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Auntie SparkNotes: My Summer Fling Had A Dying Girlfriend

Auntie SparkNotes: My Summer Fling Had A Dying Girlfriend

Dear Auntie,

Let me just preface this letter by saying that I know what I did was very, very wrong… and I don’t give a rats derriere, which is my problem.

This July, I went to visit some family in the lovely Eastern Seaboard of the good old U.S. of A. I spent the entire month with them and during my stay there, I met a boy named "Liam" who was the son of a family friend.

I am not the prettiest nor best bodied girl, so I tend not to get any attention from guys, so when Liam started showing a lot of interest in me, I was hugely flattered and flirted heavily right on back to him. Within three days of us meeting, we engaged in a rousing game of tonsil tennis, enjoyed some serious groping, and partook in some intense sexy flirting.

Auntie, you might need to take a seat for this next part, and please, hide your punishment salmon.

Liam had a girlfriend, but not just any normal girlfriend. Liam had a seriously ill girlfriend who was dying in the hospital from a severe infection. Did I mention she was in the hospital? DYING? I found out about said girlfriend the day I met Liam, although I didn't know she was ill. When I did find out that she was incredibly sick, my first thought was “Oh, how horrible,” but my next thought was, “Where is Liam? It is make-out time!”

Liam and I continued our little tryst all month, right under the noses of his friends and our parents. And when I left my family to come back to the dinky mid-west, Liam and I said goodbye and we haven’t spoken since.

My question is, why don’t I care? I don’t care that I am no longer seeing Liam, I didn't even like his personality that much, which did not matter since all I wanted to do was pet his badger, if you get my drift. I didn't care then, and still don’t care now, that I knowingly and willfully did very naughty things with a guy who had a dying girlfriend. Why am I such a horrible person? If my boyfriend had cheated on me while I was in the hospital, I would be distraught. Why don’t I feel any sort of remorse? Am I a horrible person?

Well, wow. WOW. This is a wrinkle on the "I hooked up with someone else's boyfriend" letter that we've never seen before! But I'll tell you the truth, Sparkler: I have never known, or heard from, a horrible person. I've known thoughtless people, selfish people, people with so little self-awareness that they alienated everyone around them. I've known people so ruled by insecurity that they ended up acting like monsters. I've known entitled people who believed that the world owed them something, and bitter people who believed that the world owed them something they never got. But I've never known anyone for whom "horrible" was the best or most accurate descriptor.

Not even you.

But geez, kid. You could be a little less callous about having hooked up with someone else's boyfriend—especially considering that said someone else is no longer occupying an earthly plane. I mean, good on you for being aware of your feelings, and for being honest enough to own up to them, but the cavalier tone of your letter seriously makes you sound like a tiny sociopath. Which I am telling you not to hurt your feelings, but just so you're aware that saying this stuff in public will really freak people out.

But with that out of the way... well, to be honest, I have more questions than answers. Was the time Liam spent with you time he would have otherwise spent by his dying girlfriend's bedside, or were you a welcome distraction during a month where she was comatose behind closed doors and there was nothing he could do? Was she conscious? Lucid? Capable of communicating? How long had she been ill? How long had they been together? When had they last seen each other? This is some heavy, hard, stressful stuff for a casual teenage relationship; was Liam aware from the get-go of his girlfriend's health issues, or did it happen after they started dating? Was this a healthy, happy romance, or was it a relationship in name only? Would he have broken up with her if not for the guilt of dumping a dying girl? Would she have insisted on his fidelity when she was too ill to spend time with him? Could he have been cheating with her permission, or at least with her understanding?

And speaking of the girlfriend's feelings: we'd all be distraught if our boyfriends cheated on us while we were hospitalized—but that's because we are all alive to be distressed. Heartbreak is for the living; the dead don't care, and that raises some even more complex questions. Did this girl's inevitable death make it more or less reprehensible for her boyfriend to cheat? Does the fact that she's not around to get hurt mean that you've lost your most compelling reason to feel remorse for what you did? Do we feel less guilty for doing wrong when the wronged party will never perceive as much? If a tree falls in the forest with no one around, does it make a sound? What is life? What is air? Freakin' magnets! How do they work?!

And without a long, in-depth, philosophical discussion of the above questions (except maybe the magnet one), I don't think anyone could tell you whether you should feel guiltier, or why you don't. I can guess, of course—that your lack of emotional investment in the relationship translates to a lack of regret in its aftermath; that Liam's lack of guilt made it easy not to feel any yourself; that it's hard to feel bad about a secret wrong you did to someone who will never know or care about it; that your fling is the proverbial tree, falling soundlessly in the forest of propriety. But when it comes to knowing for sure? I've got nothing.

...Except, of course, the knowledge that our commenters will go ape-ass crazy over this letter, and it's going to be so entertaining. Have at it, guys! I'm getting popcorn.

But seriously: would you feel terrible guilty about this? Are there any reasons why you wouldn't? Is this letter even real?! Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at
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Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, relationships, cheating, flings

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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