“I Don’t Want to be His Secret Lover Anymore”


I’ve been in an LDR for two months. It’s the first LDR for both of us. Our relationship is not only complicated by distance, but there is also another element. Let’s just say our families are close and we don’t know how they would feel about us getting together. He’s 46 and I’m 43. Neither of us has ever been married. We live four states away.

We’re secret lovers and I’m not cool with that, but I don’t see any other way. We’ve flirted with each other in years past and have come close to getting together, but I hesitated to go there. Two months ago I called him to check in on his sister who was having health issues. I hadn’t talked to him in 12+ years. To make a long story short, we somehow ended up talking about us and how much we missed each other. By the end of that conversation he asked if he could call me/text me. From there we started talking on the phone and texting each other.

We have a lot in common in the way of morals and values but enough difference to balance each other out. My heart feels right at home with him as far as these things are concerned. We talk about longing to be together. However, he doesn’t have vacation time with his job, and, although I have many hours of vacation time, money is tight.

We don’t talk long on the phone because his cell phone plan has limited talk and texting. I always feel rushed when we do talk or text. He doesn’t have a land-line. We do a whole lot of texting and talk on the phone three times a week. His phone doesn’t have features like skype or webcam. He said he would try to upgrade to an unlimited talk/text plan. Use of the word “try” has confused me. I don’t know if the reason is his finances or what, and I didn’t ask. We send our regular 7:30 a.m. “good morning” text messages and reconnect at 8 or 9 in the evening for an hour or two. However, I can see him login to Facebook several times a day during our regular work hours.

When we talk on the phone, I can hear how much he loves me. We have quality telephone conversations. But our text conversations, with their frequent long pauses, make me feel disconnected, like a pen pal. I just talked to him about scheduling telephone calls in the evening around his favorite shows. I don’t want
to harass him about this. I love spontaneity…like random text messages and unexpected telephone calls. I initiate spontaniety because that’s how I am. He used to be more spontaneous too, but that has tapered off. I don’t want him to think I’m being over zealous or trying to smother him. What advice can you offer me? — Not Just a Pen Pal

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: you are not in a relationship, long distance or otherwise. At most, you have a friendship with this man, but it is not a relationship. If you haven’t seen each other in over a dozen years and the only communication you have is through texts and phone calls, with no plans to visit one another, then this just isn’t a relationship. Does that mean that your friendship can’t eventually turn into a relationship? No. But you aren’t in one yet.

And I think you know that on some level because the subtext of your whole letter is basically asking: “Does he want a relationship with me?” And I can’t answer that question. The good news is that HE can. All you have to do is ask. Ask him if he wants what you want — a real relationship where you invest some effort, time, and even money. And then see if his actions back up his words. If he says he DOES want a relationship but he can’t be bothered to even change his phone plan so he has the time to actually talk to you, that doesn’t support his claim. See what happens when you tell him you have plenty of vacation time to come see him but not enough money to travel. Does he offer to help with the travel costs? Does he express sadness that you can’t afford to see him? Does he mention when HE might be able to come see you? If not, then that’s a pretty strong indication that he doesn’t want a relationship with you.

You say that your families are “close” and that you aren’t sure how they’d feel if you two were “together.” For argument’s sake, let’s say you two are related. Cousins, maybe. Would that have something to do with his lack of commitment to you? With his seeming hesitation in embracing a real relationship with you? Sure. And understandably so. It may seem exciting to be in a taboo relationship, but, if the anxiety of being discovered is so great that it stops at least one of you from moving forward, then what’s the point?

If you’re worried about what your family would think and you don’t know when or how you can afford to see each other and he can’t even bother to upgrade his phone and texting plan or get Skype (which is free!) so you can improve your means of communicating, then what’s the point? I say find someone locally to have real dates with. Go online. Tell your friends you’re looking. Try speed dating or singles events. Cast a wider net, because, I promise, there ARE other fish in the sea. Even ones outside your, um, familial and familiar circle.


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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.


  1. kerrycontrary says:

    I’m a little confused. Does he have internet? Skype is free to download and use on your computer.

    Also, Wendy is right that you aren’t in a relationship if you haven’t seen him in the 2 months you reconnected. To be secret lovers you usually need to be having sex, which you probably haven’t, since you haven’t seen each other. Are you sure this man wants something romantic with you and doesn’t want to just be friends? It sounds like right now you two just have a friendship.

    And yeh, they are definitely cousins.

    1. YES! How can they be secret lovers when they haven’t had sex?????

      1. Does “lovers” really have to imply sex? I think two people can be romantically into each other without having sex.

      2. lovers, no- i think “lovahs” is the correct term for a strictly sexual relationship….

      3. haha. I think the weird thing is that they haven’t even seen each other in person during that time, not so much that they’re not having sex.

    2. Heh. “Let’s just say our families are close.” Meaning they are THE SAME.

      (I don’t have a problem with cousincest, just find the idea of someone making that particular understatement hilarious.)

      1. I so did not get that! I must be slow. I thought she meant, they lived down the road from each other or something.

      2. “cousincest.” Love that!

