Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “I Asked If He Was Sleeping With His Sister. Now His Family Hates Me.”

My boyfriend of nine months, Mark (26), has a sister, “Rachel” (30), and one evening while we were all at at their parents’ place she went on and on and on about how sexy she thinks her brother is, which was weird. We — my boyfriend, his sister, her boyfriend of four years, and I — left the parents’ place and went to the grandmother’s place, and, while we were there, I noticed Mark rubbing Rachel’s thigh for a bit and then pull her legs onto his lap, slide his hand up her pant leg, and rub her calf. I was TOTALLY freaked out. I’ve seen him slap her butt a few times, too, and once when we went camping he stood there with his arm around her. She calls him “Marky Doo” while she calls her boyfriend “Doo.”

Later, he traveled to where she lives and then they went camping together. Mark sent me a picture of his sister cooking for him, saying: “I’ve got her trained, too. Right, babe?” and I may have been drinking when I said: “Yeah, well she thinks you’re sexy, so why wouldn’t she cook for you?” That started a whole thing and I called him and he put me on speaker phone without my knowing and I may have said, “Well, are you sleeping with her or what?” I instantly regretted it. But it was out.

When he came home, we were fine for a week until his sister told him I needed to call her because she had hurt feelings. So I did, and she told me that she can never be normal around her brother now, that I need to talk to someone, that I had lost her trust, and that my apology wasn’t good enough. So the next week I talked to a therapist who agreed with me that the situation was bizarre. So I called the sister, told her I went to someone, and sent her a picture of the invoice (although I didn’t get into what had been talked about).

Then a week later, Mark says I need to smooth things over with the parents. Soooo, a week later I met the mom for dinner. She said that I had wrecked their family dynamic, that I had wrecked the bond between her youngest and oldest, and that she would like me to see someone because I had basically compared the family to pedophiles and rapists, which I had never said! I did say the parents turn a blind eye to the touching, and she wasn’t impressed with that. She said that she doesn’t understand why I find this an issue. I asked why no one can see why it makes me uncomfortable or see that my family is very different from theirs, and she said there’s nothing wrong with their touching and that I need to make it right with the sister. She ripped me a new one that evening and I couldn’t even eat my dinner.

Everyone I’ve asked has said this is messed up, and I’ve asked people in New Zealand, Ireland, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and I’ve asked my family, friends, and a therapist — they all say it’s weird.

So what do I do now? My boyfriend and I are fine. We’ve had a rough five weeks but he’s stayed (he hasn’t had my back with the family drama, but oh well). We’ve fought over everything, but we’re still together — we’re even going on a trip in a few days to get away. But how do I handle his family from here? Please help! — Third wheel

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

97 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine July 15, 2016, 8:20 am

    You had at least semi legitimate cause to ask if he was banging his sister. Rather than being like ‘woah-we’re touchy-feely and close but nothing like THAT’ he put you on speaker and had you prostrate yourself for his entire family. Why would YOU want to continue having anything to do with these people? This whole thing is bizarre and that ‘she’s trained like you’ comment was gross. Why invest more time in this guy?

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    • avatar

      Kate July 15, 2016, 8:38 am

      Haha, I was going to make the same points JC just did. +1 on everything she said. He sounds like a creep and the family sounds like a nightmare. Are they rich or something?

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    • avatar

      Slanonymous July 15, 2016, 8:43 am

      Spot on, re: ‘she’s trained like you.’ I’ve found that what people joke about is extremely telling about who they are as a person, what they value (or devalue), and what they really think about things.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes July 15, 2016, 8:23 am

    Run away. Seriously. Why do you need other ppl to confirm anything here????
    *
    Let’s take the creepy attraction thing out of this- say, for instance, that you said something nasty about the sister and didnt realize she overheard it. Here, you have been dragged into some kind of summit with the mother, you had to “prove” you went to a therapist to the sister, you argue constantly with your BF…. I just dont get why you want to stay in this relationship. At all.
    *
    Keep going to that therapist after you ditch the BF.
    *
    There is no scenario where a sister raving about the sexiness of her brother is “ok” or “acceptable.” Your instincts are correct about this. And the leg rubbing? Ugh, I cant even keep thinking about this. Back to my first statement- run away. Yesterday.

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  • avatar

    Ron July 15, 2016, 8:27 am

    You and your boyfriend are not fine. This extended effort to make you grovel and apologize for asking your bf a reasonable question in response to all the very unusual behavior you observed between him and his sister is abusive. Putting you on speaker so his sister could hear your delicate conversation with your bf is abusive. The parents seem concerned to cover up the way too intimate relationship between their children. For you to have to grovel before them is too much. It is quite possible that your bf’s relationship with his sister is not full-on incest, but there was enough strangeness that your asking your bf about it was reasonable. The error you made, and it was a big one, was to have such a sensitive conversation over the phone, rather than in person. First, you want to see his face when he answers you. Second you want to assure that it is just a two-way conversation. I think your relationship is doomed. Either you will allow yourself to be beaten down and ignore or speak of as normal the odd relationship your bf has with his sister or things will always be extremely awkward with his family, with much bullying of you. Probably all of this. You are already jealous and left doubting your gut reactions to what you observe. It really is time to MOA. This will not end well for you. Your bf hasn’t supported you one iota in all of this. He appears to be gaslighting plus bullying you. Are you so sold on him to accept this manipulation?

    BTW, a lot of what you observed is not all that unusual. Taken together more unusual. YOur gut reaction is what is real to your. Your bf basically attacked you, rather than giving you the explanation you deserved and needed. When he did that and with the persistent attacks, your relationship is dead. You are now into family CYA time, so that when the two of you ultimately break up, you will have apologized enough to everybody under the sun, that you will not be able to tell anyone about your ex’s relationship with his sister.

