Man, generic
Man is confused about what he's feeling for his brother and sister-in-law. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dear Doctor,

I am in love- with my brother’s wife. We live together, have done so since the pandemic hit. I lost my job and came to stay with them. It’s a small one bedroom and I’m in the living room. There’s little privacy, but it’s been alright. Just that lately I’ve been feeling things I should not be feeling. And then I drank alcohol one day and kissed her – he was in the other room. It was a short kiss but I think she kissed me back! Things have been really awkward since then. I love her but I also love my brother – what do I do?

A reader who does not wish to be named

Answered by Dr Huda Khreishi, Clinical Counsellor and Marriage & Family Therapist at OpenMinds

Dr Huda Khreishi

Dear Reader,
People can get attracted to each other for many reasons. I would like to state some of the general attraction factors for you to get some insight about why you feel what you feel.

People can get attracted to each other for many reasons. I would like to state some of the general attraction factors for you to get some insight about why you feel what you feel.

- Proximity: Spending time together, living close to each other, thinking about the other, or anticipating interaction with the other cause familiarity with the other.

- Similarity: Similarity of people’s beliefs, interests, personality traits and ways of thinking get them attracted to each other.

- Desirable characteristics like desirable outer physical appearance and desirable personality traits.

- Reciprocal liking: your own liking can increase when the other person is attracted to you or likes you.

- Filling needs: Fulfilling different needs for care, love, and companionship. Love can be a result of need fulfillment.

- Isolation: passion can develop by spending time alone with another person.

Love versus hormones

Some researchers suggest that feeling increased levels of adrenaline is sometimes mistaken for a feeling of being in love with a person. with anxiety-provoking situations like the “Corona situation” our adrenaline is heightened. So, meeting someone in an anxiety-provoking situation can cause us to fall in love with that person even if there are no contributing factors to initiate that romantic love.

Yet, in this particular situation our priority is not to seek understanding to why love is happening as much as to answer what to do when our values are in conflict with our desires.

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.” -Ayn Rand


To live genuinely, we must re-evaluate our desires, as well as our values, and make a conscious choice whether to act in accordance with our values or to act against it following unthoughtful desire. Ask yourself: "Are my desires just "impulses" that will bring me passing pleasure but long-lasting conflict, guilt, shame or misery?

Let’s start with asking what is the value of love, trust, and connection between you and your brother? What will happen if your brother found out that you betrayed him?


Your desires may seem strong at the current moment, but choose to reflect on them rather than choosing an "immediate satisfaction."

You may find the desire fading in intensity, much like a craving, or you may experience anxiety, but ultimately you must make a choice, so make sure to make the "right one", the one that, in the end, will strengthen your personality rather than weaken it, bring you peace of mind rather than conflict, and make you feel proud rather than shameful.

Take your time to reflect on the real meaning of a lasting fruitful love, your values, the future consequences of your chosen acts then you will get to know what to do.