    3. Skype isn’t really free. I mean, the program is free, but not the stuff you need to run the program: a device that supports Skype and a fast-ish internet connection. You can use fb with dial-up, but you can’t Skype with dial-up.

      Probably this guy in his 40’s isn’t so broke that he can’t afford these things in order to support a relationship he is invested in. On the other hand, if he is a member of the working poor (which he could be since he doesn’t really get vacation), a smart phone (or other devices) and fast internet are luxuries.

  2. How does someone even have limited cell minutes these days? I have the cheapest minutes plan AT&T offers and I still have like 3000 rollover minutes that expire every month!

    That aside, you’re in your 40s and acting like a teenager. Stop that. It’s pretty annoying.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      Maybe he has a go phone or a burner? Where you have to add minutes.

      1. 😐

        She hasn’t seen him in 12 years… He has a phone with minutes that are limited? That’s typically what people get to use as their Cheater Phone.


      2. I hadn’t even thought of that… Even if that’s not it, the whole thing sounds weird to me.

      3. kerrycontrary says:

        It’s depressing that people have cheater phones 🙁

      4. My first thought too.

      5. A burner? That’s felon class.

      6. Yes, a married cousinfucker burner!

    2. Verizon has plans that vary based on minutes/texting and they don’t roll over? Or mine didn’t when I had them. And my Grandmother has a plan that only gets like 250 anytime minutes (although it’s free on the weekend) with zero texting included. But, it’s cheap.

    3. Bethany thank you! I was just thinking they are in their 40’s & are acting like teenagers. Who cares if their families are close unless they are related. When you are in your forties you do not need to hide your relationship. Grow up already!

      1. simonthegrey says:

        And even if they ARE related, they’re in their 40s, so they don’t have to worry about explaining to kids why the family tree doesn’t branch.

    4. I have the cheapest go phone that AT&T offers and I have unlimited text… He must have a verizon.

    5. I’m guessing he doesn’t have an actual smartphone OR a burner, but maybe a really old phone like one of those Nokia flip phones where you can text and play Snake and that’s pretty much it. I know plenty of people in their 40s and 50s who only have this type of phone and adamantly do NOT want an upgrade. We just finally convinced my mom (53) to get a smartphone and she has hated learning how to use it. She’s also still on AOL, as in, not just an AOL email address but actively uses the AOL software, and probably will be until she dies.

      I don’t think too much should be read into the “but why isn’t he trying to change the phone situation” thing because it could just be a generational thing. We young’uns of the digital age are used to frequent phone replacements and easy software solutions to our problems, and perhaps forget that older folks don’t really like change? let alone being made to feel stupid by a 2x4inch device they can’t figure out.

      1. In fact I’m willing to bet that when we Millennials are the age of today’s Boomers, we’re all going to be clinging to our iPhones and Droids and gmail addresses with the same fervor as my dear mother rather than try to learn something new that we’re not used to, like some Google Glass shit or gesture-based interfaces like you see in the movies. It will make us feel dumb so we’ll complain that it’s ruining society and cling to our antique communications methods and our offspring will roll their eyes at us through their smartlenses. 😀

  3. I think even if you put everything else aside (and there’s a lot here!), it’s not worth it to be with someone if you have to keep it a secret indefinitely. That’s just going to be miserable.

  4. ha, im glad wendy theorized they are cousins- that was my first guess too! LW, why “cant” you guys be in a relationship? what is this “lets just say our families are close” line? you cant just leave shit like that out! its important!

    other then that, you feel like a pen pal because you ARE a pen pal. if you both want to have a real relationship, you will both have to work towards that. if one or both of you isnt willing to put the work/time/money in, it wont work. period. you need to accept that reality, and make appropriate choices within that reality.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      I hope this doesn’t sound…snobby of me. But I’m really glad I’m not dating right now. Because people put so much more stock into texts. Like 2 people text for weeks at a time and get really invested in another person, and it’s like “texting does not a relationship make”. I’ve been in a relationship for the past 4 years but it did not used to be like that.

      1. I don’t think it sounds snobby of you. I think that in alot of ways technology is ruining many aspects of relationships. People don’t know how to talk and communicate with each other any more. Sending a text message is not “real” communication. You can not tell the tone or proper meaning behind the words, and there is so much more to learn about a person by talking to them then a text saying ” ‘sup” to someone. Texting can be an easy way to stay in touch during the day, but should not be the basis of communicating during an intire relationship.

      2. By way of counterpoint, I point you to XKCD:

        TL;DR version: People have been complaining about ‘modern’ technology ‘ruining’ communication and relationships since the 1800s. And look, we’re all still alive and not hermits! Does technology change communication? You betcha. But if “the availability of cheap newspapers and superior means of locomotion” didn’t kill communication back in 1886, I don’t think “the availability of cheap cell phones and superior 4G networks” is going to kill it in 2013.

      3. Sorry if I offended you or hit a sore spot, I was just stating my opinion. I do agree with kerry though. People communicate with texts so much more then actually having face to face conversations with each other. And by doing so they miss vital parts of each other’s personality because you can learn alot more about a person by actually talking to them instead of just texting. Again, its just my opinion.

