For Parents, Family, and Friends of the Consanguinamorous
Do you know or have reason to believe that someone in your life is having sex or falling in love with one or more of their close relatives? I wrote this for you, since there isn't much help for you elsewhere. You may be a parent/guardian, a child, or a sibling, or an aunt or uncle, a neighbor, a close friend or coworker. And you are confused or concerned about what’s happening.
I’m not talking about rape, sexual assault, or child molestation here. I’m talking about mutual consensual affection, meaning between adults or, in the case of one or more minors, between individuals who are close in age (and age-capable). This is labeled as incest or incestuous sex, but I prefer to call it consanguineous sex, or consanguinamory. I’ll address matters specifically about minor/dependent children, but I’ll also address issues that apply when it comes to independent adults in your life.
When I read the news reports that family members have turned consanguinamorous lovers into the authorities, it breaks my heart. Families should stand up together against unjust laws and support those who love each other, especially if they are starting a family of their own. (I answer common objections to these relationships here.)
First and foremost: Calm down. Don’t panic. It is common for parents to be uncomfortable with their own child’s sexuality, especially if that child is still a teenager or living with them. Likewise, it isn’t uncommon that even adult children are uncomfortable with a parent’s sexuality. There is also the added dimension of concern because this love is still illegal or taboo in many places. Much like parents have faced, especially more so in the past, when it comes to finding out their child is gay or lesbian. And even if you’re not the parent or the child, it can be shocking to discover an aspect of a relative or friend’s love life that perhaps you hadn’t considered before. Many heterosexuals automatically assume other people are heterosexuals until they have some reason to think otherwise, and likewise, those who haven’t engaged in sexual activity with a close relative may by shocked to find out someone close to them has. Also, people have different turn-ons and turn-offs, different orientations, different preferences, etc. You may be turned off to something, but someone else might find it enjoyable, even highly appealing.
Whether you’re the parent, sibling, friend, or have some other connection to someone who is or may be having consanguinamorous feelings, you may be going through any number of negative emotions or thoughts. But remember that who your loved one loves doesn’t change who they are; they’re still the same person you’ve loved all of this time.
Is it even happening? Close family members share secrets and inside jokes, especially if they are siblings. They may be affectionate or enjoy spending time together. This can be misinterpreted. Unless you have personally witnessed someone engaged in consanguineous sex, or have evidence that it is taking place, it may not be happening. It is important to discern the difference between rape/assault/molestation from sex/lovemaking. Although both can involve genitals, there is a world of difference between the former and the latter. The latter is not a reason to take intrusive action, as I will explain. Let them come to you. Except for certain situations with minors under your care, it is best not to pry. Rather, behave in a loving, supportive, and welcoming way. If something is going on, they are more likely to let you know if they have reason to believe you’ll be a help instead of a hindrance. For example, telling them or one of them you notice that they seem to get along so well and make each other happy is vague enough to leave the ball in their court. Even printing this out and leaving it where it can be found, or leaving it open on your screen might open the door to communication. You want to create a feeling of reassurance and safety that you care about them and their happiness. See here for more.
Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA) Family strife, separations, divorce, breakups, abandonments, one night stands, adoptions, and sperm, egg, and embryo donations can create situations where close biological relatives are reunited after puberty for the first time or the first time since one or both of them was very young. For example, half or full siblings whose parents divorced when they were but a few years old may not get to spend time with each other until their later teens or adulthood, or a mother who gave up a son for adoption in hopes that he’d have a better life may have that son knock on her door when he is 18. At least one of the persons being reunited may experience an intense attraction to the other person in anywhere from 25% to 50% of cases to these cases. This form of GSA is not necessary, however, for close relatives to enjoy consanguineous sex with each other.
Consanguineous sex and consaguinamory are not new things, nor are they rare. Even without the conditions that foster GSA, close family members develop attractions or get curious and have sex. Though mentions and media portrayals have been rare or mostly confined to derogatory comments or jokes (or the “adult” section), the fact is, these things have been going on for literally all of human history in various cultures and every level of society. From the rich to the poor, royalty to commoners, educated to ignorant, urban to rural, young to elderly, close family members have done everything from engaged in playful experimentation to forming lasting spousal relationships. It just isn’t talked about much in many present-day cultures. Consanguineous sex is normal, natural, common, and as I’ll explain, can be enjoyable and beneficial.
Possible Negatives, Possible Benefits. Most of the possible negatives in these relationships are inherent risks with any sexual relationship, but are actually diminished by the consanguineous element, and may be turned into benefits.
