Thursday, October 20, 2022

Frequently Asked Question: Is This Incest?

One frequently asked question is whether dating this person would be incest, or if doing this activity with a close relative is incest. The question is posed in different ways…

Is this incest?
Is it incest to date my in-law?
Is it incest to date my adopted sister?
Is it incest to date my adopted brother?
Is it incest to date my stepbrother?
Is it incest to date my stepsister?
Is it incest to date my uncle?
Is it incest to date my aunt?
Is it incest to date my cousin?
Is it incest to kiss my brother?
Is it incest to kiss my sister?
It it incest if my sibling and I have masturbated in front of each other?

The subtext is usually, “Is it wrong?

First of all, regardless of laws, I see nothing wrong with any kind of physical affection, contact, or companionship between any consenting adults or minors who are close in age, as long as existing vows to others are not being violated. This includes dating, literally sleeping together, seeing each other nude, hand-holding, hugging, kissing (of any sort,) contact with genitals, intercourse, living together, marrying, etc. If these people are right for each other and want this with each other, then it shouldn’t be anyone else’s place to object.

As I always point out, I’m writing about consensual experimentation, exploration, affection, making out, sex, love, dating, partnering, living together, and marriage. I’m not talking about assault, molestation, abuse, or coercion. If someone forces themselves on you, that is wrong regardless of their relation to you.

What is incest? That depends on who you ask. The definition I once found at Wikipedia was

sexual activity between family members or close relatives. This typically includes sexual activity between people in a consanguineous relationship (blood relations), and sometimes those related by affinity, such as members of the same household, step relatives, those related by adoption or marriage, or members of the same clan or lineage

As the Wikipedia entry notes, some people or laws include sex between relatives by marriage, or related by affinity rather than blood (consanguinity,) as incest. Contrary to popular misconception, actual sexual contact between close genetic relatives is not a crime everywhere. There are places where it is legal. Not all places that do have laws against consensual incest define incest the same way. For example, some places have laws that criminalize consensual sex between step-relations, while others don’t.

There are three basic kinds of relations that are commonly called incestuous…

Genetic… if people who are genetically related because they share at least one genetic parent or grandparent, it can be labeled as incest in the literal sense. Someone who shares one genetic grandparent is a half-cousin. Someone who shares two genetic grandparents is a full first cousin.

Legal… if people are legally related through adoption or share an adoptive parent, or have parents who are married to each other (such as stepsiblings), or even if one person is or has been a stepparent to the other, it can be considered incest even though there is no genetic relation.

Social… even if there is no legal or genetic connection, some people might call it “incestuous” if the lovers spent a lot of time around each other, perhaps in the same home, while one or both was growing up. And example of this would be if a woman dated her aunt’s ex-husband, who had been her uncle through marriage for part of her childhood.

So, something can be considered "incestuous" from a genetic, legal, or sociological perspective.

Some places include relationships where there is no genetic connection in their anti-incest laws. Also, there are many places where marriage between first cousins is legal (including some US states) and even common, but other places where such marriages are still denied. There are some US states where consensual incest between full siblings is not illegal, but all states still deny this as a freedom to marry.

Some people think of it as incest if two siblings from one family partner with two siblings from another family, even if both relationships are monogamous and do not swap. Children from the two relationships are “double cousins.”

Genetic relatives brought together into a sexual relationship through Genetic Sexual Attraction or without having grown up with each other, or without one having raised the other, may not have the sociological foundation that would make their relationship socially incestuous, but it may still be considered incest in the legal and genetic sense. This is why many people brought together through GSA do not see their relationship as incestuous, but others, including law enforcement, might.

Whether someone considers a relationship between stepsiblings incestuous might depend on what age they met or whether or not they lived together as children.

Rather than asking if their relationship is incestuous, there are two more relevant questions for someone to ask…

1. Is this illegal? Consensual relationships shouldn’t be illegal, but in some places, some are. This will usually have an impact on how the relationship is conducted and how the information about the relationship is shared. Lovers need to consider what precautions to take, and their family and friends also need to be savvy about the situation. Which takes me to the second question…

2. Will you accept us or reject us? This is more personal. Will this relationship be respected by those around us, or do we need to surround ourselves with people who truly love and respect us?

Lovers should not have to be concerned with the prejudices of outsiders, whether those prejudices are enshrined in law or not. If people are happy together, that’s all that should matter. How do they treat each other? Proximity, bonding, trust, love, privacy, mutual attraction, common backgrounds, and shared interests and outlooks on life can form the basis for a strong, happy, lasting spousal relationship or a mutually satisfying fling, or something somewhere between. Whether lovers share a custodial guardian or genetic parent, met through someone else’s marriage or relationship, or simply met one day while on a nice walk, what matters is what works for them. Is it incest? It shouldn’t matter.
— — —


  1. Once again, you got it exactly right.

  2. Your map is wrong again uncle/niece is legal in NZ

    1. Good to hear. I did not make and do not maintain the map.

    2. You are correct. I'll go change it now.

    3. BTW, he never claims to maintain the map, and even links directly to my blog. If you have a comment, you could just email me or leave an ask on my tumblr.

  3. Thanks, this was helpful. My dads girlfriends son and me are kind of into each other...

  4. Well, for me, I've been dating my Girlfriend for 5-Years[ever since Year 7] and just recently she became my Step-Sister, due to her Mother & my Father.

