Consanguinamory FAQ

Okay, so what is “consanguinamory”?

The word consanguinamory is based on the Latin for “love of blood relations” (literally consanguinitas blood relation + amor love). A consanguinamorous person is someone who has or is open to having an intimate loving relationship with an adult family member or relative. A consanguinamorous relationship is an intimate relationship between adult family members or relatives, or between cousins or siblings who are close in age. Consanguinamory is the idea or practice of being consanguinamorous or having consanguinamorous relationships.

And what is “GSA”?

GSA stands for Genetic Sexual Attraction and it’s a term used for the sexual attraction that may develop between close genetic relatives who were separated at birth and first meet as adults. People who experience GSA may or may not enter a consanguinamorous relationship.

So consanguinamory is just a fancy way of saying incest?

Not quite. Incest has a different meaning and focus. Incest includes non-consensual acts such as sexual assault and rape, while consanguinamory is only consensual sexual and romantic activities. Many consanguinamorous relationships include sex, but many consanguinamorous people prefer to not to use the term “incest” since it’s commonly confused for rape and child sexual abuse, which has no place in healthy and loving consanguinamorous relationships. Also not all consanguinamorous relationships involve sex – some consanguinamorous people are asexual. With consanguinamory, deep relationships are the focus, though the sex is often fun.

Gotcha. So its like abusing your family? 

No. The thing that defines a consanguinamorous relationship is that the people involved consent to it. There is no coercion, threats, or intimidation. Everyone involved agrees to the relationship.

I see, but it’s okay if your daughter is your girlfriend on the side?

No. When it comes to non-monogamy, ethical consanguinamorous relationships adhere to the guidelines for ethical polyamory, and the thing that defines a polyamorous relationship is that everyone involved knows about, and agrees to, everyone else’s involvement.

If you are married, and you are being intimate with your adult daughter and your wife doesn’t know about it, or that your wife suspects but isn’t sure about, or that your wife knows about but isn’t happy with, you’re not being consanguinamorous, you’re cheating. Similarly, if you’re banging your father while your husband is out of town, you’re not consanguinamorous, you’re cheating.

Consanguinamory is defined by informed consent of all the participants. Without it, it ain’t consanguinamory.

Consang, harangue. It’s just a euphemism for child molestation.

No. Child molestation is when an adult sexually abuses a minor, or when an older minor abuses a younger minor. Consanguinamorous relationships are only between consenting adults, or between siblings or cousins who are close in age, by definition. If an adult abuses a minor, that is NOT consanguinamory, that is rape. We don’t condone rape or child abuse of any sort, and such despicable acts have no place in a consensual loving consanguinamorous relationship.

Alright, so it’s between consenting adults. But it always leads to deformed babies!

No. The reality is that most sexual encounters, whether between consanguinamorous or non-consanguinamorous people, do not result in children. Many people have sex to express their love for each other, to enjoy the experience, and to develop deeper emotional connections, not for the purpose of reproduction. And the fact is, even when consanguinamorous relationships do create a child, it’s quite likely the child will be healthy. People with parents who are related are literally everywhere. Chances are, one of your neighbors or co-workers is such a person, maybe even someone you admire or find attractive. You likely know some, whether you know it or not and whether they know their own true parentage or not.

Birth defects can be caused by injury during pregnancy, substances ingested during pregnancy, environmental factors, or genetic problems. It is this last factor that people tend to think of when they repeat the myth that inbreeding always causes birth defects. That’s because when both genetic parents carry the same genetic problem, it may be demonstrated in the children. However, this can happen with parents who aren’t closely related, too. A genetic problem may also result in a child if only one parent carries the genetic problem.

The increased risks of birth defects from just one generation of inbreeding are not that much higher than the baseline risk of genetic defects between unrelated parents. For two unrelated people in the general population, the risk of producing a child with a birth defect is about 3%. For first cousins, the risk above the general population for significant birth defects is estimated to be only about 1.7% to 3.2%. For second degree relatives the risk above the general population for significant birth defects is about 6% to 9%. For immediate family members, the risk above the general population for significant birth defects is estimated to be about 14.6% to 20.6%.