They are sexually active. Especially if you are the parent of a minor child, you may have been blissfully unaware that your loved one had become sexually active. And as for other family members or friends, there could be feelings of jealousy or envy, especially for those who are unhappy or frustrated in their own (perhaps nonexistent) sex life. It can be upsetting at first, but learn to accept that children grow up and that other people have their own sex lives.
Unplanned/inconvenient pregnancy. Obviously, this is not a concern when it comes to same-sex consanguinamory. But in situations in which a working ovary, uterus, and cervix will interact with a working, “online” testicle, pregnancy is a possibility. If your daughter is having sex with someone else’s son, you can urge her to take contraceptive measures, but you have little influence on him. Your own son might not take your advice, but he is more likely to and you likely have some leverage over him. Likewise, if your son is having sex with someone else’s daughter, you’ll have no influence over what precautions she is taking. If your son is having sex with your daughter, you have influence over both of them. Make sure any minors or adults living under your care or on your health insurance plan have access to, and understanding of, contraception.
The health of the child. Should there be a pregnancy, or should the lovers intend to have one, don’t panic! Most children born to consanguineous parents are fine. There is an increased, but overall minimal risk that genetic problems that run in your family will be inherited and experienced by the child. If your family seems to have generally healthy genes, odds are in the child’s favor. This is much like when a woman over the age of 35 gives birth. If this will be your grandchild, there is a strong chance the child will be carrying on a family resemblance; a plus for many grandparents.
Diseases/infections. You are more likely to know where your children have been than you are someone else’s children. Again, make sure any minors or adults living under your care or on your health insurance plan have access to, and understanding of, protection and treatment.
Time management. Especially for students, time management can be a problem. We all know high school or college students whose studies have suffered due to the distraction of a relationship. We all know people who have had trouble spending enough time with their family AND boyfriend or girlfriend; family loses out. This problem is easier to address in a consanguinamorous situation, as you have influence over both/all in the relationship, you can help them prioritize and schedule, and they are spending time with family when they are spending time with their lovers. Think of family vacations. Your son and daughter, instead of begging off the vacation entirely, or asking to bring along additional people, will instead occupy each other. Date nights can also be family nights.
Being used and getting a bad reputation. Your son is not likely to treat your daughter as just a notch on a belt to be cruelly dumped, nor spread rumors about her around campus or town, nor is she likely to crush his heart and spread rumors about him. It will be much easier for your children to exercise discretion than if they were having sex with someone else. It is easier for anyone to be discrete if their lover is a close relative, because relatives are expected to spend time together, and are less likely to gossip to outsiders.
Statutory rape conviction/being branded a sex offender. In some states, if your 18-year-old son is having sex with a 17-year-old girl, he’s at risk for her parents pressuring her to turn him in to authorities, which can ruin the rest of his life. You aren’t going to put him in that situation, are you?
Which brings me to the reality that discretion is absolutely essential. There are too many power-hungry people in legislatures and law enforcement (and it only takes a few) who want to interfere in the love and sex lives of others, and much hateful prejudice among others who will discriminate against and harass your family if they find out something like this. While I (would) like to see happy consanguinamorous adults challenge prejudice and unjust laws through a very public case, that is for those adults to decide to do themselves. Do not out or incriminate your children, family members, or friends. Especially if they are minors, they instead need your help to protect themselves from persecution and prosecution. There is a legitimate tradition of refusing to aid the enforcement of unjust laws. And you should. Because consanguinamorous relationships are often a good thing, as pointed out below.
Opposition to legal marriage, coparenting, or joint adoption. Most places in the world still deny the freedom to marry (or even have sex) to couples closer than first cousins, and some US states deny the freedom to marry to all first cousins. However, as long as discretion is exercised, living as spouses, and even having a wedding, is possible; many have done so. It is also difficult for close relatives to get the right to be jointly listed as parents of a child without inviting prosecution. But with your support, they can have a family, complete with children, whether born to them naturally or through reproductive technology or by adoption, though it may be that only one of them can officially be recognized as patient or parent. So if you’re the parent of someone who is consanguinamorous, and you want your child or children to be ably to marry and have children, it is possible, but only with your support. Perhaps with enough support, we can get the laws changed and they can legally marry, too. You should be willing to offer your support because there are many good things about consanguinamorous relationships, as described below.
A wonderful experience or even a deep and abiding love. Getting past any jealousy or envy, don’t you want your loved ones to have enjoyable sexual experiences, a good love life, and if they want, a great marriage? If the situation is just a matter of curiosity and exploration, who better to learn with? But if it is more than that, be assured that consanguineous lovers often report that consanguinamory is deep and powerful; that other relationships pale in comparison. It is a special bond that brings happiness, a caring partner, and security.
