“My Niece Accused My Husband Of Grinding On My Cousin”

My step-sister and I have always had a strained relationship. A couple years ago she apologized for being mean and ridiculous, and our relationship has gotten better. However, about a month ago, she called me and accused my husband of grinding on my little cousin on Christmas of 2016 (she said that my niece, her daughter, had told her this). I knew that it wasn’t true, but I still asked everyone who was there. My step-dad, step-brother and little cousin all said that nothing like that happened. My stepsister responded by getting angry with everyone for accusing her daughter of lying/exaggerating and told me that it didn’t matter what everyone else said because she is believing her daughter.

I decided to just stop talking to her and that my husband would never be around her daughter so that an accusation like this would never happen again. My parents decided that because of this they were not going to bring my niece with them to visit (they see my niece often and hardly see my family). My step-dad told my step-sister they weren’t going to bring my niece and that they would take her on a different trip, which resulted in my step-sister freaking out, and she is now accusing my husband of an entirely new slew of inappropriate and terrible things.

I’m not sure how to handle this situation other than to cut her out and keep her away from my family, but it makes me really sad to lose contact with her kids.

What should I do? — I’m With Him

It sounds like with the history of a strained relationship between you, and now with these accusations against your husband, any hope for a healthy relationship with your stepsister is now nil. I agree with you that cutting her out of your life and keeping your families separate is probably the best course of action. I know it sucks to lose contact with her kids, but I would worry what kind of accusations and drama she’d create if that window were left open. Making yourself vulnerable to that in an effort to maintain some kind of contact with step-nieces/nephews, at least one of whom allegedly accused your husband of lewd behavior with a minor, doesn’t seem worth it.

If I were you, I’d cut contact and move on. Your step-sister doesn’t need an explanation, but you could alert extended family of your decision and thank them in advance for cooperating and being understanding.

I’m concerned, though, for your niece who made the accusations against your husband. Healthy, well-adjusted kids don’t just make up shit like that. It seems like some kind of cry for help, but I don’t how you can try to help while protecting and maintaining your loyalty to your husband. It’s a conflict of interest. Your step-sister is probably aware on some level that something is screwed up for her kid and is eager to take focus off that and throw some distraction over on your husband. All the more reason to stay away.
What you could do is give a head’s up to your parents — your niece’s grandparents — that you are concerned that she’d make up the things that she did, and advise everyone to keep an eye open for any other potential red flag.

It’s not an ideal situation to be in, I know. But remember your priority and loyalty, and take comfort in knowing that your extended family doesn’t believe the accusations against your husband and will, hopefully, understand your need to set some big boundaries.

I am currently dating a man that I’ve known for seventeen years. We are both in our thirties. We dated for eight months. The first few months were great, and I always expected it to be that way because we had been friends for so long. Then he started staying at my house a lot, which soon turned into all them time (at my request, I might add). He was, after all, the guy I had always wanted. I was so happy that we were dating.

But then we started fighting and arguing. I always felt really unwanted by him for some reason. Like I was always the one that liked him more or something. This caused major tension. And I finally told him to leave and that I couldn’t do it anymore.

We didn’t really talk or see each other at all for about ten days. I was so sad, and I cried a lot. Then one night he asked me what I was doing and he came over and spent the night, and he has spent the night the last four nights now. And that’s fine. I don’t see him all day or really talk to him. He comes over at night, we watch a movie… do other things — ahem— and then go to sleep, and then he leaves in the morning. And we get along great!

Ugh… but why?! And will it always be like this? Can we only take each other in small doses? Right now we are laughing and holding each other at night and getting along great. Does this mean we will never be able to live together?? – Old Friends Turned Lovahs

My guess is that you DO like him more than he likes you and that the tension this caused was very real and was, in fact, the reason for a lot of your fighting. Feeling “really unwanted” sucks, and if that is the baseline for your relationship, and it’s only smooth sailing when things between you are undefined and you’re acting like friends with benefits instead of boyfriend and girlfriend, that does not bode well for a future together as a committed couple.

