all in the family?

Dear Suzie, I’m 21 yr old male and I’m in a relationship with my mums sister, we want to come out because were sick of sneaking about and want to be together but don’t know how to tell the family and are scared of there reaction.

I am sorry to hear of your dilemma. I’m sure you would like to be open about your relationship but I’m sad to tell you I have some bad news for you. Put your family’s reaction side for a moment – it’s the Old Bill you have to worry about. You’re in a relationship with your aunt, and that I’m afraid is one of the relationships specifically forbidden in UK law. You can have a relationship with a cousin, ie your aunt’s daughter, but not with her.

Certain sexual pairings are outlawed for very good reasons. Most people assume it’s about genetic pass-on, a way of making sure inherited conditions aren’t given an extra chance of emerging. I think it’s true that we made these laws way-back-when as a means of ensuring a wider gene pool, but I feel the real and far more important reason is emotional. Cross-generational and family pairings increase the risk of those relationships having an element of abuse within them.

I’m not sure if your aunt is any older than you but if she is, she has the advantage of age and experience and that is not always a good thing in partnerships. Keeping it in the family can be static and inward-looking, while having to go outside your family for a partner can ensure a better possibility of each partner bringing the same level of power and choice to the table. You may insist you and your aunt are equal in your relationship and that this is a fully consensual bond. But the reason society frowns upon it is that this is not always so. Your family are likely to be shocked and disapproving and with reason since what you are doing is illegal as well as taboo.

I am certainly not judging or disapproving of you – you are not a bad person for having found yourself attracted to your mother’s sister. But what you are doing has to stop or you may find yourself serious trouble. You may no be able to choose who you find attractive but you can certainly choose what to do about it. I think you should both choose to lay this to rest and find other partners.

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