In 1979, at 42, Barbara Gonyo was reunited with her son, Mitch, 26 years after giving him up for adoption.
She immediately felt a maternal love for her son, she wrote in her memoir, but those feelings soon developed into a deep affection that manifested in sexual fantasies about him. Yes – Barbara felt a sexual attraction towards her son.
She expressed her sexual desires to him, but he did not reciprocate the feelings.
Barbara was convinced that her attraction was not abnormal. So, she coined the term Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA), to explain the powerful sexual feelings that can happen when biologically related adults are reunited late in life.
As she argues in her book I’m His Mother But He’s Not My Son, sexual attraction between relatives may be a byproduct of “missed bonding” that would have normally taken place between family members had they not been separated.
According to The Guardian, GSA is more common than you might expect. In fact, “50 per cent reunions between siblings, or parents and offspring, separated at birth result in obsessive emotions,” the publication reported in 2003.
17 years on from that data, it is evidently still a feeling experienced by long-lost family members today.
In 2015, The Cut published an interview with an 18-year-old woman, who at the time was preparing to marry her biological father.
The anonymous teenager explained her father emailed her mum asking to see his daughter when she was 15. She agreed, and at 17 she was reunited with her father, after 12-years of estrangement.
“We chitchatted online for a few days and found out we were similar,” the girl explained to the publication. “We shared the same favourite TV shows — The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory — and we both love to draw. He came to see me about a week later. You wouldn’t have believed we hadn’t been around each other for 12 years. The idea of “getting to know him” seemed strange because we are so much alike.”
The girl admitted that she found her father attractive, and added she was confused by those feelings. After staying with him for five days, she realised she was romantically attracted to her father, who had a girlfriend at the time.
But during her stay with him, she discovered the feeling was mutual.