Your Call: Can She Ask Him to Cut Off Contact with a Past Love?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call by leaving your response in the comments section below.

Dear Em & Lo,

I have been dating my boyfriend for two years. We are both so in love with each other and talk of marriage in a few years. He is Pakistani and I am white. His religious Muslim family approves of me.

A few months ago, I found out that him and his cousin who lives in Pakistan were writing love letters to each other for two years before we met. I confronted him about it and we settled issues for the most part. He claims to have never loved her. I believe him for the most part, even though the only reason he tossed the letters was because he knew I’d not tolerate or be with him anymore. He is very clingy to things of his past. It hurt so much that he wanted to save these letters because it’s as if they meant something to him.

Since then I have gotten over this issue for the most part because we talked about it many times and he promised me he never loved her. I don’t want to sound like a stupid girl, but I believe him. I really do.
The problem is, they still talk. And her being his cousin, it’s difficult for me to tell him that I don’t want him talking to her, because she is his family. I know he has plans to go to Pakistan on vacation and I am extremely hurt and mad because I know they will see each other. I don’t think I’d be able to be with him anymore even though I love him deeply. I know that if he were in my shoes he would not want me to see someone I wrote love letters to or talk to them, even if I really didn’t ever love them.

I have been avoiding this talk because I can’t bear to be without him, I love him so much. I know that him going to Pakistan is somewhat out of his control because it’s his parents choice, but I don’t know how to handle or approach this situation. I trust that nothing will happen between the two of them while he is there. But I know they will be hanging out a lot, and I cannot bear the thought of him being near her, the girl he thought he loved for two years.

What do I do? I don’t want to break up with him, but I don’t want to be that stupid girl who gets hurt like this either. Ideally he would never talk to her or see her again. Am I being unreasonable for wanting this? I don’t think I am considering he has told me that he does not want me talking to guys from my past. But then again, they were not my cousins.

— Dating a Kissing Cousin

What should D.A.K.C. do?

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10 Comments on "Your Call: Can She Ask Him to Cut Off Contact with a Past Love?"

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3 years 10 months ago

Holly – Whilst I respect what you are saying you are quite wrong. I am English and in the UK, Pakistanis marrying their cousins has become a problem. More than 50% of British Pakistanis marry their cousins and their offspring are 10 times more likely to suffer from recessive genetic disorders. In fact, a third of all those born in Britain with recessive genetic disorders come from the Pakistani community. You are right that in many cultures marrying a cousin is preferred but many Pakistanis feel pressured into marrying a cousin when that is not their wish. I’m sure this young man in question was encouraged to pursue a relationship/potential marriage with his cousin despite not being interested.

3 years 10 months ago

Just read what Jillian, Miss Hattie, and Holly said. Repeat. And again.

Dear god, girl, get over yourself. This is a non-issue. Is it a good relationship or not? Focus on your relationship with him, not what happened in the distant, irrelevant past.

Just read what Jillian, Miss Hattie, and Holly said. Repeat. And again.

3 years 11 months ago

If his family accepts you and they know about you then do not worry about his cousin. It must have been a huge step for him to introduce you etc. I know.

3 years 11 months ago

This gets much more confusing than the whole, “Should he still be friends with his ex?” issue… Yeah, of course he can’t cut off contact if the ex IS HIS COUSIN! It’s never appropriate to limit an SO’s connection with their family, but it’s normal to have some boundaries with regard to exes, and no one would be comfortable with their BF having the amount of intimacy and contact with their ex as they do with family members. Why? Because family members are assumed to be off limits, so we don’t tend to worry that one thing will lead to another with them. Exes, clearly the attraction was there, so we do need boundaries sometimes.

In this case, you do still have to worry about that, and that is a big problem. I guess you need to decide if you really think he could develop feelings for her or that anything would happen between them. If this is totally out of the question, then let it go. But I don’t know that it is, if he had feelings for her in the past. If it were me, and the person was just an ex, I’d never go visit them or meet with them in an intimate context, without my current bf along. That’s just about making the other person comfortable, even though I know I’d never cheat. What he needs to keep in mind is that this person is sort of like an ex to you. There are a lot of things he can do to make you more comfortable with their relationship, and you definitely can develop more trust over time. But he can’t act like it’s just a family member and your feelings aren’t valid. You clearly do have valid concerns, and he needs to address them and make adjustments if that is necessary, like not staying in the same house with her or being alone with her. I think you are within your rights to request this, and if he cares about you, he will hopefully work on this issue with you so that you don’t have to worry. If he can do that, this clearly means he is putting you first, so you really should do your part too with trying to trust him and get comfortable with her.

3 years 11 months ago

Since part of the issue here is the clashing of two totally different cultures, I think a little cultural relativism is in order. People in our society may consider marrying a cousin “gross,” but it’s actually very common in other cultures; in fact, in many cultures marriage to a cousin is actually preferred. And contrary to popular belief, cousins do not have a significantly higher chance of producing offspring with genetic deformities than unrelated couples. It’s unfair to judge the man for wooing his cousin just because it’s not what we consider normal in our society.

This situation is one that I’m actually somewhat familiar with; I once dated a guy who, years after we broke up, became my cousin when his mother married my uncle. My husband knew about this soon after he and I started dating, and it’s never been a problem. He understood that my ex might be around sometimes, but he was confident enough in our relationship to know that it wouldn’t matter. If D.A.K.C. can’t see that her boyfriend loves her and accept the fact that the cousin isn’t going away, they’d both be better off apart. Regardless of who she’s with, though, she needs to understand that the level of jealously she’s showing will smother anyone and it really has no place in a healthy relationship.