Can you remember how dopamine set your brain on fire as a teenager? And can you remember how you did everything in your power just to be close to the one you were in love with? Discovering sexual feelings is a natural part of puberty although for some this is quite a challenge.
Take Rico for instance, sixteen years old, who not only likes girls his own age but also girls who are barely nine years old. How does a teenager deal with the possibility of being a pedophile?
By Ben Kirssen, February 2020
Rico attends A-Level secondary education, is tall and has a roguish face with thick brown hair crested to the left. He looks a little like Rico the well-known kick boxer, but without the excessive weight training. At the local sports club Rico’s length makes for a striking appearance.
A year ago Rico came into contact with a nine year old girl. “We talked frequently and played lots of games together. It felt good. I was in love I think. My feelings for her were very strong. They still are.”
A lot of people will get the jitters when you say this Rico. Such a big teen like you falling in love with a little girl. Can you explain to people what you see in a nine year old?
“She is a really cheerful girl who can befriend just about anybody and she has the ability to engage with lots of different people. She has quite long brown hair, mostly worn in a tail which I think is very beautiful. Mentally she is ahead of children her age. She has a good sense of humor, like me. And for the rest? I really like her innocence, playfulness and tenderness. Mind you, my feelings for her are not really sexual. That is not what I want. I think.”
Rico suddenly stops and stares into the distance. Then with a deep sigh he says: “She is just very beautiful.”
Are you just good with children or is there more to it?
“All the boys and girls my age have something to do with children, don’t you think? That’s part of being a teen. So I don’t think it’s strange to be with them. Most of my peers coach a childrens team at the sports club. But yes, some of my friends told me that I am very good with children. At first I thought my interest in young girls was normal. But I am starting to notice that there’s more to it and it’s not going away. “
Do you think people can tell?
“Of course I try not to show my crush on her too much. A good friend of mine might suspect something is going on. We’ve known each other since we were small and we know quite well where we stand with each other.”
“You really love her” his friend said to Rico. This casual remark put Rico into a slight state of panic. “I thought of her multiple times a day. I tried to dismiss those thoughts only to think a little while later: “Why is this happening to me?” After some time I decided to ask Google: “Why do I like small children as a 16 year old?” That is when I started to understand I might have pedophilic feelings.”
I guess this is not something you can easily discuss with your parents or friends. Potentially this can make you feel very lonely. Are you depressed?
“No, that’s the weird thing. I am not depressed at all. I didn’t cry, wasn’t angry, nor did I feel inferior or anything. None of that. I continued what I was doing. I’m not really the type to withdraw from my social life. Whatever happens I just have to keep going. Yes, I like young girls, but I also like girls my own age or two to three years younger. So I’m not a hardcore pedophile or something. I searched about pedophilia on internet and that is how I found Pedofilie.nl. They host a weekly moderated chat. It is the only place where I can talk about my feelings in a normal manner.”
Are you afraid you will eventually become a hardcore pedophile?
“A bit, yes. I want to be able to start a family later. But only if my wife is a woman I can truly fall in love with. In the chat by Pedofilie.nl I heard stories of pedophiles who did not also have an interest in adult women. As they grew older themselves, the girls they were interested in remained very young. That to me seems like a heavy weight to carry. But at this moment I don’t mind having pedophilic feelings. That would change though if I wouldn’t like girls my own age anymore.”
Do you think you can prevent yourself from becoming a pedophile?
“I think I can influence my feelings, but I don’t think these feelings will disappear completely. I can suppress my sudden thoughts of that one girl, I think, simply by thinking of something else. I already supress my sexual feelings for her anyway. I think I am mentally capable of doing that. If I do that every time, those feelings will diminish. They will probably never go away completely. After all, they are in my memory and that can’t be deleted.”
So what about you and her? Do you think there is a future for you two?
“She doesn’t talk to me anymore. A group of people noticed we were pretty tight knit. Some of them laughed at us and shouted “pedo”. She didn’t like that and of course neither did I. She has avoided me ever since. I hope we can get back to speaking terms some day. When she is old enough I would like to start a family and grow old with her. But that is probably too naive.”
Yuri Ohlrichs (sexologist) responds to Rico’s story
Rico is already well aware of his romantic and (suppressed) sexual feelings for much younger girls. And he’s also well aware of the boundaries: having sex with children under 16 is prohibited by law and therefore punishable. It is good that Rico accepts his feelings and therefore maintains a positive self-image. Nobody needs to be ashamed of feelings and fantasies. They are very personal, everything is allowed and possible, even though it is forbidden to put them into practice.
Rico realizes that a romantic or sexual relationship with this girl is impossible. He subconciously points out the important difference between pedophiles and pedosexuals. In this I find him very mature.
However, Rico still has to learn that you cannot suppress feelings without that having an effect on you. And he can’t compare the coaching of children as a teenager with being a teenager in love with a child. After all, guiding children or teaching them is very different from dealing with a much younger child because you are in love with him or her.
My advice to Rico is to talk to a counselor or Pedofilie.nl as soon as he gets sexual feelings for the girl or her peers. This way he can learn to control these desires without damaging himself or others.
sexologist at Rutgers
chairman of the Media Committee of the Dutch scientific association of Sexology (NVVS)
Rico is a pseudonym. The interview with Rico was conducted both online and in real life.
Ben Kirssen is a team member of Pedofilie.nl; the Dutch platform for information, discussion and support. Ben Kirssen is a pseudonym.
The photo is by Anton Danilov. The teen in the photo is not Rico. The photo is taken from Unsplash.com, the internet’s source of freely usable images.