T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 96494
posted 08-13-2012 08:04 PM
I am in my 20s and work with youth. I had a short-term volunteer job this summer with a wonderful group of teens. While I was there, I developed romantic feelings for one of the teens. This person is fun to hang out with, is interested in a lot of cool things, and has a lot in common with me. I think they like me back. Nothing sexual has happened, or will happen, between us, because I don't want to risk damaging their development. I have been dealing with these feelings by talking to adults in my religious community and a friend, and watching my behavior to make sure it's in alignment with what's best for the teen. Now, the job is over and the teen and I are no longer in touch. I am not sure if it would be appropriate to talk to them online or not, and what's okay to say, so I'm trying to figure that out with the help of my friends and therapist. The biggest problem I have right now is that my partner is uncomfortable with my attraction. It brought up feelings from his past, because he was sexually abused when he was a teen, and the thought of me doing that was overwhelming. I tried to assure him that this is not happening, and that I just have feelings, but he is still uncomfortable and scared. I feel shamed by the way he talks about it. I have been shamed in the past about my attraction to teenagers, so this is bringing up a lot of feelings for me! Do you have any resources for me or my partner about how to manage this situation?
Member # 3
posted 08-13-2012 08:12 PM
Might your therapist be willing to talk with you AND your partner?
Perhaps having someone like a therapist explain the difference between feelings and actions might help here. because certainly, someone abusing someone isn't having feelings they are considering the ramifications of on the other person, and making their choices with that so much in mind like you have done. And really, it's doing that or not doing that -- having real care for someone else or not -- that is the difference between what's abuse and what isn't, not thoughts or feelings someone has, you know? Too, it sounds like this -- you having attraction to teens and that having baggage for you that goes one way, and him having history per being abused by adults -- would be an awfully hard thing to navigate in an intimate relationship. So, it might be you two need someone to help you with that, and evaluating if that can even work for both of you, period. I wish I could think of specific resources around this, specifically, but I'm afraid I can't right now. But my mind works best at the start of the day rather than at the end of it, so if something comes to mind in the morning, I'll be sure to post it for you.
Member # 96494
posted 08-14-2012 03:26 AM
Yes, this is very difficult! I talked to my partner about it a little bit more this evening, and he understands a little bit more.
We may need to go in for therapy together. We definitely need help of some kind. I could still use some resources for adults who are attracted to teens (and want to be responsible about it). This is a tough issue and sometimes I feel embarrassed and confused. :/ Thanks for your help, Heather!
Member # 3
posted 08-15-2012 10:28 AM
I'm afraid I still couldn't come up with anything in terms of resources: have you asked the therapist you talk with about this?
I mean, I can certainly think of some academic resources that talk about adult-to-teen attraction and ehebephilia, but they're not what I'd call self-help resources, but academic and psychological studies or addresses of the issue. That all said, what I'd say is that what we know is that it's typical for people to feel attraction to people who have physical markers of sexual maturity. This issue with this kind of attraction really has more to do with -- and it seems clear you already know this -- gross imbalances of power due to differences in legal rights and agency than anything else. In other words, a person who experiences this attraction, all the more so when a teen really isn't that far outside their age group and when that person's range of attraction also includes those their own age or of other ages, not exclusively teens -- isn't likely a person any sex therapist would suggest is unusual.