So while there are increased risks, the likelihood of genetic defects is no where near certain. Many people in consensual adult incest relationships undergo separate genetic counseling to determine what their actual risks are given their DNA before they decide to have children. Each person and couple has a different level of risk they are comfortable with, and because of the risks, many consanguinamorous couples simply choose to have kids via other routes, such as sperm banks, surrogacy, or adoption. And many consanguinamorous couples simply choose not to have or raise child via any route.

Okay, but even if no mutant babies come of it, it’s still wrong, destructive, or needs to be stopped, right?

No. This is another common misconception. There is nothing wrong nor destructive about family members loving each other more. As with any other factor when it comes to intimate relationships, not every situation is exactly the same, and some people just aren’t a good match for each other. Different people have different moral guidelines when it comes to sex, and consanguinamory between people who did not grow up together or by one another (such as in the case of siblings who were separated at birth and then met as adults) is not considered wrong in some cultures. Nor is there anything inherently destructive about consanguinamory. In fact many people find it constructive and are in happy long term consanguinamorous relationships with a close family member or relative.

But it’s abnormal, unnatural, or perverted.

No. This myth is not supported either in human history or in other species. While it is very common for people who spent their childhoods in the same residence together, whether genetically related or not, to develop a suppression of sexual attraction to each other (this has been described as the Westermarck Effect), this certainly does not happen to everyone, and siblings who aren’t raised together are often attracted to each other; studies reveal most people are attracted to people who look like them.

And as for perverted – well the idea of what is or isn’t perverted is a subjective concept. Some people are very conservative and are only okay with having straight monogamous sexual intercourse in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation and only after marriage, and anything outside that box they consider to be perverted. Other people are gay or bisexual, and still others are kinky and prefer being spanked, blindfolded, or being tied up during sex. Humans enjoy a wonderful diversity of sexual experiences, we all have different sexual preferences, and we are all better off when we accept and respect each other.

The key factor that separates acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior is consent. If the people involved are all adults, are aware of the risks, and give informed consent, and no one is being injured or abused, then its perfectly fine. If someone is being coerced, threatened, intimidated, or tricked into doing something sexual against their will or without being informed of the risks, then that is abuse, it is not okay, and that has no place in a healthy and loving consanguinamorous relationship.

Alright, alright, I understand. Consanguinamory is not unnatural or perverted, but still it’s for losers, freaks, and ugly desperate people who can’t find anyone else!

No. Again this is based on a misconception – the idea that since many people find incest disgusting, that people who engage in consanguinamorous relationships do so because they are unable to find an unrelated partner. This is so far from the truth. In reality, consanguinamory happens in every demographic and in every part of the world. There are attractive, outgoing, popular, successful, wealthy, educated people who have been or are still involved with a family member or relative.

Many brilliant and well educated people have been in consanguinamorous relationships. Charles Darwin – the well-known naturist who wrote On the Origin of Species and introduced the theory of evolution to the world – married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood. H.G. Wells – the grandfather of science fiction and author of The Time Machine, The War Of the Worlds, and other famous science fiction novels – married his first cousin Mary Wells. Albert Einstein – renowned theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics – married his first cousin Elsa Lowenthal. These are just a few examples of some of the amazing people who have shared and enjoyed committed loving relationships with relatives.

Why would anyone want to have a consanguinamorous relationship?

For the same reasons anyone has any kind of intimate relationship, because when two people fall in love it is a special thing which can lead to a wonderful emotional connection and a beautiful, happy, and mutually fulfilling relationship. People don’t choose who they fall in love with, it is something that just happens.

Okay, so what’s the downside?

The downside is that you are in a relationship with your family member or relative.

That can be both a blessing and a source of stress. Romantic relationships come with a certain amount of built in tension. I’ve never met anyone, anywhere, who didn’t ever argue with their lover.

Add the fact that he or she is your older sister, or mother, or father, to the mix, and the anxiety that comes from the fact that there is some legal risk due to laws in many jurisdictions that discriminate against these kinds of intimate relationships, and the potential for disagreements and tension goes up considerably.

It is important and necessary for the people in a consanguinamorous relationship to take care that they follow the rules, and make sure everyone’s needs are met. Without that, the relationship will fail – just as a non-consanguinamorous relationship will.

The other downside is that being consanguinamorous is emotionally riskier. If your relationship does not work out with your partner, you could also damage your relationship with them as a family member.

Thankfully, in most cases a failed consanguinamorous relationship does not cause a catastrophe, and that means the people who were involved can continue to have a family relationship even when the romance has ended.

