How to kiss your brother

My brother and I kiss and cuddle.

Emily Yoffe

Photograph by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
My brother and I are having a physical relationship. Our parents are admirable people who took good care of us, but are distant and aloof, and I think that my brother and I turned to each other for warmth and emotional support. He’s two years older and looked out for me in high school, and I shared with him what girls are like, which made him more confident socially. After he went away to college, I chose a college in the same city as his, so we continued to see a lot of each other. I’m now a senior and he’s a graduate student. About three months ago we were sitting on my couch watching a sad movie and when it was over we turned to each other, exchanged a look, and started kissing. Now we lie on the bed, clothed, and kiss and talk and hold each other. When I’m with him I feel loved and cared for. We have not had sex because there’s a psychological barrier that neither of us wants to cross. I go on dates with other men, but I never feel the emotional connection that I feel with my brother. I needed to talk to someone about this so I went to a counselor at the student health service and in the first session she practically ordered me not to see him for three months. I left in tears and haven’t gone back. We want to lead normal lives and have families. We both know intellectually that we shouldn’t be doing this, but we don’t feel the wrongness of it. Must we stop this immediately, or may we let it continue and hope we grow out of it?

—No Sibling Rivalry

Dear Sibling,
Since you’re both in your 20s, the trend appears to be going the opposite way of outgrowing your closeness. You say you don’t want to cross the ultimate line, but you continue to slow dance to the edge of it. If one day Jack’s resolve breaks, you, Jill, are likely to come tumbling after. You profess you two want normal lives, but if you violate this taboo you may never get there. If you do have an affair, or something pretty close, and you vow to forever keep this secret, you each will spend decades hoping your sibling stays silent. But if one or the other feels this is something a future romantic partner should know, don’t be surprised if upon hearing your confession your new love quickly backs away. I know I more or less gave a pass recently to a pair of middle-aged incestuous gay twins, but they had long ago made a physical and emotional commitment to each other, and were asking me about whether they should let their family know. I think even those two men would advise you two to stop the rubbing and get yourselves disentangled emotionally. Your therapist should have had the training not to be so shocked by your revelation that she ended up barking orders. Go back to the counseling office, say your first therapist was not a good fit, and you’d like to talk to someone else about a pressing emotional issue. A good therapist should be able to hear you out, understand your situation, and help guide you out of it. For a window into how strange things like this can get if they go too far, read Jeffrey Eugenides’ wonderful novel Middlesex.


Dear Prudence: Dancing With Herself

Dear Prudence,
I have been happily married for several years and have never cheated on my wife. Last week I went for a massage, and now I have a dilemma. I’m a sucker for cheap, Asian massage and this place seemed legit. They had ads for couples’ massage and a row of chairs for foot reflexology. The sign in the room said “Keep undergarments on.” But the masseuse came in and asked me to take my shirt off since she used oil during the massage. The first hour was completely normal, and when she asked me if I wanted a longer massage I told her to go another 30 minutes. She told me to turn over, massaged my stomach, then started to pleasure me—well, you can imagine how. I never solicited, intended, or suggested this happen! I could have stopped it, but it all happened so fast and was over in about 20 seconds. I almost felt violated. After that she finished the massage, and I paid and left a tip. I have resolved to only get fully clothed massages from now on, if any. I pride myself on being honest and treasure the intimacy and emotional trust my wife and I have. I feel that it might be gone if I keep this event from her, but I’m also not sure I should tell her. What should I do?

—Not So Relaxed

Dear Not,
First of all, I hope it’s not over so quickly when you’re attending to your wife. I agree this masseuse (which seems a more appropriate word given the circumstances than “massage therapist”) caught you with your pants down. Yes, you should have ended the session and beat a hasty retreat before she beat you into submission. But I’ll chalk up the sequence of events to her expertise and your surprise at what came your way. I tried to imagine my reaction if my husband told me this story. I’d believe him—why otherwise bother to confess? I’d probably be slightly amused and also ask how good a tip he left. I definitely wouldn’t be getting him any gift certificates for the Asian massage place up the street. (My teenage daughter and I went there recently and I’m grateful the only kinks that got worked over were our tight shoulder muscles.) But another part of me would be uneasy about this happy ending, and I’d wonder if he had really been that naive about what this place meant by “full-body” massage. You didn’t solicit your massage extra and I don’t think it’s a violation of your honest and open relationship to just quietly file this experience away. But only you know if in order to feel right with your wife, you have to take her by the hand and say, “I went for a massage recently, and a funny thing happened on the way to my adductor longus.”


