Family relationships can be very weird and complicated. Sometimes it’s hard to know who you’re related to and through whom.
One 29-year-old man discovered this truth for himself when he found out he had been dating his own 24-year-old niece for several years.
Redditor “ThrowRAfamily7385” shared his situation on the “Relationship Advice” subReddit, unsure of what to do when his niece didn’t want to break up with him.
The Original Poster (OP) explained to the thread:
“I have been dating my niece, she doesn’t want to end the relationship.”
The OP’s father had a large family after two marriages.
“My father got married when he was very young and had a few children, his first wife died and the children grew up and he ended up moving back to his home country.”
“That’s where he met my mother and I popped out. Now that I’m all grown up and making my own way they’ve moved back to the home he bought with his first wife as they get to enjoy the countryside. I routinely visit them at least 2 or 3 times a year as it’s only a 2 hour plane ride away and it’s a great place to relax in.”
“There’s not much to do with it being the countryside so I’d often go into town which is were I met my GF (girlfriend) /niece called Edith 3 years ago. My father is not very close with his children or grandchildren for reasons that aren’t relevant but he still gets the occasional [update] and family photos from them.”
After meeting, the OP and his girlfriend moved in together.
“We clicked pretty well and for a year we’d talk non-stop and I’d visit her every time I’d come to see my parents. She’d also come to visit me often and that’s when we decided to move in together so she could continue her studies in a big city.”
“We’ve been very happy and haven’t had any real issues. I don’t really talk to my parents about relationships so apart ‘Yeh I’ve got a GF’ her name or picture never came up, they just wanted me to be happy.”
On their latest trip, the OP received shocking news from his father.
“Edith and I recently went on a trip and I decided to share a few pictures with my father, who immediately commented ‘How do you know Edith?’. This somewhat threw me and I told him that she was my girlfriend.”
“This led to him dropping the rather large bombshell that she’s his grand daughter, the daughter of his eldest son. Turns out his son was still living in the area and his daughter decided to go to the local college which is where I met her. That would make her my niece, or rather my half brother’s daughter.”
The OP felt like there was only one choice to make.
“I feel pretty sick and after a long talk with my father I realised I had to end things no matter how I felt.”
The OP’s girlfriend didn’t feel that way, though.
“Edith on the other hand didn’t see things the same way and wants to continue the relationship. I tried to explain to her how sick it is but she’d just come up with excuses like ‘we just won’t have kids’ or ‘no one will know’.”
After not being able to come to a decision with his girlfriend, the OP isn’t sure what to do next.
“Short of just ending it and refusing to see her or talk to her anymore I really don’t know what to do.”
Fellow Redditors wrote in on the situation, trying to sort out what the OP should do next.
Some urged the OP to think about all of his options before breaking up with his girlfriend.
“The grossness factor with inter-family romantic relationships stems from two things. First, that there is a familial bond and it’s gross to date within your family. Except you have no familial bond with her. You didn’t even know you were related to her until you found out by accident.”
“The second is genetic risk associated with reproduction. This can be serious, or this can be overstated, depending on the familial relationship. Choices about genetic risk can be made with the help of a geneticist who will best be able to explain exactly what you’d be facing by procreating together. And there are, of course, other ways to become parents including donated sperm and/or eggs, adoption, fostering, and surrogacy.”
“If you want to just pull the cord, you can do that. But I also think that you’re having a knee jerk reaction and it may be helpful for you and your girlfriend to see socially progressive counselor for a few sessions to make sure this is what you really want to do and help you both see things from the other’s side.”
“I’m guessing you’re going to get a lot of knee jerk comments here. But that’s other people’s preconceived notions about the subject. You can make your own choice here.” – Alert-Potato
“What the h**l why is everybody so grossed out by this thread? They are complete strangers to each other they didn’t grow up with watch other or anything there is nothing to be grossed out about it. If it wasn’t for the tagged photo they woudnt even know that they are related to this day.”
“OP do what you think is right. There are consequences to both of your decisions. Take your time, evaluate and then decide.” – myslatron
One thought the risks of the relationship were too great.
“Here’s a not knee jerk reaction to your ‘everyone is perfectly rational all the time reaction’:”
“There is the fact we live in a society and the super-majority of people find it disgusting.”
“It will limit everything in his life: what friends he can have, what jobs will tolerate it, professional advancement. Any kids he may have will for sure be massively harmed by it, either through the eventual revelation or by the public knowledge.”
“Or he can perpetrate a lie forever. None of these are good outcomes. If you want to use your super rationality then this is a bad move.” – SaxifrageRussel
A few pointed out the OP seemed uncomfortable and gave him the okay to leave.
“You can end it if you like and it seems you want to. I personally think incest, no matter how small the percentage, is gross.”
“She doesn’t have to understand your feelings or feel the same way you do about the situation because it doesn’t seem you want to continue this relationship. This is the way you see it and you feel sick, so it’s okay to leave.” – michtttttt
“It sounds like you already made your mind up, so Edith can’t just continue the relationship without you. You want to end things, so it’s over. Tell her that, and tell her you’ll cut her off completely if she doesn’t agree. She can’t just shrug and say ‘no, I think we’re still dating.'” – carolinemathildes
“I think it makes it more complicated without having that familial bond for sure and it’s different from a simple yes or no answer.”
“However, I feel like OP should follow his gut on this one. If he needs therapy simply on the basis of his relationship existing, then it sounds like a bad idea. Relationships come with enough problems down the road as it is and therapy right off the bat is not a good start.”
“If he can’t be okay with it on his own then he probably never will be.” – Sharp-Mood-2127
It must be a complicated situation for the OP, being with a woman he cares about and then discovering that he shouldn’t have ever felt that way about her.
From a societal standpoint, the answer seems pretty straight-forward, but when it comes to love, how much harder is it to decide?