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  • avatar

    MissDre July 15, 2016, 8:30 am

    I really don’t think the relationship between the brother and sister is weird. Some families are just close and touchy like that. I don’t really understand why him rubbing her calf is cause for a freak out.
    .
    Also, I can totally picture myself saying that my brother is sexy – not in the sense that I think he’s sexy, but acknowledging that a lot of ladies are into him and he’s a good looking dude. Yep, I can definitely imagine that coming out of my mouth, and my family would know I was teasing or just complimenting him. But I suppose somebody from outside the family who isn’t used to our dynamic might hear that and be like “WTF” ?
    .
    I can also completely understand his family being hurt and embarrassed by what you said, but all their drama about you wrecking the bond between brother and sister, that’s what seems a bit odd to me. Telling you to see a therapist is overkill. Maybe you should just MOA if this is making you so uncomfortable.

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    • avatar

      MissDre July 15, 2016, 8:38 am

      Reading some of the other comments… apparently I’m the only one who doesn’t think the brother/sister relationship is weird?

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 8:48 am

        Meh it would weird me out emotionally, but intellectually I understand some families are like this and nothing is off for them, that’s just how they are. I don’t think I’d jump straight to incest. But it’s not relevant whether it’s true or not, these guys are done.

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      • avatar

        Ashley July 15, 2016, 9:28 am

        Sometimes we have to take them at their word that something is weird. They had the gut feeling. And in retelling an incident, so much gets lost-the glances body language the tone in their voice. We could go on forever about whether or not it’s creepy, to her it was and we should go from there.

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      • avatar

        Essie July 15, 2016, 9:35 am

        I’m not sure, either. Some families are touchy, some aren’t.

        The key thing is that the LW is wildly uncomfortable with how the siblings act together. You’re not going to change decades-old family dynamic as the newish girlfriend, so if it’s making you that unhappy, you move on.

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      • avatar

        keyblade July 15, 2016, 9:47 am

        I do think there is value to having a discussion when one is unclear about things in a relationship. It is true that deciding to move on is usually based on an internal discussion, but before it got to that point, the letter writer could have brought up that the sister telling the letter writer she thought the boyfriend was sexy felt uncomfortable. She could have admitted that she was jealous and associated certain overtures as intimate. It might have been a difficult discussion to bring up, and there is no way to know if the boyfriend would have been willing to have such a conversation. It’s hard to be “accused” of wrong-doing. It’s less uncomfortable to listen to someone talking about their feelings.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 11:05 am

        Yeah it really doesn’t matter whether or not what the behavior of these two siblings is objectively over the line or not – the LW is highly bothered by it. And frankly, changing family dynamics is just something an outsider can really change, in most instances. If after only nine months you are this bothered by the family relationships of your partner, it’s just time to move on.

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      • avatar

        MissDre July 15, 2016, 9:45 am

        I’m also going by the fact that we’ve seen SO many letters from LWs who are jealous of their boyfriend’s sister and it just seems silly. Are there really that many inappropriate brother/sister relationships out there and they all need to write in to Wendy for help?

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes July 15, 2016, 10:25 am

        Look- the pulling up of the pant leg and rubbing the calf AFTER the thigh rubs is what get me. AND the going on about his sexiness (in front of her BF, I think too..?). AND the strange comments about pedophiles/rapists from mom. And sister saying SHE cant trust LW anymore.
        *
        I also am not from an especially touchy-feely family, but all the circumstances together here, is just creepy as all h*ll.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros July 15, 2016, 12:25 pm

        I know touchy-feely families, but they don’t usually rub each other’s thighs. To me, that’s what made this different from people who write in because their bf hugs his sister too much or “sounds” flirty. Even if a family is touchy-feely, they often have boundaries and certain body parts that aren’t usually touched by non-couples.

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      • avatar

        Sketchee July 15, 2016, 12:49 pm

        Describing a sibling as sexy when there’s literally any other word that could be used? It seems to be a different set of boundaries than I would be comfortable for me.

        This family dynamic Goss beyond that. Their inability to let go, the rumors and gossip and blame. This is on a small scale. LW has to seriously consider whether this is something that can be tolerated long term. This family and all of the people in it existed this way long before this happened.

        If it’s not a long term match, MOA

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    • avatar

      Ron July 15, 2016, 8:52 am

      MissDre —

      The individual observations aren’t that strange and don’t say incest exists. Taken as a whole definitely seem weird to me and I am from a close sibling family. The weirdest and most damning evidence to me is the EXTREME over-reaction from all involved, from her bf to the sister to the parents and the relentless push to make LW think it is all her warped mind and groundless suspicion. A normal sib relationship does not produce this concerted family response, when a question from a SO is asked. This is an emergency, PR, beat down the brushfire, because we’ve been found out, response.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 8:56 am

        Uh – how would you react if you and a sibling were accused of incest? That’s a pretty huge accusation there, I don’t know how many people would have a calm and measured reaction. Everyone’s reaction to her is the one part that makes sense to me.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse July 15, 2016, 9:39 am

        Were they really accused? She said she was drunk and he pushed her into asking if they were banging. That doesn’t sound like a legit accusation to me. If she wasn’t on speakerphone, this wouldn’t even be a thing.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 9:54 am

        Alchohol emboldened her, it’s already a thought kicking around in her head.

        There relationship does sound weird, I’d probably be bothered by it too. Is it incest? Idk, anythings possible I guess. But if I was with someone whose relationship with their sibling made me so uncomfortable I was questioning whether there was something sexual going on, I would leave.

        At best, even if they’re are just particularly close, it makes her uncomfortable, and is this guy is going to change his life long relationship with his sister for someone he’s been with less than a year? Doubtful.

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      • avatar

        keyblade July 15, 2016, 9:59 am

        He might have knocked off the spanking and reeled in the massages. But the way he reacted to the drunk phone call leads me to think he isn’t one for mature compromise, offering support or reassurance, or asserting his own feelings and limits in a calm and respectful manner.

