Relationships between in-laws can be complicated, and are often fraught with extreme personality differences, clashes in religious or political beliefs, generational gaps, deep-seeded jealousies, rivalries or resentments, and, occasionally, unexpected sexual tension.
Such is the case between one man, who recently wrote to advice columnist Coleen Nolan for help about the lustful feelings he’s developed for his brother-in-law.
“Dear Coleen,” the man’s letter begins. “I’m in my 30s and I’ve been married for three years now but I need to get something off my chest — I can’t stop thinking about my wife’s older brother in a romantic way.”
The man continues: “I’ve never believed myself to be bi, and certainly not gay, and I love my wife. But her brother is driving me loco!”
According to the man, his brother-in-law is “rich, successful and funny,” as well as “good looking and cool, a sharp dresser and a really nice guy.”
“I don’t understand why I’m feeling this because it’s not me,” the man laments.
Oh, but it gets better.
“Last week, my wife woke up to me calling his name,” the man writes. “Panicked and embarrassed, I said it was a colleague at work. When he stayed over, I found a pair of his boxers in the bathroom and sat holding them for ages.”
“I wouldn’t act on my feelings,” the man adds, “unless by some miracle he made a move on me. I have too much to lose and don’t fancy being single again. I’m hope you can help.”
Coleen’s diagnosis: A man crush.
“It sounds more like adoration to me,” she writes in her response, “a huge man crush on someone who’s everything you want to be.”
But just in case it’s more than that, she warns: “You know you can’t go anywhere near him in a romantic way and realize how much you have to lose if you did. Even if you decide you are bisexual or gay, your brother-in-law would not be the right person to go for.”
Coleen then brings the infatuated husband down to reality: “Ultimately, however wonderful this guy is, he’s just human like the rest of us, with the same problems and annoying habits that would, over time, get on your nerves.”
She continues: “Get him off this pedestal you’ve put him on. I would also put a bit of distance between you and him for a while so you can think clearly about whether you’re really happy in your marriage.”
“And,” she concludes, “don’t mention how you feel to him–or your wife.”