' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Genetic Sexual Attraction is a hot topic

Monday, December 7, 2015

Genetic Sexual Attraction is a hot topic

Mother, wife and son/husband in Night Is A Room--photo does not convey the supposed age discrepancy; the acting does. 
Incest and adoption are themes that run deep and wide in drama, starting with Sophocles' Oedipus plays. And they are going strong on the New York stage.

Night Is A Room is about a birth mother/son reunion, orchestrated by the husband's wife for his 40th birthday. The review in the New York Times darkly hinted of a surprise plot twist sure to bring gasps at the end of the first act.

Okay, I thought: either a) son murders mother or b) son and mother have sex. Both seemed plausible; I had no inkling of the playwright Naomi Wallace's background. Did her first-hand knowledge of affairs adoption enter into this drama? Or was it just a topic she read about somewhere?

I was planning to be in Manhattan and going to the theater with another first mother, Barbara Monckton Thavis, while she was in town on business. We added this to our list of must-sees immediately and she got the last two tickets for a matinee.

As I sat there waiting for the curtain to rise, and waiting for Barbara also--we had met over the internet--I couldn't help but wonder how many in the audience of around 200 would be other first mothers, adoptees, or adoptive parents. There had to be more who were personally involved than just the two of us. Given the prevalence of adoption today, certainly there were adoptive parents there--grandparents, more likely, judging by the age of most of the audience.

GSA Genetic Sexual Attraction, The Bond of Siblings
The set-up was this: a successful career woman has found the natural mother of her adoptee husband of 20 years, and organizes a meeting on his 40th birthday. Act One opens as the wife comes into the home of the mother, who is bent over, depressed, dumpy--yet she is only 15 or 16 years years older than her son. She got pregnant when she was 15. So she's 55 or--if her son was born when she was 16--she would be 56. Yet the woman on stage looks and acts like an old 70, even if she doesn't look aged in the photo above.  I thought: that shriveled old woman is the imaginary birth mother of a lot of people. Barbara, the mother with me, is young in attitude, vital, successful--pretty much a counterpart of the wife in the play--and just a year older than the birth mother is supposed to be.

Barbara and Lorraine in Manhattan
In Night Is A Room, mother and son meet off stage, but as we expected, Genetic Sexual Attraction takes a hold, big time. The sexy son/husband breaks the news that he is planning to leave his wife--the play begins with a squishy sex scene to show their hot marriage, even after 20 years--and he then plants a lengthy sensual kiss on his mother. My reaction: expected, but YUK. It was hard to believe with these characters--so out of sync physically--together in bed.

Genetic sexual attraction is briefly explained--GSA, look it up, it's a real thing! says the son/husband--but with the 50-something woman acting like an old 70--it is hard to swallow this pair as lovers. The mother does some describing of what sex between the two of them means to her emotionally, and there, actually, the bonding does make a certain amount of sense to me, deeply steeped in all things adoption. The take-charge wife is gobsmacked as Act One ends. Does she go on with her life as before, keep her job in advertising, along with her sanity?

No. Despite the strong character she is in Act One, her center does not hold. Act Two begins with a coffin--the son has died, not the mother, but by an ugly twist of fate, the flat that was the mother's had been signed over to her son (with the assumption the mother would die first) and he left it to...his wife.  Now these two have to find a way to resolution. It all comes to an overheated and implausible halt, for which I was grateful. It was interesting, the acting was actually spot-on, but the sexual tension between mother and son unconvincing and just plain weird. Before the curtain falls, several body fluids are either, real or imagined, will make their way into the hyper-heated drama.

My guess is that the Ms. Wallace, who has multiple credits and awards, did her research, and imagined the mother as the wretch who cleans houses and aged well beyond her years and then...well, I've given away the plot but this isn't a review for the audience who might be lining up for tickets. Rather, I'm writing an explanation of how GSA is handled in Night Is A Room. With different direction, and better casting, the play might have made sense, but this staging didn't get to anything remotely believable. Yet I'd give it kudos for dealing with one of the most taboo subjects anywhere.

Next night Barbara and I were off to Sam Shepherd's Fool for Love: steamy sexual passion...that ultimately leads to a story of brother and sister (half siblings) who can't live with each other, or without. Dad had two lives, and the sibs didn't know they were related when they met in high school and got it on. She's blonde and gorgeous and sexy; and he's tall and cool and the kind of poet cowboy who lassos girls with a smile and Howd'y. And for an added jolt for me and Barbara--in moseys another character and when asked where he's from, where his people are form, he answers: I don't really know--I'm adopted. 

On the way to Roosevelt Island
Barbara and I may have been the only people in the theater who chortled. Neither one of us expected more genetic sexual attraction our second night, nor did we foresee an adopted character plopping down into this "family" drama. Adoption, my friends, is everywhere. And look for GSA to be the subject of this or that TV drama soon.--lorraine

Addendum: Barbara and I had a wonderful time getting to know each other--though she knew me pretty well from my writings. We went a friend's gallery show, checked out a hotel or two (she works for Hilton), had great meals, shopped a bit (we both bought boots), saw the 9/11 memorial and museum, took a side trip to Roosevelt Island on the tram, and rode in a pedicab.

