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Karma Cleanser

Sibling rivalry in the realm of love

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Dear Karma Cleanser:

After years of fighting it, I have finally admitted to myself that I have feelings for my friend Rich. There's a lot of history there and not all of it is good.

In roughly 2004 my sister came home from college with a new boyfriend. Yep, it was Rich. They had been dating for about a month and were still in that "precious" stage, which basically annoyed all of us, even though we liked Rich more than most of the jerks my sister usually brought home.

Rich and I hit it off. I felt like he might be flirting with me. I could also tell he didn't want to hurt my sister's feelings. My sister suspected that something was up between us, and she pulled me aside and told me to knock it off. She said it was rude and also unseemly, because Rich is two years younger than me. I told her she didn't have anything to worry about.

About a month passed and they continued to date. I didn't see it working out and apparently neither did my sis, because she cheated on him with his roommate. Rich called me for advice and we met up for a drink. That meeting led to more than a drink.

After that we swore two things: one, that we wouldn't tell my sister what had happened, and two, that we'd only be friends. He and my sister broke up the next week.

Now, it's been three years of an off-again, on-again friendship with Rich. My sister does not approve of us hanging out, but she has also dropped out of college and moved to San Jose, so it's really none of her business.

I am worried bad karma is in my future because I hooked up with Rich technically before he broke it off with my sister. The alternative is for me to keep my feelings hidden and try to maintain a friendship that feels more like love.

Your situation is totally a replay of the movie The Family Stone. Yeah, don't act like you saw it. Nobody did. But here's what happens. Sarah Jessica Parker, fresh from the finale of "Sex and the City," played against her usual flirtatious type as this superserious walking-ulcer chick who goes home with her fiance for Christmas and ends up hooking up with his brother. Luckily, her hot sister arrives and pairs off with the jilted fiance, so in the twisted logic of Hollywood endings, everyone winds up happy and enjoying nonawkward holiday gatherings together. Except for Diane Keaton, who dies. But we digress. For your situation, you should take a cue from S.J.P. and play against type this time. Sounds like you're always cast as the cautious older sibling, while your sis gets to be loose and spontaneous – and also boss everybody around. Karma will only come back if you fail to ask yourself the question: What would Carrie Bradshaw do?

Been bad? karmacleanser@gmail.com

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