Friends and Family of MAPs
Answers and support for friends and family members of MAPs
Learning that a friend or family member is attracted to minors can be overwhelming. We made this page to answer common questions and give you the information you need to support your friend or family member. This can be a difficult topic, so take it at your own pace. You can always leave and come back later if you start to feel uncomfortable.
You probably have a hundred questions racing through your head. Let's answer the big ones so you can get a sense of what this means for you and your friend or family member.
Can I trust this website?
You don't need to trust us! We'll link to all our sources and provide additional references so you can verify our claims. All our content is based on the latest research and is reviewed by people who experience minor attractions to ensure it's as accurate as possible. You can learn about how we keep MAP Resources trustworthy and safe here.
What is a MAP?
A minor-attracted person (MAP) is somebody who experiences attractions to minors. This usually refers to sexual attractions, but there are MAPs who experience romantic or other types of attractions to minors.
The term was popularized by mental health experts and is used by experts in the child protection field. Someone being a MAP does not mean they have committed immoral or illegal actions. You can learn more about MAPs in our blog post.
This website uses "MAP" instead of "pedophile" because the latter only refers to people who are attracted to prepubescent children, while "MAP" includes those attracted to pubescent and post-pubescent minors.
There are lots of false claims out there about MAPs and minor attractions, so be aware that you may have seen misleading information. Later, we'll share resources and advice to help you identify and avoid misinformation about MAPs.
If you encounter other unfamiliar terms, check out our dictionary to learn more about the terminology we use.
Are MAPs a danger to kids?
In general, MAPs are not a danger to children, the same way you are not a danger to people you find attractive. Minor attractions work like other attractions, and MAPs can avoid acting on attractions to minors the same way you wouldn't act on an attraction to someone who didn't like you back. Research indicates that the vast majority of MAPs never commit a sexual offense (including viewing illegal content), so there is little reason to suspect that the MAP you know will harm a child.
The act of telling you about their attractions suggests that your MAP friend or family member is unlikely to offend. After all, no predator would want the added scrutiny from coming out as a MAP. Most MAPs face significant risks when telling a friend or family member about their attractions, so the decision to come out is rarely a hasty one. Your friend or family member needs your support and understanding, not your suspicion.
Of course, child abuse still can and does occur, and parents and guardians should be taking steps to keep their kids safe, no matter the attractions of people in their children's lives.
What causes minor attractions?
Experts have developed numerous theories about the origins of minor attractions, each with its own shortcomings. In all likelihood, minor attractions are caused by a unique combination of genetic and environmental factors for each MAP. Despite the lack of any universal cause, experts agree that minor attractions are not a choice - a conclusion supported by the lived experiences of MAPs.
Some MAPs attribute their attractions to a specific experience - often a childhood trauma. Although there is some evidence that early life events may play a role in shaping attractions, there is no proof that any individual event can be the sole cause of an individual's attraction to minors.
Will this affect my relationship?
There are two categories of MAPs: exclusive (only attracted to children) and non-exclusive (attracted to both children and adults). Research shows that non-exclusive MAPs are capable of maintaining long-term romantic and sexual relationships with adult partners. Therefore, if your partner is a non-exclusive MAP, their attractions will not prevent your relationship from continuing.
Exclusive MAPs can still engage in relationships beyond friendship with adults, and although they will not be attracted to their partner, they may still choose to include romantic and sexual elements in the relationship, usually to express appreciation for and provide pleasure to their partner. If your partner is an exclusive MAP, ask them how they would like to move forward with the relationship.
Hearing all this may be upsetting, but remember that your friend or family member is likely even more terrified. MAPs who come out risk of being ostracized, harassed, or even outed if they tell the wrong person about their attractions, so coming out is almost always accompanied by high levels of stress and anxiety for MAPs. Try to remain calm and be as supportive as possible.
If your friend or family member shared this website with you in order to come out as a MAP, it's important that you respond in a way that is comforting and supportive.
Why MAPs come out
There are several reasons why a MAP may come out to a friend or family member. Hiding their attractions can cause MAPs to feel isolated from close friends and loved ones. Coming out is a way to alleviate these feelings and reconnect with others.
Feelings of isolation, along with the widespread use of hateful language surrounding MAPs and minor attractions, cause many MAPs to experience mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. As a result, more than one in three MAPs have suicidal thoughts, and many feel unsafe looking for support. Some MAPs come out as a last-ditch effort to get help when they feel unable to cope with their situation alone.
Of course, not all MAPs who come out do so for these reasons. If you are unsure why your friend or family member chose to disclose their attractions to you, just ask. They will likely welcome the opportunity to share their reasoning and explain how you can best support them.
