Am I in love with someone I shouldn’t be?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

About 4 years ago my mom met a man after leaving an abusive husband. The man (her boyfriend now) has a son who is only a few months younger than me. Ever since we met the first time we clicked. We never intentionally did anything but it happened and we found ourselves falling for each other. I’ve had issues with trust and abandonment and he knew how to make me feel better without even knowing of my issues. We bring the best out in each other. (not that we haven’t had problems). Our relationship has grown over the years and I know for sure I’m in love and have no interest in anyone else. We’ve talked and he says he loves me as well and we have had a steady relationship since January. In most aspects we are an average couple except that no one knows about it other than us. (we’ve told friends we are in relationships, just not with each other)

Our parents are not married and say that they do not plan on marriage. So what I would like to know is would we be considered step siblings and therefore our relationship incest? Or is it ok to continue our relationship?

A: What a lovely letter of your feelings and concern. No, it is not incest. Of course it is okay for you to continue with something that is so life affirming. The relationship your mother has with her boyfriend is not at all an impediment to your relationship right now. The definition of incest varies by culture and society, but is typically considered to be intercourse between blood relatives. The definition can be used to refer to individuals living under the same roof, and those related by adoption or marriage. But since there are no bloodline connections, and your mother and boyfriend are only dating, you would be on safe ground. What isn’t clear is if they are living together or not. If they are, the struggle would be with the perception of others. If your parents don’t know about it the two of you should decide together if you want to tell them.

It is a wonderful thing to find someone who understands you at a level that makes you feel loved and safe. I would encourage you to follow your hearts.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 May 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Am I in love with someone I shouldn’t be?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/29/am-i-in-love-with-someone-i-shouldnt-be/