Trigger warning: this post deals with incest.
Ever wanted to know what it is like to date your dad?
No? Us neither.
It is compelling reading. A warning, though: it may also may compel your body to bring some sick up into your mouth.
An 18-year-old woman, who we will call Z for convenience, has given an interview to New York Magazine’s The Science of Us. In it she details her two year relationship with her biological father. They are planning to marry. She took him to her school formal. She occasionally calls him Dad.
First, a quick note: The phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction (or GSA) is not unknown in cases where close relatives first meet as adults. The idea is that people are attracted to people who are like them. In some cases very, very like them. It has been recorded in cases where adopted children meet their biological parents or adult siblings meet for the first time. While incest is illegal in most states in the US, in New Jersey, is it legal between adults.
In the interview, Z tells New York Magazine’s Alexa Tsoulis-Reay about her upbringing, her estrangement from her father and their reunion.
Z was born after her parents met in highschool. Z’s mum has bipolar disorder. The parents’ relationship broke down, and her father visited her occasionally until she was five. Z and her father were then apart for 12 years.
Z’s mother was strict and monitored Z’s Facebook account. Z later learned that her father had tried to contact her on Facebook a few times, but her mum had deleted the contact. Eventually, Z befriended him on Facebook when she was 17. They met in person and then became romantically involved.
Journalist, Alexa Tsoulis Reay asked what Z remembered of her father as a child:
Can you remember much from your time with your dad when you were little?
I have some memories. He spoiled me rotten. I had this giant storage tote of Barbie dolls and I had my own Mary-Kate and Ashley bedroom. It was a little girl’s dream. We’d sit in the yard blowing bubbles together, and he took me to the zoo where he bought me a stuffed animal that I kept until I was 16. I ended up washing it and stupidly put it in the dryer, which melted all its fur. I remember he gave me a miniature tea set. I still have it.
After they made contact on Facebook, father and daughter realised that they had quite a bit in common.
What happened next?
We chit-chatted online for a few days and found out we were similar. We shared the same favorite TV shows — The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory — and we both love to draw. He came to see me about a week later. You wouldn’t have believed we hadn’t been around each other for 12 years. The idea of “getting to know him” seemed strange because we are so much alike. He came and hung out all day and then I asked to come spend a week with him.
During the stay with her father, the pair became closer. Z’s father was still living with his girlfriend at the time, but because Z was feeling anxious, Z’s father slept on the couch and Z slept on the floor. Things got…hard.
Sleeping in new places makes me very anxious so I asked him to stay with me in case I had one of the terrible nightmares I usually experience. The second night I had him sleep on the couch again and then the third night I fell asleep with him on the floor lying on his chest, in his arms. The fourth night rolled around and we ended up on the floor again. This time we actually cuddled. When he woke up, we were spooning. I didn’t know this at the time but later, after we admitted our feelings, he told me he had had “morning wood” and had gone to fix it.
And then there’s the bit where they had sex.
That night we were play-wrestling in the room I was going to sleep in and I bit him. He was wearing a pair of basketball shorts and a tank top and after I bit him I could see goose bumps pop up from his toes to his shoulders. Then he pinched my inner thigh and I got goose bumps.
We stopped and said that we didn’t know what was going on but admitted that we had strong feelings for each other. We discussed whether it was wrong and then we kissed. And then we made out, and then we made love for the first time. That was when I lost my virginity.
And it was apparently pleasing (argh!)
What was it like?
There’s a reason I lost my virginity to him — because I’d never felt comfortable with any other man. It was insanely sensual. It lasted for about an hour and there was a lot of foreplay. We both had orgasms. We are so similar, so it’s so easy to sexually please each other. For example, we both love neck-biting. I’ve never been in a more passionate, loving, fulfilling situation.
There was a fair question from the journalist about consent at this point. Because CONSENT.
I’m curious, given the age gap and the perceived power dynamic, did you feel forced or coerced at all?
Absolutely not. He made sure I wanted to do it. We both initiated it and he kept asking me if I was okay, not because he thought I was distressed but because he wanted me to know that we could stop at any point. It was like any other man and woman having sex after they had each admitted their feelings.
What was it like afterward?
It wasn’t weird at all. It felt so natural. It didn’t even feel taboo. I felt like I had just made love with a man who I’d been with for years.
Well, you had actually known him for years…
There were the usual housemate issues:
How quickly did he end things with his girlfriend?