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      • avatar

        Ale July 15, 2016, 10:15 am

        I was once accused of incest or something like that. Because my cousin had a girlfriend who told him that she thought that he and I were in love because he cared for me. And we never touch each other like the LW sister here! I just brushed it off and let it be. I just thought, well she’s crazy.

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes July 15, 2016, 10:30 am

        I totally understand that reaction.
        *
        If someone ever accused me of sleeping with my brother, I believe I would respond with total disbelief, and be INCREDIBLY offended, but after cooling off (like, within a few hours, tops), I would be able to brush it off/laugh at it- BECAUSE IT IS LAUGHABLE. The weird reactions and responses here is just… outlandish.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 10:45 am

        I have no idea what I would do if my brothers’ girlfriend’s accused of sleeping with one of my brothers. There’s probably a whole range of appropriate reactions – to me, this family’s reaction as one.

        What if that someone who accused you wasn’t just “someone” it was a person who presumably might be around and you’d have to deal with on a regular basis? What if your accuser kept dating your brother? Wouldn’t you want that person out of the picture – might that out strain on your relationship with your brother? Or want a legitimate apology from them? Wouldn’t you be further offended if they further insinuated to your parents that they looked the other way when you were “behaving” inappropriately? Wouldn’t you maybe tell them they are crazy – or suggest therapy?

        I mean I don’t know, again I haven’t experienced this situation firsthand so i don’t know how I would react. But to me, I can see the family’s response as a reasonable one. Maybe not the way EVERYONE would respond, but a feasible and normal reaction to being accused of incest. To me it does not stick out as a piece of evidence in support of incest.

        Like there’s plenty of weird stuff going on in this situation, I just don’t think the family’s response is weird.

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      • avatar

        Ale July 15, 2016, 11:27 am

        For me, of course I disliked that person even more than before. But I didn’t have a big reaction because I thought, oh well, it’s going to end anyways. I wasn’t offended becase I thought it was just stupid to imply something like that. She and my cousin ended things soon after.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 11:33 am

        I wrote a response below – but my family had a similarish situation in which one of my brother’s girlfriend’s accused my mother of hitting her. Which was crazy not only because it would be totally be out of character but because she claimed it happened the first weekend they met when the two of them were literally never alone together.

        And our family reacted like this family. We wanted her out – because what kind of crazy could accuse someone else of something so horrible? Real crazy we later found.

        I mean, the LW could be right, I don’t know I’m not there.

        But I can absolutely see how the family might react like they are assuming nothing is going on.

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      • avatar

        Ron July 15, 2016, 11:56 am

        No. Your family didn’t react like this other family. That’s one of the points which stands out in this story. Your family wanted the woman who made the accusation gone. They didn’t insist she see a therapist. They didn’t insist on meetings with groveling apologies to each family member. Presumably your brother did not continue dating her and arrange a camping trip weeks later. That is very different. Also, apparently LW saw what she saw and the family is not disputing the facts, merely the interpretation.

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        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 1:26 pm

        It’s not exactly the same no – but it’s of a similar enough vein that I see it as a reasonable reaction to a baseless accusation. Am I correct? Maybe, maybe not. But I don’t think the family’s reaction is so out of place that it is suspicious.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 1:59 pm

        Also if I’m not mistaken the camping trip came before the accusation? I don’t think the boyfriend has suggested any more social get togethers since that happened.

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      • avatar

        Ron July 15, 2016, 3:02 pm

        Okay, she doesn’t say this is a camping trip, but says that after 5 weeks, she and bf are still together and going on a trip together.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant July 15, 2016, 3:07 pm

        Yeah, I agree it’s super weird they’re still together.

        It’s either a) he’s sleeping with his sister and I don’t see how anyone could ever get past that, or b) she just leveled some pretty nasty accusations against him and his entire family.

        And either way his family clearly has no compunction showing their displeasure about the two of them staying together.

        Why either of them wants to stay with the either, I don’t know. Their own relationship is super f’ed up.

        But then again, my own brother stayed with his crazy ex-girlfriend after a couple of months after she accused are mother of hitting her, so peeps be crazy I guess.

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        ele4phant July 15, 2016, 3:10 pm

        *my own brother stayed together a couple of months after his crazy ex girlfriend accused our mother of hitting her.

        And yes, our family never called crazy ex-girlfriend over and lectured her (they did leave out of state and were visiting when the incident happened), but we’re PNWesterners who are super non-confrontational. I could see another family that’s less conflict adverse trying to shut shit down before it goes any further.

        Or maybe they are gas-lighting her. I don’t know, I just don’t think on the face of it their reaction is indicative of anything.

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      • avatar

        csp July 15, 2016, 9:08 am

        Yea, if I was accused of incest, I would have a hard time welcoming that person back into my life.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse July 15, 2016, 9:40 am

        Right, you wouldn’t. No one would. The weirdness is the whole family keeps rehashing it and bringing it up. Why are they still together? It’s bizarre.

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        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 9:58 am

        It is weird that the boyfriend didn’t dump her immediately. Either your partner accused you of something horrific, or they called it right and the gig is up.

        But I’m not sure why she is sticking around either, so the LW and boyfriends relationship sounds pretty screwed up too. Everyone in this situation has a pretty f’ed up relationship.

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      • avatar

        Ale July 15, 2016, 10:17 am

        That is what I find the weirdest. Why would the boyfriend insist on her? Why would the family insist on her seeing someone like a therapist to solve things and not just kick her out of their lives?

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        Ron July 15, 2016, 11:52 am

        There is really only one logical reason for them to force her to visit a therapist. If she blabs about their family, they will say she’s crazy and use the therapist visit as ‘proof’.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 1:28 pm

        Did they tell her to go see a therapist sincerely or was it more like “you are absolutely being crazy – you need help”?

