Arts & Culture » Culture

When cousins kiss

• I think you gave a pretty good answer to the woman in love with her cousin. I know about these things because I have been in a relationship with my first cousin for seven years, and have been happily married to him for four years. The facts: 1) All the major monotheistic religions allow marriage between first cousins. 2) Marriages between first cousins is legal in more than half the 50 states. 3) Famous folk who married first cousins include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Rudolph Giuliani. In my case there were a couple of family members who objected at first but most were fine with it from the beginning; all are fine with it now. We don't tell casual acquaintances, but all our friends know. Some were a bit freaked initially since not everyone is aware of the facts I've outlined. I wish these two all the best from one kissin' cousin to another.

• I'm writing this because of the letter from a beautiful full-figured woman who had trouble finding the right guy. I think we might have a lot in common. I'm also single and haven't been in a relationship in several years. I was wondering if you could forward this letter to her.

Sorry, no. I print these "can I contact that person" letters to demonstrate that there is, as my grandmother used to say, a pot for every lid. There are a great many people looking to connect out there; you must just put some effort into finding one another. Answer or place personal ads, go new places, join something, tell those you know you're looking and what you're looking for. All that will work better than this kind of shot in the dark. —Isadora

• You ran a letter from a man with two types of cancer. I would like to meet him, or at least talk to him if it's not too late. Please try to find out about that guy.

I really am sorry, but I can't even when it's for a humanitarian cause. —Isadora

• I think you could have recommended a book I first read about in your column, The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again by relationship expert Tina Tessina, to that guy who was separated and lonely. I realize he wasn't asking about dating but I still think the book would help him. It's about making friends, after all.

• An old classic may be worthy of examination by readers of your column. It is Love Without Fear by Eustace Chesser, paperback and hardcover published in England. It covers the necessity for gentle suggestion and anticipation in initial contacts and long-term relationships. It refutes the "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" approach to sex in a very forceful, direct presentation. At the time I was in college it was almost an underground publication, returned furtively by lady friends to whom I had loaned it as it was somewhat explicit. In short, this book would be useful for both youth who are just starting out and for elderly frustrated persons who are having sexual difficulties. Divorced folks might review it to see where they have failed in their previous relationship and to get some good, strong hints for success later on.

• Regarding the 23-year-old, sexually frustrated male who wrote for help in the coming-out process: The Internet has become the most powerful and important tool in the coming-out process and may be rivaling or even surpassing the gay bar as the place for gay people to meet, talk, and socialize. Any discussion of contemporary homosexuality is simply incomplete without mentioning the Internet. Some resources: for gay guys to meet other relationship oriented guys in a relaxed, nonbar situation, is a very hip and cool lifestyle magazine for young gay guys; and offer chat, message boards and free personal ads.

• One of the women I work with was so excited by how her Valentine's Day turned out with her husband that she admitted that they fell asleep cuddling each other naked for the first time since their wedding night. Most of the women were envious. I kept my mouth shut. My husband and I have fallen asleep cuddling each other naked every night since our wedding night; we have been married 21 years and have three children. Are we the only couple on the planet who look forward to going to bed together even if we are too tired to have sex? It seems senseless to me to share a bed if you don't share those moments in embrace. The sensuousness of feeling every part of your partner's body! I love the feel of his soft hairs. For him it's my soft skin which may look older but still feels young. Plus it's practical. When you embrace it gets too damn hot to wear bed clothes. Do your readers prefer the feel of flesh or fabric when they embrace? Or has cuddling in bed gone the way of the family meal (which is something else we still do nightly)?

There are cuddlers and there are non-cuddlers who feel smothered and can't sleep with arms enveloping them or legs over theirs. Like window-open/window-closed couples, it's a benevolent Cupid who allows those with the same sleeping style to find one another. —Isadora Isadora Alman is a licensed marriage counselor and a board-certified sexologist. You can reach her online at her Sexuality Forum ( or by writing to her care of this paper. Alas, she cannot answer questions

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