Attraction between cousins? (Is it bad)

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In this article we will explore the question of whether attraction between cousins is normal or not. 

We will also explore what causes this particular attraction and what you can do to cope with this particular predicament of being attracted to your cousin. 

Is attraction between cousins normal?

While the idea of sexual attraction or romantic attract between cousins might sound scandalous in most parts of the world today, it was actually quite normal for cousins to get married back in the day. 

One cannot call romantic attraction between cousins “abnormal” because it all depends of cultural context. In the UK it is quite normal to marry your cousin as well as in west africa. In fact, prominent historical figures are often married people they were related to. 

However, in courintes like America, it is banned and restricted in 31 states. Thus, one cannot really say that such attraction is out of the norm. It is simply the contextual norms and customs that can indicate whether it is normal or abnormal. 

However, one must understand that attraction between cousins is quite common. If you feel attracted to your cousin you might feel isolated, alienated as you deal with the same and guilt of having such an attraction- you are not alone in this experience. 

This shame and guilt mostly stems from cultural understandings of who is too close to be a romantic and sexual partner and these informal rules are often dictated by long standing understadnings of human species survival.

It is widely believed that it is possible that our ancestors observed that inbreeding would often lead to diseases and the decline of their stronghold population due to which inbreeding became undesirable and they began to prefer exogamy. 

This particular trend could have been one of the reasons why inbreeding or cousin to cousin attraction is considered taboo in most contexts and considered abnormal. 

In the context of it being a normal or even desired aspect of family relationships, one has to understand that at times “keeping it in the family” is seen desirable due to various benefits it might have such as in the case of the Egyptians that married their own family to ensure that power stays within the family.

What to do if you are attracted to your cousin?

If you find yourself in a situation where you find your cosuin attractive or you find that you are sexually or romantically attracted to your cosuin here are a few things you can do:

Understand that it is normal

You have to understand that this particular feeling that you might have depends on various factors and most of these factors can render your understanding of attraction as a non-threat.

You might be at a developing age where you are beginning to mature sexually and this can be a result of hormons whcih might render you more sexually active or might even lead you to be sexually overactive or frsutrated. 

This particular phase in your life might lead you to feel attracted to anyone- including your cousin who might be good looking and this is a normal occurrence. You might even think that you love them simply because they are attentive to you and are kind, especially if you lack that kind of attention from other people in your life- friends and family.

Don’t act on it

This is very important to remember that in spite of cousin to cousin relationships might be accepted in various cultures, it is best that you do not act on momentary emotions and desires. 

Taking a look at your family relationships, fucnutoning, rules, and customs you will be able to understand whether a sexual or roamtic relaitonship with your cosuin will be a good thing  or not. 

It is most probably the case that it is not accepted within the family because of present day norms and customs. So activating it will only cause problems within the family as well as ostracisation of you and your cousin not to mention that you could be prosecuted for sexual assault or harrasment if your cousin does not feel the same way.

Seek alternatives

Another thing you can do to help yourself is to broaden up your would and engage in finding other partners or people you can crush on. 

Keeping yourself distracted and meeting your sexual needs and well as romantic needs can help you abstain from acting on your attraction towards your cousin and might even help you to move on with your life. 

Allow yourself time to get over your crush

Give yourself that time to get over your crush. While it might feel a little silly to give yourself time to get over a crush that is taboo in most cases, you must remember  that these feelings were real and your attraction was also a part of you. 

So It’s okay to take it; in fact, take as much time as you want to get over them and invest yourself into other activities and other people. 


If you really think that you are in love with your cousin, you might need to take some time to grieve the loss and letting them go can be especially hard if you had a bond with them. 

As much as it hurts to cope with loss, especially when the circumstances might require you to be secretive about it or keep you from sharing your struggles with others because of the stigma, it is important that you stay with your feelings, not judge yourself for them, and learn to let go.

It is important that you remember not to be too harsh on yourself in this process and understand that there is nothing wrong with you for having felt this way.