To test things out, this is what I advise: Tell him you want to be a couple again but don’t let him sleep over every night. Keep it at three nights a week max together, and those nights don’t always have to be at your place. And on nights that you aren’t together, keep building your own life – spend time with friends, do stuff you enjoy, start a new hobby, be interesting. If you want to keep someone’s interest in you, you have to actually be interesting. Doing nothing but going to work and then watching movies and — ahem — with your dude in the evening isn’t very interesting, and the flame’s gonna burn out fast. This advice goes for anyone you want to pursue. Don’t make someone else your entire life and focus. It’s boring.

Honestly, though, I wouldn’t hold out hope with this guy. You’ve known each other seventeen years, and you have already tried a relationship for eight months. If things were going to work out, they probably would have worked out by now. I predict continued sex, your pining for more, and his keeping you at arm’s length until the tension and resentment you feel blows up your friendship. If you want to give it one more shot, remember my advice, and if things don’t seem to progress how you’d like, stop trying to have a relationship and go back to being friends before your resentment ruins the chance for that.


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


  1. LW1: Eww toward your sister in law. But I wonder why your niece would have said this. Did your husband do something to upset her? Also, you say you know this not to be true but how? Unless your husband never left your sight? I agree it sounds unlikely and silly but I am not sure the nieces accusations should just be discounted. Something has made her say this. Maybe something happened far less than that and she is saying this to give it some more weight and be taken seriously? Maybe she is just a troubled child. I don’t know I just cannot grasp why she would make this up.

    LW2: Ya he just isn’t that into you. Also, even married couples need time apart. Spending literally every moment at home with him will cause some tension. As much as I love spending time with my husband I still appreciate some time away from him. Also, he is coming into your space, not a shared space. It is different when you build a home together than when someone just is in your space. that is all yours. I have felt annoyed by someone in my space like that.

  2. LisforLeslie says:

    LW 1- WWS, you’re making the right call. If your steps sister is digging into a lie then just keep her away. The niece could be managing some other issue but tbh I think it’s more likely she is causing drama to get attention or for other reasons (maybe she thinks your husband is the reason you live far away and if you get rid of him you’ll move back home – don’t know kids are kinda illogical). Your step sister likes to cause drama, her daughter is learning from her. That it’s either not working or having unintended bad consequences for them is not your concern.

    LW2: also agree with Wendy. It sounds like you were putting everything into this relationship, maybe at the loss of your self. Is there anything specific you can point to that tells you he’s not as into you as you are him? Does he like to go out with friends occasionally? Likes to have some time to himself? Get caught up in work? Isn’t cool with PDA? Wants to go out instead of staying in?

    Because those things are not indicators that he doesn’t like you -merely that he has a life and he’s happy to include you in it. Trying to create a bubble where it’s just you two – isn’t healthy. Keep in touch with your friends, family, find a couple of hobbies or meet ups and find a ratio of you alone stuff, couple stuff and other people stuff.

  3. As a man whose two children was molested by their stepfather, I would err on the side of caution.

    Because of their mother’s entreaties to the cops on his behalf, they never investigated the incidents. She was adamant that she would never marry a child molester and they believed her. Fortunately, for my kids, the family court decided that it saw sufficient evidence of the abuse, including her neighbours’ testimony, I was awarded full custody with only supervised supervision for my ex.

    Yet, she delayed any investigation into his actions that, by the time the cops did investigate, the time limit on prosecution had lapsed.

    It was only after he left her and the time expired, he admitted to her what happened. To this day he walks a free man. He moves from town to town and job to job, skipping town before he gets caught.

    If this woman’s husband did it, this won’t be the last she heard of it. He’ll do it again. In fact, getting away with it, will possibly embolden him.

    There are many victims of molesters out here whose parents and relatives never believed them.

    1. Northern Star says:

      I was thinking, on the chance that the niece is telling the truth—how horrible for her to just be dismissed by her grandparents.

