Social Question

TheCreative's avatar

Why don't people feel attracted sexually to people they live with, relative or not?

Asked by TheCreative (1210 points ) September 13th, 2009

Is there a name for this? Why don’t people feel attracted to people they live with. Even if blood relative or not?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

36 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Why do you think that they don’t? Because you don’t? Many do, and it is not always healthy. It depends upon the circumstances.

TheCreative's avatar

@pdworkin Well I certainly know the majority don’t.

casheroo's avatar

I’m sorry, could you define what you mean by “attracted”? Like, sexually or romantically? Or just “i want to be around this person” friendly sort of thing?

jonsblond's avatar

I’m attracted to the people that I live with. i don’t think I would live with them if I wasn’t.

mascarraaa's avatar

I think you might be wrong. because i know relatives marring relatives, not saying its right, but in my case i find some of my cousins pretty hot :)

TheCreative's avatar

@casheroo Oops I should have made that more clear. I meant sexually. Also sorry @pdworkin if that’s what you meant.

dpworkin's avatar

@TheCreative Would you please tell me how you know this? Do you have the results of a peer-reviewed study that indicate this? A scholarly article? Something from USA Today?

TheCreative's avatar

@pdworkin I meant sexually. I don’t really think I need an article or something to prove this?

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Plenty of people are attracted to people the live with, yes, even sexually. I would say it’s quite common. Just the other day, a friend told me about having to move out of an apartment he shared with two other people because they became a couple, and it became awkward for him to be there.

Even more important, when people become a couple, and get married, the general route, I would say the majority of them move in together, so then of course, one would expect that both husband and wife would be “attracted to the person they live with”.

dpworkin's avatar

Well, I don’t know why you think that people who live together are not sexually attracted to one another. That pretty much flies in the face of normative human behavior, excepting, of course, the incest taboo.

When you make a flat statement like that you pretty much should be prepared to back it up, in my opinion.

cookieman's avatar

I live with my wife.
I’m sexually attracted to her.
isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

eponymoushipster's avatar

because i don’t live in Kentucky?

Sarcasm's avatar

I’m not attracted to the people I live with because they’re all men and I’m into women.

TheCreative's avatar

For example, let’s say someone has a step sibling or has been adopted. When the two live together, they usually aren’t attracted to each other sexually. I’ve read about this somewhere and i know there is a name for this. Do you think that this happens because they know it is morally wrong or something like that? Do you think that if they didn’t think there was anything bad about it they would be? Luke and Leia didn’t know they were brother and sister but they felt attracted to each other. I’m having a bit of trouble getting my message across but I hope you understand.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@TheCreative: That has nothing to do with them living together. That has to do with an emotional feeling of being siblings. And some step-siblings are attracted to each other anyway. Sorry I don’t know any name of what you’re looking for.

TheCreative's avatar

Aha! I’ve found it! It’s called the Westermarck effect.

Adagio's avatar

@TheCreative When you make a wide sweeping comment such as ” Well I certainly know the majority don’t”, I think you do need to back it up if you are to give it any credibility whatsoever.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Glad you found what you’re looking for. Sorry we couldn’t help. Maybe if you had accurately described what you were looking for, we could have.

dpworkin's avatar

That scenario, about being raised as siblings from before 6 years of age is very, very different from your original question.

MissAusten's avatar

I think maybe “Why don’t people who are raised together, even if not related by blood, usually feel sexually attracted to each other?” would have gotten the job done. When I read the question, that’s what I took it as because it reminded me of something from one of my college classes (anthropology or psych, I don’t recall). That was my first thought, even though I couldn’t remember the name for it either. :)

The common way to express it would be “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Or something along those lines.

TheCreative's avatar

@pdworkin I don’t think it was that different. I was asking why people don’t develop a sexual attraction when raised together. Blood relative or not. I think I got the general idea across.

