Pedophilia has long been recognized as a sexual attraction to children. To define it as such and leave it at that, however, paints an overly simplistic portrait of minor attraction. For many MAPs, the desire to befriend or be in a romantic relationship with children can be as important as their sexual attraction (Goode, 2010, p. 112; Houtepen, Sijtsema, & Bogaerts, 2015; Li, 1990; Wilson & Cox, 1983). Preliminary evidence shows that the brains of pedophilic men activate no differently from non-pedophilic men given their preferred sexual stimulus (Polisois-Keating & Joyal, 2013). Anecdotal evidence also corroborates the existence of MAPs who, like people attracted to adults, experience split attraction: they may have romantic feelings toward children without the sexual component, sexual feelings without the romantic component, or feel different forms of attraction depending on the gender of the child. Overall, research in this area is still in its infancy.
Goode, S. (2010). Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children: A study of paedophiles in contemporary society. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
Houtepen, J.A.B.M., Sijtsema, J.J., & Bogaerts, S. (2015). Being Sexually Attracted to Minors: Sexual Development, Coping With Forbidden Feelings, and Relieving Sexual Arousal in Self-Identified Pedophiles. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 00(00), 1-21. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2015.1061077.
Polisois-Keating, A. & Joyal, C.C. (2013). Functional Neuroimaging of Sexual Arousal: A Preliminary Meta-Analysis Comparing Pedophilic to Non-Pedophilic Men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42(7), 1111-113.
Li, C.K. (1990). “The Main Thing Is Being Wanted”: Some Case Studies on Adult Sexual Experiences with Children. Journal of Homosexuality, 20(1-2), 129-143.
Wilson, G. D., & Cox, D. N. (1983). The child-lovers: A study of paedophiles in society. London: Peter Owen.