      Since the relationship with stepsister improved, I’m not sure why stepsister would decide to make something up now. And the reasons niece would make it up need to be explored FAR beyond just dismissing the story as untrue. SOMETHING was driving her.

      The niece’s grandparents had better be thinking along those lines and trying to get their granddaughter help.

      1. I agree. I’m curious about just HOW the LW and family just KNOW it wasn’t true. It’s not like abusers commit acts of abuse right there in the dining room in front of everyone. Were they staying in the house overnight with the stepsister/niece? I also find it puzzling that the stepsister would be upset about the grandparents not taking her daughter to visit LW and her husband. Am I reading that right? She got upset because the grandparents AREN’T taking her daughter to see the man who allegedly molested her?

      2. The niece isn’t accusing the husband of molesting her. She said she saw him grinding on somebody else – the LWs cousin. What does grinding mean to her? To me it just means dancing provocatively. We don’t know the age of the cousin, we don’t know if she’s a minor.

        We also don’t know the age of the niece. If she’s really little, is it possible that she saw husband and the cousin dancing and called it “grinding” because that’s a word she heard recently? I mean, I remember being like 7 years old and asking my mom what a “one night stand” was cuz I’d heard it in a song.

        I am in no way, shape or form saying the niece should be dismissed. But nothing in this letter is saying the husband molested the niece. The niece said she saw the husband dancing too close to the LWs cousin who may actually be an adult.

    2. Ohhh – RIGHT. Geez, I need a family tree for this one. And it looks like the “little cousin” in question says it didn’t happen (not that that really means anything; it is still entirely possible that it did). Bizarre situation all around, but it seems best to keep some distance between these two families. I wonder how old the niece/cousin are.

      1. Exactly. The LW just says “my little cousin”. Well, my brother calls me his “little sister” but I am a fully grown woman in my 30s. Little in this case doesn’t mean I’m a child.

        So if LWs cousin says no, nothing like that happened, it’s possible that the niece is just quite little and saw Husband and Cousin dancing and said “omg mommy I saw them GRINDING!”

        Given the step-sister’s love of drama, she decided to turn it into something crazy.

  4. Rangerchic says:

    @Vathena, I was just writing the same thing! I mean, if this were my daughter and I believed her I wouldn’t want her to go. It makes me think that the step-sister is maybe making stuff up if she really is that upset that her daughter doesn’t get to go on the visit with the alleged perpetrator.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      This stood out to me too. If I believed someone was preying on girls I wouldn’t send my daughter along to visit them. I would instead say that they absolutely weren’t going to spend any time around that person. I especially wouldn’t let my daughter be around that person without me being present to make sure that she was safe.

    2. LisforLeslie says:

      Right – is it that the step sister is upset that the parents still love the LW and want to visit her? Or that they’re not taking the child with them – and have promised her a different trip? In either case, it sounds like drama for drama’s sake. I have relatives that I’ve essentially cut off. What they did was a line for me. But I don’t care if anyone else has contact with them – that’s their choice and what they did is not so egregious that I expect everyone to cut them off.

  5. I wouldn’t discount those allegations so quickly. Your other relatives claiming nothing happened isn’t really proof, is it? Why would she make something like that up? It’s “grinding” (rather specific), more than one year ago at a party where I assume no one kept tabs in anyone. How old is she?
    What’s with the past “ridiculous” behavior of your step-sister? Did it afect your niece?
    Something’s off.

    1. Okay I re-read and got the niece and cousin confused. Still though – how old is everyone involved?

      1. Northern Star says:

        I was confused, too, when I first responded. Thought the husband was allegedly grinding on the niece, not her cousin. I’m still confused. How old IS everyone here? And I still wonder why the niece said something inappropriate was happening, and I think further questions are necessary. The story seems very convoluted.

      2. LisforLeslie says:

        I think we can assume that the cousin is within the general age range of the LW -so of marrying age. Of course, some cousins are 20 years apart in age. It doesn’t sound like the case.