      4. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        yeah this is what i hate about dating now kerry. and i dont even give a shit about texting and hate it, but when I am dating someone its like it matters so much and i analyze it all and UGH i want to date someone who can’t text at all and it would be great.

  5. So yeah, I’m definitely thinking these two are cousins (which, whatever. I’m fine with that, but I get why it means their family would be weirded out).

    Anyway, LW. There’s more problematic things about this “relationship” than the fact that you may be related. Let’s start with the things you CAN control— your mindset & approach. “I don’t want to harass him about this. I love spontaneity…I initiate spontaneity… He used to be more spontaneous too, but that has tapered off. I don’t want him to think I’m being over zealous or trying to smother him…” No, no, no. That fun back-and-forth of initial courtship, the exchanges that feel oh-so-spontaneous & exciting, is a temporary stage. You’re at the point now where you CAN evaluate ~with him~ WTF is going on with you both. You are at that point, even if you’re *not* in a relationship.

    Which, I agree with Wendy that you’re not. That’s okay; you can still ask him to contact you more, if that’s what you want, & see how he responds. You can still ask if this is going anywhere, or if it’s a fun, flirtatious distraction for him. AND you can even ask yourself if that’s what this is for you. Do you even WANT a relationship with someone that needs to keep you a secret, who lives 4 states away? Or maybe this pen pal thing is ALSO just a distraction for you?

    If you find yourself resistant to the idea of talking things over with him like the two adults that you are— ask yourself, then, why? Do you like this fraught stage of knowing nothing? Do you want to prolong this extended courtship, where you chat & talking about “longing” to be together, while never actually making plans *to* be together? If so, why? Are you avoiding more accessible relationships? Or maybe you don’t really want a relationship, you just want to feel wanted? It’s okay to feel all of these things, but, I don’t know. I guess my advice is: look inside, rather than outside at the possible motives of this long-distance guy, who won’t even get Skype in order to chat with you in between his favorite shows.

  6. MellaJade says:

    I don’t know what I find more disturbing: the possibility of sharing genes or the whole tone of this letter. LW, how do you get to the age of 43 and not have more inner strength? It’s just as Wendy says, 2 months of texting and phone calls are not a relationship. Don’t listen to what he says – watch his actions. Actions are always much louder than words and speak volumes to a man’s character.

  7. hmmm.. random DW poll: are you cool with cousins dating?

    im actually surprised to see two people say its ok… i just didnt think that was such an ok stance to take in western culture

    1. Hmm, I think it’s a bit odd for first cousins to date. I would never consider doing that. But I wouldn’t necessarily judge if someone else did it.

      1. I’m not into it for me, but don’t care what others do.

        But none of my cousins spin my wheels that way, so….

      2. I’m with Breezy. To each their own.

        But even thinking about any of my cousins in that way makes me shudder (it doesn’t help there are only a handful my age, and the rest are all under 18).

      3. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        yeah my cousins and i were raised like siblings so for me, ew. but if someone wants to do it, then by all means go for it.

    2. Yeah, I’m fine with it. Cousins don’t share enough genes to even cause birth defects if a child was conceived (it takes generations of cousin inbreeding for that) so if two cousins want to get it on, whatever.

      I do think it gets weird with families though. My parents—to share something personal— were raised as “cousins”. And even though they ~aren’t~ blood-related (they’re linked through an adopted family member), it was pretty weird when they started dating (according to stories). But I guess the flak is basically just as severe as when two friends in a close-knit group start dating, you know?

      1. Did you know that the probability of birth defects actually isn’t that high with siblings either? Not higher than with many people who have hereditary diseases anyway. Definitely not arguing for incest, it’s yucky to me (as I guess for almost anyone), but it’s really hard to come up with an objective argument against it.

      2. Hmm, I tried to research this a little and couldn’t find much information, so I may be wrong about that.

      3. I think I have heard that somewhere, too! And yeah, like Nadine said below, I’m cool with whatever between consenting adults. If two siblings want to— then, sure, I might cringe inwardly at the thought, but I don’t really care otherwise? I think most people who are like, “ew” are thinking of themselves with their own siblings/cousins (which… ew. Haha.) But if it’s two ~other~ people, is it really that gross? Like, who cares? (And again, two GROWN, CONSENTING adults.)

      4. I’m nerdy enough to have put some more time into researching this: The incest itself obviously doesn’t cause genetic diseases in a child, unless the parents involved are already carriers of a recessive harmful genes. Then there’s a certain probability that two harmful recessive genes will combine. Since relatives are more likely two share the same harmful genes, that probability is higher than with non-relatives (but not necessarily high in an absolute sense, it could be like from 0.00001% to 0.00006%).
        Apparently it’s really hard to say how high the absolute risk is for a given couple is because it depends a lot on how many harmful genes there are in the population you’re looking at.

