A 28-year-old woman was left reeling after her 30-year-old husband's older brother sprung something on her she never expected.
Unsure how to proceed, she consulted the Relationship Advice subReddit.
Redditor throwra_k5678 posted:
"My husband's older brother (age 35) confessed that he's in love with me, what the hell do I do?"
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
"This happened last week, I am still shocked and have no idea what to do with this information."
"A little back story—my husband and I have been friends since I was in middle school, so we've known each other, and each other's families, forever. We started dating after college and got married two years ago."
"Let's call my husband Greg and his older brother Michael. I've obviously known Michael just as long as I've known Greg, but in that vague, peripheral way you know a friend's older brother."
"He was already well into college by the time I met and started hanging out with Greg so until we got married, I hadn't had a lot of contact with him except for holidays when everyone was home."
"Michael and his wife (let's call her Stephanie) have been separated for over a year and are in the process of getting divorced. He primarily cares for their 6 year old son (Stephanie moved out of state)."
"Michael is an ER physician and has been insanely busy since [the pandemic] started, especially since their son's daycare is still closed. Since I'm able to work remotely, I've stepped in to help out with babysitting."
"As a result I've had more interaction with Michael, but still, it's not much. Just him getting home exhausted from work, saying 'Thanks!' me saying some version of 'No worries, happy to spend time with my nephew!'"
"And then I leave. Nothing romantic, no ulterior motives, nothing weird."
"Then, last week, as I was gathering up my laptop and stuff getting ready to go home, Michael said, 'hey I really need to talk to you about something that's been bugging me'."
"I honestly thought it was going to be that I had done something wrong in caring for his son—letting him do/eat something he wasn't supposed to or something like that.
"But then, he essentially told me that he's been 'in love' with me for years, and that his feelings toward me were a contributing factor in him leaving Stephanie, and seeing me with his son and 'coming home to me every night' has been 'wonderful'."
"He then said 'I understand you're with Greg, but I had to tell you how I feel'."
"I sort of blacked out from shock, mumbled something about needing to get home, and left. I can't stress enough how little one-on-one contact Michael and I have had."
"Like, I don't think I've ever even hugged him. If you added up all the words we've ever spoken to each other, it might comprise a 30 minute conversation."
"He's almost like a father/teacher figure to me. I certainly don't feel the same way about him and am blown away that not only is he apparently 'in love' with me (how?) but I was a contributing factor in his divorce?!"
"Which means Stephanie knows how he feels?"
"Because I know some problematic people will ask—no I have never led him on, worn anything even remotely revealing in front of him, texted him about anything other than childcare logistics, or spent more than 10 minutes alone with him."
"I'm honestly more confused than anything because, from my perspective, he knows nothing about me, like we barely talk. How the hell can he think he's in love with me?"
"I've avoided him entirely since it happened, saying I had a bunch of meetings and couldn't babysit last week—which I feel really guilty about because I love spending time with my nephew. I haven't told anyone else, especially my husband."
"Please help, this is so far above my pay grade, and probably above Reddit's as well, but have no idea what to do. I don't want to cause a weird rift between brothers, or not be able to see my nephew anymore."
"Any advice is welcome. Thanks."
Redditors shared their thoughts and advice with almost everyone telling the OP they definitely needed to tell their husband.
The OP returned with a detailed update.
"Damn, I had no idea this would blow up, I honestly thought I'd get like three responses. Thank you to everyone who offered their kind advice and insight on my situation."
"This is going to be super long, but here it goes..."
"My husband is my best f'king friend, has been since I was 12 years old. Keeping this from him for 5 days was the hardest thing I've ever done; I was sick to my stomach and could barely sleep."
"A special 'f'k you' to those commenters who insinuated that I was lying and had actually been in love with/f'king Michael the entire time and am using this as an excuse to get out of cheating. Who hurt you??"
"I knew, even before posting on here, that I needed to tell my husband. But, being the conflict-averse, socially awkward/anxious person I am, I sort of hoped this would all go away if I just ignored it like nothing happened or pretend I had gone spontaneously deaf."
