Is Dating Your Cousin Illegal in Vermont? Here’s What the Law Says

Remember that childhood game of “spin the bottle” where you might end up smooching your second cousin Gary? While it might have been a source of amusement back then, the idea of dating a cousin can raise eyebrows, even elicit gasps, depending on where you live in the United States. So, is dating your cousin illegal in Vermont? The answer, unlike that awkward spin the bottle moment, is actually quite straightforward.

Thesis Statement: In Vermont, dating your first cousin, as well as other close relatives like cousins once-removed and half-cousins, is completely legal.

Laws Regarding Cousin Dating in the United States

The legality of cousin dating varies considerably across the United States. Some states, like Tennessee which recently passed a ban, strictly prohibit marriage between first cousins. Others, like California and New York, allow it with no restrictions. Vermont falls into the latter category, where there are no legal roadblocks to romantic relationships between first cousins.

Understanding these varying laws is important, especially if you or someone you know is considering a relationship with a close relative. While Vermont permits it, social and ethical considerations still come into play. Let’s delve deeper into the legal landscape and explore the potential implications of cousin dating.

Focus on Vermont: Legal Nuances and History (Optional)

Vermont’s legal stance on cousin relationships reflects a broader national trend towards relaxed restrictions. There are no specific statutes or regulations prohibiting marriage or cohabitation between first cousins. This aligns with the common law tradition inherited from England, which historically did not have such restrictions.

However, it’s important to note that legal allowance doesn’t necessarily translate to social acceptance. While Vermont law permits cousin dating, social stigma might still exist within certain communities or families.

Potential Risks of Cousin Dating

Before embarking on a romantic relationship with a cousin, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks. One of the primary concerns is the increased risk of genetic disorders in offspring.

Humans carry two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent. When closely related individuals like cousins have children, there’s a higher chance of both copies of a particular gene being defective, potentially leading to genetic illnesses. This risk is generally considered low, but it’s important to be aware of it and potentially seek genetic counseling before making any decisions.

Beyond genetics, there are also potential social and familial issues to consider. Cousin relationships can be complex, and dating can introduce tension or awkwardness within family dynamics. Social stigma surrounding cousin dating might also exist within certain communities, leading to judgment or disapproval. Open communication and navigating these potential challenges with sensitivity are crucial.

Alternatives to Romantic Relationships with Cousins

If, after considering the legal and potential risks, you decide against a romantic relationship with your cousin, there are still plenty of ways to maintain a strong bond.

Importance of Boundaries: Establishing healthy boundaries is essential in any relationship, but especially so with close relatives. This means respecting physical boundaries and clearly communicating your expectations. Focusing on platonic activities and maintaining appropriate physical distance can help prevent any misunderstandings or hurt feelings.

Strengthening Existing Bonds: There are many ways to nurture a strong, platonic relationship with your cousin. Plan outings that focus on shared interests, reminisce about childhood memories, or simply offer each other support. Being a close confidante and friend can be far more rewarding than a potentially complicated romantic entanglement.

Seeking Support

If you or your cousin are struggling with navigating these dynamics, seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can be incredibly beneficial. A therapist can provide a safe space to explore your feelings, address any anxieties, and develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with family pressure or social stigma.

Considering Cultural Perspectives: It’s also important to acknowledge that cultural perspectives on cousin relationships can vary widely. In some cultures, cousin marriage is not only legal but actively encouraged. Understanding these cultural nuances can be helpful, especially if your family background is diverse.

However, it’s crucial to prioritize your own values and well-being when making decisions about your personal life.


In conclusion, Vermont law clearly allows dating between first cousins and other close relatives. However, the legal allowance doesn’t negate the importance of considering the potential genetic and social risks. Open communication with your cousin, thorough research on genetic risks if considering children, and prioritizing healthy family dynamics are all crucial factors to consider.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pursue a romantic relationship with a cousin is a personal one. There’s no right or wrong answer, and the best choice will depend on your individual circumstances, values, and comfort level. If you decide against a romantic relationship, there are still many ways to cultivate a strong and meaningful bond with your cousin.

Remember, a healthy platonic relationship built on trust and shared experiences can be far more rewarding and sustainable than a potentially complicated romantic entanglement.

This blog post has aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the legal landscape in Vermont regarding cousin dating, along with the potential risks and alternatives to consider. If you’re contemplating such a relationship, take your time, gather information, and prioritize open communication with your cousin and potentially a healthcare professional.

It’s also important to remember that family dynamics can be complex. If you’re facing judgment or disapproval from other family members, prioritize self-care and surround yourself with supportive individuals. Remember, your happiness and well-being are paramount.

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MBS Staff
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