      5. My understanding of it is that it doesn’t really matter if ONE couple of sibling makes a baby in an entire family line, especially if no genetic defect was known in the blood line. The problem arises when an entire population reproduces almost exclusively with itself (think : Royal families in Europe during Middle Age, or small rural and isolated communities in some areas of the continent), because then it amplifies the genetic defect occurrence. (For example, Hemophilia A was disturbingly common amongst princes and kings in Europe during the Middle Age, while it’s not that common in the general population).

        Rules have been put in place (like it’s forbidden to marry your siblings in most countries) to discourage people from reproducing inside their family. Not because one baby by itself would be horrible, but because if it becomes a trend in the population, it will eventually increase genetic defect in certain families where the defect would have disappear by itself otherwise. And… genetic defect can lead to very nasty disease, which usually have no effective treatment so… why would we let the population increases that ?

      6. Oh and (fun fact of the day) a good example is Iceland (pretty sure it’s Iceland) where the population is so small and so isolated, you are required to check online for the person you date, and the website (government agency of some sort) will tell you if you’re too close in blood lines to date. They do monitor it because every single person is related in some ways and it becomes dangerous for public health. So yeah, the government knows about the different family lines, and it calculates if you’re too closely related to someone for you two to date.

      7. yeah, Iceland. They´ve developed an App so people when they meet can know how related they are, before hooking up or anything.

      8. that is amazing. wow.

        i love genetics!

      9. ha, my family has a sort of similar situation? my one uncle and aunt, the only ones i know, their son (my cousin), had a daughter with a woman who had another, older son (not related to my family), and then died. the son was like… around 10 when it happened, i think? and so my cousin just sort of adopted him. so he is my “cousin”, although technically we would be like second cousins, or once removed or whatever it is, because his “dad” is my actual cousin, BUT anyway my sister and him are the same age, and so when they first met (when they were both like… 19 or 20?) everyone started making jokes about them getting together, and i remember my very prim and proper aunt being horrified. and i was like… well, its really not that weird? they arent actually related, and were raised together like people are saying here.

        my sister is dating someone else though, i think. so no worries so far, haha

      10. oh and full disclosure- this not-cousin cousin of mine is a hottie. absolute hottie. and so is my sister, really.

      11. I, for one, appreciate the full disclosure.

      12. I’ve got an oddity in my family. My aunt (who married in) only has one set of grandparents. Her mother and father were high school sweethearts, who introduced their widowed parents to each other. Her parents got engaged, then the grandparents got engaged and married, then the parents got married. So they were technically step-siblings when they got married. I don’t think they ever lived under the same roof as step siblings, but the whole thing just weirded me out.

        Oh, and the first time Mr. Othy met this aunt, this was the first thing she told him about herself. And then she only got crazier and crazier. He was just about ready to run.

    3. I wouldn’t do it myself but I don’t distant cousins dating is that weird. First cousins is a hard line that I don’t think should be crossed ever, but once you get into second (maybe) and third and on cousins it can definitely be weird but I don’t think it’s really “wrong”.

    4. I’m cool with it inasmuch as I’m cool with consenting adults doing whatever they like. They aren’t hurting anyone, especially if they were not raised together.
      Can’t say I’d go for it myself though.

    5. kerrycontrary says:

      So personally I wouldn’t do it, but I don’t really care if other people do it. I think it happens so rarely that it’s not a big deal. I couldn’t imagine dating one of my cousins, but I can’t really imagine dating anyone I spent that much time with growing up. We shared all of our holidays, went to the same school, it would be weird.

    6. SixtyFour says:

      I’ve read some statistics on it (thanks Dan Savage!) and there’s the same risk of genetic disorders for 2 cousins to have children than it is for a woman over 40 to have a child. So as long as they take the proper genetic counseling precautions, from that respect, it should really be fine.
      On the more ew gross out factor, if 2 people hardly ever saw each other growing up, then I could understand them not seeing that person as family and wouldn’t be freaked out if they married. If they practically grew up together like brother and sister, then hell no, no way. that’s gross.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        Yeh I think that’s the issue with me. My entire mom’s side of my family lives in one town to this day, including all of my aunt’s/uncles/cousins/grandparents/great aunts/uncles. Like even my second cousins were around growing up. My grandma watched us all every morning before school. It would be super weird for me to date someone I grew up with lik ethat.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        All of my cousins are close like that too. We all went to the same high school and everything, there was 4 of us in my graduating class that have the same great-grandmother. We’re WAY too close.

    7. I guess in theory, I’m cool with it, but if 2 of my cousins started dating, I’d think it was pretty weird.

      My maternal grandparents were related somehow. They came from a really small village in Italy and had the same last name before they got married. I’m not sure if anyone actually knows what the relationship was, but it was further away than a regular cousin.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        My maternal grandparents are like that too! They came from villages in Italy like 7 miles apart but they had the same last name and somehow figured that they are distantly related.

      2. I bet your grandparents are related to my grandparents 🙂

    8. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I think it’s weird. I have an uncle who dated a second cousin for YEARS and it was just weird and messy. And things got even weirder when they broke up and she married someone else. Those introductions must have been strange!!

