Continuing family connections

This page looks at how family connections can develop after the initial meeting with a relative. The nature of relationships can vary significantly, but there are many key milestones that many reunions share, that are worth discussing here.

The honeymoon period

Genetic sexual attraction

Finding the balance

When one person wants the relationship to develop faster

Remember you have support

The honeymoon period

It’s common for many people to encounter an initial honeymoon period following their first meeting(s). This is typified by frequent contact and is a period of great excitement and discovery. Depending on the situation this period can also involve introductions to other relatives and friends.
The amount of time this takes varies from relationship to relationship but over time most relationships settle into a slower rhythm and less frequent contact is common.

During this period it’s tempting to focus on nurturing this new relationship to the exclusion of other elements of your life, but it’s important to understand what’s happening and ensure that you don’t neglect the other relationships in your life. It’s important to maintain your emotional stability outside the relationship both to protect yourself, and to avoid placing too much weight on this new, untested relationship.

Genetic sexual attraction

A sensitive aspect of reunions which needs highlighting is the possibility of genetic sexual attraction.
While it may not happen very often, we know that it can happen and it is therefore crucial to know about this phenomenon in case it happens to you.

This is where the complex emotions discussed above take on a romantic or sexual dimension in the absence of clear boundaries developed over time in a shared environment.

Nobody knows exactly why this occurs or how common it is (despite some alarmist reports in the media) but it is an established phenomenon which can occur.

This can sound like a scary topic but really describes a fairly common set of feelings and emotions that can lead to difficulties if people misunderstand what is happening and act on intense emotion.
You are meeting a stranger who may look like you, sound like you and even have similar mannerisms, which can lead to a strong bond between you.

You may have been wondering what they would be like for many years so when you meet it is common for people to develop intense feelings at the outset and to find themselves thinking about their birth relative to the exclusion of others.

If you feel these emotions, try not to worry as these feelings are common.  It is important not to act on the feelings and to form a sexual relationship and to remember that these obsessive feelings will pass in time.

Finding the balance

The key factor to consider with ongoing Family Connections is to ensure that you find a balance regarding what you both wish to get out of it. It doesn’t really matter if you wish to see each other every day or write to each other once a year – the important thing is that you both feel this is acceptable.

It’s also important not to idealise your relative too much. Developing healthy, balanced viewpoints of our parents, siblings and family is a natural phase of growing up and your relationship will be more durable and deep if you learn to see each other as real people.

For this reason frank discussions regarding what you want out of the relationship and how you would like it to be helps ensure everybody has the same expectations and can settle into just enjoying it in the long term.

When one person wants the relationship to develop faster

Sometimes one half of the new relationship is less or more committed or enthusiastic earlier on. Remember that people differ in their approaches even outside of the hugely emotional sphere of reunions, and in some ways you’ve both been thrown into navigating how this important relationship should work. The relative may be adjusting to this significant change in their life, worried about the effect of it not working out (or even working out) on their families. They may also want to ensure they’re not abandoning their existing family bonds.

The best way to approach this to think that, considering all the factors listed above, it would really be a miracle if there wasn’t some imbalance in what you both expect out of the relationship. Just keep communicating and try to respect the other’s position, slowing down if necessary. If you’re the one who feels like they don’t want the relationship to develop as quickly just explain that you do want to continue the relationship, but that you need to take it at a slower pace.

Remember you have support

We alluded to this this in the Honeymoon Period section above but there is a temptation to exclude everyone else from our world as we focus on this new and exciting relationship, but we may also attempt to shoulder the burden when it’s not progressing as we would like as well. Remember to maintain your emotional stability by keeping in touch with your existing family, friends and support network, as often their sense of perspective will be invaluable.

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