Dear B. Scott,
I really like your Ebony column. Well, I have a question. I recently starting dating a nice woman. But I wonder if I should tell her that I grew up with her for about two years when we were in foster care together as children. She does not remember me. She keeps telling me that I look familiar, but she cannot place me. When we were kids, I thought of her as a sister. But I feel guilty because, as I got older, I began to dream about her sexually. Recently, I started looking for her on social media sites until I found her and then I found out her address and routine and found a way to "bump" into her. I don't want her to think that I stalked her. I'm not sure if she would be freaked out with dating her foster brother or not. She's younger than me and was adopted after leaving the home. She refuses to talk about anything else besides her adopted family. She can tell I'm holding information back. Should I tell my girlfriend that we used to be ‘siblings’?
My goodness love muffin! I get a lot of letters each week, but this is by far the most attention grabbing one I’ve received to date.
Well, let’s get right to the point. You can’t build a relationship on deceit. As of right now, your entire relationship is built on a ruse. You knew her from before and via social media websites you studied her, which gave you an advantage in fostering the relationship. Even though you may not have meant to, you’ve manipulated her with your prior knowledge and common background. I’m not saying you’ve lied to her, but you’ve definitely created a falsehood by not telling her the truth from the very beginning.
All secrets have a cost, and the longer you wait the more you have to pay. You might be trying to spare yourself some awkward moments now, but you’re setting yourself up for a world of devastation later on.
You have an obligation to level with her, especially if you love her. Like I’ve said before in previous columns, in any relationship you have to make sure both parties have enough information to make an informed decision. Right now, you don’t know if she’d be okay with dating you because you haven’t been completely forthright.
This also poses the question as to why you felt like you couldn’t approach her with the truth in the first place? Did you feel as though you needed the upper hand to establish the relationship? To be honest, you’ve made this situation a lot more difficult than it needed to be by waiting.
Tell her the truth. Start from the very beginning, work your way from past to present and apologize for withholding the information. Let her react. The situation might not turn out in your favor, but at least the burden of keeping such a huge secret will be lifted from your spirit.
The moral of this story is, you can’t build a stable house on cracked foundation.