      But whatever floats people’s boats so long as everyone is consenting. I wouldn’t do it, but I wouldn’t stop talking to someone who did.

      1. It’s the potential breakup point that would make things super weird (aside from the ew factor of all my cousins). Can you imagine any family get togethers in the future?

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yeah, I’ve been to family gatherings where the cousin ex’s (and their new partners and children) have all been there. I just stay far away from the 2 generally speaking but it’s really really weird.

    9. I guess I’m one of the people above you refer to. I think it’s weird to think of cousins dating and I’d probably giggle a bit if I found out someone I knew was dating their cousin, but in reality it doesn’t seem that different from all the other ordinary weirdnesses available to people picking who to date — your boss, someone in your rooming group, your best friend’s ex, your sibling’s ex, someone who turns out to be gay (or straight if you’re gay), someone you’ve known all your life, your gynecologist, etc.

      To venture very far afield (unless the LW is actually in a texting-only relationship with her long-estranged brother), it’s a lot different from nuclear family incest in that nuclear families have super complicated power dynamics, so it’s almost inherently (though not always, I’m sure) abusive. Cousins don’t have that same issue especially in America, and the genetic stuff is a knowable and non-extraordinary risk for first cousins as someone points out above.

      1. Do you remember the Dear Prudie article on Slate (about a year ago) about the twincest? Where two identical twin brothers, who were in the 40s or 50s, had been living together all of their life. They eventually started sleeping together and both were perfectly happy with the arrangement.

      2. Yeah, I remember that! And I mean… that’s pretty weird! LOL. It’s also kind of like sleeping with the image of yourself, which, maybe they’re just super narcissistic. But like I said, I don’t think nuclear familycest is necessarily abusive, and if it’s not abusive then I kind of feel like, who cares?

      3. OMG that’s totally what I thought of when I read the “let’s just say our families are close” line. I was all, “Is this another twincest letter????” 🙂

      4. “LET’S JUST SAY… my parents & his parents are the same people, & our genes are identical 😉 if ya knowwhatahmean ;)”

      5. Not real life, but there is “worse” in The Time Traveler’s Wife.

      6. Way worse in the movie “Womb”, which was weird and disturbing…but I watched the whole movie…

      7. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

        Yeah the book was a lot more … uh descriptive. I don’t think it quite happened to this extent in the book (I don’t remember) but if you have sex with yourself from the past or future is that weird? Or is that just more like masturbation? I mean it’s you, just not you at that particular moment in time.

    10. Avatar photo theattack says:

      I’m not cool with it for myself or for my family, but I have friends whose parents are cousins, and it’s no big deal. My family is enormous. My mom has about two hundred cousins, and we’re related to about a third of the people in the three county area I’m from. We’ve all taken it very seriously over the years to pull out our family tree and make sure we’re not crossing anything over. We make calls all around the family to make sure it’s not someone we’re related to, because there are too many cousins to keep up with. When I was a young teenager and didn’t know to do that yet, I ended up dating my mom’s cousin’s son without realizing it. It’s so disturbing, and I can’t even believe I’m admitting that here, but we ended it as soon as we found out obviously. I want to throw up just thinking about it now.

      1. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

        Your mom’s cousin’s son would be your 2nd cousin. To me that would be a teeny tiny bit weird, but not that much.

        My husbands Dad can say that he has 2 cousins who married each other. 😛 It’s actually a cousin from each side of his family so they are not related at all. My husband also has it in his family where a brother and sister married a brother and sister in the family. He calls his family tree three dimensional.

        Oh! I have no first cousins… Zero. I don’t think I’ve ever actually met another person who doesn’t have any cousins. Therefore I am a weirdo.

    11. For me, since I’m not close with my extended family, I don’t think it’s that weird. But if you really grew up together I can see why people have problems with it.

    12. lets_be_honest says:

      Right? I was just gonna say the same thing! I can’t believe people are like, meh, its cool, whatevs.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        My grandpa’s sister married my grandma’s brother. No blood but I guess different.

      2. I think that’s the situation in NC where “double first cousins” can’t marry. So their children wouldn’t be allowed to marry each other. All other cousins- fair game (at least back when I was in law school). Same sex couples? Nope. Cousins? Sure thing!

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Interesting! I always thought it was sorta cute actually (again, no blood!). I tried to set my sister up with my boyfriend’s brother in law’s brother (good luck following that). She was horrified. Haha.

    13. I have relatives that live back in the mountains (like the setting for Justified, just in a different county), and even in areas like that where almost everyone is related somehow that standard rule is that second cousins can’t marry. Anything more distant than that is fine. And second cousins, coincidentally, are 7 degrees removed from each other on a family line chart. Kinship within the 7th degree was grounds for an annulment even in medieval times. Not really relevant, just interesting. I guess it depends on how your relationship has evolved. I’d find dating any of my cousins kind of icky, but I can see where it could happen if the family relationships and times people actually got to know each other were different.

      1. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

        It’s like the “incest” version of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon.