How to respond
When a MAP friend or family member discloses their attractions to you, provide reassurance and encourage them to share any additional information that they feel is relevant. If you're still not sure what to say, we've provided an example below.
"Thank you for trusting me enough to share this. I'm not going to overreact and I will support you however I can. Can I ask why you chose to tell me about this?"
After this initial reassurance, allow your friend or family member to share as much information as they want. This is likely one of the most stressful experiences of their life, so their speaking might be abrupt and hard to follow. Asking basic clarifying questions when the conversation reaches a lull will help you understand them while demonstrating that you care about and want to support them.
Mistakes to avoid
To ensure your friend or family member feels safe talking openly with you about their attractions, maintaining trust is crucial. You can encourage positive communication by avoiding the following:
Outing them - Your friend or family member (and possibly you) could face numerous threats to their career, property, and wellbeing if their attractions become known to the wrong person. Let them handle decisions regarding who knows about their attractions and how others find out.
Encouraging suppression - Some people believe that MAPs are less likely to offend if they suppress their attractions and express this by encouraging MAPs they know to engage in suppression. In reality, research suggests that suppressing sexual thoughts can cause them to increase in intensity and frequency.
Controlling support - Many MAPs struggle with mental health issues and support can help them overcome these, but support works best when it is a choice. Forcing your friend or family member into therapy or preventing them from accessing support groups could further harm their mental health.
Accusatory rhetoric - It can be tempting to "remind" your friend or family member that child sexual abuse is illegal or that children can't consent. However, this is unnecessary, as they likely wouldn't be telling you about their attractions if they believed otherwise, and it may be interpreted as an accusation.
Judgment - It's okay to have strong feelings about your friend or family member's attractions, but try to express them in a supportive way. Remember, attractions alone cannot directly cause harm, and do not assume that your friend or family member has engaged in illegal activity, as most MAPs never do.
Supporting the MAP you know
Supporting a MAP can be tricky, and it's important to ensure your friend or family member always has the final say in which sources of support they pursue. Effective support for MAPs will be centered around self-acceptance and overcoming mental health issues caused by stigma. In rare cases where a MAP is realistically concerned about their risk of offending, support may also include strategies to reduce that risk.
If you believe your MAP friend or family member would benefit from extra support, explain why you feel that way and ask if they would like your help finding support. If they say yes, you can send them our list of resources, which contains expert-backed support for MAPs. If the MAP you know is a minor, share our Minor MAPs page instead. You and your friend or family member can also use our Content Guidelines to evaluate any resources you find that are not on our list. Be sure to let us know if you find any that meet our requirements!
If you want to go the extra mile and help make the world a safer and more supportive place for MAPs, check out our Allies page to learn how. Most importantly, remember that your friend or family member is still the same person that you knew and cared about before they came out, and be sure to avoid treating them differently.
Knowing and supporting a MAP can feel isolating, but you're not alone. Your MAP friend or family member will want to support you, as will others who experience having a friend or family member come out to them as a MAP. Some of these people provide support groups for other friends and family members of MAPs, with others others may choose to share their stories publicly to raise awareness.
These stories demonstrate how the lives of minor-attracted people can be impacted by the presence of supportive friends and family members. Click each image to reveal.
The story of a 16-year-old pedophile who had to create a support group for himself and other young MAPs after realizing there were limited options for people like him to find support.
Trigger warning for discussion of CSAM
This article explores the challenges faced by minor MAPs - children and teenagers attracted to significantly younger children - and explains how society can do more to support them.
Learning that a loved one is attracted to minors can be overwhelming. This article shares the experience of a MAP's partner and how they came to accept and support their spouse.
In this podcast episode, a minor-attracted person's mother describes her role in her son's journey to receive support and discusses the needs of friends and family members of MAPs.
Want to improve support for other friends and family members of MAPs? Participate in these studies.
It can be hard to deal with the knowledge that your friend or family member is a MAP. Several resources exist to give people in your and similar situations support and community.
Talking to others who have MAP friends or family members can help you identify and overcome various challenges.
You're now much better prepared to support friends or family members who come out to you as a MAP. Of course, there is always more to learn about MAPs and minor attractions, and we encourage you to continue searching for answers whenever you have questions.
You probably still have questions, and we want to help you find answers. These resources are available to help you learn more about MAPs and minor attractions on your own time.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about MAPs, especially online. If you want to seek additional information, you should know how to identify misleading claims. We have a blog post to help you do just that. Your MAP friend or family member may also be able to provide you with extra tips and resources.
Read the research
If you plan to do your own research, it is important to ensure you are using reliable sources with the latest information on MAPs and their attractions. Our Research page has tools to help you find the most recent research on MAPs and links to additional sources for anyone who is interested in learning more.