"I didn't want it to turn into some huge deal that made every family get-together impossibly awkward. But the responses I received here were overwhelmingly: 'Tell your g*ddamn husband!'"
"Yesterday (Tuesday) morning, I told my husband everything. His initial response, no joke, was: '**Laughing** What?!' Followed immediately by, 'Omg, this is totally my fault…'."
"Incredulous, I asked him how this could possibly be his fault. He explained that when Michael and Stephanie were still married, whenever they would have issues in their relationship, Michael would confide in Greg, who in turn would offer his advice and support."
"Being a protective little brother upset about how Michael was being treated by his wife, Greg would apparently always use me as the 'good' example in contrast to Stephanie's 'bad,' (she was a bit of an a**hole to be fair), insisting that Michael deserved better, deserved to have a relationship like we did, a wife who loved him as much as I love Greg."
"I then pointed out the obvious, that this was neither his fault, nor mine, and that Michael was definitely not in love with me, but the idea of me—first as the wife he wanted but did not have, then as the 'mother' to his child."
"We agreed that the situation has been compounded by the unimaginable stress he's been under since [the pandemic], and he probably saw me as the only stable, loving presence in he and his son's life."
"Because my husband is the kindest, most empathetic, most amazing man on earth, (and probably a better brother than Michael deserves TBH) he wasn't even angry. He was sad."
"He knew, as well as I did, that Michael was not actually in love with me. We agreed we would talk to Michael together, suggest therapy, and continue supporting him in caring for our godson."
"We also agreed that no matter what happened, we would not let that little boy be the collateral damage in this awkward, unnecessary mess, especially when his parents have divorced, his own mother has all but abandoned him, and a global pandemic has prevented him from seeing his kindergarten friends as often—he needs, and deserves, a stable, loving, normal environment in which to be a kid."
"Greg and I decided that we would watch our nephew together yesterday, at our house. Greg texted Michael that he would be working from home, and to drop the boy off on his way to the hospital."
"When Michael got off work and came to pick up his son, I was upstairs, leaving them to talk. After they had talked for about an hour and a half, Greg called me downstairs."
"Both of them had been crying. Michael apologized to me, and to Greg, profusely—total mea culpa."
"He insisted his intention in confessing his feelings was meant more as a 'compliment to what an amazing wife I am to Greg' and 'how happy you make my son,' and *that* was what motivated him to finally leave Stephanie two years ago, not wanting to be with me and take me away from Greg, but realizing that I (or, more realistically, someone like me), was what he wanted/deserved."
"He said he realized it was selfish of him to unload his feelings on me like that, and he knew I wouldn't reciprocate them, but that he felt he would 'go insane' if he didn't 'just f'king say something,' with everything else on his plate right now."
"He said he had been feeling this way for a couple of years and planned to just work through it alone and take it to his grave, but that it just sort of came out like word vomit, and he 'never in a zillion f'king years' would have acted on it."
"Michael also made a point to underscore the fact that these romantic feelings toward me are quite new, (developing about FIVE years ago), and were in no way predatory, since he's known me since I was 12 and he was 20."
"Michael agreed to seek therapy. Greg and I even offered to join him in the sessions if he thought it would be helpful."
"Greg and I will also still be helping him with his son. He works insane hours and is new to the whole single-dad thing."
"Any babysitting will be done at our house, not Michael's from now on."
"For those pointing out that Michael can afford alternative childcare for his son—that's not the point—his son, our godson, needs a stable environment filled with family and routine since his life has been pretty much uprooted by the divorce, his mom leaving, and the pandemic."
"Until his school resumes in-person classes next Spring, we'll care for him as a family. Greg and Michael's sister and parents (while they know nothing of this mess), share in the responsibility as well so it will not be totally on our hands."
"All in all, I don't think any of us could have hoped for a better outcome to this weird a** situation. Happy to have everything out in the open so we can move forward."
"Thanks again for all of your advice and kind words. I have the best husband, salt of the earth that one."