This is something I’ve noticed when looking at different kind of cousin pairs in fiction. Cousins can have various dynamics depending on how they are brought up, their individual personalities, their life experiences and so on… Even though this is a simplified way of looking at it, if cousin dynamics were to be broke down into categories according to upbringing alone, I think there would be 3 main ones:
Dynamic 1. Sibling-like –
When cousins are raised together as siblings or adoptive siblings
Example 1: In the 1999 movie Sunshine, the cousins who end up marrying were raised in the same house as siblings first.
Example 2: In the 2013 film Friends from France, the two cousins who end up having a fling in adulthood had grown up together under very close quarters, to the point where the girl says the guy is “like a brother” to her.
Example 3: Jon & Sansa from Game of Thrones – raised together as siblings – see each other as brother/sister – they don’t know their real relation yet (up to season 7)
Characteristics: This dynamic is very close to being like a sibling dynamic, often indistinguishable from it. Couples with this dynamic are either extra intimate with each other OR forever hesitant to cross boundaries due to seeing each other more like platonic siblings for so long.
Dynamic 2. Part Stranger, part Familiar –
When cousins knew each other in childhood but were not raised together under the same roof
Example: I can’t think of an example for this one at the moment.
Characteristics: With this dynamic, the cousins are in the space that resembles the most common type of cousin dynamic, where they’re familiar yet unfamiliar to each other at once, to varying degrees. Here, it never feels quite like ‘siblings.’ It’s more like ‘extended family/friend’.
Dynamic 3. Total Strangers –
When cousins did not know each other at all until adulthood or teenage years
Example: The closest example in a film might be the cousins in the movie How I Live Now.
Characteristics: There is no preestablished bedrock of affection, no preestablished familial bond. They are total strangers to each other, and have to get to know each other from a blank slate. Often if attraction happens in this kind of scenario, it’s called ‘Genetic Sexual Attraction’.
*Interesting Exception to all these groupings:
The couple in the film Blue Lagoon. Why? Because while they might’ve known each other in childhood, they seemed to be more like friends even then; and while they “grew up” together on an island, there was no civilization around them, so they weren’t socialized as family. Their attraction occurred over time as they reached maturity. They seem to be a strange mixture of all the categories.
I don’t have a problem with what others ship or what they write and I don’t judge real life consenting couples. When it comes to my own fiction, my preference has always been Dynamic # 2. I have a cousin couple for another story who I would place as a 1.5, but by main OCs would fall under Category 2 for sure… or 2.2 since they knew each other in childhood, but did not grow up in the same house, and there was a separation between age 7 and 15, so they are partially strangers when they meet again as teens.