The below are answers given by selected members of the VirPed forum who are all pedophiles. They are speaking for themselves and not for the organization.
“Curious girl” asks:
Many adults with paedophilic orientation report experiencing sexual desire and emotional bonding towards children. Presumably, the sexual desire diminishes or vanishes once the child ages or undergoes puberty. My curiosity lies in the fate of the emotional bond in this context. How long does the emotional bonding endure after that? In non-paedophilic individuals, when lust is gone, one still observes a relatively consistent physical appearance in their love object, which helps in retaining the memories of erotic feelings. I suppose for paedophilic individuals, this experience might be different, as within a brief span, the minor transforms into someone markedly dissimilar and sometimes hardly recognizable, both physically and character-wise. What does that emotional journey look like?
I like this question. I could go on forever with this one. I’ll try to be succinct.
The experience of being in love with a child is simultaneously very different and very similar to being in love with an adult. The feelings are so similar. Love for a child is ultimately not as fulfilling due to the wildly different experiences perceived by each party, though they might seem the same from the adult’s point of view. It’s also hard to not be open about just how much you care for her as well. There’s always a kind of fuzzy barrier. Sometimes this can make emotions far stronger: a romanticized ‘romeo and juliet’ type feeling, even though I never would act upon being in love with a child in an inappropriate way. It’s acted upon by being as benevolent as you can to them, helping them and helping their parents, because it feels amazing to you to do as much as you can for her. I will say, though, being in love with an adult is the most beautiful and strongest love I’ve had. It’s very hopeful. Potentially eternal. It’s also bare and presented to the world as a natural, normal thing. Hopefully, this kind of love will come again someday.
Children are ephemeral by their very nature, and a part of what makes them attractive is their innocence, their unconditional trust, their unbridled curiosity, and their unreserved open-hearted nature. Puberty seems to be the end to these characteristics as a more nuanced view of the world begins to unfold, where they start to realize the fallibility of their role models and how unfair the world can be, and they desperately seek to carve out an identity separate from the adults around them. This is a great thing of course, but it’s not terribly emotionally appealing to me. I did mourn the girls that they were, as if someone died. Regardless of who they became, they still hold a warm place in my heart.
I’d like to note though that the sexual desire doesn’t really diminish with me when puberty hits, but the emotional desire usually does. I’m attracted to all ages.
I have felt disappointed as a young girl gets older, with loss of the thoughts, feelings, and body that made her especially attractive. That’s one reason (among many) to limit my interactions to casual friendship or admiring from afar. If I were to let myself get into a position where she is counting on my friendship and support, then I would be taking on the burden of hiding any changes in my own feelings. But along with the extra sexual and romantic attraction that comes with being a pedophile, I also have the same interest in her as a person as do the best of ordinary adults, where I can and do celebrate the amazing journey through childhood into being an adult woman. Pedophiles who do not have that sort of strong non-sexual interest are on shaky ground if they have friendships with young kids that go beyond the casual.
There are stronger reasons why I oppose any sexual relationship between adult and child, but this loss of attraction over time is yet one more. The more exclusive a pedophile is, the bigger problem it would be.
I tend to have fewer sexual feelings for a child the better I get to know them as people, though I have emotionally bonded with a few children who then grew up. I’d say the feelings towards a person who has aged out of my AoA are warm and affectionate, with perhaps a little longing and some slight feelings of loss that the person I knew is now a different person in many ways. I think this is comparable to how a parent my feel pride and affection for their children as they grow up, while still maintaining some whistfulness and nostalgia for when their child was a younger age.
Since my sexual and romantic attraction is limited to prepubescent boys, the attraction will disappear once a boy undergoes puberty. The features in looks that I am sexually attracted to, and many of the features in personality I am romantically attracted to drastically change during puberty. If there is an emotional bond and/or romantical feelings involved, that bond or those feelings will linger for a while longer.
I care about children the same way I do adults, so I don’t stop caring about the boy just because they reach puberty. The emotional connection remains, and I will want to stay in his life as long as practically possible. There can be a strong feeling of loss when sexual and/or romantical feelings for a boy in my life disappears. It was a love that went by unfulfilled and unrequited, like all the love my exclusive-self experience.
