I also admit they can be confusing.
If you really want to see something confusing, try a Google image search for "cousin chart" or "relationship chart" and take a look at all the confusing images.
I am also often asked questions similar to: "What is all this business about cousins being removed from each other?"
Here are some relationship charts that are intriguing to me and may help you figure out your relationship to a common relative.
This one is from Crestleaf:
This one is from Cousin Country:
I really love the Wikipedia resources on "Cousin":
Here is the Wikipedia definition of "ordinals" and "removals" used in defining cousins:
The ordinals in the terms "first cousins", "second cousins", "third cousins", refer to the number of generations to one's closest common ancestor. The number of "G" words used to describe this ancestor will determine how close the relationship is. For example, having "Great-Great-Grandparents" in common would be third cousins.
When the cousins are not the same generation, they are described as "removed". In this case, the smaller number of generations to the common ancestor is used to determine the degree, and the difference in generations determines the number of times removed. Note that the ages of the cousins are irrelevant to the definition of the cousin relationship.
I have made my own cousin chart that I use in determining relationships with common ancestor cousins.
Perhaps my chart and my explanation will help you more easily determine your cousin relationships.
Here is my chart to the right >>>
The children of a common ancestor are siblings.
The grandchildren are 1st cousins, the great-grandchildren are 2nd cousins, the 2nd great-grandchildren are 3rd cousins, etc.
I want to determine the relationship between a 2nd great-grandchild and a 5th great-grandchild of a common ancestor.
We use the cousin closest to the common ancestor in determining the degree of the relationship.
In this example it would be the 2nd great-grandchild and the cousin degree would be 3rd Cousins.
Next we determine how many generations are different between the 2nd great-grandchild and the 5th great-grandchild.
From the chart we can see that these two cousins are separated by three generations.
These 2 cousins would be 3rd Cousins 3 times Removed (3C3R).
You can also figure out a relationship between two cousins of a common ancestor without using a relationship chart. Just some simple math ... well, I love math ... so I think it is simple.
3rd great-grandchild & 5th great-grandchild
The cousin degree is 4th Cousins ... (the 3rd great-grandchild + 1 generation). Remember to use the cousin closest to the common ancestor.
The generation difference is 2 times removed ... (5th - 3rd). The number of generations between them.
1st great-grandchild & 4th great-grandchild
Degree = 2nd cousins ... (1st + 1)
Removed = 3 times ... (4th - 1st)
6th great-grandchild & 3rd great-grandchild
Degree = 4th = (3+1)
Removed = 3 times = (6-3)
I hope my cousin chart and my math examples will help you more simply determine your relationship with your common ancestor cousins.
Please try my chart and my math equations and let me know in the comments how they work for you.