Friday 30 September 2016

Dear Mary: I have sexual fantasies about my sister, even when I'm with my wife

Mary O'Connor

Published 29/08/2016 | 02:30

Illustration: Tom Halliday
Illustration: Tom Halliday

I find my relationship with my sister both pleasant and awkward. My sister lived abroad for many years and has come home in recent times. She is a successful businesswoman who divides her time between living in Ireland and going abroad to see after her business interests. She is with my wife and me quite a lot and we get along very well.

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The trouble is that I find I am increasingly thinking of my sister in a sexual way. When we were young there was some sexual tension between us, though we never did anything wrong.

On one occasion, when my sister was 15, there was a family event, and my mother bought her some new clothes. This included a new set of underwear which I remember well was silky and gleaming.

I was a year younger and a bit innocent. We used to horse-play a bit, and as her skirts and dresses in those days were short, her underwear was often exposed. I hardly noticed this until puberty set in and from then on I was sexually aroused much of the time when I was with her. My sister was more mature than me, and, looking back now, I think she enjoyed teasing me. Sitting down, she would often draw up her knees and let me see up her dress. But as I say nothing ever happened. You must understand that we had been brought up at home and in school to be scared of anything to do with sex and sin, which were practically synonymous.

Time passed and those earlier experiences faded in my memory. But when in my middle years I started having problems with not being able to ejaculate when making love with my wife, a piece of advice I was given was to think of something that excited me sexually. Somehow my mind drifted back to those days with my sister as I fantasised about what might have been, and that plan actually worked. It did mean, however, that my sister was becoming increasingly a part of my sexual imagination.

There are things that my sister says and does that I see as a form of sexual teasing, but it is quite possible that she is unaware of her effect on me. She has had in the past, several relationships with men but they led to nothing permanent. She now says that the only man in her life is me, while my wife says jokingly that she's welcome to me. I should add that since my wife became menopausal a few years ago she has lost interest in sex. Maybe that is part of my problem. My wife talks openly to my sister about our sex life, even telling her she gives me hand relief. They see it as a sort of banter but I secretly take it seriously.

My sister quite openly kisses me on the lips when we meet and part. Once at an evening barbecue we danced closely, and as she was wearing a light summer dress I could feel her underwear while I held her and I became aroused and I'm sure she noticed this. On another occasion I had carried out a messy chore for her in the garden, and she told me if I wanted to clean up and shower she'd get something fresh for me to wear. She was going out so she laid out for me socks, a t-shirt and a pair of her own knickers. I put on these clothes but the fact that I had on my sister's knickers had a profound erotic effect on me. I told my wife about this when I got home but she laughed it all off saying that my sister was simply being practical.

I find myself fantasising about these and other incidents with my sister and I experience vivid erotic dreams that involve her. If my sister were another woman I'd avoid her company to avoid temptation, as I'd never cheat on my wife. My wife is aware of what goes on in my head concerning my sister, but takes it all with a grain of salt, saying that brother/sister attraction is common and is no big deal. I have considered mentioning my problem to my sister, but I'm scared of doing so at the same time. Have you come across problems such as this? I'd never discuss this issue with someone else, except my wife. So what should I do? Do I carry on and hope that in time these odd feelings I have for my sister will go away?

Mary replies: Yes, I have come across similar problems to the one that you are having, so please don't feel that you are alone. Your very first erotic object was that white silk underwear and you no doubt found that silk underwear was always capable of turning you on as you progressed through life. The fact that it was your sister wearing it meant that she was inextricably linked in your fantasy to your arousal. There is often sister/brother experimentation at a young age and that is all it is - experimentation, particularly if they are around the same age. Thankfully, this did not progress with you although you are now somewhat bothered by what might have been. Your sister has now entered into your fantasy and as far as dreams are concerned there is not much that you can do about those.

I suggest that in future when you are fantasising you make it about somebody else because even though you are never going to do anything with your sister it is causing you distress to have her as the object of your desire. It is possible with a little work to re-write the scenario in your head and leave your sister out of it.

I don't know why your sister kisses you on the lips - this is definitely not sisterly behaviour and it would be better if you were to offer her your cheek in future. I'm not sure what her plan is, or whether she is simply playing with you for her own amusement, but you should not be a part of it.

I think it is wonderful that you have been able to talk with your wife about all of this and she sounds like a rock of sense. Regarding her lack of interest in sex since becoming menopausal, you should encourage her to discuss this with her GP, as the lack of estrogen may be causing vaginal dryness.

I would not advise discussing all of this with your sister, as one way or another you could end up feeling very hurt, or worse still, be made to feel that you are imagining things.

Why do I keep thinking about an  old flame?

Why do some people continue to think about an old flame and wonder if it was a mistake to not have married that person?

Mary replies: What an awful lot has been left unsaid in this email and I'm sure there is quite a story behind it that caused you to write to me.

Some people go through life looking back, and wondering 'what if'. What if they had travelled, what if they had taken a job offer that was slightly risky, what if they had ended up with an old flame. Others look forward, wonder what is around the next corner, and hope that life will continue to be exciting. But these people are usually fairly happy and content in their relationships and only occasionally wonder what life would have been like if they had chosen a different path. So I have to ask what your current relationship is like, and if it is not as it should be then you should seek help. I can't be more specific as you haven't given me a lot of information.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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