Pinings for siblings, lunches with exes

Joey Garcia

I am in love with my sister, and it causes me anguish. Before you cast a moral judgment, my sister is not a sister in the biological sense. She is my cousin by second marriage, but she grew up with us. I am 33 years old; she is 27. I have tried to let her know how I feel, but she would have none of that. Something happened lately that led me to believe she is sleeping with my best friend. My best friend is not aware of my feelings for my sister. I feel betrayed. I expected my sister to keep clear of my friends, and guys have an unwritten code to keep clear of each other’s younger sisters. Plus, I wanted to be the one in her life, and it’s unfair that my best friend is. How can I move on?

Stop expecting her to change. You asked; she answered. If you truly love this woman, you would respect her “no.” True love wants the best for the other (and only arrogance would let you believe the lie that you are best for her). So, if your feelings for her are genuine, honor her boundaries. And, for your sake, stop clinging to a young boy’s dream of romance. It keeps you emotionally stunted and puts opportunities for a mature romantic life on hold as you wait to be seen, acknowledged and chosen by your “sister.”

Instead of investing in unrequited infatuation, channel your energy into learning how to be real. Friendships should be safe containers for practicing how to be honest, trustworthy and reliable. If you can’t be honest with the person you consider your closest friend, you are either ashamed of who you are, or you realize that once you tell the truth you will be invited to change (and you don’t want to). There is a popular saying in 12-step addiction-recovery programs: “You are only as sick as your secrets.” Keep this in mind—but understand that if your friend and sister are involved romantically, this is not the time for you to unveil your secrets to them. Doing so will only launch the drama factor into the stratosphere. By the way, the stratosphere is where you need to kick these beliefs: “I feel betrayed,” “It’s not fair,” “There’s an unwritten rule not to touch a friend’s younger sister,” etc. You betrayed yourself by clinging to an idea (a romantic relationship with Sis) that is long dead. Only children expect life to be fair. And unwritten rules? Stop protecting yourself from accepting responsibility for failing to communicate with your “best” friend.

My boyfriend keeps in touch with all of his ex-girlfriends. This makes me jealous and insecure. He says he has never cheated on anyone, and I believe him, but some of these women are pretty hot. Mostly, they have e-mail contact, but he does have lunch with an ex occasionally. Is this normal? I don’t have contact with my exes and don’t really want to. Should I?

There are no rules here, just experiences. If you have dated someone and developed a mutually strong friendship, love and respect for each other but realize that you are not right for each other, long-term, it’s natural that the romantic aspects of the relationship would end but the friendship would live on. In a healthy relationship like this, there are no woulda, coulda, shouldas, and the ex/now-friend doesn’t ever get in the way of the current relationship. But these relationships are rare because most people break up because of a lack of genuine love, friendship and respect. Still, these folks often cling to their exes, calling what they have friendship when it’s actually a refusal to let go.

Meditation of the week
A reader of this column e-mailed and asked if I would host a discussion of The Da Vinci Code. I called my friend Mark Halverson, a former movie critic for SN&R, and we gathered a small group to view the film and engage in a lively discussion at the downtown mall. How do you create community?

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