Is “frousins” a thing? It should be.

On a recent trip to New York, my hometown, I bookended a day by having breakfast with one cousin and drinks with another. But these are more than cousins. To me, they are “frousins” – cousins who’ve become dear friends.

I had breakfast with Felicia, who’s a cousin from my father’s side of the family. Hi, Felicia!
IMG_2531Felicia, who very patiently allows me to call her Fish, moved in with me in 1986 for a month. She still lives in that Columbus Avenue apartment.  Here’s the entrance. Our apartment – well, hers, really – is on the fourth floor.

Growing up, Felicia lived on Long Island. My family moved to Westchester County when I was ten, so we didn’t see that much of each other. Plus, she had a sister and then there were Fran and Jill, two other sisters who were also my cousins. We’re all around the same age – in fact, Fran and I are exactly one hour apart – but the four of them lived near each other and I didn’t, so I always felt shy around their tight quartet. That was on me, not them. As adults, that insecurity on my part melted away, and I grew to know them better, especially my delightful cousin pal, Fish, who I’ve come to adore.

Speaking of “adore,” meet my beloved frousin, Marie.


Marie is a cousin from my mother’s side of the family. She grew up in Astoria, Queens, where all my Italian relatives lived until they departed for the Long Island and New Jersey suburbs. (We Westchesterites were the outliers.) As with Fish, Marie and I didn’t spend much time together as kids. We were basically adolescent ships passing in the night – or daytime – at various family functions, from weddings at catering halls to family get-togethers in smoke-filled Queens basements where everyone spoke Italian, ate homemade pasta and wine, and sounded like they were arguing even when they weren’t.

Somehow Marie and I connected in New York in the late 1980s and I immediately fell in love with her. Sadly, she was headed off to Atlanta with her husband while I was off to Los Angeles. But our bond survived distance. She and Brian moved back to New York a couple of years ago – their son Ben lives in the city now – so seeing her when I visit is a top priority. Here’s the view from their current apartment. (They’re moving to another one soon, location TBD.)

I’ve known both these women since childhood, but we redefined our relationships as adults. That’s why I’ve decided to call them my “frousins” – shared familial blood may have brought us into each other’s lives but the bond of friendship is what joins us for life. I truly feel that having Fish and Marie in my life makes me hashtag-blessed. Maybe double-hashtag-blessed because there’s  something I can’t explain about our family connection that makes the friendships extra special.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, they’ve never met. We may have to change that on my next visit.

What about you, readers? Do you have a “frousin,” or a relative who you would value as a friend even if you weren’t related? 

20 thoughts on “Is “frousins” a thing? It should be.

  1. I love this post! I have a frousin, Ricki. We call each other sister/cousins. Our mothers were sisters. We are the oldest two female cousins on my mom’s side of the family. My mom’s family was very close as we were growing up, so we saw a lot of each other. We spent the night with each other, she went on some of our family vacations with us, etc. We are a year apart in age, and currently live about 45 minutes apart. I still go over and spend the weekend with her several times a year, and we talk to each other on the phone almost everyday. I don’t know what I would do without her!

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  2. Love this, Ellen! Thanks for sharing a bit of your NY trip with us! That last line about how they’ve never met reminded me that I had two dear long-time friends who had never met. I was out with one and we happened to run into the other. They were both like, “I’ve heard so much about you!” (I’m quickly adding “All good.”) It’s weird it hadn’t occurred to me that they didn’t know each other. Since they were both so much a part of my life it felt like they must already know each other, too!

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  3. This post is awesome. I used to have frousins. When I was young. But as I grew up, and became “citified” we drifted apart. Most of my cousins don’t get along with family that moved away. We don’t stay in touch. But at the funeral last week, they welcomed me with open arms.

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    1. I’m so glad they did that, Hestia. I have plenty of cousins I’m not close to at all because we’re so different. That’s part of what makes these relationships special.


  4. This is making me think of Wendall Thomas’s series (it helps that I just read the second) since her main character talks about her brousins, the cousins she grew up with and are like brothers.

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  5. Aw, cheers to frousins!! My own family is very small, so I didn’t have the cousin/frousin experience growing up, but I married into a noisy, fun, awesome Irish-Italian family with TONS of family, and now I have frousins by marriage. In fact, some of these frousins are now among my very best friends and I introduce them as MY cousins, not my husband’s.

    Thanks for sharing your trip and your frousins with us!

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  6. We we were kids we lived a couple hours from my cousins (my mom’s sister’s family) and only got together a few times a year. But when we did it was always a special treat, because while the adults would drink cocktails we kids would tear around the neighborhood in a pack and have a ball. We adored our “Cuggies” (their name starts with a C) and they loved us “Kuggies.” (It’s the classic story of the first to be born mispronouncing the word “cousin,” which stuck.)

    My Cuggies are still special to me, and although we’re now scattered about the country, we always make a point of visiting each other whenever we can. And we now carry on the tradition of having cocktails while the kids–er, grandkids–chase around the neighborhood.

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  7. I have a huge family with so many first cousins I’ve lost count. Facebook brought many of us back in touch, which has been nice, but I think I have more “fristers” … friends that are more like sisters.

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  8. I have 30 cousins–28 from one side–and most of them are boys. That meant that my girl cousins and I always hung out together at holidays and family reunions and drank orange soda and root beer til we puked. I was always sad and lonely afterward because I was virtually an only child. We’ve reconnected as adults–and moved on to big-girl beverages (though we’ve thankfully learned to limit ourselves).

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  9. My parents adopted my brother and me when we were days old. My mother came from a large family, but I never got to know my cousins well. First, we moved to South America when I was 1 and never went back to New York again except to visit. Second, they were all quite a bit older than I. And by New York, I mean upstate NY! People hear NY and think the city, but there’s a whole state out there that isn’t NYC. My husband is from Brooklyn by the way, and would never go back. Taxes, taxes, taxes, and too expensive. But, back to the point of my reply…I loved your message and wish I had been close to my cousins. I recently found my birth parents’ family, and with that 4 new cousins, but we are all scattered around the country, so not close with them, either! Thanks for sharing this!

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  10. Karoline, what a fascinating story! I’m sure it was exciting to find your birth parents, too. BTW, as a native New Yorker, I know what you mean re: everyone thinking NY is just the city. I grew up in Queens and the suburbs, but before I transferred to Tulane, I went to SUNY Binghamton. My brothers went to camps in various parts of the state. People have no idea how big New York State really is. It’s huge!

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