        And for all we know “grinding” in this case could be hip bumping or white boy “twerking” -point being at some point you have to assume the 12 year old doesn’t know what she’s talking about and the step sister refuses to admit her daughter may have exaggerated or misinterpreted the situation. We are not talking about catching adults doing something in a closet or bedroom away from others.

      3. Yeah I think age is the most important question here.
        I’m going to give it a shot too: her niece is the daughter of her step-sister – who I would assume is about the LW’s age. I guess the niece is pretty young then.
        Plus she calls her cousin “my little cousin” which I can only assume is even younger still.

  6. @missd – So I also am not saying anything about the girl in question either. But One time when I was in middle school and my brother was in late elementary school there was a dust up in the neighborhood about him spewing profanities around a 5 year old girl. She said he did it and he said he didn’t. Then the girl came out saying my brother said “Shut Up” which was a curse word for a 5 year old and not really for an 11 year old. He was like “Oh, I said that.”

    Again, while we are all so happy that victims are being believed, it is important to get the whole story before we jump to conclusions.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Something similar happened with my son’s friend when they were in first grade. My son was doing something stupid, I don’t remember what, and his friend told him it was stupid to do that. The teacher overheard the friend and sent him to the principal and the friend confessed that he said the s word. The principal gave him a detention thinking he said something much worse than stupid.

  7. anonymousse says:

    The phrase that caught me was she is now accusing him of more inappropriate and terrible things.

    What things, LW1?

    1. The phrase that caught me is the LW calling her step-sister’s past actions “mean and ridiculous”. What did she do, LW?

  8. Autumnrose says:

    As a former CPS investigator LW1, your story has a lot of holes. (Probably bc you are trying to get to Your point) Your husband is being accused of sexual abuse by a child (so we assume) and of coarse you are defending your husband. Instead of listing characteristic details about the “little cousin”, your niece, and your husband you go directly towards your step sister. You blame it all on your step sister because you have a bad past with her so therefore for she’s the one being manipulative and lying. You seem to be very assuring that your husband would never do this. If your niece is telling lies then the biggest question is WHY would she say this? Grinding is a very specific adult word children do not use unless its a taught word and for it to be used in the correct way a child would have to be taught the definition. There’s a difference in sexual grinding term and grinding on objects with objects. Who questioned this “little cousin” and I wonder how they questioned him/her. Your step sister has a right to support her child. Thats her child. Just like you are angry about the allegations and support your husband whom you say would never do such. You never mention if child protective services was/is involved? You don’t mention the new allegations? If someone is being accused of a crime they usually are ready to clear there name and yes they would,be angry. They would also not want the accuser to ever come around them because naturally it makes anyone uncomfortable. If you husband demonstrates different behavior than that then you should be concerned.

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      Yes! I’m very concerned that LW’s reaction was to discount the allegations because it came from the hated step-sister. That’s how the molesters always get away with that kind of stuff because no one listens to the kiddos.

    2. Course NOT coarse. Their NOT there.

      What makes no sense is the mother’s anger over her daughter (the niece) not going to see the step-sister and her husband.

      (As others have pointed out)

  9. dinoceros says:

    LW1: Your letter made me cringe, to be honest. You seem to be implying that your sister is maliciously lying (because why else would you stop speaking to her?), but give us no evidence as to why you think she would. You said you guys didn’t get along for a while, but that’s a whole different story from someone purposely lying about your husband molesting a kid. Has your sister ever done anything that makes you think it seems likely that she’d lie? Not having your husband spend time with the niece makes sense (for many reasons), but I hope you’re not choosing to cut her out of YOUR life out of spite. If she lied, then she’s got bigger problems. If her mom lied, then it’s not her fault. If it’s true, then again, not her fault. As for your sister, is there a chance her daughter actually said it? If so, most good moms would believe their kids, so shunning her for that would be unfortunate.

