Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Distaste for Big Wedding May Mask Deeper Issues

DEAR ABBY: Not long ago, I returned to my hometown for a funeral and reconnected with a distant cousin I hadn't seen since high school. "Jake" and I were close growing up, but had lost touch after I moved away at 17.

Since my trip home we have been in constant contact. Over Thanksgiving, Jake joined me for a long weekend getaway. He also made plans for us to be together on New Year's Eve and to take some other fun trips. We both feel we could have a future together, but we're worried about what people back home will say. (It's a small town where everyone knows everything.)

Jake remains very close to some of my other family, so it would be hard to drop the "cousin" role. I spoke with my doctor before getting involved; he confirmed there are no medical reasons why we shouldn't. We're sixth cousins, but were raised as if we were closer than that.

Have you any advice on how to make the transition from cousins to a couple? -- RELATED IN OREGON

DEAR RELATED: Sixth cousins are so distantly related that there is no reason why you shouldn't be a couple if you wish to be. Becoming a couple is an evolution. Let the relationship evolve -- and don't be secretive. People who love you should be happy for both of you.