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. July 15, 2016, 9:32 am

        I have to say that I do think the relationship is a little weird, but my family is not touchy-feely, so maybe it’s me. But I would be weirded-out by it. Having said that, I do agree with Ron that the family’s reaction seems way over the top. It would make me wonder what they were so desperate to hide.

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    • avatar

      Wendy (not Wendy) July 15, 2016, 9:36 am

      Yeah, if we assume (human nature being what it is) that this is the absolute worst anyone could say about that brother/sister dynamic and in truth it probably isn’t actually that strong, I don’t think it’s that weird. This would be the furthest thing from my mind or my brothers’ minds, but I remember once commenting to a friend that I should let my brothers try to fix me up with someone because they’d probably do a good job of it, and my friend thought that was creepy. (I don’t see why, my brothers know me fairly well, care about my well-being, and wouldn’t want to bring someone awful into the family, so…) If that same friend saw how my brother and I occasionally squeeze into the same recliner to watch TV if all the chairs are full, or I might put my head on his shoulder on the couch—gad, it’s even starting to sound creepy to ME, just because I’M trying to spin it that way! And there is zilch weirdness there.

      But the speaker-phone thing is all wrong.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl July 15, 2016, 8:30 am

    LW – Of course you are not going to be well received when you asked your BF if he was in an incestuous relationship with his sister. Never mind that their behavior is creepy and inappropriate, incest is a very BIG taboo and socially repugnant. I think this is a breaking point. You are uncomfortable with their relationship, the entire family knows that you are uncomfortable with the relationship, and it is not likely to change. Cut bait and get out now.

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  • avatar

    Essie July 15, 2016, 8:30 am

    Yeah, well, his family is right in that once you accuse them of incest, there’s no going back from that. I don’t see how your relationship with them would ever recover.

    This entire situation is ridiculous. If you really think there’s something inappropriate going on with his sister, why are you still with him? Walk away.

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    Slanonymous July 15, 2016, 8:40 am

    What stands out to me about this story is the fact that the entire family has reacted, and reacted strongly. And what that says is, YES there is an issue, YES there is an issue, YES there is an issue. Otherwise, why ANY reaction at all? If there weren’t something inappropriate or slightly weird happening, all members of the family, starting with the boyfriend and sister, and then the parents, would laugh off the implications and move on with life. People might roll their eyes a bit but because it is so ridiculous, everyone would move on in a heartbeat.

    I think it kind of doesn’t matter whether the boyfriend and sister have actually done it or not, I think it’s more about the fact that there is an inappropriate nature to their relationship that is too flirty, and everyone in that family knows it. But everyone is so invested in keeping it a nonissue because if someone addresses it, it brings up such ugly implications. It’s like when a cheating spouse reacts with anger and rage when the other partner brings up evidence of cheating. If the spouse weren’t cheating in the first place, they wouldn’t have reason to violently defend themselves. They’d have the space to gently set the record straight.

    The LW bears the brunt of everyone’s anger because she is disrupting the status quo … and rightly so. Stick to your guns and observations, LW, and don’t let ANYONE talk you into the idea that you are ‘crazy’ for what you’ve seen and witnessed. I think this family will try anything to silence you and distort what you’ve said, because again, the implications of the truth here are so ugly and embarrassing for them. Don’t let them get to you. Keep close to your own integrity. Your BF may not be a bad guy and he may or may not have done things with his sister, but the fact remains, touching her in the way you described IS inappropriate and outside the norm. He knows it, she knows it, the parents know it, and YOU know it. So he needs to recognize the boundary issues and shape up, or else you know what you’re dealing with.

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  • avatar

    Ale July 15, 2016, 8:41 am

    You don’t. You move away from this family, including the boyfriend. This is all kinds of messed up.

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    Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 8:44 am

    Yeah – I think this relationship is done. I’m not sure you ever get passed thinking your boyfriend is engaging in incest with his sister, and I’m not sure how he and his family ever get past your ugly accusations and actions.

    Yes, how you recount your boyfriend and his sisters relationship is weird, but it is biased towards you (and some families are just more touchy feely than others and nothing weird is going on), so I don’t know what to make of it.

    But I don’t think whether it’s true matters. There has been a catastrophic breach of trust here I don’t think anyone can ever walk back on here.

    And why are you still together? On your end, assuming it’s true he has a long term sexual relationship with his sister. Why would you possibly want to stay then? And again whether or not it’s true, it’s clear you think it is. Why are you staying.

    On his end, you’ve accused not just him and his sister of some pretty terrible stuff, but his parents too. Why is he staying with you?

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    • avatar

      MissDre July 15, 2016, 8:46 am

      Yes, this. While I don’t think the relationship between the brother and sister is weird, it’s clear that both parties in this relationship should MOA.

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    • avatar

      Ron July 15, 2016, 8:56 am

      She hasn’t accused the parents and sister. She asked her bf a question, because his behavior bothered her. He breached boundaries and trust. This should have been between LW and her bf. Putting her on speaker for his sister to listen in and then the sister and parents getting involved was way, way beyond the pale. Yes it is strange that LW is still trying to save her relationship with this guy. He has back-stabbed her.

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        artsygirl July 15, 2016, 9:05 am

        Agreed Ron – no matter how you wash it, this relationship is DOA. I am still a little confused by why the LW even bothered to ask her BF about the relationship between him and his sister. It is hardly like he would admit to it even if it was happening. She probably just should have ended the relationship as soon as she was uncomfortable. Now that that bell has been rung there is absolutely no reason to stay in a relationship where your partner intentionally causes drama between you and his family AND when he and his family have a dynamic that you are uncomfortable with since those patterns were established long before you arrived on the scene and therefore not going to change.

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        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 9:10 am

        She’s implicitly accused them of raising children in an environment that encourages inappropriate sexual behavior. Or at the very least willfully looking the other way.