We made sure to move out of the girlfriend’s immediately because we knew we couldn’t be together there. Before her, he was with a woman for eight years and she’s now our roommate. Talk about awkward for the first three months!
Did you tell her about the nature of your relationship?
She found out when she heard us making love. I guess we didn’t realize how thin the bedroom floor was. She really didn’t mind. Now we’re like a little family. She calls me her daughter.
Yes. Dad’s ex calls Z her daughter.
There’s more sex stuff.
Is the father-daughter dynamic part of your sex life?
Not usually, but it has come up a couple of times when one of us blurts out “baby girl” or “daddy” or something. Last time it happened, we both stood up and stopped doing what we were doing. It caught us off guard.
Anyway, now they are getting married. The bride will wear black and she’ll be given away by her grandfather, who will also be her new father-in-law.
Will you have a wedding? Do you have it planned?
Yes. I want it to represent our uniqueness, so we aren’t doing a white wedding. The color scheme is black and purple, and we are both going to wear Converse tennis shoes. He’s wearing jeans and a nice dress shirt. He says he’s not wearing a bow tie, but it’s my wedding and I am saying that he is. My best friend will be my maid of honor and she’ll be dressed in purple. My grandmother and grandfather — my fiancé’s parents — are going to attend and my grandpa will give me away. The tables will have bouquets of trees without leaves to represent our marriage, which will be like a growing tree. My dress will be black.
Z will probably tell her mum. Eventually. It seems Mum didn’t catch on when Z and Dad got matching tattoos and called each other babe.
How do you manage to hide it from your mom? Is it difficult to keep it a secret?
She doesn’t live in the same town as us and we visit her, together, a couple of times a month. Occasionally we slip up and call each other “babe” or other goofy little names. She acts like there’s something up but she doesn’t know what the hell it is. We recently got tattoos together. Mine says, “I love my peanut butter,” because I call him my peanut butter. His says, “I love my jelly,” because that’s what he calls me. What father and daughter do you know who have names for each other and tattoos like that? She just said, “Oh, those are cute.” She plays dumb about it.
Do you think you’ll ever tell her?
We plan to move to New Jersey where we can be safe under the law, since adult incest isn’t illegal there, and once I’m there I’ll tell everyone. I’ll call my mom and let her know that we are in love and we are having children. If she wants to see her grandkids we’ll send her money and she can drive to see us.
Yes, they’re planning to have kids. No, they’re not worried about genetic issues.
Will you tell your kids that their father is your dad, and their grandfather?
We’ve decided that most likely we won’t. I don’t want to give them any problems.
Do you worry about the potential genetic problems associated with having kids with your biological father?
Nope. I wouldn’t risk having a kid if I thought it would be harmful. I’ve done my research. Everybody thinks that kids born in incestuous relationships will definitely have genetic problems, but that’s not true. That happens when there’s years of inbreeding, like with the royal family. Incest has been around as long as humans have. Everybody just needs to deal with it as long as nobody is getting hurt or getting pressured or forced.
Everyone is pretty cool with it, it seems. Because they’re the cutest couple. At the prom.
Do you think you have something special that other couples don’t?
I think we have a better relationship than any couple I’ve met because our bond is so strong. I just feel so close to him and so in love with him. We are almost two years into the relationship and I’m still head over heels with that “first few weeks in love” feeling. Everybody says we are the cutest couple they’ve ever seen. I took him to prom.
Boyfriend, lover, fiance, but sometimes still Dad. That’s not confusing at all.
Do you ever call him Dad?
When I need my dad I say, “Hey, Dad, I need you.” And then he’s not going to be my fiancé or my boyfriend, but my father.
Another excellent question from the journalist. Because ABUSE.
What would you say to people who might think that this is an abusive relationship, that he’s your father and you are still a teenager?
When you are 18 you know what you want. You’re an adult under the law and you’re able to consent. I can take care of myself. I don’t need protection. If I were in a situation where I needed to get out I would. I’m not afraid to defend myself. My mom taught me self-defense, whether it be stabbing someone in the eye with a mascara brush or kicking a man in the crotch, and she was careful to teach me about inappropriate touching. From a very young age she told me not to listen to the classic things an abuser might say, like when they tell you to keep it secret or that they will kill you or your family.
You’ve got to feel like Mum was doing her best here…
Just in case you were wondering: Incest is illegal in all Australian states and consent is not a defence. The penalties range from 8 years (in NSW) to life imprisonment (in Queensland). You are prohibited from marrying an ancestor and descendant or sibling (including a sibling of half-blood).