By shocu
Telegram: @shocu7
Originally published in MAPness:

For many MAPs, the prospect of revealing their attraction to others is frightening. The stigma and misinformation surrounding people with an attraction to minors leaves the average MAP in a state of isolation in which they feel like telling others about their attraction—even to close friends or family members—is akin to ending one’s life. The fear of how others would react overwhelms them. And so, many MAPs often get trapped in a limbo in which they cannot be fully honest with those around them, and this contributes to their sense of isolation.

What is unfortunate is that telling others about one’s minor attraction can indeed lead to a MAP’s life being ruined. Most MAPs simply have no choice but to stay in the closet and hide their feelings, causing a sort of disconnection from most people. The Internet has alleviated this somewhat, as MAPs are today able to connect with other individuals with similar experiences. They can create anonymous profiles through which they can be open about their sexuality (at least on some sites). However, this is still not quite the same as being able to be open to those physically around you.

I would like to offer some advice to any MAP out there who may be considering coming out to someone, both in terms of how they can approach the subject as well as determining whether coming out to that particular individual is a good idea. I have a lot of experience coming out to people, not only online, but also to some of my offline friends and even my parents. I can say from first-hand experience that telling this to other people feels like juggling your life, like handing the other person a gun that they can shoot you with. It’s a harrowing feeling indeed. However, once it’s off your chest, once everything is said and done, and you hear the other person understand you, the feeling of relief is immeasurable. It feels as though you’ve lifted a humongous burden from your shoulders. And from that day forth, you will grow much closer to that person, as they are now aware of an intrinsic part of you and still accept you for who you are. Your trust with that person will grow exponentially and you will feel like you can simply be yourself around them, even if you’re not even talking about your sexuality, because you will feel like that person truly accepts you. It’s a wonderful feeling.

The Risks

All this said, it is important to realize that doing this does involve taking a big risk. It is unfortunately something that not everyone will be able to do. You must take into serious consideration the type of person you’d be telling this to as well as how you think they’ll react. The reality is that telling this information to the wrong person can indeed lead to terrible repercussions. Telling the wrong person, someone who may not respect or understand this part of you, can lead to them outing you to other people and misconstruing what you told them.

I have a friend who, while drunk, accidentally revealed that he was a MAP to someone he knew. This person went on to tell all of his friends, post about it on social media, and inform my friend’s employer. My friend lost almost all of his friends, was fired the following day, and very, very nearly committed suicide after a breakdown. He was taken to a psych ward for several days where he thankfully managed to recover and return home. However, he had to practically start his life all over again. He had to find another job away from his previous one as well as avoid coming across his old friends. It’s unfortunate, but thankfully, he was able to recover ever since, and he did have some loved ones that supported him.

The reason I’m recounting this story is not so much to scare you off from ever talking about this with anyone, but to show the importance of taking into consideration exactly who it is you reveal this to so that you can measure the risks of telling them. Please do be careful.

Gauge How They Will React

It is imperative to really think about the person you’d be telling this to. You will have to meditate on just how much trust you have in that person and how open-minded and understanding they are. Try to imagine that person reacting to what you say, or reacting to hearing about this topic from someone else. It may help to ask for their opinion on the matter by mentioning the topic of MAPs in a way that doesn’t implicate you. For example, you may approach the conversation by stating things such as, “I’ve heard on the Internet about these people called MAPs.” If they’re unfamiliar with the term, you can explain it in short, like, “Apparently, they’re people who are attracted to minors but who don’t wish to harm them.” Their response to this may help inform your decision on whether or not to come out to them.

Ultimately, the most crucial question is this: do you know and trust this person enough to determine that they, even if they end up not understanding or liking this part of you, would not go on to tell other people? This question is extremely important, since this one person reacting negatively to your coming out will not be nearly as detrimental as the information spreading out to other people you never intended to tell.

Taking all of this into consideration, if you’ve decided that you trust this individual enough and are planning on coming out to them, here are some tips I can provide to help you approach this subject with them. First, as described previously, you should try to gauge as much as you can their possible reaction to this information by mentioning the topic in the third person—without mentioning yourself as a MAP. After this, you must determine how to properly approach the subject of coming out.

The Approaches

This will most likely be a very long and emotionally-draining conversation. Make sure both you and the person you’re coming out to have the time and the energy for it. Tell them there is something important you wish to talk about and agree on a good time and place to meet, with plenty of time to spare. And of course, make sure it’s in a place where you can have privacy. I highly recommend against trying to come out to more than one person at a time.

Once the big day comes, you must consider how you will approach the subject. As you may imagine, this will not be something you’ll be able to state plainly in simple terms with no preface because most people are simply unfamiliar with the topic of people attracted to minors and may get the wrong idea if you start off by saying you’re such a person. You must commence things by first making them understand how this attraction works before saying what it is.

There are two main approaches you can use to accomplish this. I have used either of these approaches (or sometimes a mix of both) many times when coming out.

The first is to try to start a conversation about the nature of sexual attraction. You can explain how people seem naturally attracted to certain kinds of people and characteristics, and that what these kinds of people and characteristics are is not really something we can control. You can use different sexual orientations as an example. You can ask why some people only find the opposite sex attractive (heterosexuals), why others only find the same sex attractive (homosexuals), and why some find both sexes attractive (bisexuals). If the person you’re coming out to are themselves homosexual or bisexual, you can pose the question to them directly (why they have that attraction), though please be respectful in doing so.