        Look is it true? I have no idea. Maybe? The LW’s recounting is sure making their relationship sound weird. If not sexual it’s clear the brother and sister are extremely close and lacking in boundaries. But she is getting to be the narrator here, and incest is so extreme, I’m going to be skeptical.

        But the family’s reaction to her strikes me as totally normal. Yeah they’re not exactly being graceful here, but again, that makes sense to me. That’s a pretty damning accusation, I don’t know who would kindly and calmly hear someone out on those charges.

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      • avatar

        Ron July 15, 2016, 9:25 am

        No, she didn’t say anything to the parents or accuse them of anything. She asked her bf a question, because she was concerned with what she had been seeing. He chose to involve his sister, rather than answer LW’s question. He or his sister decided to involve the parents. From LW’s point of view, this was between her and her bf and she kept her comments between them, until members of the family entered the fray and attacked her.

        LW saw smoke and decided there might well be fire. The evidence was iffy. She asked her bf a question. The reaction to that question and the family circling of the wagons to attack and gaslight the gf, strongly suggests that there may very well have been a real fire and they don’t want the fire department to find out.

        I think bf likely decided to break up with LW the moment the question was asked and what has followed is just keeping her close enough for long enough to thoroughly beat her down, so she won’t cause trouble.

        The therapist seems to agree with LW that what she has observed is very odd. The response is even odder and I suspect that is what tipped the therapist in the directions s/he leaned

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 9:42 am

        There is no way asking “are you sleeping with your sister?” is ever *just* a question, even if you ask it nicely. It’s not like asking – idk what’s going on with your close female friend – this is one of our society’s biggest taboos your asking your partner about.

        Why would you even ask it? At worst it’s true, and how do you ever work through that and stay with that person? I couldn’t.

        And even if it’s not true, she’s clearly very uncomfortable with their sibling (and family) dynamic. And why, after only nine months, would you stay with someone whose family dynamics make you that uncomfortable?

        If you’re even entertaining the idea of asking if incest is happening, that should just be a sign to take off. What possible good could come from getting it? Either you get confirmation it’s true, and then you’re out, or you’ve wrongfully accused them of one of the most debased things in our society, which is going to cause damage that can’t ever be undone.

        No good comes of verbalizing this discomfort. If you’re thinking to ask it just leave that relationship.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 15, 2016, 11:31 am

        I think you’re right about the boyfriend having already decided to break up with the LW. He’s waiting until something else can be given as the excuse for the breakup because he doesn’t want her telling people about him and his sister. He doesn’t want the break up story to be that she asked him if he was having sex with his sister. The entire family is doing a full court press to make her think she is crazy and then when things quiet down he’ll find some other reason to break up.

        This LW needs to break up now. Skip the trip. There is no way you come back from this situation and no good reason to want to repair the relationship after all of this has happened. This relationship was dead and over the moment she wondered if he was having sex with his sister.

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        Sketchee July 15, 2016, 12:57 pm

        Agree with you there, the boyfriend is the real problem in that he brought his family in on what the LW had a reasonable expectation of being a private and candid conversation “my girlfriend is terrible, family! See!!”

        She was eloquent in how she expressed her concerns. And in an intimate relationship few of us would be at all times. Doesn’t seem to be a match based on this letter

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        Sketchee July 17, 2016, 8:38 am

        *Was not eloquent

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        Ele4phant July 17, 2016, 1:38 pm

        This is silly.

        First of all, no she did not eloquently express her concerns to him. She took a drunken potshot and accused him of having sex with his sister after they had already been arguing via text all day. If this was a geninune concern, a private eloquent question would have been thought out and asked in person, not spontaneously hurled out of drunken frustration.

        Second, while he may have broadcast her comment to the rest of her family – she too has been bringing this up not only anonymously online to strangers but also to quote her own letter her own friends and family have heard about it too.

        And honestly – yeah – I’m really skeptical that anything sexual going on between the siblings. I suppose humans react and behave in all sorts of ways – but does it really seem likely that this family is so hyper aware of how taboo incest is that there are willing to bully her into submission – while at the same time are so unaware of their behavior or unable to keep their attraction to one another secret that they grope each other in public? Does that really seem likely?

        Look – this relationship is clearly damaged beyond repair and he and his family clearly do have boundary issues – but it just seems clearly inaccurate to claim this woman a) had a legitimate concern and b) was going about this in a completely blameless and discrete manner and is getting railroaded by him and his family.

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    Ashley July 15, 2016, 8:45 am

    Break up with him. Y’all are not gonna be laughing at thanksgiving (or Christmas whatever I get the idea your not American) laughing about that time you accused of them incest. The family knows something is up, that is why they are so desperately trying to gaslight you right now by saying you need to get to therapy and ripping you a new one. Trust your gut on this one. And finally, if that is not enough, you gloss over your bf not supporting you right now. That is not a small thing. Run away.

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    • GertietheDino

      GertiethDino July 15, 2016, 9:02 am

      This, all the way.

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      Vathena July 15, 2016, 9:53 am

      Ding, ding, ding! Especially the bf throwing her to the wolves.

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    em July 15, 2016, 8:47 am

    MOA. It’s not clear to me if they’re just close and touchy-feely the way some people/families are but the situation you’re in now, there’s no going back. Also, I have to think of the saying “thou dost protest too much” may apply?

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  • avatar

    keyblade July 15, 2016, 8:53 am

    You are only nine months in to this. It’s fine to decide this is too much. Your boyfriend is comfortable with his relationship with his sister. He hasn’t given you any indication he plans to change. So if you stay, you have to be willing to accept the dynamic.

    You are the girlfriend of nine months so it isn’t likely this family is going to accept you with open arms after you have insinuated there is a sexual vibe between your boyfriend and his sister. I think you just have to accept that they don’t like you. But I see no reason to keep bringing the incident up. If his mom or sister keep bringing it up, kindly and patiently ask them to stop. Tell your boyfriend that you’ve extended the effort you are willing to extend and you are done repeating yourself to them.