Dear Prudence,
Everyone in my family was baptized and raised Episcopalian. My brother moved away, got married, and had a daughter. He and his wife were attending a non-Episcopal Protestant church, so they baptized my niece there. When my niece was still an infant, my mother visited them and, upon her return home, proudly boasted that when my brother and his wife weren’t around, she put my niece under the kitchen faucet and performed an “emergency Episcopal baptism just to be safe. ” Everyone who heard this was horrified and thought what my mother did was crazy. My mother found our reactions overblown though she did ask us never to tell my brother or his wife, and we haven’t. Now I am married and my wife and I are expecting our first child. My wife is Jewish and we have decided to raise our son in that faith. Since my mother felt the need to surreptitiously baptize her granddaughter for being the wrong Protestant denomination, she’s sure to try something with her grandson who isn’t even Christian! To baptize him would be a gross violation. I’ve decided my mother will never be allowed to be alone or even out of sight with my son until he’s old enough to defend himself. Is this a reasonable plan? Should I tell other family members never to let her out of their sight with my son and why?

—Whose Rite?

Dear Rite,
As a theologian your mother is all wet, as a look at this handy guide to Episcopal baptism demonstrates. For starters, the Episcopal Church recognizes proper baptisms performed by other denominations. If someone has been baptized, the church frowns upon freelancers like your mother getting in something extra: “Under absolutely no circumstances can a valid Baptism be repeated.” Then there’s the matter of the church insisting this sacred rite be performed by clergy in front of the congregation. As far as emergency baptisms are concerned, Episcopalians limit this to “impending death clear to all present.” In other words, while you mother may have given her granddaughter a soapless shampoo, she did not perform a baptism. Sure, it’s rude of her to run her grandchild under the faucet with the idea of getting the kid some celestial leg up. But since your mother gets just about everything wrong about baptism, her little ritual doesn’t hold water as a religious act. What your mother did, and I agree probably plans to do with your son, is the equivalent of a personal superstition no one need take seriously. Your son will be Jewish regardless of what your mother does, so it seems unnecessarily mean to have your family act as probation officers to prevent Grandma from getting her grandchild near running water.


Dear Prudence,
My 5-year-old daughter has an adorable best friend, “Molly,” who is left-handed. Molly’s parents mentioned once that they hoped to convert her to a righty. Molly’s mother is from a country where this desire may be more common, but we laughed it off and said that three of the last four presidents were lefties. Since then, we’ve seen Molly’s mother snapping at her for using her left hand. This rubs me the wrong way as a leftie myself, but more importantly, I don’t think it’s good for the child to forcibly convert them. Should we stay out of it now or should we stick up for Molly?

—Sympathetic Southpaw

Dear Sympathetic,
It’s true that there is a sinister prejudice against lefties in much of the world, but fortunately it is dying out in many places. As the daughter and mother of lefties, I find the practice of forced conversion to right-handedness gauche and appalling. (As I do forced conversion generally.) I hope your daughter and Molly are classmates, because that would give you the opportunity to alert the teacher to what’s going on. I bet the best way to get through to these parents would be if an authority figure explains to them we now understand that left-handedness is just an interesting variation, one that should be supported, not suppressed.


Discuss this column with Emily Yoffe on her Facebook page.

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  • Advice

'True love': Brothers' kiss on lips sparks debate

  • Published

Image source, Sheila Soares

Image caption,

Rafael Mirim shows his brother Erick a tribute tattoo of his face

A video of a brother's touching tribute to his sibling who has Down's syndrome has led some people to question whether it is appropriate to kiss a family member on the lips.

Rafael Mirim was filmed in his car in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, showing his brother Erick a tattoo of his face for the first time.

Touched by the tribute, Erick kisses Rafael on the lips and then hugs him in a video viewed more than 42 million times on Facebook.

The footage, originally posted by Erick and Rafael's mother Sheila Soares on 21 July, was picked up by Facebook user Wallacy Martins. Since he posted the video on Sunday, it has been shared more than half a million times, with more than 60,000 interactions.

The majority of the 11,000 comments describe the heart-warming nature of the video.

"I thought this was absolutely beautiful in every way," posted one Facebook user. Others shared their own tattoos of loved ones.

  • Living with a child with Down's syndrome
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For some, however, there was one jarring aspect of what should simply be a sweet moment between the two brothers.

"People who I know and have siblings don't kiss them in the mouth especially if they couldn't consent legally," commented one Facebook user.

Another posted: "The way he was rubbing his arm... was creepy... it's a no for me."

"That's just weird. My friend's brother just shakes his hand, that's enough," commented another.

But the comments have sparked a backlash, as many people shared how strongly they felt about the subject.

