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Parallax - Advice

February 16, 2004

Brotherly love

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question! I broke up with my ex three years ago. Now, his brother has asked me out. When I was with my ex, his brother and I were always nice to each other but I never gave him any thought. Now, I know him much better and I really like him. He's very different from my ex in both looks and personality. I want to say yes, but I also think it's weird. He says he's thought about asking me out for a long time, but felt awkward. I don't even know if my ex knows or what would happen? What should I do? Should I just avoid him? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Door-Number-Two,

Actually, the burden is really on the newest brother to figure out how to smooth over the awkward situation. After all, your ex is his brother, and said brother needs to manage that relationship. You are out of your former relationship and have been for some time.

Have a candid discussion with the brother and inquire as to whether or not he has discussed the issue with your ex. Make it clear that you don't want to strain relations between the two of them.

If you have his assurance that everything is on the up-and-up, why not try a date or two? If your ex is well over you, and not upset about the two of you dating, then there's no cause for you to be upset.

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His view:

Dear Door-Number-Two,

If you really like the second brother as much as you say you do, then the only thing you need to worry about is whether you can deal with the potential awkwardness.

Any fraternal issues are for the two of them to work out—you can't do anything about them. However, you will be involved in them, you will be privy to them and you will need to be clear about where you stand, in order to be able to handle them.

There's a chance that the awkwardness may not be as terrible as you expect. Your ex may be cool about the relationship—perhaps even happy for his brother—if he thinks the two of you are a good match.

On the other hand, if your break-up was less than amicable, if there are still festering problems that were never resolved, if you behaved like a bitch or treated your ex badly...well, all these things may get between you and your ex's brother.

You know the history, so you need to decide whether the potential pain is worth the possible rewards.

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