    Anyway, I'm still dating her & I hope to go Serious. She has already talked about Marriage & It's sadly a Hard-Question.[due to Step-Sister/Me[her Step-Brother]]

    Overall, If my Country(Australia) doesn't allow me to stay with her, I guess I'll have to leave Australia & move to a Country that does.
    [Reasons why I can't just Break-up]:
    ' I've thought about It, but I couldn't stand seeing her with Another Man.(I guess that's True-Love). '

    1. Be careful of your jealous, possessive attitude toward your lady friend. Her best interests may include sex with another man. You need to reassess the way you think about her well being. Divorce and really unhappy life awaits those who try to possess and control anyone.

  5. so if a boy was adopted from outside of his adopted familt and my adopted parents split up and my dad got with a woman hes no longer with and did not marry and the woman he was seeing had a daughter and son. and this adopted boy fooled around when they first meet then more when his dad and her mom moved in is it incest. should a spouse break up with the boy that was in the story because at the begining of his relationship when they went threw who they slept with he did not metion this? and secondly is the even considered Incest due to the fact that they are so far from blood it rediculious and he was messing around before they moved in and became associated as sister and brother???? im having a problem convicing my lady that this is not incest and though frowned upon. might not make me a sicko or pervert. due to the fact that i was "messing" before we moved in together then after a while it faded out as we became "siblings" as opposed to strangers. opions jury?

    1. This doesn't sound like incest. It sounds like an issue of fixating on a partner's sexual history, which usually does more harm than good. While withholding information when the understanding is of full honesty is a problem, the original problem was agreeing to such a discussion in the first place. Rather than a full sexual history, lovers can get tested for STDs and be honest about the existence or possible existence of genetic offspring. That should be enough.

  6. An Anonymous left a comment that I'm not publishing directly, as I want this blog, and especially the FAQ responses, to be as Safe For Work as possible. So, here's the comment after my editing...

    "I love my big Brother. This past December 2013, My Brother came home for Winter break. [They are four years apart in age.] I have been giving him [manual sex] an a few [oral sex] [for a couple of years]. But over Holiday, we did it (sex) while watching a movie. My Parents were in bed, and we were laying on the couch, him behind me. I as so [aroused] cuz he [touched] me for a long time and I [have him manal sex]. He then [did intercourse] and wow! It really felt good. It hurt for only a couple minutes. he asked me when I had my period, and i told him i just finished like 2 days ago. He said it was safe [...], then he moand and I felt [the results of his climax]. I like it best still though when he [gives me oral sex]."

    OK, it's Keith again. Well that would definitely be incest, and it is something that goes on all over the world and always has.

    1. Keith, this is so exhibitionist that I question whether it's even real. There's nothing in it that pertains to your post, or anything, really.

  7. So would two sister dating one guy be considered incest? I could never figure it out. (Considering I am a twin and that situation has arrived once. But we all broke it off for it wasn't working.) So would it?

    1. It's not incest legally nor in the strict literal definition. Some people might call it incestuous, though. There would have to be sexual interaction between you and your twin for it to be incest, like if the three of you were to be in bed together and you and your twin interacted during that, instead of only interacting with him.

      Sisters have married the same man throughout history, sometimes serially, sometimes simultaneously. This can be seen in present day plural marriages on reality television.

  8. "incest" is a legal term. "incest" is defined differently in different jurisdictions, and does not exist where the law does not define it and make it criminal. "sodomy" was the crime of sex with someone of the same gender and no longer exists in the USA because such sex is not prohibited . When I was young the crime of "miscegenation" existed in some US states, and no longer exists because there is nowhere in the US where it is illegal to have sex with someone of a different race than oneself. There are some jurisdictions that do not make consanguineous sex a crime -- the crime of "incest" does not exist there.
    I advise you not to use the term in a context where it does not refer to a crime.

    1. Thank you, anonymous. Please see this entry:

  9. I think people should be more focused on whether their relationship is happy and healthy rather than whether or not it's incest. It's a shame that it's even an issue, really.

  10. Kui ma oma emaga vahekorras olen mõlema nõusolekul kas see on verepilastus.

  11. Having oral sex with my cousin incest?

  12. there is no such thing as incest in reality, this word doesn’t exist in the natural world and this word is an illusion plus thats what the media uses! there is no law preventing consanguinamory or anything else!


To prevent spam, comments will have to be approved, so your comment may not appear for several hours. Feedback is welcome, including disagreement. I only delete/reject/mark as spam: spam, vulgar or hateful attacks, repeated spouting of bigotry from the same person that does not add to the discussion, and the like. I will not reject comments based on disagreement, but if you don't think consenting adults should be free to love each other, then I do not consent to have you repeatedly spout hate on my blog without adding anything to the discourse.

If you want to write to me privately, then either contact me on Facebook, email me at fullmarriageequality at protonmail dot com, or tell me in your comment that you do NOT want it published. Otherwise, anything you write here is fair game to be used in a subsequent entry. If you want to be anonymous, that is fine.

IT IS OK TO TALK ABOUT SEX IN YOUR COMMENTS, BUT PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY AS I WANT THIS BLOG TO BE AS "SAFE FOR WORK" AS POSSIBLE. If your comment includes graphic descriptions of activity involving minors, it's not going to get published.