I have slept with my brother, how can I fix it?

I'm 18, my brother is 22 and we are not blood related. I was adopted from Russia as a teenager, but legally we are siblings and were always super close. We talked for hours, shared secrets and used to hang out together all the time like best friends. We had lived as a family for a while, but then he moved to another city for college. There, he had a house of his own. When my parents went to France for their vacation, they decided it's best for me not to stay alone, but to live with my brother for those three weeks. I knew he had loved me, but I pretended not to, despite it being so obvious. Don't get me wrong, I love him so much, but that's different kind of love. He is really amazing, handsome and he was always there for me, but I still feel awkward about this situation. I promised myself I will never let him suffer or hold out hope or something, but there we go... when I was at his place I got a call from my Russian orphanage. They said that my biological mother had died from overdose. I was totally depressed and my brother had comforted me. We hugged, kissed, slept.

It was all my fault. And I wouldn't be so messed if it was not for my brother's feelings. I mean he is seriously in love and I think even his mother suspects it. No, pretty sure she knows. So I can't just say "let's pretend nothing had happened, ok?", because the night we slept I said I love him, (clearly the intonation meant - not as a brother), which was a lie, made up by me due to the fear of loneliness. Besides, I hate saying this, but it felt good. I am not sure about my feelings for my brother now. Maybe I want to try to date him to sort it out for myself, but it seems abnormal. We are not blood related, but lived together for a little less than 10 years. It can't be forgotten, so I asked my school friend to host me until my parents are back and left his house without saying goodbye. Now I am scared to speak to him, to look at him and I am ignoring his calls and texts.

Please, tell me, how can I save our relationship? How do I say politely to my brother that I lied about loving him, without him getting hurt, or that I want us to forget about what happened? Or what else should I do?

Ben's Answer:

What does sound very clear is that you love him (as a brother and a friend). If you want to avoid making things worse and far more painful in the long run, tell him the truth. You cannot pretend to be in love with someone without causing them a lot of future pain, and causing yourself to suffer too. But if he is really in love with you, and if you trust him as your adopted brother, then you owe it to him to talk about this in a sensitive, caring, but honest way. If you lead him to believe you feel more than you do, you will confuse him much more and risk destroying any good relationship between you.

Even if you are confused about your own feelings, it is still important to not mislead him. It sounds like you are very close friends, so why not trust your friendship and talk it through? There is no way to avoid pain completely, but the real love that is there between you has to be enough to bolster your courage and face this situation head on. I see no other way to heal your relationship and avoid further hurt.

But regardless of what I or anyone else says, you must listen most to your intuition and your heart and do what feels right to you. Trust yourself.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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