1. "During Christmas four years ago, I came home to a shit-storm, as one of my cousins had started dropping truth bombs. We learned that my oldest sister does not share the same biological father as myself and our third sister. We were the only three people who didn't know. For over 35 years, everyone kept quiet."
2. "My aunt intentionally snuck around and dated her daughter’s ex for YEARS."
3. "My great-uncle had a whole other family in Scotland (he’s Northern Irish) and one day he just never came home from work. Turns out he had been saving up, moved to Scotland, married his mistress, and went to live with her and their two children. This was never discussed, and my sisters and I only found out a few months ago."
4. "I learned that my grandfather cheated on my grandma with her first cousin, who she let stay with them for a summer, while my grandma was pregnant with my mom. They are still married, but there’s a huge rift in their relationship. It happened almost 60 years ago, but my grandma still hasn’t gotten over that hurt."
5. "When I was in college, I found out that my great-uncle’s father had a secret second family. No one knew he had a second wife and two other children until after he died. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse. In order to make it easier to keep his families straight, he gave both sets of kids the same names. So, my great-uncle Tom and his sister Sue have a half-brother and half-sister also named Tom and Sue!"
6. "My great-grandma had at least two extramarital affairs — one with the man who lived next door, and one with her female cousin. Her kids found out years after her death from an extended family member who mentioned it in a very casual, 'everyone knows this' type of way. Everyone did not know. Chaos ensued."
7. "I found out that my grandfather was in prison for money laundering for mobs, including the Yakuza, and he went on the run. My mom told me that while he was on the run, she was regularly tailed by both the FBI and mobsters in her car to see if she would lead them to him. Also, he was in jail with Charles Manson and they did a prisoner therapy group together. Apparently, Grandpa was close with 'Charlie.' This was all before I was born."
8. "I found out recently that part of my grandma’s family helped hide Bonnie and Clyde."
9. "My sisters and I are named after our dad’s former girlfriends. My mom still doesn’t know. According to my aunt, each of our middle names is the same as a girl my dad dated before our mom."
10. "My cousin found out that my grandpa has a hidden love child from when he was stationed in Germany in the 1960s. A lady reached out to my cousin and said, 'I think you know my dad.' They made the connection and met in person, and she’s actually really nice. My dad and his sisters kept it a secret from my grandma, who died last year. Grandma would have completely lost her shit if she found out."
11. "My grandfather's mother did not like him marrying my grandmother, so she tried to get the local mafia to 'get rid of her.' But, as it turns out, the local mafia loved my grandmother's family, so they told my grandfather's mother to back the fuck off!"
12. "When my aunt passed away suddenly, my mom helped my cousin go through her house. My cousin found some of my aunt’s old diaries where she confessed that her husband wasn’t my cousin’s father. She'd had an affair, and my cousin’s biological father died in an accident on a farm while my aunt was pregnant. My mom admitted that my aunt had told her the truth 27 years prior, and she'd kept the secret all those years. It created a huge rift between my cousin and my mom for a good 15 years."
13. "Ancestry DNA discovered my mom's 'dead' father was alive and well living in Colorado with a whole new family. The things you learn."
14. "During prohibition, my grandfather and grandmother ran a speakeasy and brothel that was allowed to stay open because they paid 5% of their profits to the police chief (who also was a frequent customer)."
15. "My great-grandfather murdered somebody in Northern Ireland and had to flee the country because there was a bounty on him. He came to America during the Depression and married my great-grandma. He had no intention of ever coming to America before that, so basically the only reason I'm sitting here typing this is because some poor dude in Belfast was murdered."
16. "I learned that my grandpa and his second wife were cousins. First cousins."
17. "When I was older, I found out that my ultra-conservative, extremely religious, and judgmental aunt was a stripper when she was younger. Turns out that wasn’t the only scandalous thing she’s ever done. Her fourth kid isn’t actually her husband's. The baby is actually her husband’s best friend's. My cousin is 25 and still has no idea his dad isn’t his real dad. We would always make comments about how different he looked when we were younger. Sorry dude!"
18. "My uncle had a secret child and no one is supposed to know, but my auntie let it slip one day. The secret child is the same age as my cousin, and they used to be in the same school in a small town. They don’t know they are related."
19. "When I was younger, there were 'talks' that my dad had had an extramarital affair that resulted in a child, but I never paid attention to it. When I was older, I asked my aunts, and they ended up spilling the entire story. Turns out it was true, and I have a sibling somewhere in Mexico."
20. "Three days before my great-grandmother died, she was reminiscing and said something along the lines of, 'I've lived a good life. I was married seven times and had four kids. I can't complain.' Thing is, we only knew about four marriages and three kids. She refused to say more and passed soon after."
21. Finally: "I was bullied by many of my male cousins when I was a kid because they thought I was gay. I recently learned that many of those same guys are secretly fucking each other. They discovered that I was actually gay from social media and approached me to join their 'group.' I declined because that's too much for me, thanks."
What's the wildest family secret you learned when you got older? Share your story in the comments!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.