Dos and don’ts for happy consanguinamorous relationships
Practical advice on things likely to help your relationships succeed
Guidelines to consider when managing consanguinamorous relationships
Building a good consang relationship doesn’t happen accidentally. Besides the normal challenges that anyone in a traditional non-consanguinamorous relationship will face, consanguinamorous has some challenges of its own.
This is a simple guide to some of the “dos and don’ts” of consanguinamorous relationships. Of course besides this, you’ll need the relationship skills that are needed for any intimate interpersonal relationship as well!
Don’t coerce your relationships into a predefined shape; let them be what they are
Sometimes, people—particularly people who secretly develop huge crushes on their family members before raising the topic of consanguinamory with them—decide ahead of time what kind of relationship they want with their sibling (or other relative), what shape or course that relationship will take, and then try to fit that family member into that predefined space.
People are complex living beings, and each person has their own unique needs, desires, and ideas in a relationship. Trying to force a person in a box rarely works. Instead, its better to take your partner seriously and treat them with compassion and respect. Give both of you a voice; you are building a consanguinamorous relationship, not looking for spare parts! Listen to what the relationship is telling you, instead of trying to force it to be something specific.
Do ask for what you need
It might seem obvious, but you can’t expect to get what you need if you don’t ask for the things you need. Speak up and talk to your partner if you have a need that you feel like is not being met. Don’t assume that just because you and your sibling grew up together that means he or she knows your needs. Don’t start with the misconception that if your mom (or dad) “really” loved you, he or she would just know what to do without you saying anything. And don’t assume that if your cousin really loved you, he or she would already know what you need. Don’t wait for your partner to try to read your mind and infer your needs. When you discover that your needs aren’t being met, have a direct and honest conversation about it with your partner!
Even if your believe your needs don’t make logical sense, your needs are important and they are a real and legitimate part of who you are. You can’t assume that your partner – be it your sibling, parent, cousin, or other relative – will be able to meet all your needs all the time, of course, however its much easier for your partner to meet a need he knows about than a need he doesn’t know about.
Don’t let problems sit
No one is comfortable addressing problems. Talking to someone who isn’t meeting your needs or who is doing things that cause you pain carries emotional risk. Sometimes people find it more comfortable to just try to ignore small problems and let them slide, at least until they turn into big problems.
This is true in any relationship, consanguinamorous or not. While it is tempting to just let things slide, small problems or irritations can grow out of proportion and turn into large problems when they aren’t addressed, and this is dangerous for any relationship.
It’s best to get in the habit of being open about problems and irritations – even little problems. Be mindful of your emotions and listen to yourself. Learn to be mindful and conscious of when something is irritating you, and develop the relationship skills and tools to openly discuss these things with your partner before they have a chance to fester and grow.
By the way, a couple more things about problems…
Don’t assume that consanguinamory will solve problems in your existing non-romantic familial relationship
“Familial relationship is dysfunctional, add more complexity and emotions and sex” almost never works.
Consanguinamory can be a quite powerful and enjoyable way to improve and deepen an existing good relationship with a family member—but as sure as what goes up must come down, it will expose the existing problems in a familial relationship, as well. It’s definitely not a good way to mend a damaged relationship with your mother or father, or other family member.
Bringing consanguinamory into an existing familial relationship that already has problems will probably intensify and exacerbate those problems. The larger the problems in the existing familial relationship, the more unstable the consanguinamorous relationship, and the less likely it will succeed.
Do strive to be flexible
In any relationship, consanguinamorous or not, being flexible is a good tactic to help the relationship succeed. That said, consanguinamorous relationships can be more complicated than relationships between people who are not genetically related, if for no other reason than that the emotions experienced in the relationship are more intense, given the double love bond of family member and lover. When the people in consanguinamorous relationships seek to be as flexible as possible, especially with regard to solving problems, consanguinamorous relationships benefit greatly.
Don’t assume the problem is consanguinamory
It’s worth repeating: Not every problem in a consanguinamorous relationship is caused by consanguinamory! When a person is in a unconventional relationship of any sort, it’s easy to point out that the relationship doesn’t look like the norm and say, “Don’t you see? This is why we’re having trouble!” But this isn’t always true. Even conventional non-consanguinamorous relationships can have problems. And even issues that may seem at first glance to be directly related to consanguinamory (such as how to avoid being a target of bigotry; and whether to come out to other family members) might still exist even in a non-consanguinamorous relationship.
While it can be tempting to point to the fact that you two have more genes and family members in common when there’s a problem and say, “This is why we’re having problems,” it’s usually more helpful to address each problem on its own, and seek to learn and understand its underlying causes, before jumping to the conclusion that it’s all the fault of consanguinamory.