"I literally just read into five comments before I saw someone posting about how perverted it is that his brother kissed him on the lips," read a reply. "You people disgust me."

Image source, Sheila Soares

Image caption,

Rafael hugs his brother Erick after showing him the tattoo on his arm

Another comment, which has attracted more than 23,000 interactions, read: "All he sees is the brother that loves him.

"If you read anything more into it, that's your own masculinity that needs to be checked. Not every thing about love or human emotion needs to be sexualized."

Sheilas Soares commented on her own Facebook page to say she was overwhelmed by the responses to her son's video and had posted it to show the "true love" between the brothers.

"I am proud of the children," she said on Wednesday.

"I wanted to show true love because special children are so discriminated, forgotten and not recognised."

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Other commentators on Facebook shared their own experiences with family members. One user said: "My favourite Aunt on the planet had Down's. Anyone she even remotely cared about got a kiss on the lips. It was her way of showing affection. I would give anything to get one of her kisses again."

"My brother has special needs and he kisses all of us on the lips. It's nothing perverted or gross. He doesn't even think that way!" commented another Facebook user.

While another post read: "My youngest daughter has Down's syndrome and is very affectionate! I would never shame her for the love she shares with not only her sisters, but all people. "

It is not the first time kissing family members on the lips has attracted attention. Last year former Manchester United player David Beckham defended kissing his five-year-old daughter. "We want to show our kids love," he said.

US actress Hilary Duff also received abuse last year after being photographed kissing her son at Disneyland in California.

By Rozina Sini, UGC and social news team

Brother loves to hug and kiss the younger one - Psychology

My son (10 years old) often hugs and kisses his younger brother (8 years old). We have two in our family. They get along well with each other, as for me, he is trying to show love to the younger. He can hug or kiss him, not that constantly, but sometimes. The younger one doesn't like it. But my relatives notice this, and they ring the bell, saying that it's a disaster. We work, we come home in the evening. On weekends, of course. In the evenings all the time together. Is it a problem with kissing? What should I do? nine0018


Nikolai Krylov


Hello, Roman!

As I understand it, the problem for you is that relatives suspect manifestations of homosexual inclinations in the behavior of their eldest son. But it is not clear why you back off from your opinion? The problem is rather in the softness of your opinion, and not in the behavior of your son.

In order to be more precise, consultation is needed - if you are interested, write - we will figure it out. nine0018

Just please, please, in order to avoid misunderstandings, please read my profile beforehand.

P.S. Dear customer, our experts have spent their time and their professional knowledge to answer your question. Please show your good manners: choose the best answer and mark the answers of other experts. Remember, the professional view of an expert on your problem may not coincide with your opinion about it, but this is not a reason to give the expert a minus. nine0018

Best regards, Nikolay.

11. 09.12


somehow your relatives have a very big influence on you, that you stop believing in yourself, your son... How natural is the manifestation of warmth, tenderness and love in the family of your relatives and how does this affect the indicator of “masculinity”? Sounds like "men don't kiss" for your relatives. ..

Do you also feel guilty about working so hard? How good are you as a parent... for yourself, for your relatives and of course for your sons? Which of the following is more important to you to be a good dad?

I have a lot of warmth and respect that you managed to build relationships in your family where children come up and hug each other))))

Sunshine to you and your family!

Best regards, Olya.


The author of the question liked the answer

Hello, Roman!

Of course, there is no "trouble". Perhaps you should, like a man, firmly stop these absurd speculations so that this topic does not even “hover in the air”. nine0018

The fact that a boy shows his feelings, tenderness for his brother is wonderful and, in general, should be welcomed in every possible way. And what you really need to pay attention to and what to delicately teach him is to respond more to feedback. You say that the younger does not like this kind of behavior of the older. And there is indeed a problem with this. Because it is a violation of his boundaries. It is important not only to show tenderness, love, but also to show it in such a way that it is perceived. Something really needs to be done about this. But to make sure that the main thing is preserved - mutual love, tenderness of the brothers, their friendship. nine0018

If, for a solution, you need advice, read the conditions in the profile and contact.

11. 09.12

Hello, Roman! It is important to teach children that NO ONE has the right to touch them. I am not saying that there is something wrong in your family, but often sexual abuse and molestation occurs in the family. Children often take everything that happens to them for granted. Sometimes parents are unaware of what is happening. QUIETLY talk to the children one by one, teach them healthy behavior. nine0018

Best regards, Natasha.


