DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I have a crush on my stepbrother. We were not raised together -- only just met when he moved back to Winnipeg from living in another country. Like my mother is attracted to his father, I am attracted to the son -- strongly, and it is not going to go away. I can see quite plainly (I am trying to be delicate) that he's sexually attracted to me, too. We are not blood relatives, I tell myself, so what does this situation make us? Awkward and touchy is what it makes us! Instead of getting it together, we fight about world politics, religion, anything. What am I to do? By the way, we are both in our 20s. This is what's so weird: If our parents were to divorce, we would no longer be considered step-relatives, but that is never going to happen because they are so in love. -- Feeling Weird, Winnipeg
Dear Weird: You're far from alone. This situation is cropping up more frequently, now that so many people are breaking up once the kids are up and out. You're not blood relations and you were not raised together in a family, so there's no law against your being a couple and getting married. Now we're down to feelings. Since it feels weird to you, that may be enough reason not to get together. It's not incestuous, but it's unconventional, and you will get some whispering behind your backs. Are you the kind of person who can take that? Also, consider this: What if you get together and then break it off? Can you both get past that and be civil at many years of family gatherings? This attraction is much like the situations at work where two people find themselves strongly attracted. It's a difficult situation at best, and oh, how other people will love to talk about it!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I am in high school and I bought my boyfriend a friendship ring. I showed it to him the weekend after we first declared our feelings and made love. He wouldn't accept it from me! He said guys are supposed to give girls the rings and he would feel embarrassed wearing it around the other guys. I tried to give it to him a second time, saying "Just wear it when we're together." Then he said, "Are you giving this to me because we made out and you're afraid I might dump you? I don't need a ring that says I'm yours!" I cried immediately because I realized he was right. Then he cried for hurting me, but he still said "Take the ring back and try to get a refund." We are still together but quiet around each other and can't seem to talk about it. I wish we'd never had sex. Please help me get through this. -- So Confused and Hurt, Winnipeg
Dear Confused: Unfortunately the two things you least want to do are exactly what you need to do -- take the troublesome ring back for a refund, and talk to your guy about it. You need to tell him you realize you were feeling insecure and the ring idea was a big mistake and now you have your money back and the ring is back in the store. He will probably heave a big sigh of relief at that. You see, you can't hang onto people by putting rings on them. Love is always a risk, at any age. If your boyfriend stays, he stays. If either of you decide to go, you go. Maybe it's too soon for you two to be having sex, especially if it makes you feel terrified you're going to lose him. You need to talk about that, too, and ASAP.
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