TheCreative's avatar

@MissAusten Hmm good idea should have done that ;).

dpworkin's avatar

Your OP: Why don’t people feel attracted sexually to people they live with, relative or not?

I see no reference to people being “raised” together.

drdoombot's avatar

I had a crush on one of my cousins once. But I didn’t meet her until I was 14 years old.

Hobosnake's avatar

They know them too well.

Sarcasm's avatar

@Hobosnake I like that point. I’ve fallen out of lust for quite a few girls after getting to know them.

Hobosnake's avatar

I read in “the Five Love Languages” (an amazing book with amazingly true ideas, it is written from a Christian standpoint though, so don’t be surprised) that infatuation only lasts about 2 years at max. So if you already know someone too well, chances are you won’t be infatuated. That is part of the challenge of marriage: if it depends on infatuation rather than real love, it won’t last more than 2 years.

Jeruba's avatar

I hope you are excluding spouses and partners here.

I would also not discount the power of social and sexual taboos.

knitfroggy's avatar

I don’t see why living with someone would make you attracted to them. People are at their most comfortable at home and do things they don’t do in public like fart and pick their noses. If I’d have lived with my husband before I fell in love with him, I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.

whitenoise's avatar

Maybe the below quote, that I took from another website, may help on asserting the inhibition to be social or biological:

“The primate background to mother-son, brother-sister and father-daughter mating has long been an interesting focus for those investigating the human condition. Many aspects of group formation are considered to be adaptations to prevent serious levels of inbreeding in primates. These include offspring dispersal in monogamous forms, male emigration in multi-male groups, periodic male replacement in single male groups, and, among chimpanzees, female emigration. The most clearly recognizable incest is between mothers and sons, since in most cases fathers of offspring are not known with accuracy. Mother-son mating does occur with pre and post post-weaning offspring, both in chimpanzees and rhesus macaques (Fedigan 1982).

Nishida reports pairs of mothers and immature sons in which he says mating was often seen, but that in the only case of a mature son mounting his mother, she threw him out of the tree, and he didn’t try it again. Goodall in contrast, reported some episodes of mothers mating with mature sons (1986). This behaviour may have had other relevance than reproductive. For example it may have allowed the son the opportunity to assert himself over a female in the presence of other males. Brother-sister and father-daughter mating was not seen in Mahale because all natal females emigrated as late adolescents.

In Gombe, Fifi was seen to scream and attempt to fight off her brothers when they tried to mate with her, even though she persistently solicited mating from all the other males.

These observations of a persistent, but not universal avoidance of incest, and its variability by age suggest that the inhibitors tend to be social rather than biological factors which come into play when the relations between adult males and females are confounded by the relations between mothers and offspring.”

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If you’re speaking of sexual attraction for relatives then yes, people do have those feelings. In my family, it’s been pretty common practice in the past to marry cousins but they tried to keep it at about 3rd cousins as the closest acceptable matches and there were always talks about not messing around with anyone in town because it’s likely you’re all related and you need to research first ;p

Hobosnake's avatar

Someone has probably already noted this, and not that I agree completely with Freud, but

Freud’s psychoanalytic theory focused a lot on sexual attractions between family members in the subconscious. This was one of the most commonly mentioned causes of anxiety in his theory, as it shows a very blatant and obvious compromise of societal values. Freud basically pointed out that, while that desire was usually kept in the subconscious, you might be able to notice the attraction in yourself or others through displayed defense mechanisms.

Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Kraigmo's avatar

In any given room, no matter where on Earth, the odds will be that I’m attracted to a FEW people. Not Most people.

As for family members not being attracted, that’s biological. We are not attracted to our relatives, and its what keeps the human race more or less healthy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

People ARE attracted to those they live with sometimes, even if they’re relatives…it’s just that they will always say ‘ew he’s my brother’ or whatever because of social taboos

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@eponymoushipster some people are, you don’t have to be. if you aren’t, you aren’t.

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