Good hour, Roman! I will not speak about what is generally known, in particular, that homophobia is already beginning to be considered by psychiatrists as an acute illness. This is what you can convey to the strikers of the bell. nine0018

In your case, the basis, in my opinion, is in different representational communication systems in children. The older one has a kinesthetic channel - touches, caresses, bodily contact, such people often cannot wear underwear and generally clothes with synthetic threads, itching appears. If there is not enough touch, then problem areas can also appear on the skin - a rash, even youthful warts ...

Kinesthetic people are very fond of water procedures, bathing ... soft tissues ... Read the literature on this topic: visual, auditory, kinesthetic ... Hence the solution it will come by itself without deviations into the neuroticization of orientations. Difficulties arise - contact us! nine0018

Best regards, Dr. Senses Valery Egorov.

11. 09.12

Hello, Roman!

I agree with Dr. Egorov. Perhaps this is just a different manifestation of their feelings. nine0018

But it could be otherwise. If the younger one does not like it, and the older one continues to kiss him, then this may be a hidden form of aggression, jealousy.

It's hard to say without consultation and clarifying questions. But colleagues are right - you pay a lot of attention to the opinion of relatives.

If it is not customary for them to kiss their own brother, then this does not mean it is BAD to do so.


Hello, Roman!

What scares you the most: relationships between sons or relatives' opinions. If the first, then you yourself wrote " They get along with each other ..." and this is the most important thing, to calm down due to the fact that they have different attitudes to hugs and kisses, read about the representative systems of perception of the world, and if you if you are concerned about the suspicions of relatives, then it will be useful for you to learn more about homophobia, Valery Egorov is right, and you should not transfer the problem of relatives to children. To get started, read what Wikipedia says about it: " Homophobia (ancient Greek ὁμός - "similar, identical", φόβος - "fear, fear") - a collective definition for various forms of negative reactions to manifestations of homosexuality, as well as to social phenomena associated with it. Homophobia is considered in official international documents of the European Parliament, as well as by some sociological institutions on a par with racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and sexism. Previously, parents were afraid of aggression from older children, now they have a gentle and kind attitude, maybe you shouldn’t be tormented by doubts and suspicion, maybe you should figure it out, contact a psychologist privately, you will certainly be helped to calm down and see only what is really there . .. If there are fears and anxiety, it is necessary to get rid of them. Good luck and wisdom to you. Irina. nine0018


Hello, Roman. I agree with my colleagues who advise to get to know such concepts as kinesthetic - a person for whom touch is extremely important, visual - a person who is not inclined to touch, but tends to look, auditory - a person who prefers to listen. nine0018

Knowing these types will help you understand not only what your sons need, but also help you in your work.

There is another way to solve your problem. Rather, the problem of the eldest son.

I think at the age of 10 it's time to talk about what it means to respect the feelings of another person. If someone says or shows that the way of interaction you have chosen is unpleasant for him, then you should think about and come up with another way of interaction that will be more comfortable for your friend or brother. nine0018

Your son will meet many different people in his life. So there can be many ways to express your feelings and sympathy.

This is what parents teach their children. Apparently it's time for you to tell your son about the rules of communication.

Do not focus on kissing. This is not dangerous, but your anxiety + the views of relatives can give a negative reaction.

Be calm. You are a father. Your task is to teach your son to communicate correctly with different people.

Good luck!

Dear customer! The experts took the time to analyze your question. Please mark with a plus sign all the answers you like and highlight the best one! nine0018


Hello, Roman. It's really okay to show love to a brother. The only thing I would draw the attention of the elder to is the reaction of the younger. If the younger one does not like it, then the older one should not do it, because he probably would not like it either if someone did something that he did not like. At the same time, you can find out from the younger what exactly he does not like and why, and take this into account. nine0018

If you have any questions, please email me.

Good luck in your upbringing and not only!


Kornilova Tatiana

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Shenderova Elena

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Artur Kagramanov

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View all experts from the section Psychology > Children and adolescents

Psychologist's blog: is it okay not to love a sister or brother?

  • Elena Savinova
  • Psychologist

Photo by Craig Whitehead/Unsplash

Quite often we are sincerely attached to us by values, friends, blood, and relatives preferences. But we are quite indifferent to our sister or brother, we can not call them for months. Is it normal? nine0851

Grandfathers and grandchildren

It so happened that my grandmother died early, and my fifty-year-old grandfather married a local teacher, five years younger.

They had no common children. But after a while they "overgrown", as they said in the village, with numerous grandchildren from both sides.

And when I, my grandfather's granddaughter, came for vacation from the city, having barely kissed my beloved grandfather and grandmother (I did not know my own grandmother), I immediately ran to the next street to the Tarasenki - my grandmother's grandchildren. nine0018

It's good that their number increased there almost every year, and there were already five children. And running towards Lyudka, Vitka and Tolik after a long separation was a real happiness. Both they and their parents sincerely rejoiced at me.