Let’s assume I buy all this. How do I make it work?

As with any relationship, making it succeed is more complex and challenging than making it fail. One of the most certain ways to make a consanguinamorous relationship fail is to lie to your partner. If you can’t be honest with your partner, and I mean about everything, then consanguinamory isn’t for you. If you can’t follow the rules of a conventional non-consanguinamorous relationship, then consanguinamory isn’t for you. If you cheat, or don’t take your family member seriously or don’t treat them with compassion, then consanguinamory isn’t for you.

Another good way not to make a consanguinamorous relationship work is to pressure your partner, or threaten or bully your partner into accepting it. Consang relationships don’t work if one partner only grudgingly accepts it; it has to be for the benefit of everyone.

I’m following you so far. No lying to your partner, no threats or coercion; check. Now what?

That depends on you and on the family member or relative you’re involved with. When in doubt, if you’re considering trying a consanguinamorous relationship, it’s best to go slowly. Make sure you and your partner feel secure in what you’re doing. Make sure you don’t get so carried away that you forget about your partner’s needs. This is quite an easy mistake to make, even if you’re on the look out for it!

So: No dishonesty with your partner and no pressuring or bullying them. Remember to consider the feelings of your partner. Don’t forget that both of you have to be happy, or you can be sure that neither of you will! Pay attention to your lover.

Get over the idea that consanguinamory gives you license to have sex with them whenever you want. It doesn’t. Being consanguinamorous does not mean you use your family sexually however you want. It doesn’t mean that your home is now a wild kinky incestuous sex commune. Put aside those ideas before you even start; that is not what it’s about. A consanguinamorous relationship works only if both or all of people involved are happy.

And, of course, some common-sense rules are always good. If your family member is also your lover, then for heaven’s sake, play safe. You already know the whole safe-sex spiel. Well, do it.

But how do I know if I’m even consanguinamorous? How do I know if this will work for me?

That’s something you have to find out yourself.

If you can imagine your family member or relative also being your lover, and be happy with that, then that at least suggests that you can be happy in a consang relationship. It’s not a guarantee, of course, but at least it’s possible.

Generally speaking, consanguinamory is not something I recommend people just dive into. You need to have a strong healthy familial relationship with your family member or relative before you think about making it more intimate and intense.

One thing that should help enormously, if you’re considering consanguinamory, is to get things all set and organized and in a good place before you start. Don’t go into consanguinamory thinking that it can fix whatever is wrong with your existing familial relationship with your relative or family member. The “familial relationship is dysfunctional, add more complexity and emotions and sex” approach probably doesn’t work very well, but it could exacerbate whatever existing problems you may have, and that’s not good. Building healthy consanguinamorous relationships starts with making sure your existing familial relationship is stable and healthy.

How do you get started in a consanguinamorous relationship?

If you’re trying consanguinamory for the first time, remember that it will be hard work and you have to be willing to work at it. You must listen to your relative or family member, without bullying or pressuring them. You must be willing to concentrate on what’s important, and on making sure your foundation with that person is stable and secure.

Of course, some people find themselves in a consang relationship without really considering it first. It’s easy if that happens to feel overwhelmed or upset. Take a step back and look at the situation rationally with a calm and level head. What’s happening? What’s really going on? How much of an investment in your consang relationship are you prepared to make? What assumptions are you making about the way your relationship “should” be, and are those assumptions valid?

Yeah, it can be difficult.

Assuming you are willing to give it a go, though, here are some things I’d recommend:

  • Make sure, and I mean completely certain, that both of you are on the same page. What are you all looking for? A family member with benefits? A committed long term relationship?
  • How much will you and your partner tell your other family members? If you choose not to tell them, what will be your cover story if they start to ask questions? What are your agreements around recorded media, videos, love letters, texts, emails, or other things they could find which could “out” you?
  • Be compassionate. An ethical framework should treat both people involved with respect and compassion.
  • If you can, I highly recommend joining the online forum, Kindred Spirits, and connecting with other consanguinamorous people.
  • Don’t rush. Take your time. There’s no reason to rush.
  • Develop good communication and conflict-resolution skills. As sure the law of gravity, there will be a time when you need them. (Of course, this is true for traditional, non-consanguinamorous relationships as well)