    The other thing is that you’re relying on a lot of unfortunate societal myths. You’re sort of using the idea that an accuser has to be spotless (as in, the drama is implied to mean that your sister must be lying) and that men who do this stuff are easy to spot loners. Most spouses of predators don’t think their husbands are predators — or else, hopefully they’d not be married anymore. You say that you asked other people if they saw something, but I don’t think that’s a sign that you entertained the idea because I’d like to thank that if another adult saw it happen, they wouldn’t just be sitting on that info. And I assume that no one would be stupid enough to do it while another adult was watching them. I assume you asked them in order to back yourself up, which is fine. And I’m not saying this in order to claim that your husband did it or to provoke additional action from you, but I do think this sort of “they are automatically wrong, so I’m going to stop speaking to them and stop interacting with my niece” is maybe not the best way to go. More info would be helpful.

  10. Autumnrose says:

    LW2, fighting and arguing is completely normal and healthy in relationships. (Not physical fighting or verbal abuse) I think maybe you have insecurities and dount your relationship with him. It kind of sounds like he does love and care about you. You have to voice your emotional wants and needs. For example, if you like getting flowers for no reason you have to tell this guy that’s what you want. You may have know him for 17 yrs but you have only begun being intimate with him for 8 months. There’s a difference. Everyones always happy in the first few months. Maybe you dont need him coming over as much as he is. Doesn’t sound like you are ready for that.

  11. From LW1:

    “Thank you! It’s nice to get an unbiased perspective. I wound up calling my step-sister out on her ridiculous behavior. At this point, I’m not sure what my niece actually accused my husband of and what my step-sister made up, because I caught her in several lies that were completely on her. She tried to blame everything on my step-dad (which was also not true) and is trying to manipulate my parents into guilting me into forgiving her.

    I told my parents that I understand that she is telling them that she doesn’t want to have this ruin our relationship, but she did not once say that to me and instead sent me hateful text messages. I also told them that I’m not going to make excuses for her anymore. She is an adult and her behavior has consequences. It is really unfortunate that my niece is learning that behaving this way is acceptable.

    I also agree that it is not normal for a child or adult to fabricate such a story. This has made me wonder if a part of this could be a result of the issues that my step-sister has had with our family, due to her own husband. He is extremely verbally abusive to their children and my parents wound up calling CPS on them, because my step-sister was not stopping it. My entire family hates her husband and loves mine. It made me realize that the accusations could all be my step-sister trying to make herself feel better. I definitely am solidified in keeping her family away from mine and know that it is definitely the right thing to do.

    The good news is, the rest of my family is awesome!”

    1. So has your family always dealt with this kind of behavior from your sister? Where does all this come from? She sounds completely insane and toxic by your account.
      Something still feels a bit off though. It may be because you’re used to it – but the way you’re talking about her seems so … gleeful?

    2. dinoceros says:

      It sounds like you have a long history of competition with your sister. Unfortunately, “winning” in this situation means that your niece is presumably very troubled, your sister and niece are verbally (at the least) abused, and are now being ostracized. I don’t how noble it is to be that happy that your family hates her husband and loves yours, since it has a pretty dark reason.

      I’d agree about the gleeful tone. I thought your reaction to the situation was more one of being worried about your husband and worried about impact on the family, but it seems like you’re happy about how this played out because you can cast your sister as a villain.

  12. If LW1 spoke to the actual “victim” in this case that is who I would believe. (I would actually have her parents do it if she was a minor, but it sounds like she isn’t? ) If the victim says it didn’t happen I would drop it and do everything I could to keep myself and my immediate family away from the sister. It is very sad the environment the niece is in, but LW can’t do anything about it. I wouldn’t keep feeding it. The sister may be looking for attention, if so, stop giving it to her.
    LW2- WWS

  13. Autumnrose says:

    LW1 updated response still leaves me just as confused. This sounds like some overwhelming drama between this family. There is nothing clear in the update to me that suggest the step sister is lying or making these allegations up. LW1 you are saying she is which our specifics. The response on this letter is still so vague.

