'I'm having a secret fling with my uncle — mum will be distraught'
They say you find love in unlikely places, and that’s certainly the case for this reader.
She’s fallen in love with her mum’s stepbrother and, while she’s not biologically related to him, she’s grown up with him as an uncle.
The pair want to go public with their relationship – but know it could cause some serious problems.
Before you go, check out last week’s dilemma, where a stepdad is fed up with his partner’s lazy son.
For the last 18 months I’ve been having a secret fling with my uncle, which sounds terrible but honestly it isn’t. My mum and her brother are only step siblings, and don’t share a parent, so he’s not even blood related to me.
The trouble is that he and mum have grown up together since they were children and regard one another as true siblings. Of course, I’ve known him all my life and we’ve always been close, but things didn’t become romantic until I was 19.
He is 20 years older than me and has been married twice before. He has two children by each wife, so yes, he does come with baggage and from a mother’s point of view, I can appreciate he is not an ideal partner.
However, he always says that the reason his marriages have failed is just because he hadn’t found the right woman, and now he says that in me, he has. Despite the age difference, we have lots in common and now that our relationship is physical, things are beyond fantastic between us. He is young for his age, whereas I am quite mature, so I guess we meet in the middle.
Mum thinks he’s a bit of a Jack-the-lad and would be distraught if she knew I was involved with him.
I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, but I’m afraid this will drive a big wedge between me and mum and ruin our relationship. How do I break it to her?
If you truly love one another then you’ll have to make this relationship public sooner or later – and when you do, be prepared for a lot of strong opinions.
The person who clearly matters most to you is your mum, who has a lot to take in. I asked our family expert, Dr Hari Rudkin, for her views.
Dr Rudkin says: ‘There are so many aspects of this relationship which break the norms. The age gap between you is significant, and you’ve grown up with this man being your uncle. Even without the blood link, this won’t be easy to deal with.’
Before you tell anyone, Dr Rudkin feels you should talk to your boyfriend about the future. Standing together will help you get through this, so you need to be certain the relationship is secure.
Dr Rudkin thinks your mother should be the first person you tell. ‘When you talk to her, be clear and honest about your situation’ she says. ‘Rehearse what you’re going to say and how you’ll say it, as this will help you stay focussed in the heat of the moment.’
Your mum will doubtless be shocked, but Dr Rudkin believes that given time, your relationship will survive. ‘Mother-daughter bonds can weather the most terrible storms.’ she says. ‘Hopefully, your mum will eventually accept your decision.’
Keep the lines of communication open, as we never know what lies ahead. Handle this well and your mum will always be there for you – whatever happens.
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist and co-author of What’s My Child Thinking and The Split Survival Kit.
Laura is a counsellor and columnist.
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