    14. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

      Well 20 states allow first cousin marriages, (21 if you count Maine, which has a $100 fine). So I wouldn’t really say it’s taboo in Western society when it’s only taboo some places in just America. Most of Europe allows it, although there is plenty of debate in the UK.

      I really only have a problem with relationships with explicit or implicit unrectifiable power differentials, which often encompasses family relationships

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I definitely wouldn’t say that legality makes it any less taboo.

      2. I believe there are some states that allow it only if you’re older than a certain age (50 or so).

      3. TheGirlinME says:

        Hi, it’s actually legal here with no fines or penalties assessed, Meadow 🙂

      4. Wait so there’s more states where you can marry a relative than someone of the same gender? Odd. I mean I’m fine with whatever consenting adults want to do, but I’d definitely be more thrown by the announcement my cousin is dating within the family than gay.

        Is there a place where same sex first cousins can marry?

      5. Thanks for finding that! Still think it’s crazy that more states will legally recognize your right to marry within the family than someone unrelated you won’t be reproducing with just because you’re the same gender.

      6. TheGirlinME says:

        You’re correct! 🙂

    15. I’m not cool with first cousins dating. Aside from the whole morality part of it, I think its wrong to do genetically. Yes I know that cousins have a low (but still higher than non-related people who do not carry hereditary diseases) chance of any genetic problems when producing children. I’m thinking more about the future- say 2 cousins married and had kids. Everythings fine and great. But then those kids marry their cousins…etc. We could end up with messed up gene pools pretty quickly.

      Also if we say its ok for cousins, then what about aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters? Or even mother/son, father/daughter? (Ew) Even more messed up genetics after just a couple generations.

      1. The slippery slope mentality is a logical fallacy, however, because it assumes that one can predict who someone will be attracted to. Just because my mom and dad are attracted to each other, doesn’t mean that I would inherently be attracted to someone in their genetic line – in fact, just the opposite (Darwinism being what it is) – it’s far more likely that I’d be attracted to someone who shares a different genetic code. Heck, I can’t even predict what movie I’m going to want to see this weekend – so predicting who SOMEONE ELSE might be attracted to? No. Two consenting, (essentially, based on scientific data/probability) unrelated adults – who cares?

      2. The “mentality” does not “predict” who anyone will be attracted to. Just as you are saying it is likely someone will be attracted to someone not of their genetic line, it is just as appropriate to say there will be those who are. Whether one is “more likely” to happen than the other is irrelevant. It happens even now, though rarely, and it isn’t even legal.

        The real point is our genetics can get messed up when you add up generations of “in-breeding”, for lack of a better term. That doesn’t mean every kid born to 2 related parents will also marry a relative, or maybe not even someone in every generation will. But after a while, it will get muddy.

      3. Ele4phant says:

        Look how likely is it that generation after generation of children will find themselves attracted to their cousins? Not likely. In past instances were human populations have interbred it has been by necessity or scarcity of viable partners (ie small settlements scattered very far apart or you know, royalty wanting to only marry other royalty). Under normal circumstances, Mary beth is correct that there has been a scientifically observed tendency to seek out partners that have different genes than they do. What you are positing, that generation after generation is going to be into their family members, had only been observed under circumstances were seeking out such diversity isn’t an option.

        Look, I personally get the heebejeebies thinking about incest, and I probably wouldn’t be comfortable being buddies with people who openly practice it, but your reason for opposing it is ridiculous. Allowing a couple who also happen to be cousins be together is not going to lead to generations of inbreeding, and all of the congetial problems it may wrought.

        If two consenting adults who are related want to be together, gross, but no one else should be telling them to knock it off. There choice.

      4. I’m entitled to my opinion, and you’re entitled to your opinion of my opinion.

        Also, I specifically said it wouldn’t be “generation after generation”. Please don’t exaggerate what I’m saying to make a point. Specifically the point of the whole “2 consenting adults” thing. This is nothing like homosexuality etc.

        Even if every child of every cousin coupling does not marry another cousin, or it doesn’t happen in every generation, there will be eventual genetic problems, however long that may take, but it will happen.

        My other point was that if you allow for cousins to marry and reproduce, then you cannot disallow any other incest. Therefore by allowing all types of consensual incest, even if it is not practiced by every offspring, or even if it does not occur in every generation, eventually there will be big problems genetically.

        There’s a reason even animals are naturally disinclined to in-breed. Non-domesticated animals, that is. But we are creatures of thought and desire, and incestuous relationships are not off the table for some of us.

      5. Also, if I may say something else-

        A lot of us are grossed out by the thought of any kind of incest because we have been brought up to think of it as taboo. It’s “not an option”, basically. It doesn’t cross a lot of our minds. But what about living in a world where you are not brought up thinking that any kind of incest is taboo? It’s an option if you feel so inclined (and, apparently people often feel so inclined to do some of the weirdest, grossest things “just because”), it’s not weird to know people who have done it etc. Desensitization, if you will. There may be a lot more people, by that time, who don’t feel so opposed to marrying a relative, and so more may actually do it.