Do take responsibility for your actions and emotions
If there’s any rule that’s as universal as Newton’s Third Law of Motion, it’s the law of unintended consequences. Our actions always have consequences, even if they weren’t what we intended. Our lives are shaped by the choices we make and the things we do. And these choices touch our partners, at times in ways we didn’t anticipate.
Many people seem to feel dis-empowered in their lives. They feel victimized and this feeling protects them from having to take responsibility for their choices. The downside of this is that it significantly limits their self-determination and their ability to be proactive and charge of their lives. It also sometimes mean that they are irresponsible with the power they do have over their lives.
Taking responsibility and ownership for your actions and their consequences—even the unintended consequences—is sometimes uncomfortable. Taking into consideration the consequences of your choices on the people around you is a lot of work sometimes. The upside of doing this work and taking responsibility for your actions and their consequences is that it empowers you. It gives you the power to shape your life the way you like while still being compassionate and responsible to the people around you.
Don’t assume that consanguinamory makes you more enlightened
And don’t make the assumption that consanguinamorous relationships are worse either. Neither consanguinamorous nor non-consanguinamorous relationships are better than the other. They are simply different forms of relationships.
If you hold the belief that your are wiser, more enlightened, or superior because of your preferred relationship model, you may end up behaving irresponsibly. Don’t start from the assumption that you’re superior to other people, or that you are not responsible for the problems in your relationship. Your preferred relationship model doesn’t make you more enlightened or better than anyone else, and it doesn’t mean you don’t need to treat the people around you well.
Don’t look to your relationship for validation
People in modern society often look to relationships to define a person’s worth. People who are single are at times seen as being less worthy of love and belonging than people who are married, and so on.
If you are looking to your relationship with your dad, mom, or other family member to define your worth, or to tell you who you are, then your sense of who you are will forever be tied up in the form of your relationship with that person.
You have power over your life. Your worth depends on you, not on your dad, mom, or other family member and not on your relationship with that person. You have an identity that is independent of your relationship with them, and your relationship does not determine your value. You are empowered by this understanding to seek love, happiness, and fulfillment on your terms, and more importantly, they give you strength and resiliency that can help you overcome the inevitable challenges and rough patches that any relationship is likely to face.
Value and worth come from within you, not from things outside yourself, such as your family member or your relationship with them, and this intrinsic worth can never be taken away from you. There is a difference between a person who wants to be in a relationship and a person who needs to be in that relationship. To be honest, I’d much rather be involved with a person who understands their intrinsic self worth and who wants to be with me, than a person who needs to be with me for validation. The people who want to be with me are there not because they have no other choice, but rather because of the value I add to their lives!
If your sense of value comes from yourself, it frees you from emotional dependence on the people around you. If your partner’s sense of value comes from within himself, it frees you from the burden of continually needing to tell your partner who she is.
Don’t seek to give your partner happiness at the expense of your own
A relationship should serve the needs of the people in it—including you. In addition, it’s a misconception to believe you can “make” another person happy, particularly by sacrificing your own happiness. That road leads to codependency which isn’t healthy in any relationship.
If your lover cares about you, then sacrificing your happiness to try to make them happy will have a negative effect on your lover. Making yourself miserable for the sake of another doesn’t serve anyone’s needs.
Do know your needs, your boundaries, and the things that bring you happiness
Know thyself. This is probably the single most important thing you can do for any relationship. Knowing what you need and want in order to be happy is a great first step in being happy. And just as importantly, it’s also a great first step in not being unhappy. If you do not know your boundaries – your limits that, if crossed, will ensure that you cannot be happy – then you’re most likely going to discover them only when those boundaries have been violated, which means you’ll be unhappy.
Discard the romantic notion that your one and only concern should be for the happiness of your lover. Each person in a relationship deserves to be happy, and that includes you.
If you don’t know what you need, you can’t ask for the things you need. If you don’t ask for the things you need, you can’t expect to get the things you need. You can more easily be happy if you know and understand what you need and where your personal boundaries are, and it will be more easy for you to build a healthy consanguinamorous relationship if you are happy.
Doing this successfully relies on total and complete honesty with yourself. Consanguinamory relies on honesty, and this requires self-honesty. Examine the things you need closely. Are you secretly trying to push your relationship into a direction it doesn’t seem to want to go? Are you secretly hoping for things you aren’t saying? What are you expecting to get from your relationship? Are those things realistic?
Don’t be afraid of change
Relationships are composed of living, breathing dynamic, people who change over time, and so the relationship also changes over time. No healthy relationship is going to stay fixed and unchanged for all time.
As long as you are willing to commit to the idea of changing in ways that include your family member or relative, and you are willing to work with him or her as your life changes and evolves over time, you’ll be alright.