Family harmony. Everyone knows of families where there is constant bickering and there are estrangements. While some lovers bicker, bickering isn’t likely to continue endlessly between people who enjoy playing or making love together. Isn’t it preferable your teens or other family members be affectionate with each other rather than distant or constantly putting each other down and fighting?
Convenience. Your adult children staying close or building a life together also has added benefits of you being more easily able to see them at the same time.
Avoidance of in-law problems. If they become spouses, in a marriage without other spouses, that means you won’t have problematic in-laws, and you won’t have to spend alternate holidays wondering if your children and grandchildren are having a tough time visiting in-laws. Often, you already know their partner and their partner’s background and there are fewer unpleasant surprises.
What to Do?
First and foremost, know your place as a family member or friend. (If you have discovered your siblings are consanguinamorous, read this.) Every person must make her (or his) own decisions about her body, love life, sex, and marriage, and each person must make their own decision about whether or how to come out. You are there to help. You don’t have to like the fact that someone, even your own child, is having sex, and doing so with a close relative. But just because you wouldn’t do it does not mean they wouldn’t want to, or they shouldn’t. Parents do have a lot of say over what goes on in their own home, of course, but in general, keeping lovers apart is usually an exercise in futility. Being overprotective can backfire.
Listen to what your loved one has to say. They are probably dealing with a lot, due to the bigotry and prejudice that still persists against consanguinamory. They may want to talk about how wonderful their relationship is, and have few people willing to listen.
Accept that this could be for life. It may also be a phase. Don't try to tell them which; they have to find out for themselves, at their own pace. Either way, support their goals even if it isn’t what you wanted for them. Don’t try to break them up.
As I wrote above, do not out or incriminate the lovers. It should be their decision whether or not to come out, to whom they will come out, and when and how to come out. Check with an attorney, especially specialists, in your state for information on such things as mandatory reporting, medical privacy, etc. Consider moving to a more enlightened jurisdiction. When it comes to anyone on your health insurance or otherwise under your care, you want to make sure they are getting the doctor visits and contraception needed, without incriminating the lovers.
Also, do not condemn them or estrange them. Rather, embrace and support them. They need your help, or at least your understanding. Be honest about your concerns, but not in an undermining or accusatory way. Don’t blame them for your own negative feelings. If you continue to be upset by their love, you may want to get counseling for yourself; do not insist they get counseling for being in love or enjoying sex.
Ask them how they want to be presented. Do they want to be introduced to others as partners, or in their familial roles? Perhaps a coded body language sign can be worked out to clue you in when a situation arises unexpectedly. For example, if they plan on holding hands and stealing smooches at a party, they may may not want to be introduced as siblings, aunt/nephew, etc.
Be prepared to deflect bigotry. Many people are rude enough to express disgust when they find out that someone else has a relationship different from what the objecting person thinks is best. These situations can usually be handled through a combination of strength in numbers, keeping composure, and calmly asking for a reason for the objection. Thus, if you support the lovers, that’s at least three people standing together. The “reason” for the objection will almost invariably be one of two things: 1. “That’s gross/disgusting/sick!” and; 2. “It’s illegal.” To the first, I recommend saying something along the lines of, “Not to worry; nobody will make you do it.” To the second, something along the lines of “It shouldn’t be” should work. See the Discredited Arguments page.
Seek solidarity. There is strength in numbers, there is wisdom in experience. Every adult should be free to pursue happiness in love, sex, residence, and marriage with any consenting adults. It doesn’t matter if they are exogamous or consanguinamorous. It doesn’t matter if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual. It doesn’t matter if they are male, female, or transgender. It doesn’t matter if they are monogamist, polyamorous, or something else. Nobody should be denied marriage, fired, or bullied because of who they love. Support the rights of your loved ones, and the rights of others.
Help For Family and Friends of Consanguinamorous Siblings
Why Support Marriage Equality?
How You Can Help Others
Where To Find Help
Ten Myths About Sibling Consanguinamory
Jane Doe's Consanguinamory Blog Posting to Parents of Consanguinamorous Children
Facebook Group: I Support Full Marriage Equality!
Facebook Cause: I Support Full Marriage Equality!
fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com
Jane Doe has created a wonderful video with basic information about consanguinamory and Genetic Sexual Attraction.
It's over and hour long. If you can't spare your eyes for that long,
how about your ears? Listening will give you the essential information.
Share this video with anyone who could benefit from it.
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