      6. LadyBird, I don’t understand your argument. Even if you DID have one set of cousins having kids in each generation, all you’re doing is screwing up that one genetic line. And the chances of even that happening are pretty slim. There are 7 billion people in this world. Most people manage to have kids with someone they aren’t related to.

        Also, pretty sure incest isn’t illegal in a lot of states.

      7. ” Even if you DID have one set of cousins having kids in each generation, all you’re doing is screwing up that one genetic line.” – Rachel

        That’s if it does actually only stay in that genetic line. But because of something else you just said, “Most people manage to have kids with someone they aren’t related to.”, that means it won’t just stay in one genetic line. One could bring their “cloudy” genetic line into a relationship with a non-relative and still be passing on the potential genetic problems to their kids.

      8. Okay, but seriously, generations and generations of people used to do that all the time. It was called royalty. And by that logic, we should all be a mess by now.

        I admittedly don’t know much about genetics, but your slippery slope argument seems pretty reactionary.

      9. ele4phant says:

        I just find it perplexing why you care what others do when it really doesn’t impact you, at all.

        No one would make you have a relationship with your cousin. No one would make you date someone who is the offspring of two cousins, if you were worried about passing anything onto your children.

        And I don’t accept that just making something legal will suddenly make it less taboo, and even if it did become less taboo, that scores of people would suddenly find their cousins attractive. There’s a biological impulse that makes us seek about someone with different genes than ours. Instances were that hasn’t happened have been due to lack of availability: either small bands of people living great distances from others – so no other option, or b) aristocracy where they purposely don’t want to dilute the bloodlines with commonfolk. Left to our own devices, we naturally want someone who is less like us, not more.

        That’s not going to change, not if we take away legal or social restraints.

        And again, even if it did, nobody is going to force you to do anything you don’t want to.

      10. Do you do any genetic testing on all the people you date? Of course not, no one does or will. They don’t even require bloodtests in most states before getting married anymore. I may not be forced to marry someone who is in-bred, but my future kids and/or grandchildren may have to deal with that. May have to deal with that and not even know it, actually. Again, I’m thinking into the future, where people have grown up with this sort of thing not being taboo, and is legal to do.

        As for the royalty thing being mentioned, I don’t see how that applies. Most of us do not come from royal lines. They do in fact keep it “in the family” and don’t branch out. Also those marriages are pretty strategic and do not marry direct relatives; they’re usually quite distantly related.

        As for the whole biological impulse thing, I don’t buy it. We are not in fact wild animals driven by instinct anymore. We are creatures of thought, desires, emotions. There are people who didn’t even know they were related until after they got married. People have incestuous relationships even now and there’s whole communities that push for it’s legalization. Right now no one even gives them a second thought, but who knows what the future will bring.

        Also the Greeks and Romans led quite a hedonistic lifestyle, and had sex with nearly anyone/anything. Incestuous relationships were pretty frequent. It had nothing to do with “availability” or “royal bloodlines”. They did it because they could. Our society is very much “I can do whatever I want” and instant gratification driven. Very much like the Greeks and Romans.

        People will do it because they can. Especially when you don’t grow up with the “Ew” factor of incestuous relationships.

    16. I like to think I am ok with it. I am totally being judgmental on the inside, though.

  8. There is definitely a level of commitment missing that would make this a relationship. My first thought was are you sure he’s single? Not necessarily married, but single. You don’t talk often, you don’t Skype, and long pauses between evening texts screams out to me that he is possibly hiding his communication with you from someone other than “family”.

  9. Does any one watch the show New Girl with Zooey Deschanel? Jess asks Nick to call someone and he says, “Sorry, I don’t have minutes left.” And she says something like “Minutes?! Minutes?! Nick, who has minutes any more?” And then he says, “Sorry, I bought 9999 minutes back in 1999 and they haven’t expired yet!”
    Sorry, I don’t have any good advice to offer. But it just makes me laugh that someone would say “I don’t have any minutes left” as an excuse not to call.

  10. lets_be_honest says:

    2 hours on the phone every night and you feel like your conversation is rushed?!

    Also, is he your cousin? Be honest. I got a cousin vibe here.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Oh, I see now Wendy thought the same. haha.

    2. Avatar photo landygirl says:

      She said they talk on the phone 3 times a week. I think the 2 hours at night is texting with the exception of the nights with phone calls.

  11. Like Wendy said you’re not in a ldr, you’re in a long distance friendship. Which is fine, if that’s what you want. But, it’s obvious it’s not. Just ask him if he actually wants to be in a relationship and then see if he shows you that’s true.

    And the whole ‘close’ thing is just a completely different part to this. I would ask myself if the idea of a relationship was worth potentially damaging relationships within your family. Even if the majority of strangers on the internet are ok with you dating, it doesn’t mean you’re family will be. Is what you feel with him worth it?

    And when you can hear that he ‘loves’ you on the phone what does that mean. Are you sure it’s romantic love and not another form of love? Honestly, it sounds like you’re just not in the right place/time to be together. Even if all of the other things were worth it.