Focus on yourself

While you’re grieving and trying to sort out your feelings, you can also take this time to focus on yourself.

You can seek out professional help if you find that your process of grieving and moving on has become too difficult to do on your own. Your therapist who is ethical can help you sort out your own thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental setting in a way that allows you more clarity about the situation.

Why do people get attracted to family members like cousins?

One of the suspected causes of incest or family memebers beign romatically and sexually atracted to each other is because of what is known as Genetic Sexual Attraction.

Genetic sexual attraction is a term used to describe the phenomenon where adults who are related to each other and who meet for the first time are attracted to each other.

For instance, a father who has never met his daughter may find himself physically attracted to her as an adult after meeting her for the first time. 

The term was first used in the 1980s to describe the attraction that was observed between adoptees and their newly discovered relatives, however there has not been much research done in this particular field due to which not many know what GSA happens to be.

Genetic sexual attraction has been considered a pseudoscience by experts however it has been observed in many cases- up to 50% of reunion cases according to the Post-Adoption centre in London.

When it comes to having a sexual attraction to your cousin or something of the like – when you have spent time together and are familiar with one another, there is not enough evidence or research done in this field either to explain why.

Researchers understand that this could be a result of family dysfunction leading people to shift roles within the family, seek out emotional and at times physical comfort from other members of the family, and also general neglect within the family can perpetuate these kinds of relationships between cousins. 

What causes GSA?

Some researchers have hypothesised that the lect an effect in infancy protects against GSA. When families live closely together, they become desensitised to each other as sexual prospects. This desensitisation effect is said to happen between birth and age six. Without it, and when relatives meet later in life, GSA can occur. Evidence from the Post-Adoption Centre and University College London suggests that GSA happens in 50 per cent of reunion cases.

So simply put – when you are around your family the sexual attraction fades away because it isn’t considered “normal”, but in cases where people meet a relative for the first time ever – with no other connection except blood – it is more likely to be sexually attracted to them.

The most common and understood cause of Genetic sexual attraction is seperation or prolonged separation between family memebers.

It is believed that children who grow in close proximity since their childhood develop reverse sexual attitude which suppresses sexual desire between such people or siblings. This theory is called the Westermarck Effect. 

However, in the instances of siblings who have been separated during their formative years or cousins who have not met each other during their developmental years do not see themselves as part of one family. This long absence can attract each other.

Other risk factors that make GSA more likely between courins include:

  • A strong physical resemblance
  • A lack of self confidence
  • Narrow age difference
  • “Romantic” fantasies about reunion
  • Absence of a sexual partner
  • Finding it difficult to say “no”
  • Previous unsatisfactory relationships
  • Physical/sexual abuse in the past
  • History of loss


In this article we have explored the question of whether attraction between cousins is normal or not. 

We have also explored what causes this particular attraction and what you can do to cope with this particular predicament of being attracted to your cousin. 


Dillner. L. It really is OK to fancy your cousin. 3rd Oct. 2009. Retrieved on 3rd Dec 2021.

Potnis.N. Sex Clinic – Is It Normal To Feel Sexual Attraction To Your Cousin? Nov 21, 2019. Retrieved on 3rd Dec 2021.

Kamaraj.Dealing With The Phobia Of Genetic Sexual Attraction Lybrate. Retrieved on 3rd dec 2021.

FAQ related to Attraction between cousin

Is it possible for cousins to fall in love?

It is not rare to fall in love with your close relatives as you are very young because it is quite a normal occurrence. In fact in some communities these types of occurrences and attractions are accepted and normal. 

What is marrying your cousin called?

Marrying your cousin is called a cousin marriage is a marriage where the spouses are cousins (i.e. people with common grandparents or people who share other fairly recent ancestors).

It was more common back in the day however as of recent years, it is considered a taboo.

What are the effects of cousin marriage?

Marriage between first cousins doubles risk of birth defects and other genetic disorders that can impact the health of the child. 

Does cousin marriage affect fertility?

Interestingly, research has found that the fertility among women in first-cousin unions compared to those married to non-relatives.

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