  14. I can totally believe it was a fabricated story for some kind of attention from the kid. My childhood best mate’s parents took in a niece due to family issues and the niece pulled the same thing with my mate’s dad. My mate’s dad definitely didn’t do anything and the girl admitted it later but it was tough at the time. The girl really needed more help than she was getting and this was sort of how she brought herself to the forefront and expressed she needed that help. Her own family provided no guidance on how to deal with her emotions or relate healthily to anyone growing up so she just did what she knew. I imagine coming from such a tumultuous and unhappy home this girl is doing the same.

  15. Clarification:
    I forgot to mention that my cousin is 16 and her own parents asked her. My niece is 10 and all of the adults that are witnesses are over 30. I’m not remotely happy about this situation. It makes me really sad to realize that my sister decided to act this way. When I confronted her, she didn’t even deny lying…she told other people in my family that my little cousin had confirmed the allegations, according to my aunt supposedly. My aunt and uncle found everything so inappropriate, that they let me know directly that it wasn’t true and that they had even asked their daughter themselves (my uncle was freaking out and definitely did not dismiss what my sister was saying).

    For further clarification, I have asked my parents and brother to not have this affect their relationship with my step-sister and her family. I feel very sad about having to distance myself from niece, because I am actually really close with her. I am also not happy that my brother-in-law is verbally abusive. The entire thing makes me so depressed…but I have my own children and I have to look on the bright side and be thankful that the rest of my family isn’t this toxic. Especially, since my step-sister is so over the top.

    Again, even when my niece made the original accusation, she stated that my step-dad, step-brother and cousin were all there when this happened. This made it really easy to verify, because every person there would be critical of my husband. I originally didn’t believe it, because I knew that all of the people there would have never let it happen in the first place…but I still asked every single person to verify, so that I wasn’t just dismissing it. The issue is that even after everyone told my step-sister that it didn’t happen and that my niece must have just percieved it that way, she got angry, attacked everyone and then said that more happened (but again, still saying that it was in front of everyone). Never once was it said that this happened without witnesses and since all of the witnesses denied it, the only conclusion that I can come to is that my step-sister is being malicious. Also, my sister is saying that my step-dad confirmed everything to me and that he is the reason this has continued. When I ask him, he says that it is untrue and he has even asked her to stop lying as well.

    I apologize for the holes…the story is convoluted, because it doesn’t really make sense in the first place…which is why I needed advice.

  16. Well, what was your husband doing with this niece that she could even accuse him of this? Definitely tell your husband no being touchy feely with children. No tickling. No wrestling. No full on body touching hugs. I would like to hear why they were even having body to body contact in the first place? You said three people were there to witness that this grinding didn’t take place. So what did happen? Why the hell was he even that physically close to a 10 year old?

    1. Again, the niece is not accusing the husband of doing anything to her. She said she saw the husband “dancing inappropriately” with the LWs cousin.

  17. How do we *know* the niece is lying exactly?

  18. So did you grill your husband on ANYTHING that could have happened to be misinterpreted? I guess the thing that astonishes me about this your is WHY, what is the motivation of the niece here?

  19. I’m not understanding the persistence of some posters that since an accusation was made, the LW’s husband must be guilty of… something. It couldn’t possibly be that step-sister is once again stirring up trouble just to stir up trouble. We don’t know what niece said… if anything. LW has talked to her husband. Why, exactly, does it make sense for her to grill him? She has talked to the cousin whom the step-sister claims he was guilty of grinding. She says nothing happened. She has talked to several people whom the step-sister says were present during this incident. They all say that nothing happened. Then step-sister changes her story: something even worse happened, but she won’t say what. Family all seem of the view that step-sister tends to over-dramatic trouble-stirring and general nastiness. I can’t imagine why you would expect a rational LW to grill her husband over this. The ANYTHING is clear: the step-sister lied to cause trouble.

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