Word of the day: Untoward.
Q: Like all your other writers, I find myself surprised to be writing in, but my weird little issue is really bothering me and some advice would be much appreciated.
Let's start with my current relationship, which is far from perfect, but perfect for me. I've been with my boyfriend for 10 years, and it's been great. I love him and he loves me. The problem is his family. Actually, let me rephrase that: the problem is me and family relationships.
I was never very close to my family. I have a brother who I rarely speak to and when I do, am at a total loss as to what to say. It's amazing we share genes because there is nothing else we have remotely in common. My parents are more like my brother and they have formed a tight little family where they share their passions and interests. Boyfriend's family is fantastic. They're warm, loving people who have opened their arms and hearts to me and make me feel more at home then I ever did with my own family. I do share interests with them and find myself engaged in conversations and activities with them that I never had growing up.
My issue is his brother. He's a great person and he cares about me. He cares about me the way I think brothers are supposed to care for sisters. He goes to bat for me, jokes with me, does all the sibling things that people do in the movies. Often the three of us hang out for long lengths of time. We travel together and goof off. Brother and Boyfriend are very close so Brother is a fixture in our home and our lives. Never having a real sibling relationship, sometimes I feel guilty, like should I be having fun with someone other than Boyfriend? When does it get weird? I have plenty of male friends, but I'm just closer to Brother. He feels like family.(Nothing untoward has ever happened and it wouldn't; it's not like that.)
The problem is me. I just don't know what a healthy relationship is like with non-friends and non-significant others. Am I wrong to enjoy Brother's company? Is it wrong to have a TV-sibling relationship with someone I'm not actually related to?
– Essentially an Orphan, Boston
A: EAO, it's not wrong to have a close relationship with your boyfriend's brother. It's pretty great, actually.
Even if you admitted that you had a tiny crush on Brother, I wouldn't be worried. You met someone you really dig (Boyfriend). It makes sense that the person who's most like your boyfriend would appeal to you. Weird little friend crushes are normal.
My only advice is to make sure that Boyfriend knows that he comes first. Save the real emotional intimacy for him. He's your partner. He's your best friend. He's your first phone call. Always. Brother can be second phone call, but Boyfriend is first.
I love non-traditional TV families. I love non-traditional real-life families. Sometimes I feel like the people at the Globe might as well be Goldsteins. They're certainly as annoying as Goldsteins.
Every family is different. Every romantic relationship is unique. We all make it up as we go along.
Readers? Is this a weird set up? Does she have two boyfriends? Does she have anything to worry about? Thoughts on Brother and Boyfriend? Any boundaries she should set? Talk.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.