    If you were badgering or making passive-aggressive jokes instead of maturely acknowledging to your boyfriend that the physical closeness between him and his sister made you feel uncomfortable and having a discussion about it, it wouldn’t hurt to tell him that you handled it badly. But I would also advocate for yourself, here. It was a jerk-move on his part to put you on speaker without you knowing. He is responsible for his sister getting her feelings hurt. Even if he was angry with you, there wasn’t any good reason to drag his sister into it. It almost seems like he was trying to teach you a lesson or punish you. Like many of the other commentators I’m disturbed that there seems to be no acknowledgement of the role he played in creating this bad dynamic you have with his family. He has handed over 100% responsibility to you. I think you should consider how much conflict there is and what an uphill battle this already seems to be. Perhaps this isn’t a forever-train relationship, and you should enjoy what you have and stop extending the effort (over his family) on what appears to be a long, up-hill battle of a relationship.

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    • avatar

      for_cutie July 15, 2016, 11:41 am

      Yes, this. Plus, let’s assume you are together forever and get married, happily ever after. You know your mother-in-law thinks its acceptable to rip you a new one in public when she thinks you are outta line. This behavior is totally inappropriate and disrespectful. Forget the boyfriend – others have outlined his flaws quite nicely – and think about life with this family. Then run.

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      • avatar

        Ron July 15, 2016, 12:01 pm

        Yes, she and bf can never have a close pair-bonded relationship, because whenever they have a disagreement, he is going to involve his whole family in their business. There is no ‘us’ between LW and her bf in the bf’s mind. His closest bond is to his sister. Rather than respond to the question, he ran to sister and had her and then parents provide the response.

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    MiMi July 15, 2016, 8:53 am

    Fondling a sibling while making provocative comments is not typical, so you blurting out your concern to your intimate partner is not exactly a crime. There’s nothing you need to do to make things right with these people and I’m lumping the boyfriend in with “these people” because he’s got their backs, not yours.
    Whatever their weird dynamics are, this is a family gang and putting you on speaker phone, running to tell Mom, everybody demanding apologies and therapy for you, plus five weeks of fighting just shows you how things are going to be in the future: they will gang up on you. This is unfair, inconsiderate, and unloving. Why would you want any part of that?

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 9:20 am

    Also I don’t know if there’s ever a legit reason to ask if your boyfriend is having sex with his sister. If you think it might be true, just leave. At minimum they have a relationship you are uncomfortable with.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. July 15, 2016, 9:38 am

    I think you need to end this relationship. Putting the whole are they/aren’t they question aside, the way this family has treated you should make you run the other way. You say your boyfriend doesn’t have your back. That’s reason enough right there. But, if you need more reasons, you have a family that is basically suggesting that there is something wrong with you, that you need help, because you asked what is, in my view, a perfectly reasonable question. I don’t think you should have done it the way that you did, but it’s done, and it’s shown you that these people aren’t right for you.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie July 15, 2016, 9:40 am

    Time to MOA. I get the creepy factor – siblings can comfort and touch but caressing thighs doesn’t make my list. If my bf was rubbing his sister’s thighs – my wtf meter would be in the red too.

    That the family is taking your question as a serious accusation and not laughing it off as “oh – jimmy and sally have always been unreasonably close” or simply dismissing it “That was weird and I don’t understand why you’d think that.” says to me that this notion has been floated before. Maybe by them, maybe by others – but you called them out on behavior and their reaction was to try to make you stop feeling what you’re feeling.

    Get out – the situation is not normal.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 15, 2016, 10:14 am

    I’m not sure why you’re trying to stick around with him. Their behavior is a little creepy. But if you are ever at the point where it’s vaguely reasonable to ask your boyfriend if he’s sleeping with his sister, then why would you want to date him? You say you’re “fine.” But you’re not. You can’t really have a future with someone whose family hates you because you asked if he’s sleeping with his sister. If they are that close, then he’s eventually going to probably choose her feelings over you. This is always going to hang over your head. Move on and find someone who doesn’t rub his sister’s legs.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar July 15, 2016, 10:19 am

    It would be strange for me too. But depends on the whole family dynamic. Are they all touchy Feely with each other? And I don’t understand the fall out. I can understand them thinking you were out of line or even thinking you need therapy secretly. I don’t understand insisting on it, the mother getting involved…. Or the two of them actually changing their relationship. If nothing was amiss and it’s all in your head then why change their behaviour? Your boyfriend throwing you under the bus is what started all the drama. And then what did he do as his mother was ripping you a new one? This should have only ever been between the two of you. He doesn’t sound like a keeper. And there is no way the family is ever getting over this. Move on.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 15, 2016, 10:26 am

    Eh, Miss Dre… I am with you.

    To me, the immediate jump to incest is wayyyyyyy weirder than the actions of the siblings. There is nothing I despise more than pyschotically insecure, unsubstantiated, overthetop jealousy… MOA, you blew up this relationship by saying something BEYOND stupid… You can’t always come back from that…

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 15, 2016, 11:05 am

      I have never met a brother who stroked his sister’s thigh. I know lots of families that are close and sit jumbled together but they don’t stroke thighs. Feet and legs on each other, yes. Arms around each other, yes. Stroking thighs, no.

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  • avatar

    Purple_Unicorn July 15, 2016, 10:30 am

    Why would you want to stick out from here? Just leave. You can’t go back from “are you banging your sister?” If I were you I would be weirded out too! Siblings can be close, but not that close. Touching a sibling in an affectionate way is different from touching a sibling in a sexual way, and the latter is what your boyfriend was doing in my mind. Your boyfriend doesn’t have your back because he just doesn’t want to deal with the drama and he decided to leave you to the dogs. If you stay, you will always have to deal with his sister and their relationship, which clearly, you can’t. I’m surprised she even has a boyfriend!

