Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.
I am adopted and so are BOTH of my parents, and we all live in the same small town we were born in. I have serious fears about accidentally hooking up with a biological relative. I go so far as to avoid intimacy until I have asked my partner who their relatives are and if they’re aware of any adoptions in their family. Which is sort of weird on a first date. Don’t judge me. I’d like to be able to enjoy the prime of my life without worrying if I’m boning my brother. I guess my question is, should I move away?
— Are You My?
Dear Are You My?,
Holy cow. So, my first instinct is, yes you should absolutely move away, because everybody deserves a break from living in the same village as both of their parents for their entire life.
If you do stick around, go out and have some fun with someone you just met — even if they are a missing relative, it’s not going to kill you. Unless you accidentally make a baby with your long-lost twin, the odds are decent that you can enjoy dating and hooking up with whomever you like without fear. This isn’t like Flowers in the Attic here, and you’re taking a lot of precautions to avoid taking a tumble with your genetic soul mate.
If someone is raised as your sibling or cousin, there are strong taboos that prevent most of us from being romantic with that person. Those fairly modern taboos are designed to keep the water in the gene pool flowing, and maximize a family’s ability to own property by inheriting or merging with other families.
Keep in mind that in many cultures around the world, and even here in the states, marrying a first cousin is often legal, and sometimes considered favorable. In Ye Olde Olden Tymes, people married their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins all the dang time, like it was no thing, and the human species has managed to remain civilized and reach catastrophic numbers despite it. Among the Sherpa of Nepal, a woman can marry two or three brothers, who then take turns working on Himalayan expeditions for months at a time. This concentrates the property of the men in one family and ensures that the woman bears children who are genetically similar. Try figuring out who’s related in that village.
Say you were to meet someone, fall in love and eventually discuss marrying or making babies with them — it may be wise to do some deeper background research and/or blood testing at that point to see how related you are before you accidentally cook up the next Lannister kid. For now, I think making sure you’re really solid on birth control, and discussing your mildly paranoid fears with partners on the third or fourth date are perfectly acceptable precautions.
Actually, nevermind. You should just move to a large city. Get out of there, date people who look absolutely nothing like you, and smooch without fear.
— xoxo, Kiki
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 210.