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They were poor and cheerful. Grandfather and grandmother helped a large family as much as they could. What caused considerable anger of relatives from the grandfather - the Panchenko family. nine0018

But grandfather was reproached for spending money on "strangers" and not on his relatives, who, by the way, did not need it at all. But my claims were different.

Every time my aunt scolded me for running, stupid, to the Tarasenkos, but they are not my relatives, and the whole village is already laughing at me. Because where has it been seen to visit your brother and sister only on the third day.

But with relatives - Panchenki - it was not interesting. Olga, the eldest for several years, listened all the time to incomprehensible music, some kind of “taka-taka-taka-taka-so”, pulled out a mountain of dresses from the closet and advised what she should wear to the club today. nine0018

And my brother was constantly repairing a moped, he was silent, and he smelled of engine oil. It is not surprising that, after serving a short courtesy call, I again joyfully ran to the Tarasenki. And there I was waiting for the boundless world of children's happiness.

Now, unfortunately, I rarely go to that village, where every year there are fewer and fewer relatives. And when I go to the adult Tarasenki, I don’t tell my brother and sister about it.

They live in a small town not far from the village, and just like their mother once, they are offended that I don't visit them. Therefore, I spend them separately, mainly for some family celebrations. nine0018

Image copyright Asa Rodger/Unsplash

"Friends" for parents

And if I'm faced with my own indifference to cousins, many admit that they feel no attachment to those with whom they share common parents. And even more so to their children, that is, nephews.

Therefore, family holidays become a real test for them. Because you have to portray friendship and hide irritation. And in the end - to feel deep guilt for supposedly their own callousness, which usually accompanies such a person since childhood. nine0018

The compulsion of family events can only be compared with the fake meetings of classmates, where you keep asking yourself who all these people are and what connects you with them.

In fact, nothing terrible is happening to us. It’s just that we didn’t choose brothers and sisters, as well as classmates for ourselves.

In the first case, these people appeared in our lives because it was the parents' decision. In the second - because we, six or seven years old, found ourselves together in the same time and space. And it just so happened that they were forced to communicate. nine0018

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Moreover, with brothers and sisters we share a common resource - parents, so we always subconsciously, and at a younger age - clearly and sharply, compete for it.

Therefore, it is between relatives and in adulthood that hostility and jealousy can persist. Although, it would seem, we are native people, there is nowhere dearer.

Love is desirable, but not necessary

If there is a conflict between siblings, parents have a lot to do with it. nine0018

The older child was most likely used as a free babysitter for the younger one. And instead of thanking him and emphasizing his importance in every possible way, they were also appointed guilty if the baby fell or they broke something together.

image copyrightMyung-Won Seo/Unsplash

Or they said - well, you're an adult or an adult, give in to him in some game, he's small, it's hard for you.

That is, in fact, they offered the older child to lie permanently, pretend to be small and stupid, if only the younger one would calm down. nine0018

As if they were saying: - lie, and the whole family will feel better. Thus, on the one hand, they endowed the elder with unusual duties, while depriving him of adequate powers.

How can a neurosis not develop in such a situation? Psychologists call it just that - the neurosis of the older brother (sister).

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As a rule, this neurosis is fueled by the constant suggestion that children should - yes, they should - love each other on the grounds that they are relatives. nine0018

Therefore, if a six or seven-year-old girl does not feel love for her five-month-old brother, who screams all the time, and her mother, moreover, now runs around with him all the time, and not with her, she feels guilty. For not loving him, for being somehow wrong.

Feelings of guilt that we share everything important with friends, and not with a sister or brother, can remain with us for many years.

But there is nothing wrong with the fact that we will have just good relations with our closest relatives, readiness to help in case of emergency. This is fine. nine0018

There are no bad feelings

In order not to leave a child alone with despair, adults should not shame, not demand.

And say, for example: "Yes, I understand you. You would like us to read together as before. I love you just the same. But now I must pay attention to the little one, he is completely helpless. And then we will definitely read a fairy tale for the night."

Image copyright Eye for Ebony/Unsplash

Try to never give privileges to children because one of them is younger. nine0018

This, by the way, also harms the younger, it would seem, minions of fate. Because they will not have an incentive to mature psychologically. What for? We are well fed here.

If children, to whom parents treat equally evenly, will understand that they do not have to compete for the favor of mom and dad, they will cooperate, make friends.

But to demand to love or, on the contrary, not to love, as it was in my childhood, is not worth it.

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