  12. Avatar photo theattack says:

    People have breaks in texting because they have to lead other lives. They have to work and grocery shop and cook and scoop cat litter and pick their nose. Do you really think he should pick his nose and respond to you at the same time? That’s what texting is for: multi-tasking. You can’t have committed, full length conversations over text. Either don’t text at all or take it as an extra thing. Don’t get upset about it.

    1. Avatar photo theattack says:

      Oh, and you’re in your 40s. Screw what everyone else says. Unless it’s going to tear your family completely apart (like if this is incestuous), it’s really no one else’s business. Do your thing.

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      You can’t pick your nose and text at the same time? Weirdo!

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Ehh, whenever my phone is covered in snot it really slows down the touchscreen sensitivity. It’s just too hard to remember to wipe my hands on my shirt first.

    3. LOL! Attack I love your comment, it made my day 🙂

  13. lets_be_honest says:

    I guess these little phone convos and texts are all some people need? Which is fine I suppose. I mean, its not a relationship so you should know that, but if its satisfying your need for a touch of attention and flirting, knock yourself out.

  14. I don’t get how “he used to be more spontaneous too, but that tapered off”. You’ve been “together” for 2 months. How is that even enough time for a behavior to be established, let alone taper off? And you can hear that he loves you? Well, of course he does, you guys are cousins (or…basically cousins because of how close your families are maybe?). You love him and his family enough to call his sister when she is sick. Love alone does not make a relationship.

  15. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    How does one hear how much someone loves them? What?

    You’ve been together 2 months, you’re being needy and over dramatic. Slow your roll.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Oh yes, I forgot. You’re not dating, he IS a pen pal. You can’t date if you haven’t seen each other!!!

  16. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

    All other obstacles aside, including the possible familial relationship or the fact that there really isn’t a real romantic one here, what I’m really hearing from you is that you’re afraid to ask for your needs at all. Wendy’s giving you permission but I want to put this more generally.

    You probably don’t want to be in a relationship with someone to only please them and not yourself. Part of being in a relationship is getting your own needs met. Why do you want to be with someone who won’t fulfill your needs, so much that you won’t even ask for them? It’s not nagging to indicate how important something is to you.

  17. sophronisba says:

    It’s great that you have good talks with this fellow (when his shows are not interfering) but it sounds like where it’s at is just fine with him. Without actions to back up his words, you’re just being served some koolaid here…
    Imagine a guy who is eager to see you, willing to have a yard-sale so he can fund a ticket, went right out and got more minutes, shopped at the goodwill for a used webcam..did something, anything that showed his real interest in furthering a good thing..imagine that.

  18. findingtheearth says:

    You need to talk to him and be honest. Find out if what he wants and what you want are the same thing.

    Sometimes it is nice to have someone to just talk to, but it does not mean you are in a relationship and have the responsibilities of a relationship.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Hey! Where have you been?

  19. OMG so many things.

    You are in your 40s and you are still worried what your family might think? Like Wendy, I wondered if you were related? Or maybe the Hatfields & McCoys? And you’ve done nothing but text and talk on the phone? Are you SURE you’re in your 40s? You need to talk to this guy about whether you are really in a relationship and where he sees this going. I don’t think you’re on the same page. Or book, even.

  20. I may need to reread, but I didn’t initially think “cousins.” Could it be that they’re the same sex or that one is the ex or widow of a relative? Those would both be taboo in many families, too.

    Off to reread.

    1. It would be kind of funny if it turns out they aren’t actually cousins, & the LW comes on here like, “Wtf, you guys are gross.”

      1. right?! I mean, that’s definitely a possibility, but there are several ways they could be “close” and their families disapprove.

      2. Well if that’s the LW’s response, then she’s clearly not a DW regular!

  21. Datdamwuf says:

    whose idea is the secrecy? I’m just wondering, if it’s really that they are closely related. if she hasn’t seen the guy in 12 years, hell given how they are communicating and the timing he might be married or living with someone…just sayin it’s pretty classic cheater behavior

  22. Sue Jones says:

    Geez, at your age, at midlife, you should not need to be secret about your relationship, unless you are affair partners. Who cares what your parents’ think?

  23. ” I initiate spontaniety because that’s how I am.”

    If you have to manufacture spontaneity, then it’s not spontaneity. Aside from that, I agree that you’re not in a relationship. It sounds like you guys really connected for a while, but even that appears to have tapered off, so in reality, what are you left with? Some guy who you text and call some … and what else?

    I also think the phone minutes thing is weird. I thought that even limited plans had free (or at least numbering in the thousands) evening minutes? He seems to make a lot of weird excuses.

    Honestly, I think you should cut your losses and move on. I’m not sure there’s any reason to expect things to get better from this with you guys being so far away and being limited by his phone minutes and his evening TV shows. I’m even wondering a little if he’s actually married or in a relationship?

  24. I wasn’t able to read all the comments but am I the only one who thinks this man is lying about something? Married, maybe appearance (not that it totally matters but a Skype call is easy and free). Something is off.

    Also I agree with a Wendy. You aren’t in a relationship. You are talking to someone.

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