Dear Miss Emily:

I was dating a guy that I fell in love with for about a year.  He has kids.  I have kids.  We were pretty involved.  Life happened and our path ended.  His life needed him in one way, and my life took me another.  We still talk from time to time, less because I think dealing with this break up was hard on the both of us.  Now we ended with the notion that, one day, if we get our separate lives in order, we could be back with one another and have a more serious relationship when we both had the time to put towards it.  Well, that is all well and good. Four months go by, and I am pretty lonely.  And well, a few partners happened – really no big deal in my book, because it was just sex and nothing more.  The bad thing is, one of the guys was his 21 year old brother.  We went out to celebrate his 21st and things happened.  I could have chalked it up to being drunk, but we were at it again, in the morning, after we slept off the alcohol.  His brother wants this to go to our graves and I am fine with that.  We both are not happy with the way we acted, and we don’t think bringing it up to anyone would solve anything.  Well, it just so happens the guy is coming back around and we have been talking a lot more.  Were both still not ready for a relationship with one another, but he is getting closer.  I feel so bad that I am pushing away, because my mind says I do not deserve to get close to him ever again.  I do care for him, despite my actions.  Our kids love each other, enjoy being around one another, and I don’t want to end their relationship.  I guess my question is, have I any right to tuck what happened with his brother away forever?  Well, at least try, and still be open to the idea of a future relationship? Or have I destroyed any and all chances?
Ashamed of Myself

------------------------Miss Emily’s advice-------------------

You have my permission to “tuck this away forever” if you are capable of doing it.  But sometimes people get guilt ridden and confess.  It could be you, or the brother could have a religious conversion and feel the need to spill the beans. Hopefully, no one else knows about this, because that would really muddy the waters. No matter what, you can’t unring the bell. You slept with this man’s brother and, although you weren’t technically involved with the ex, I think he’d see it differently, be furious, hurt, and it would mortally wound any chance of you two making it work. You don’t seem to be all that crazy about him, so I wouldn’t rush into getting back together, only to find out that nothing has really changed and it was loneliness and convenience that made it happen. This does not mean the children can’t continue to see each other.  Maintain a friendship and see if it’s possible to work toward a real commitment – but don’t rush it!  If you learn to love, honor and respect this man (and that's a big if), I think you can move forward without having to keep one foot in the past.