Having the most important thing that ever happened to us as a bond was warm and comforting. Thank you, Barb.

Is it incest? Genetic sexual attraction between adoptees and first parents

thank you for ordering anything through the portals of FMF. Just click on the photo of the cover above or the book title or books those in the sidebar, moi says immodestly....

GSA Genetic Sexual Attraction, The Bond of Siblings: The theory behind sibling relationships (Who, How and Why Siblings Form Their Bond
"This is NOT erotica. This short article does not condone or condemn genetic sexual attraction. This is a serious look into the emotional and physical bond between siblings from a personal and non-professional view. You will not find any descriptive moments of passion or technical terms. What you will read is about how siblings feel, how they came into their relationships and how they survive their relationships."--Amazon description.


  1. when I received my background info there was a small blurb on GSA...and I snorted when I read it. I grew up with brothers and believe me be attracted to them? Not a chance in hell...So when I met my birth sibling (a brother) we got smacked with GSA unbelievable...out of left field...it was crazy insane...but I went for it anyway. The best description I could use for this, is that of sliding down a razor blade. Yah, just sit with that one for a while...however eventually reality hit and what helped me learn to let it go was my eldest son who was in his 30ies, yelling at me "He is My uncle what happens if you guys split up...how do I get to have a relationship with him then?" And this got through to me and my brother and I backed away from the intensity of us and over time have managed to become brother and sister. However this was hard and very painful but then so is the life of an adoptee

    1. Hah. I know, right. It's definitely a thing.

      Here's the "funny" thing: Our adoptive families are our "real" families! Everyone says so, over and over, with monotonous regularity. Therefore, our natural families are nothing to us at all. Certainly that is legally the case.

      So does that mean if I decided to go for it with one of my brothers, it isn't really incest? What would the powers that be think about that?

      If my natural brother and I decided to marry, knowing full well that we are biological siblings, but having no paperwork to prove it, what are the legal consequences? Are there any? Would the courts be forced to release the original birth certificate, without making the adoptee jump through hoops?

      I don't mean to trivialise genetic attraction, not at all. It is one of the many rubbish things about adoption. I just can't help wondering if we can *use it* in some way.

  2. Not something we want to "use" that way, as it involves human tragedy, not just legal theory. There have been cases of siblings marrying and having children, unknown to each other until it was too late, and that is something that can be used as a reason for open records for adoptees, and the danger of unwitting incest has often been cited in cases involving adoption records and anonymous sperm donation, where the children of one man can and have numbered in the hundreds in a small area.

    Deliberate incest after reunion is not something we want to emphasize although it has happened in a small number of cases as dramatized in these plays. It makes the case for preventing reunions, not opening records and encouraging them. Sensationalized plays like these do not help, they are just using the plot device of incest and adoption for shock value. I do not think either of these plays is exactly Oedipus Rex, and we should remember what happened to Oedipus, struck blind because he unwittingly murdered his father and married his mother because he did not know who they were, the ultimate bad outcome of adoption secrets and lies.

    Whether sex with relatives is legally incest or not, either in the adoptive family (think Woody Allen, yuck!) or with found birth relatives, the emotional damage to all involved is real and great and not something to be pursued. Those who find themselves attracted to their relatives need good professional help not to act on those feelings, and to steer the relationship in a healthier direction or break it off altogether. That is the advice about GSA I have heard when it is the subject of workshops at conferences, to be aware of it, and if the thoughts begin to be a problem, get help.

  3. I served as a court-appointed CI for over ten years in Michigan. Whenever I helped facilitate a mother-son reunion I discussed GSA with them. (I didn't have any male-female sibling reunions.) The way I described it to them was this: For the mother, her maternal, instinctual impulses to pull her 'baby' into her arms and never let go can be overwhelming. For the adoptee, the experience of embracing blood-related kin for the first time can also be unexpectedly powerful. For the unprepared, the only experience in either of their lives that even remotely resembled that feeling was of a sexual nature. Then the uncomfortable feelings would set in. And those feelings could either drive them into an unhealthy relationship or, conversely, ruin their reunion altogether.

    One mother-son reunion I facilitated was worth the warning. The mother told me that the day she met her son, he opened the car door for her and was standing very close to her. She looked up at his face, and when their eyes met there was an unmistakable electricity that passed through both of them. She said she almost expected him to bend down and kiss her - and a part of her wanted him to! But remembering what I had told them, they simultaneously started to laugh, and she said something very 'motherly' to him that reframed the moment. They had a fantastic reunion.

    1. My son is sexy and attractive and likes women. He's also promiscuous We met when he was 40. He's now 56 and he is still sexy. Like the couple described, I felt it. Since his wife at the time was extremely jealous of me, I think she suspected it and also knew him. We had a very rocky reunion with many pull backs because we are both strong willed people. I raised two other sons so once I got to know him better, I moved into the "motherly role" I have with my other two sons and GSA subsided.

