General Dating Questions/Close Family Ties


I need some advise, I visited my family back in June of 2013, upon visiting, I became reacquainted with one of my closest cousins. Things started building on themselves and before I knew what was happening, I've found myself to have fallen absolutely and irrevocably in love with him.

There are 16 years between us, he is older than I am. It's an incredible connection, we are so alike and so very compatible, we function together flawlessly. Where his weaknesses lie, I have strengths, and visa versa. I've never been happier with any one the way i am with him. He and I are best friends, we respect each other, and love each other in the deepest of ways. He is my half-cousin, not that that truly matters.

So, this being said, my question is, am I fooling myself into thinking that this is completely acceptable behavior? Is this sort of thing, okay in the sense of family?

Hello Anne!

There are laws in all states about marrying one's close relative - parent or sibling for example. These laws exist primarily as a way to avoid the elevated potential for birth defects in offspring since close genetic makeup increases the possibilities dramatically.

Studies over the last few years show there is no significant elevation in potential for birth defects among two people who are related by a "blood divider" family member such as an uncle or aunt, grandparent, etc. That would include both first- and half-cousins. However, the laws haven't caught up with that research yet.

In your state there are laws against first-cousins and half-cousins marrying. It is clear and is not allowed as it would be here in California (for example).

Of course, we're not talking about marriage at this point. We're talking about dating and relationships. It's actually pretty common for people of the same family to be attracted to each other. After all, you share the same biological lineage and family ties. As well you likely share similar religious beliefs, morals and ethics, values, etc. There is much commonality to help draw together people who are related.

I can't tell you what your behavioral values should or shouldn't be. I'm not in that business. It's perfectly fine to me but you have to make your own decisions on that based on your own value systems and beliefs. If you've come to me to sanction the relationship between you and your half-cousin I can absolutely will that! I have a simple rule about what constitutes a "good, healthy" relationship: it's one chosen between consenting adults where nobody is emotionally or physically harmed against their will. That's a pretty broad definition! Notice how it doesn't include the number of people, the genders, the belief systems or even the familial relationship between these parties?

There are many examples of well-known people who have married or had relationships with family members including Albert Einstein (married his second cousin), Jerry Lee Lewis (married his first cousin), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (married his fifth cousin-once removed), Charles Darwin (married his first cousin), New York Governor Rudy Giuliani (married his third cousin), Edgar Allen Poe (married his first cousin) and many, many others.

There's another aspect you should consider. What about the impact (if any) within your own family? In other words, how do you think others in your immediate family would react upon hearing that you and your half-cousin are dating?

Before you get to far on that however, consider how they'd react to you dating ANY particular person! What if it was an ex-boyfriend? What if it was someone who owed your father money? What if it was someone who spent time behind bars or was of a different religion or race or even of the same gender?

My point is this: everyone has their own perspectives on what they do or do not feel comfortable with. I guarantee that others reading this response on this very site are squeamish about the idea of dating someone's cousin. For those people I'd say it would be a bad idea.

You are not those people. You obviously feel the attraction and are obviously ok with it. I'd say that as long as you go into things with your eyes open having considered both the potential problems and the benefits and agree to work with your half-cousin as a team to deal with them this should be fine.

But, isn't that true of any relationship?

Best regards...

Dr. Dennis W. Neder
CEO/Executive Producer
BAM! Productions
Remington Publications
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”

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Dr. Dennis W. Neder


I'm able to answer any sort of question related to the approach, meeting people, dating, sex, relationships, break-ups, non-legal marriage and divorce questions, and anything in between. I've helped over 30,000 people with their individual issues. IMPORTANT: Please, PLEASE don't ask me, "what was he thinking..." or "why did he say..." types of questions! I DO NOT READ MINDS! There are 1,001 reasons why someone does what they do, says what they say or thinks what they think. If you *REALLY* want to know what they were thinking, saying or why they were acting that way - go ask them! Be sure to check out my FAQ's on my website at: You can email me directly at:


I am the author of the books "Being a Man in a Woman`s World I & II" and "1001 Places and Techniques to Meet Great Women" and 11 others. I`ve spent the last 20 years studying the art and science of every aspect of relationships, and have answered over 30,000 letters from readers all over the world. My main focus is men`s relationships with women, but I also have many female readers and answer questions for them regularly as well.

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