First let me say, that your feelings are probably genuine. You have things in common with your cousin and may have even grown up with him? Maybe you have a long history? Feelings have emerged, possibly strong feelings. But I think you'll need to look at them very carefully.
You are not the first to fall for your cousin and you won't be the last. For as long as I can remember, they've called it, "Kissing Cousins." In tight knit families, it is fairly common to become close and possibly, misinterpret feelings. Why do I say misinterpret? You may actually take offense to me saying that, but you must look at this.
In most states, it is illegal for 1st cousins to marry and relationships are frowned upon. There's a reason for this. They believe, that there is a potential for your offspring to be affected. But the substantial evidence, supporting this, has eluded me. You may have to research it yourself
The Amish, I know had a higher incidence of problematic children because of the fact of their close knit marriages. It is my understanding, after speaking personally, with Amish women in Leon, N.Y. that they often went out of state, i.e. Pennsylvania's Lancaster sect, for get togethers. Their get togethers are often barn raising and such but this way, they will meet out of their sect. They themselves, policed themselves and looked for resolve by taking this stance, to have their young people to meet out of their own family units.
Regardless of the factual based possibilities, I'd like to point out a few things to you. I do believe society would call this, as harsh at it may seem...
- Sexual relations between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal or forbidden by custom.
- The statutory crime of sexual relations with such a near relative.
Now, you have not mentioned a sexual relationship, with your 21 year old cousin but two issues come to mind. Right now, if you had sex with him, your parents could push the issue, possibly, of statutory rape. In many states, it is illegal for an adult to have even consensual sex with a person under the age of 18.
Secondly, why would you ever want to be in a relationship that had to be kept quiet, like a dirty little secret? Now, I am not judging you. In the name of love, I have done some crazy and stupid stuff, things I am not proud of. I can also look back, over the years and see different relationships, how they evolved, how I felt and how they ended. I can remember thinking I couldn't breathe if my relationship ended with a certain person. I mean, I love with all the passion and fire of an insane person. But I have thought that I could not go on without that relationship, it was that hot and heavy. Next thing you know, I've outgrown them or they'd done something to hurt me and I hated their ever lovin' guts. At one point, I thought they were all that, the best looking guy to walk down the pike. After the break-up, I would view them as the ugliest thing, known to man. Love is truly perspective. Love is deaf, dumb, blind, crippled and crazy. I have loved and been loved and have been in more relationships than I can count or care to admit. I say all this because I want you to know, that I honor your feelings and am not trying to dismiss them. I do however, want you to look closely at them.
I assume because of your age, that you've not been in many serious relationships. You may or may not have been in love before. Love is different things to different people. Our view of love changes, progresses and matures as we grow.
I would like very much, if you will look deeply, into this situation. I do think you have some concern yourself. I also think that you have heard, what I call the, "Small Still Voice." It has told you to be concerned about this situation. Learn to recognize it, hone it and try to always listen to it. It will guide you through life. If you hear it and get that eerie sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, heed it's warning.
I am not sure if this is wrong or right. I know, in some states it's illegal, as I pointed out to you. If he is your first cousin, it may be morally wrong. Think.
Love is a powerful thing. As a young woman, you may be experiencing normal feelings, a walk down the path towards womanhood, emotionally. Is it possible, like a radar, you may have directed those normal feelings towards someone who you have things in common with? Is it possible that you have zeroed in on your cousin, out of a closeness, misconstrued as love? Is it also possible that your sexuality, has come of age and you woke and saw him? Think.
If you were my daughter and you asked me, what to do, I would tell you, to make a conscious effort, to date other people, right now. Anything you have to hide, in a hetero situation, can't be good. How can you celebrate your love for one another, if you must hide it and worry what people will think. Having a secretive relationship will only bring about hurt and pain, pain you will also have to keep secret.
I encourage you to really try to walk away from this situation. Open your eyes to the endless possibilities out there. There are many fish in the sea. Now, I know if you have feelings for him, it may be hard. But your feelings may be family love that is jumbled and mixed with a want and need for companionship. Of course you care about him and obviously, you are close. How will you tell your friends? Will you be able to go out and show affection, while everybody else is? I mean envision, any scenario. A whole group of you go out, to a party, boyfriends and girlfriends. They're listening to music, at the party, dancing together, holding hands, kissing. What will you do? When your girlfriends are comparing notes and talking, as girlfriends do, about their boyfriends and expressing and proclaiming their love, what will you do? You will always have to sneak and hide, worry that you will be caught and what will people think?
Love is such a beautiful thing. It can not be contained and kept under wraps. You will want to share and tell the world about how much you love, your guy. But if you continue to entertain the notion of being with your cousin, you will begin to live a lie, one you may never recover from. Think.
"And consider this — Albert Einstein's parents were cousins, and he married his cousin, too. FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were cousins, so were Prince Albert and Queen Victoria and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was briefly married to a second cousin." Although many people are still concerned about the genetic risks cousin marriages supposedly take, a new study by National Society of Genetic Counselors states that the genetic risks are much less than previously thought.
Cousin Marriage License Laws
The New York Sun (Commentary)