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[FACT OR FAKE #89] Is An 18-Year-Old Girl Really Dating (And Plans To Marry) Her Dad?

An 18-year-old girl who in an interview with New York Magazine's Science of US Blog opened up about dating her dad and what it's like being in as unconventional relationship (read consensual incest) as the one she and her biological father are in. But is it true? Your weekly SAYS' FACT OR FAKE columnist Sadho explores the deep web to determine whether or not.

Cover image via Laurence Mouton/PhotoAlto/Corbis

Editor's note: The story discusses sexual taboo. NSFW.

On 15 January 2015, New York Magazine's Science of Us blog featured an article titled 'What It's Like to Date Your Dad.'

Image via nymag.com

Presented in the column's signature stark Q-and-A format, the interview of an 18-year-old girl from the Great Lakes region about her consensual incestuous relationship with her dad caused an immediate stir around the Internet world due to its content that both intrigued and alarmed readers for a number of reasons

“What It’s Like to Date Your Dad” is, frankly, a sensational and often-disturbing exchange between the clinical interview questions and the detailed answers of a woman who hadn’t had contact with her father since she was five years old and then began having sex with him when they re-kindled their relationship.

She was 17 at the time, he was in his mid-to-late-30s. She tells Science of Us that they are in love, that they are engaged to be married, and that they plan on having children—with the blessing of his parents, even.

salon.com

The article, notes Bustle, makes it seem that such a taboo relationship might not be quite as outlandish as one might assume. In fact, when estranged blood relatives meet as adults, it is apparently not uncommon for one or both parties to experience a phenomenon known as Genetic Sexual Attraction or GSA.

Image via kinja-img.com

The article began with a bit of background on the GSA phenomenon. Accounts of that sort of taboo chemistry developing between long-lost relatives have been anecdotally reported but rarely openly discussed, as the preface to the interview explained:

"In the late '80s, the founder of a support group for adopted children who had recently reconnected with their biological relatives coined the term “Genetic Sexual Attraction” (GSA) to describe the intense romantic and sexual feelings that she observed occurring in many of these reunions. According to an article in The Guardian, experts estimate that these taboo feelings occur in about 50 percent of cases where estranged relatives are reunited as adults (GSA's discoverer had herself become attracted to the son she'd adopted out when she met him 26 years later, but her feelings were not reciprocated)."

The Science of Us article further notes that consensual incestuous relationship between fathers and their daughters remains the least reported and perhaps the most taboo sort of GSA relationship

"Keith Pullman, who runs a marriage equality blog, has personally talked to over 20 GSA couples and notes that he’s only had a few father-daughter couples speak out, speculating that many of them fear that others will assume the daughter must have been abused in childhood (it should be said that when these unions lead to children, those children can face potentially serious difficulties as a result of the genetic implications of incest, even if some online communities downplay these risks)."

nymag.com

One of the article's key passages described the father-daughter's first tryst, which she stated was also her first sexual experience:

"Later that day, we went shopping because I had grown out of all my shorts, so I asked him if he could buy me some new ones. I was trying them on and asked him how I looked and he said I looked good and I felt like I was picking up on something more, but I pushed it out of my head.

That night we were play wrestling in the room I was going to sleep in and I bit him. He was wearing a pair of basketball shorts and a tank top and after I bit him I could see goose bumps pop up from his toes to his shoulders. Then he pinched my inner thigh and I got goose bumps.

We stopped and said that we didn't know what was going on but admitted that we had strong feelings for each other. We discussed whether it was wrong and then we kissed. And then we made out, and then we made love for the first time. That was when I lost my virginity."

nymag.com

Further in the interview, the unidentified 18-year-old says she told her dad she was a virgin and "wanted him to be the first person I made love to." Her dad, she says, let her know that "if [she] didn't feel comfortable at any point [she] should tell him." Read below:

Did you tell him you were a virgin?
Yes. I told him I wanted him to be the first person I made love to. We talked about how it could be awkward if it didn’t end up working out. He also said that if I didn’t feel comfortable at any point I should tell him.

What was it like?
There’s a reason I lost my virginity to him — because I’d never felt comfortable with any other man. It was insanely sensual. It lasted for about an hour and there was a lot of foreplay. We both had orgasms. We are so similar, so it’s so easy to sexually please each other. For example, we both love neck-biting. I’ve never been in a more passionate, loving, fulfilling situation.

Even the first time, because often it’s not the best sexual experience …
That’s what I said! I’d heard that it would hurt so I was expecting pain, but we were both so careful with each other. I think it was also a good experience because most guys my age are only interested in having sex with you. I could tell that wasn’t the case with him.

nymag.com

Further in the interview, she provides a number of additional details that raises red flags about both the truthfulness of the statements made as well as the potentially coercive nature of the relationship

I’m curious, given the age gap and the perceived power dynamic, did you feel forced or coerced at all?
Absolutely not. He made sure I wanted to do it. We both initiated it and he kept asking me if I was okay, not because he thought I was distressed but because he wanted me to know that we could stop at any point. It was like any other man and woman having sex after they had each admitted their feelings.

What was it like afterward?
It wasn’t weird at all. It felt so natural. It didn’t even feel taboo. I felt like I had just made love with a man who I’d been with for years.

Did you think that a relationship was a possibility?
We discussed it before we had sex. I told him I was saving myself for someone who I’d be committed to for the rest of my life. It was important for me to make it clear that if I made love to him he was in a relationship with me. I didn’t regret it at all. I was happy for once in my life. We fell deeply in love.

nymag.com

Reactions to the father-daughter's story, as noted by Salon, range from sympathy to disgust to skepticism, all understandable responses to a story about an enormous cultural taboo

Several readers suggest in the comments that the magazine might have been trolled by the interview, though that may be grounded more in a reflex of denial than actual proof of a hoax.

“This makes me so sad. This poor young woman never even had a chance at a normal life. Her mother had psychological issues and exposed her to only destructive relationships. Her peers in town are either addicted to heroin or drunkenly burning down houses while pregnant. What an awful set of circumstances.”

“I think there’s also a clear class element at work here that the snarky comments below don’t seem to get. This young woman is surrounded by drug addiction, teen pregnancy, unstable families and mental illness, which all disproportionately affect the poor. Her understanding of genetics (and the Tudor dynasty) shows how little she knows. What has she been exposed to in life, when it comes to role models? What were her options, in terms of romantic partners? I don’t feel disgust, only pity.”

“did no one else notice that her “ex-boyfriend” got a girl pregnant somewhere between the FIFTH AND SEVENTH GRADES, and that girl subsequently burned her house down with a cigarette and had to leave???? WORST. TOWN. EVER.”

salon.com

So what's the deal here? Is the woman's story a hoax?

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SAYS FACT OR FAKE ANALYSIS: Status Undetermined

As aptly noted by Snopes, perhaps understandably missing from the interview is any identifying information about the father-daughter couple beyond mention of a very generalised locale, "the Great Lakes region."

Less convincing was a lack of corroborating information presented by the article's writer. Such as, were the girl's claims in any way fact-checked, and if so, to what degree? For instance, did anyone speak with the purportedly approving grandparents of the girl (parents of the father) to confirm they indeed supported their son's plan to marry his once-abandoned daughter?

In conclusion, it's one of those rare stories where facts seem stranger than the fiction. In the absence of any proof to back up this unusual story, we at SAYS remain highly skeptical about its factuality.

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