I find that my romantic bond can remain when a child I develop a strong emotional/romantic attachment to ages into adulthood. Of course sometimes it doesn’t, but generally it does.
I’ve found that with a child I know well, my attraction tends to be emotional. In one case, I only noticed how attractive he was by looking at pictures after we had been parted for years. But I’m still attached to him. I know that wonderful child is inside the adult with a beard.
My attraction is mainly aesthetic and emotional. The emotional part is the strongest and can last indefinitely. Part of minor attraction, at least for some, seems to involve a longing to return to some aspect of childhood to heal a deep, still bleeding wound. I experience that feeling. So, in that sense, I want the child to be happy and cared for and to succeed in life. So, the emotional connection never really goes away.
If I don’t know the child (for example, a random child that I happen to see out in public, or a movie) then the attraction is purely physical/sexual as I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know the child, so there is no real emotional bond in the first place, so once they age out of my AoA (Age of Attraction) then the attraction diminishes.
On the other hand, I can develop an emotional attraction to kids once I get to know them personally, and that can remain even if they become older than my normal AoA. I have been able to interact with and gotten to know a lot of children in real life, mainly through working and volunteering with them. In some cases, I’ve still been around boys who I knew when they were younger, who are now “too old” for me. For these kids, the attraction tends to linger a little longer, plus the emotional feelings that I have for them (and the bond we have between each other in many cases) tends to become just as important as the physical/sexual attraction, and it’s that emotional bond that often remains when they outgrow my AoA.
The first thing to say is that whether the physical attraction or emotional attachment lasts depends on multiple factors. I am non-exclusive, meaning I can be attracted to/feel romantic about adult men as well as boys. I have had the experience of having feelings for some boys from their childhood into their adulthood (both remote figures like film stars and people I have seen from time to time in real life).
I have also had the experience of finding a child attractive and then finding that disappeared as they aged and changed, or adopted different looks. A change in appearance is more likely to kill the physical attraction, but may not affect loving feelings, so it’s not one simple process. Then again, a kid can grow from an openminded, gentle nonjudgemental person into the kind of mean, cynical personality that you can no longer love. Speaking from experience here.
While the more dramatic changes of childhood/puberty/young adulthood produce a more extreme effect, it’s still in the same ballpark as when adult-attracted people lose desire for a spouse as they age, or fall out of love with someone’s changing personality. That’s my perspective as a non-exclusive anyway.
There’s a third factor beyond facial/bodily attraction and romantic desire. I think that some pedophiles have a thing about the child being a child, i.e. attraction/romance is not a person-specific thing to that child each time - sometimes a pedophile’s general positive feelings about a stereotype of childhood are can drive the romantic or sexual feelings, even when attraction itself isn’t especially profound. Falling in love with “the fact they’re a child” can then evaporate when childhood ends. The attracted person transfers their affections suddenly to a younger child. It’s less comfortable to admit to this element of attraction but I think all humans do this to some extent, not just pedophiles (e.g. women who are attracted to firefighters because of the associated stereotypes, people who seem to routinely date adults with a specific characteristic, like a disability or a skin color, or who seem to match an ideal based on a family member etc.).
I’ve certainly always been aware, as a pedophile, that love, friendship, help or attention (non-sexual) that I might give to a child might in some way, if I am honest, be conditional on some of the above. And I also recognise that adult friendship can be very alluring to kids, who naturally reach out for help, approval and attention more than adults do. Most children don’t have the emotional experience to deal easily with sudden changes in the significant friendships they have with adults, especially when these changes happen because of factors (like a change in attraction or in romantic admiration) that are opaque to the child. That imbalance of knowledge and experience is real, not a social invention as many pedophiles like to suppose.
So there are emotional risks for the child in adult-child friendships that aren’t as intrinsic to adult-adult relationships. That fact hasn’t led me to totally shun any possible healthy interaction with kids, but it’s certainly led to some thoughtful maintainance of a safe distance. I’ve focused more on getting my needs met through adult relationships even though these have plenty of risks for me as a pedophile (subject for another day). Still, I say, why get close to any small vulnerable person unless you intend to be there for them and put them first regardless of how they change, as long as they have need of you? People - not just pedophiles - should ask themselves this question more, actually.