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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Not Too Close For Comfort

A comment came in on our popular entry "Aunts and Nephews"...
I'm currently in an active sexual relationship with my nephew. We aren't blood or marriage related. His mom and I are best friends and I helped raise him. The last time I saw him he was 11, we reunited now that he's 18 approaching 19. I'm 34. The attraction was instant and mutual. I feel like I am betraying my friend however, the amount of enjoyment and satisfaction I get from this guy is worth the risk. I think she suspects we're intimate but there's no proof. Her boyfriend is quite jealous that I don't look in his direction and tried to out nephew and I... Good luck, we both deny until we die! I don't want to stop, and neither does he. Any thoughts?
It's time to write a long-overdue essay on "fauxcest" or "nearcest" of whatever else this can be called. So that's below. But first, let's answer the questions raised Anonymous.

1) You two are consenting adults. You should be free to have this relationship. There's nothing wrong with having this relationship.

2) "I feel like I am betraying my friend..." This is not a rational reaction. It is a feeling that is based in prejudices and faulty reasoning. Your "nephew" would certainly be sexually active with someone, whether his mother is comfortable with that thought or not. Why is it is a bad thing that is with someone who already knows and cares about him? Sex isn't a bad thing, unless you are doing it wrong.

Someone might say to you "He's young enough to be your son" or to him "She's old enough to be your mother." But so what? Someone might go a step further and say he must be harboring a secret desire for his mother and you for your son (if you have one). That may or may not be true, but even if true, neither of you would find any scolding from us. It is very common for people to find someone who is like one of their parents or siblings, for example.

There's a chance your relationship will be outed (some of this advice might be helpful). And, it is likely that if that happens, your friend will be very upset with you. She might try to attribute her anger to the secrecy, but that would most likely just be an excuse. Neither of you is under any obligation to tell her the details of your sex life. If she finds out and is angry, give her time to cool off. You can tell her you understand her feelings without denying your entitlement to your love life. Many parents get upset at the thought of their child (even though their child is an adult) having sex. Some people get upset that someone they know is having sex  with someone to whom they're related. Neither reaction is based on logic, but rather things like aversion to change, feeling old, and even envy.

After she cools  off, she might realize that it can be a better thing that her son is with someone who has already known and cared for him. Some of this applies.


Enjoy what you have. There's no reason you shouldn't. Goodness knows there are many people out there who are miserable in a relationship or lonely. Why deprive anyone, especially yourself, of happiness?

The prejudice against consanguinamory, which literally involves blood relation, has, unfortunately, extended to relationships that do not involve blood (genetic) relatives; sometimes it is even enshrined in ridiculous criminal laws. These relationships are often called "incestuous" anyways. That could be because the Westermarck Effect has been observed in people who were raised together or by one another who are not actually close genetic relatives. However, whether Westermarck is "nature" or "nurture" or a mix, it is clear that some people don't experience it; some people experience the exact opposite.

"Nearcest" or "fauxcest" or "pseudoincestuous" relationships are very common.

If not with a sibling, cousin, or close-in-age aunt or uncle, kids who "play doctor" are most likely going to do so with neighbor or friend they're around frequently. Teens often experiment and explore with the best friend of a sibling, or a best friend's sibling. If a parent gets into a new relationship, whether or leads to marriage or not, a teen may find themselves living with or frequently around a (potential) stepsibling who is close in age. Their parents are attracted to each other. They are their parents' children. They were not raised together so the Westermarck Effect never came into play. So experimentation and all-out romance can ensue.

This happens in adulthood, too. People have been brought together by their parents marrying.

Especially for someone living at home, a parent's new lover or spouse themselves can be a love or lust interest. This can be even more likely if the (potential) stepparent is significantly younger than the parent. It's safe to say that, regardless of gender, there are many stepparents out there who are "going there" with their adult stepchildren. Sometimes it is a cheating situation, sometimes not. Although it is a different matter, it can also be expected that someone going through puberty whose parent brings around a new lover whose gender is one to which the minor is attracted, may experience attraction to their parent's new lover.


In some places, there are laws against adults being with their legal stepparent.

The comment above was from an "honorary" or "functional" aunt, not someone who is an aunt legally. But the (potential, current, or ex) spouse of blood aunts and uncles would also fall under this category, as the label of "incestuous" would be applied by many even though there is no blood relation.

Adoptive relations are also legally but not biologically related, and may be considered by some (including in some laws) as incestuous if they get together.

Although we are not aware of any laws against it, some might extend the label to in-laws. For example,  John is married to Mary and something happens between John and Mary's mother (his mother-in-law) or Mary's sister (his sister-in-law).


It also happens sometimes that someone has two half-siblings who are not related to each other who get together. For example, Jane's parents, John and Mary, divorce. John remarries and he and his new wife have a son, Peter. Mary remarries and she and her new husband have a son, Paul. Paul and Peter would not be blood relatives or even legal relatives, though both would be Jane's half-brothers. If Paul and Peter get together, some might consider it incestuous.

Then there are less formal situations, such as relationships with longtime neighbors and family friends; or when a parent is dating someone their adult child's age, or when someone is dating someone their parent's age, especially when those people are friends of their adult child or friends of their parents. I recall a movie in which two women who were good friends get with the adult sons of each other. Such situations may (especially if double dating is involved) or may not involve latent consanguinamorous desires or lesbian desires on the part of the friends. Latent consanguinamorous desires can also be at play when siblings double date, such as when two brothers double date with their boyfriends or girlfriends.

Whatever the case, when they are consenting adults who aren't cheating, there's nothing wrong with people being together however they mutually agree. There should be no laws against it, and people should be free to marry if they'd like. The biological risks, which are way overblown, aren't there but many of the same benefits as consanguinamorous relationships are present, such as an existing familiarity, bond, and trust.

Some people like to say that family only exists through marriage, birth, and adoption, yet some of these same people would say these lovers are "too much like family" and shouldn't get together. It is a ridiculous double standard.

It's very simple. Let consenting adults have their relationships. Don't throw them in prison, don't bully them, don't discriminate against them.

If you're in a relationship that's anything like what we described above, please contact us and/or comment below.
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