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray July 15, 2016, 10:39 am

    The relationship between the brother and sister may or may not be weird. I mean, each family has their own boundaries, and their boundaries are clearly different than yours. If you’re looking for a “yeah, it’s weird,” then I’m sure you’ll find a lot of people (and have already found a lot of people) who agree with you. But I’m putting that aside for now. Because I think what’s really odd is how dramatic the family is reacting. Methinks they doth protest too much, know what I mean?

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray July 15, 2016, 10:43 am

      But now I’m trying to think what the appropriate response is to a girlfriend jumping to incest… Let’s pretend my brother’s girlfriend asked if we were sleeping together…. Ewww, I can’t even write “sleeping together” without making a disgusting face. I think that’s the appropriate response “ewwwww, grossssss, you’re a sicko!” And then I’d leave and let the two of them talk it out. And then I might make fun of the girlfriend for awhile for being cray cray. That seems like the right response.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray July 15, 2016, 10:45 am

        …. Unless, there’s some truth to it? Then I might get all dramatic like the boyfriend’s family is behaving? Dun dun dun…. I say just MOA. I mean, why would you want to be involved with someone whose actions make you suspect INCEST. There are other guys whose boundaries are more in line with yours.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 15, 2016, 11:03 am

        Exactly. Instead of some stunned “ewww, gross” response he put her on speakerphone so that the sister would hear exactly what she was asking. Who does that?

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      dinoceros July 15, 2016, 4:05 pm

      Yeah. If my sibling’s partner accused us of that, I would be like, WTF, and probably just think they were crazy. Some things are just so over the top that you can’t take them that seriously. If I were even farther removed and were just a family member, I’d probably find it very funny. Regardless, if they are that close and regularly rub each other’s thighs, then I’d find it surprising that no one has joked with them about it before.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant July 15, 2016, 4:16 pm

        Really?

        I’m surprised how alone I am here. If one of my brother’s wives or girlfriends accused us of having an incestuous relationship, I would take that very seriously. And then if they further suggested to my parents that they were somehow complicit in that premise, I’d be very very concerned.

        While the premise might be laughable, the consequences could be pretty awful, not just for my brother or me, but for the whole family. And even more so than that, even if she started blabbing it around and most people rightly didn’t take it seriously, I’d be concerned about that person’s motivations and yes, their mental stability, and I wouldn’t want them around me or my family.

        Like, okay today you’re making serious claims about us having an incestuous relationship, what’s it going to be tomorrow? That my brother beat you up? Are you going to call the cops on my parents and claim they threatened to kill you? Are you going to call CPS on my other brother and claim he’s abusing his child?

        What other crazy unpredictable shit are you going to say?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 15, 2016, 6:37 pm

        Yeah, I would be appalled and I think the mother was understandably peeved.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 16, 2016, 9:06 am

        You and your brothers probably don’t stroke each others thighs but if you did people would notice and they would comment. You probably don’t talk about how sexy your brothers are but if you did people would notice and comment.

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        dinoceros July 16, 2016, 10:55 am

        I mean, I’d assume they were crazy for saying it, and if someone crazy (and I’m using the term casually, not referring to mental illness) says stuff, I don’t tend to waste much energy on it.

        I think the context matters, though. She didn’t sit him down for a serious conversation about whether they were committing incest. She got irritated and make snarky comments about her jealousy during a fight. She’s never called the cops about this or spread rumors, so I’m not sure if I were in the situation, I’d immediately start worrying she was going to tell people I tried to kill her or something. If my brother rubbed my thigh and I called him sexy, then I’d probably be able to see where she got this from, even if it’s an extreme reaction.

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    Northern Star July 15, 2016, 10:45 am

    You are done. If you ever seriously think your boyfriend is having sex with his own sister… you are beyond done.

    Break up with him and move on.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray July 15, 2016, 10:46 am

      Good rule to live by.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 15, 2016, 11:02 am

    You had every right to assume and expect that the phone conversation between you and your boyfriend was private. When he broadcast the phone call he broke that expectation. He is the reason his family is upset. He broke your trust and his entire family is angry at you. He is the one who should be apologizing. You asked a question that should have remained between the two of you. He made sure his entire family is involved.

    I’d break up and tell him that you trusted him but now you can’t. He broke your trust and you can no longer trust him or respect him.

    You have to ask yourself if he will bring his family into every difficult situation the two of you have if you stay together and and will he use them to beat you up or bully you into doing what he wants. He was wrong to involve them. He was wrong to break your trust. He not only doesn’t have your back he is the one who stuck the knife in your back. The rest are all twisting that knife but he’s the one who planted it. Get away from him and his messed up family.

    Their over reaction makes me wonder if there have been accusations in the past or if there is something that they are covering.

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    • avatar

      Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 11:19 am

      I really don’t see how this family’s reaction is an overreaction or proof of a coverup.

      No one is in my family has been accused of incest – but one of my brother’s exes did accuse my mother of hitting her. Which was absolutely ludicrous. And we reacted pretty similarly – we did not support his relationship with her anymore and we thought she was fucking crazy. Because it was a crazy accusation, and if she could come up with that shit what else could she come up with down the line.

      When they broke up a few months later (in retrospect why didn’t my brother dump her immediately) she did infact go bonkers – including calling the police and claiming my brother beat her and creating an aol account, pretending to be one of her friends and telling my brother she had died from miscarrying his baby. Like totally pscho stuff.

