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This Woman's Been Secretly Hooking Up With Her Stepcousin — Would It Really Be That Bad If They Dated?

"We spent the last weekend together and I think I caught feelings."

Hello, world. My name's Stephen LaConte, I'm a writer here at BuzzFeed, and my favorite thing in the world (besides my dog) is giving people advice.

So I've invited readers like you to message me on Instagram and Twitter (@StephenLC in both places) with your biggest problems — and I'm solving 'em right here on BuzzFeed, one DM at a time. Let's get right to it.

Today we've got this woman, who's been secretly hooking up with her stepcousin for years (they're related by marriage, not blood). She wants to know whether this is a relationship she can take to the next level. Here's what she wrote to me:

Screenshot of an Instagram DM who wants to know whether she should make thing official with her stepmom's nephew, who she's secretly been hooking up with for years

Well, I'm not surprised you caught feelings — five years of incredible sex with someone might do that to you! And I'll hazard a guess, given that he's still sneaking around with you half a decade later, that he might have caught a few feelings too.

Look, I'll be honest: If you weren't already deep into this affair, I probably would have advised you not to pursue a romantic entanglement with your stepcousin. As you said, it has the potential to get messy, weird, and profoundly awkward if things go south. This is one line that, generally speaking, most people wouldn't want to cross.

A couple having a fight

But here you are now, several miles past that line, and so my advice for you is going to be different! You've been hooking up for years at this point — you can't exactly unring that bell. And you've both proven through time that the connection you share is something deeper and more substantial than a quick fling. Heck, maybe you two are indeed meant to be together — five years is a long time.

And then there's the fact that you've both tried to have other relationships, yet kept coming back to each other whenever you were single. I wonder, to be honest, if those other relationships failed because you both had lingering questions about what you might be to each other. If so, you owe it to yourselves (and any potential partners you may have in the future, for that matter!) to get some answers to those questions once and for all.

So yes, I think you should be honest with him about your feelings. And if he feels the same way, you should probably just date — openly, honestly, and without shame.

A happy couple

Sure, it's unusual to date someone who could *technically* be mapped on your family tree — but you're not actually related in any biological or emotional way. You share no blood. You didn't grow up together. And you're both consenting adults fully capable of making this choice for yourselves. Given the specifics of your situation, I certainly don't think dating would be immoral, wrong, or even that weird.

One thing it WOULD be, though, is complicated. There will be drawbacks to dating someone so closely tied to your family — as you said, Christmas will likely get awkward if you ever break up. But let's be real: You've been more or less engaged in a secret affair with this man for the past five years. I'm pretty sure the holidays would get awkward even if you stopped right now. Perhaps that train has left the station.

An angry couple fighting at Christmas

So my advice is to proceed, with lots of caution and care. If you date, it won't always be easy to navigate your unconventional dynamic — but I have to imagine it'll be better than sneaking around, lying, and pretending you don't like someone that you clearly share a strong connection with.

As for telling your stepmom and other family members about this? Well, that's a whole other advice column of its own. So if you and this guy do decide to make things official, you might want to DM me again. My inbox is always open. Good luck.

That's all the advice I'm giving today, folks, but if you've got any words of wisdom for our DMer, share them in the comments! I'll be reading...

Want more advice and updates on previous DMers? Follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@StephenLC in both places). And if you want to submit a question to be featured in the column, DM me — just be sure to read the rules below first.