Most relationship predicaments both big and small can be identified and are relatable to a certain degree.
But one recent edition of Slate's sex advice column "How To Do It"stumped even the resident relationship expert, Rich Juzwiak.
And we see why.
Dear How to Do It: What’s the word for the thing where you live with six brothers and have sex with two of them? https://t.co/44OMhm1ClR— Slate (@Slate) 1579693114.0
The first part of the introduction written in by "Oh, Brother" sounded like an innocuous setup.
"I (a man) live in a large house along with six brothers, all adults and close to each other in age..."
But the next phrase came from nowhere and warranted a whiplash-inducing double-take.
"...two of whom I am having sex with."
He said he was "naturally closer" to both of them instead of with the other four.
'"Yarin' and 'Ferdinand' are both fully aware that I have sex with both of them."
"With the exception of occasional flares of jealousy on Ferdinand's part (based in insecurity; we're working on it), it seems to suit all of us very well."
"The house we share the rent for is large enough that I'm sure the other four brothers don't know about the sex."
"The problem is that I don't know what to call this arrangement, even to myself."
It should be noted that the questioner is not related to the brothers. His roommates are all brothers, but not his brothers.
Yet people were quick to assume he was related to his thruple partners.
@Slate He's f**king his brothers and his only issue is he's not sure what to call the 'relationship'? https://t.co/JxRqvclhge— Terracotta Stoli (@Terracotta Stoli) 1579695142.0
@Slate One word. Incest.— Gayle J. Greenlea (@Gayle J. Greenlea) 1579695610.0
Those who read the article, however, were quick to correct.
@Slate Everyone making an incest joke didn't read the story. They're not his brothers, he's not related them.— Andrew Orillion (@Andrew Orillion) 1579716143.0
Other classifications were tossed around.
@Slate The word is 'wtf'— Tristan Seith (@Tristan Seith) 1579722778.0
@Slate fun— hi (@hi) 1579722748.0
@Slate Slut— Darrell Pitzer (@Darrell Pitzer) 1579722692.0
@Slate A timeshare?— Shade Parade (@Shade Parade) 1579722732.0
Now that that is clear as mud, he continued:
"I'm often uncomfortably aware of just how unconventional it really is."
"When with one or both of them in public, I don't know how to answer when people ask what Yarin and/or Ferdinand are to me."
Sibling rivalry just took on a whole different meaning.
"Yarin usually answers that we're friends, which I don't mind. Ferdinand has brazenly answered that I am his boyfriend whom he shares with his brother, which I DO mind."
@Slate What’s wrong with the other 4?— Ryan Davis (@Ryan Davis) 1579691500.0
"That part isn't anyone's business!"
"Ferdinand is somewhat hurt by this, as he is openly affectionate with me in public and expects reciprocation, but I'm a quiet person, while there are Mardi Gras parades more reserved than Ferdinand."
"My sex life is absolutely not the business of random strangers."
"Oh, Brother" concluded his query by asking if he should "follow Yarin's lead" and refer to themselves as friends and if he should tell Ferdinand to "cool it in public."
Juzwiak began his noble response with a brief treatise on labels, possibly to mark time by collecting himself from the dizzying invocation.
"We use labels as linguistic shortcuts, knowing that they couldn't possibly convey the richness of the lived-in experience that they represent. But on the upside, they make understanding your life slightly easier for other people."
"You've given me a rather hearty paragraph, and I still have no idea what to call this. Your situation defies easy summation."
"I don't know if there's love involved here or if your relationship with these men is purely about sex."
The relationship expert offered a suggestion but said that the branding was ultimately not his decision.
"In the former case, you'd be the 'hinge' of a polyamorous V … with two brothers. But you're the authority here, and naming this configuration is ultimately your call, not mine."
Next, he turned the tables and asked the million dollar question.
"Additionally, I don't know why six adult brothers would be living in a house together, why their parents weren't more concerned with overpopulation and what it might mean for a looming water shortage, how you found that house and were able to claim a bed, and why you all aren't monetizing your kooky living situation via a reality show."
Maybe The Gay Bachelor & Two Brothers is the next logical evolution for the reality TV dating genre.
Not knowing how to irrefutably identify the family dynamic of brotherly love, Juzwiak wound up crying uncle.
"Your question has left me with…questions. I assume it will for others, as well."
"If you feel like making strangers' heads spin, by all means lay it all on them, but it would probably save everyone time and confusion to just say you're friends and tell Ferdinand to cool it. It's what you want to do anyway."
We're not confused by this at all, said nobody.