You can then ask them if they believe such attractions can be altered, if we can control them in some way. It is important to try to have a two-way conversation about this rather than simply telling them how you see it. Slowly, you can work your way up to connecting the topic to yourself; explain how you yourself have an attraction that you never really chose to have or have any control over, and that your attraction just so happens to be to minors. Hopefully the prior conversation will help them understand that your attraction is not some kind of life choice that you adopted, but something that has always been a part of you and that you have simply had to live with it.

The second approach I tend to use is to describe in detail my own discovery of my attraction. You can start from the very beginning and talk about how you slowly came to realize you have a certain attraction that’s different from most people. If you’re an exclusive MAP like me, you can explain how you noticed that you did not find adults attractive, and slowly came to realize that you were attracted to minors. You can also talk about the emotions you felt as you discovered this, what you believe it could have meant. A good example of this approach can be found on this very website, as I have written about my own self-discovery in my essay, “Growing Up a MAP.” You can use this essay as a model for your own description of your self-discovery, if you find it applicable. Of course, this will depend on each individual MAP and their own particular experience. Depending on how exactly you realized you were attracted to minors, this approach may or may not facilitate your discussion. Everyone is different.

You do not necessarily have to pick one approach and stick with it throughout. You can mix these strategies as you see fit. You may start with one approach and end up in the other. It’s really going to depend a lot on you as an individual and the person you’re talking to. You may even find an entirely different approach to be more suitable for you or the person you’re talking to, but I mention these based on my own experiences.

After Coming Out

Now, once the cat is out of the bag, it is imperative to establish that being attracted to minors is not the same as having a desire to harm them, as many people believe that being a MAP necessarily means having an uncontrollable urge to sexually assault a minor. This is not the case for the majority of MAPs. You can make analogies with other kinds of sexualities to help illustrate this point.

For example, you can explain that if a straight man sees a woman he finds attractive on the street, that does not necessarily mean that that man will then have an urge to sexually assault that woman. It works similarly for MAPs in that if a MAP sees a minor they find attractive, it does not mean that they will lose self-control and attempt to do something harmful to that minor. It is important to make this point clear: that you are attracted to minors, not abuse.

With all this out of the way, it’s quite possible this person will have a lot of questions, questions about this attraction, about you, about what it could mean, about what can be done about it, about how you came to realize it, etc. You will want to try to inform them as best you can about this attraction as well as address any misconceptions they may have.

For this, it is ideal for you yourself to be properly informed about how this attraction works and be familiar with its associated terms. My own essays may provide a good starting point for that, especially “Misunderstandings and Attitudes Surrounding Pedophilia / Minor Attraction,” which contains some basic explanations about what a MAP is as well as related terminology. It also addresses some common misconceptions. However, I do also recommend going beyond my essays and doing some research yourself. Ask other MAPs, consult other sources, arm yourself with knowledge.

Hopefully, that knowledge can help you address the questions and concerns of the person you decided to come out to. Explain things with patience and do not delve into too much detail if it is not necessary. Remember that for this person, all of this will most likely be new and they will already be processing a lot of information. If you find that it helps, you can suggest for them to read articles/websites—such as my own or ones you have found—to learn about it at their own pace, but only do this if they’re interested in looking that much into it. Not everyone will be interested in learning everything there is to know about MAPs, especially not on the first day. What’s more important is to explain the things that will most help them understand your own situation.

You should take care not to overwhelm this person with too much information. You do not need to explain in detail all four of the MAP-related chronophilias (nepiophilia, pedophilia, hebephilia, and ephebophilia), for example, just the one(s) you have yourself as well as pedophilia if you do not have that chronophilia yourself, since that will be the word that they have most likely heard before but not necessarily understand. If they ask about therapy or “getting help,” you can explain what that means for a MAP, that it can only help you come to terms with it, not get rid of it. If they ask what the difference between a MAP and a pedophile is, and you think giving the full explanation will be too much information, you can summarize it in the most simple terms by saying that a pedophile is a “type” of MAP. Additionally, I highly recommend not to discuss anything related to anti-/pro-/neutral-contact MAPs, at least not on the first day, as that is another very complicated topic that can stir the conversation away from your coming out.

Explaining all this may be a multi-day process, since, as mentioned, you do not want to overwhelm them with too much details in one go. You should also remember to only elaborate if they’re truly interested in learning that much. If they’re satisfied with the basic explanation you’ve given them, I recommend not to insist on going more in-depth about the topic unless they want to. There is no need to give them the impression that you are trying to fill their head with excessive surplus information. You should consider leaving certain topics for another day.

After at least a day has passed, be sure to talk to this person. Assess how they are taking in this revelation and how well they understand it, and let them know that they are free to ask you any questions. Be sure not to press the subject too much if you see that it makes them uncomfortable or if they are simply not interested, but if they do show a genuine curiosity to learn more, you can further elaborate on more specific subjects regarding MAPs. You may even consider referring them to informative articles or videos you have found if they are interested in reading about it.

Be Brave

This will all admittedly be a rather daunting process for you, but hopefully, if that person is understanding and you explain it well enough, you will be overcome with relief, and you will find a newfound trust for them. Remember that every person is different, and depending on who you or the person you’re coming out to are, as well as your specific circumstances, the advice outlined here may or may not be applicable. Take these suggestions to heart, but also be flexible and prudent.

If you do decide to go forward with this, I hope that everything goes well and that your bond with this person grows stronger than ever. Remember that it’s alright if you deem the risks too high or if you determine that the person in question will not receive it well. Either way, I commend your bravery, and hope that my advice here has been helpful.