  4. What about fathers and daughters? I never had the chance to know my father, but I can tell you, he was drop-dead gorgeous. I find him attractive (most women did). I am sure that if I had grown up with him, I would have had reason not to (knowing his bad habits, seeing him in his underwear, having him in the father role). But just knowing of him and seeing him--he is beautiful. Of course I know nothing would happen and he is dead, but I get it. And I know of circumstances of other adoptees being attracted to their fathers. This isn't a mother-son exclusive. I think there are a lot of variables: the ability to set boundaries; is the person your type (my brother sure wasn't mine); knowing that GSA is an issue, etc.

    Of course therapy is a good thing, but really, lecturing from a high horse isn't the answer.

  5. So glad I found this blog and I really wished I found it before. I'm a young birth mother who was lied to. Adoption of an infant are all lies. Once they got what they want from me(my child) They(agency, AP) didn't want to deal with me anymore. I'm heartbroken.

    1. We are here for you.

    2. One of the purposes of this blog is to tell the truth about adoption and hopefully to prevent any more unnecessary adoptions. I'm sorry you found the blog too late, but there is still plenty of support for you here and at the other family preservation oriented blogs.

  6. Familiariy is a good antidote against GSA. Human beings are fickle and get bored easily. If you grow up or are associated with someone on a regular basis while you are growing up, they are more likely become boring to you, at least on a sexual level.
    There's a name for it but I can't remember what it is.

    1. Westermarck affect,(disputed by some) here you go, from Wikipedia:
      The Westermarck effect, or reverse sexual imprinting, is a hypothetical psychological effect through which people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to sexual attraction. This phenomenon was first hypothesized by Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck in his book The History of Human Marriage (1891) as one explanation for the incest taboo. Observations interpreted as evidence for the Westermarck effect have since been made in many places and cultures, including in the Israeli kibbutz system, and the Chinese Shim-pua marriage customs, as well as in biological-related families.

      In the case of the Israeli kibbutzim (collective farms), children were reared somewhat communally in peer groups, based on age, not biological relation. A study of the marriage patterns of these children later in life revealed that out of the nearly 3,000 marriages that occurred across the kibbutz system, only fourteen were between children from the same peer group. Of those fourteen, none had been reared together during the first six years of life. This result suggests that the Westermarck effect operates during the period from birth to the age of six.[1]

    2. Well, let's thank our lucky stars for The Westermarck effect and all those it touches. Or prevents from touching. ;-)

  7. To add to Anon's comment, I think part of the reason for the attraction is the anxiety of whether the person wants a relationship, Will he (or she) call again? Write again? Did I do or say the wrong thing? Another part is the sense of loss. Nostalgia plays role too.

    We don't have this with family we've known all of our lives or their lives.

    Anon, a favor. Please use a name--any name--when commenting. Otherwise your comments get mixed up with all the other anons


  8. When I first found blood relatives I felt an electricity, a current going through me that was at times overwhelming. I saw a comment once on Cassi's blog, Adoption Truth, that that current was actually the blood connection. As an earlier commenter pointed out, having not grown up with this connection, the only other experience an adoptee could compare it to would be romantic/sexual attraction. I remember the thought occurred to me when talking with a male cousin that this was the first time I had a true incest taboo. I found that kind of cool, actually.

    I also found my natural father to be quite handsome and could see why my n-mother fell for him. Although I suspect a lot of the attraction was the overwhelming feeling caused by seeing someone who looked so much like me. At times it felt overpowering. I felt gobsmacked.

    Maryanne mentioned Woody Allen and I agree that getting sexually/romantically involved with a stepchild is also taboo. I was raised by a stepfather and the thought of any type of sexual/romantic relationship between us makes me want to throw up. And it's not because I don't like him, but because he was a father figure. Even if it wouldn't be incest in the strictest sense, I would consider any relationship of that type to be "psychological" incest, which would also be very damaging.

  9. Sick comments. Real parents and their children are not attracted to each other when they meet. I am really starting to question the integrity of this blogspot and a lot of the lunatics that constantly linger on it.

    1. You might want to do a search for Genetic Sexual Attraction. It's not to late to learn.

  10. GSA happens more then this leads on....The Son that I gave up for adoption 27 years ago contacted me in 2020. Before we met, we were both counseled on the subject of GSA.
    I thought GSA sounded ridiculous, that is until my Son and I met for the 1st time in the flesh. We had spoken for hours on the phone prior to, but nothing could have prepared me for those feelings after our initial 1st physical contact. I had recently separated from my husband of 16 years, and we did not have children.
    My Son drove 18 hrs to see me, and checked into a local hotel. That first night felt like a first date, it was so weird.
    We had so much in common...we were both health fanatic's, both are thin and in great shape and both worked in the tech industry and both worked from home. On the second night we had wine and things got a little steamy...I was so attracted to him and he was so flirtatious with me.
    On the 3rd night we had sexual intercourse and we both described it as indescribable pleasure and happiness. He checked out of his hotel the following morning and moved into my bedroom.
    This was during early Covid, so we literally begin having sex several times a day.
    Those were by far the happiest times in my entire life and although most will never understand, its a bond that very few people will ever understand
    Last year we took a break, he moved out, but are still lovers and close friends.



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