      I’m not saying the LW is crazy, I’m not saying the family dynamics are fucked up, but I can absolutely accept that the family would react to her accusation the way they have.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 15, 2016, 5:14 pm

        I think a big difference here is that the LW privately asked her boyfriend a question and he is the one who broadcast it publicly. In your family it sounds like the gf was being malicious and making accusations publicly. The LW wasn’t the one who was saying this out loud. She wasn’t trying to harm anyone. She wasn’t trying to hurt someone’s reputation. She wasn’t being malicious. She asked a question privately and her boyfriend put it out for other people to know about it. That’s a huge difference.

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        Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 6:44 pm

        Well, she’s apparently solicited second opinions from all over the world and on online forums. Perhaps everything is anonymous, but…

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 15, 2016, 9:16 pm

        Only after he broadcast it. Only after they kept after her trying to make her think she was crazy. She also doesn’t say that she used their names when asking for opinions. She didn’t here. On here she didn’t reveal the identity of anyone. We haven’t seen a public accusation.

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        ele4phant July 17, 2016, 1:53 pm

        Well to go back and read her letter she said:

        “Everyone I’ve asked has said this is messed up, and I’ve asked people in New Zealand, Ireland, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and I’ve asked my *family*, *friends*, and a therapist — they all say it’s weird”

        So no, she’s not keeping this anonymous. And regardless of how broadcast it first, the high road isn’t spreading your speculation or rumors around further.

        And I also take issues with suggesting she was going about this privately without intending to be malicious. She drunkenly threw this out after she’d be arguing all day with him. If this was a legitimate concern of hers, this was not the way to handle it. And come on, the reason she said it was probably was, at least in part, to say something nasty and hit below the belt. There was some malicious there.

        Look – is it wrong that he put her on speaker phone? Yes.

        Does it sound like his family is a nightmare with huge boundary issues? You bet.

        Do I accept the narrative of her being this blameless girlfriend just trying to express a genuine concern and getting bullied into submission? No, not really.

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        keyblade July 15, 2016, 9:29 pm

        @ele4phant “but” what? Help me understand how asking for Wendy’s advice anonymously is hurtful to the people involved.

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    for_cutie July 15, 2016, 11:45 am

    Great comments. Great choice for Your Turn @Wendy

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    • avatar

      Gwyneth6 July 15, 2016, 3:43 pm

      Except that this is one that I’m quite curious what Wendy thinks!

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant July 15, 2016, 1:51 pm

    I also want to say I disagree this should be an issue left to just the boyfriend and LW to work out. Her claims are not just against her boyfriend but touch on everyone in the family. The sister obviously is also being accused of incest, and the parents of abuse or neglect (sounds like she told them in person they “looked the other way”).

    If we assume that the LW is incorrect in her assumptions about the siblings relationship, she could cause some real damage to all of them as individuals, and I think they all have a right to know what’s being said about them. Are they likely to face criminal repercussions? I mean probably not, but surely there could be social repercussions if she starts spreading her accusations around. I do think she was entitled to a private conversation with her boyfriend and it is pretty wrong of him to put her on speaker, but once she lobbed that incest bomb out there, I think other family members are entitled to know what was said.

    And if we assume that the LW is right, she really just needs to get the f out of dodge immediately and cut them all off.

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  • avatar

    Brise July 15, 2016, 3:21 pm

    Third wheel, the way you relate your story let us think you said a lot of horrible things to this family, that you don’t acknowledge fully (“I may have said…”), including parents, sister and so on. That is mad. You are basically jealous of his sister, you feel like a third wheel between the two of them, and worse, you repeat these wild accusations to the five continents, asking the whole world to confirm your suspicions that something is very wrong. Why? You said something outrageous, and instead of recognize it, you go further and further digging this incest issue that you brought yourself in the first place. Of course your BF won’t support your inquisition. Of course his family think you are a nut case. It is ashaming for everybody. So it is your way of loving someone? Your way of dealing with questions and jealous feelings? I think you have a lot of questioning to do about yourself.
    I think also that he acts a bit domineering with his sister. And he acted in a domineering way with you, when you started your rant.

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  • avatar

    Gwyneth6 July 15, 2016, 3:47 pm

    Trust me you don’t want to stay with this guy. I mean even if you don’t want kids and are moving half way around the world he’s way too inconsiderate and selfish to be a good partner. On speaker without knowing? This is such a breech. But imagine you have a kid or 2. They have lost your trust and you will never want these people around your kids. And your boyfried will never take your side. Leave him ! And don’t even worry- he has his sister trained to wipe his tears and serve him icecream.

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  • avatar

    saneinca July 15, 2016, 3:51 pm

    I don’t get the dynamics of LW’s relationship with the BF. If she thought there was something weird going on with BF and his sister, why did she not break up with him instead of asking him ? If she got an yes, would she have stayed in the relationship ? If she got no, would she have believed him ?

    Similarly with the BF. When his GF accused him of something so foul, why would he share that with his sis or family ? He should have shut her down himself. Or broke up with her.
    What’s up with the weird strategy of therapy and multiple apologies ?

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  • avatar

    hazel July 15, 2016, 4:07 pm

    some families do just have weird dynamics. It doesn’t mean they are evil or anything, but it also doesn’t make you wrong for calling them on it, and setting phone to public is breaking your trust in a big way.They are probably not actually incestuous, but may be overly involved in a way that is always going to keep you on the outside. Some families are like that, and it really is best avoided, at any sign of stress, they will turn on you. If you are not happy with melding with them, and it does sound like you are not, then I’d just gracefully move along.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous July 24, 2016, 12:15 am

    Sorry call me old fashioned but you’re well within your rights to question whether or not there is more than meets the eye when it comes to your man’s completely inappropriate relationship with his sister.

    His family is the sick ones if they think it’s normal and acceptable for their children to be touching up on each other in such an inappropriate manner. I

    Don’t accept his or his family’s excuses because if they are ok with him inappropriately touching his sister then they will have no issue with him doing the same to any future children you may have with him.

    If he can’t see the inappropriateness of his actions then maybe it’s time for you to move on before it’s too late

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