 years later...
Guest CausaMortis

I know this topic was posted back in 2014, but I feel it necessary to respond despite the fact that it’s now April 2019.

A couple of months ago, my girlfriend of more than 4 years admitted to having a sexual relationship with her cousin the entire time we’ve been together. She had been cheated on by her ex-husband early in 2014 (she claims it was just him kissing another woman 2-3 times, but it’s close he was having sex with this other woman). This devastated her. He told her in late May 2014 that he wanted a separation, but at the time, they couldn’t afford to maintain separate residences (they also had two teenage children). Over the next several months, the trauma of her husband’s infidelity hit her hard. She starved herself and lost a lot of weight because she couldn’t eat. In October 2014, her aunt died. She went to her funeral and reconnected with her cousin, with whom she had always been close since childhood. He was in bad shape due to his mother dying, and she was still suffering from her husband’s infidelity. After the service, they drank a fair amount of alcohol, and she went back to his hotel room and ended up having sex with him. In November 2014, she contacted me on Facebook. She and I had been close friends in high school, and I had had strong feelings for her (bothback then and throughout the years). More than 20 years had passed since we’d been in touch, and it took virtually no time at all for my feelings for her to be rekindled. Since high school, I had been married for 12 years and had three children before getting divorced in 2008. After my divorce, I decided not to become involved with anyone at all, basically living a celibate, isolated lifestyle for many years. Then she contacted me. She is the only person I would have considered having any kind of relationship with. And it only took about three weeks of texting back and forth for us to begin our relationship.

i knew nothing about her sexual encounter with her cousin. We both agreed that it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to get together until she and her husband separated. But in January 2015, she spent an entire weekend with her cousin in his hotel room during his business trip from Texas (she lives in Northern Virginia, and he makes trips to Pennsylvania and Maryland 2 to 4 times per year). During this trip, they had sex multiple times (I would find out later), yet she texted me multiple times during her visit with him. In early February 2015, she physically separated from her husband; he moved out. In March 2015, she came to visit me in Georgia, physically consummating our relationship. We began seeing each other about once a month for the next couple of years. We were, I believed, in a committed relationship. She claimed to believe in monogamy, that infidelity was one of the most disrespectful things one partner can do to another, and that if one partner wanted to have a relationship with someone else, the respectful thing to do is to break it off with their current partner before beginning a relationship with someone else. We both agreed on all of these things. However, she was having a routine sexual affair with her cousin the entire time.

I had put it together by 2016. She had told me enough disparate facts for me to deduce that she was routinely having sex with her cousin. Let me state for the record: despite all of the lies and deception, she is a very kind, decent, wonderful person. That’s why when I confronted her about this affair and she denied it, it was easy for me to believe she was telling the truth despite what my intuition was screaming at me. She was embarrassed, ashamed, and felt guilty about her incestuous affair.

In April 2017, I moved from Georgia back to Northern Virginia to live with her. She continued to make routine trips up to where her cousin was staying during his business trips. Each time, she’d be gone for about half a day or more, and each time, she would have sex with him (intercourse and oral). And every time, my intuition would scream at me that they were having sex. I would mention it, half-joking, and she would say I was delusional, paranoid, and jealous (even though I have never been any of those things).

Then in February 2019, she went to see him again. While she was in his hotel room, we were texting. It was light conversation, and I again made a joking reference to her having sex with him. She had an uncharacteristic angry response, saying she didn’t understand where my coitusing delusions came from. I then listed a 9 point list of various facts that led to an irrefutable conclusion. She replied in a very angry way, and that was the end of our text conversation. I learned a couple of days later that she had sex with him again (for the third time that visit) after I texted her.

She admitted the affair a couple of days later, but not all of it. She lied even while admitting the truth. It has been a couple of months, and she has changed her story several times, each time admitting more and more. It’s difficult for her due to her shame of having a sexual and emotional affair with her cousin (who is himself married with children).

As a victim of infidelity with my girlfriend’s affair with her cousin, I will tell you that it is the infidelity, lies, and deception that is far worse than the incestuous component. But for her, all of it is bad. If her family learned the truth, she would feel completely devastated. Her family is close and very supportive, but she wouldn’t be able to take the shame she would feel of them knowing what she had done. Thus, I can’t tell anyone about this and therefore am totally alone in this. I just have to take it in silence. It isn’t fair — I have never cheated on anyone I have ever been with — but life isn’t fair. But my advice to anyone considering infidelity is not to do it. If you are in a relationship and have feelings for someone else, break it off with your partner before starting anything with someone else. Or if you’re single and the other person is in a relationship, tell them you won’t start any kind of relationship with them until they have ended it with their current partner. 

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Why can't you tell anyone, are you close to her family?  You could find a therapist and tell him/her.

And by the way, cousin-love is not incestous.  Read the website and learn more about that.

It's too bad that you're girlfriend was a cheater and a liar. Next time, listen to that screaming intuition.

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Guest no one specific

l don't feel like he is anymore guilty than you are. l strongly disagree with some of the other users above. Yes, it is wrong that he has a girlfriend. But, you knew it before hand. And obviously so did he. I don't think that you should see it as a fact that he is using you. Now, l am not saying this is right or wrong. But be very careful of how you decide to handle this. There is tons of opinions  on the internet. But truly,  you will only be able to get the right answers from someone that's in the same situation as you are.

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