Most people, whatever their attractions, want some sort of sexual relationship in our lives. A common and understandable agony of pedophiles is the fear that they will never know love or sex. One of the first things I suggest is that they look at adult relationships. Pedophilia is defined by an strong sexual attraction to children, but it is not defined by an exclusive attraction. The majority of pedophiles do have some attraction to adults, and since children are not a possibility, that's the place to look. One analogy I raise is the ordinary man who would be considered to have "low market value" -- looks, personality, intelligence, whatever. He is likely to find porn stars and actresses very hot. But the chances are if he wants to get married, he'll have to settle for a woman who is herself of low market value -- dramatically less attractive than the movie stars. But there's enough attraction he can build a relationship and be happy. Men of below average attractiveness have been doing it forever. (Women, of course, are often in exactly the same situation.)
(An aside: Some pedophiles simply do not have enough attraction to adults to think along these lines. They are true exclusives. I fully respect pedophiles who reach that conclusion. There is nothing wrong with being an exclusive pedophile, and it makes no sense for a pedophile to feel guilty or inferior if they do not have an attraction to adults. Reparative therapies do not work.)
Can the nonexclusive pedophile come to feel the same way about adult women (or men, though I'll continue to use women in my example)? That the women are of low market value compared to young girls, but there's still some attraction there. Is it enough? A number of the married men in the Virtuous Pedophiles group say they love their wives and have a good relationship with them. They may have trouble performing sexually sometimes -- that's definitely a weak part of the relationship. For an adult couple forming a relationship, if it's too weak, it's a deal-breaker. What could help?
If pedophiles are open with their partners about their pedophilia, one idea is getting their partners to engage in "age play", dressing or acting like a young girl. But many pedophiles are not "out" to their wives, and many women would be uncomfortable doing that in any case. Many adult women also just look dramatically different from young girls.
What other ideas are there? I reflect on the role of age in ordinary relationships. More often than not, I would guess, a pair of 80-year-olds who go on a first date will not find the other one particularly attractive physically. But often a pair of long-married 80-year-olds will find each other attractive. Partly they have built emotional bonds, and partly the effects of aging are gradual. But is it also partly that they remember the young man or woman that their partner used to be? That the attraction is partly to that person in their prime, who happens to have grown older?
If so, it opens a possibility for pedophiles. If they can look at pictures or video of an adult woman when she was the age of girl they find most attractive, could they develop feelings for the girl in the pictures, and come to see the adult woman as that very same girl, who just happened to grow older?
I am not only a non-exclusive pedophile, but I have had passionate sexual interest in adult women. In this I am quite unusual. I met my wife when we were both about 23. I didn't know I was a pedophile at the time, but I do recall thinking that she was awfully cute in her childhood pictures. When I had occasion to look at a few of those pictures recently, long after our divorce, I realized that not only was she cute at age 7, she was hot -- hotter than she had ever been when I knew her.
If there is anything to this idea, it could work even if a man is not "out" to his partner. But how would a woman feel about it if she knew?
When people are dating at age 50 or so, I think many of them understand that they were more physically attractive when they were younger. I don't think of looking at old photo albums as a necessary part of the typical courtship, but it can be. How would women feel to have men looking at pictures of them at age 20? Would they be proud of who they were and feel like a man's positive reaction to those pictures reflected well on them? Or would it be an unwelcome reminder that they are not in fact as attractive as they used to be? I know that as a man in that situation, I would lie and say she looks just as good now as she did then. But I also can imagine that the images of the 20-year-old might come to mind when we were in bed.
Hopefully a man who has not revealed his pedophilia to a dating partner would be similarly restrained and not act too ecstatic about a woman's childhood pictures. But could he similarly use those images in his mind to help him in bed?
My understanding is that marital therapists think most secrets in a marriage are not good. But if your secret is that you fantasize about movie stars during sex, that's something they think it's better not to reveal. I believe they also don't think that such fantasies are an indication that anything is wrong in the marriage -- they are common in healthy marriages.
It is in that same spirit that I suggest that a pedophile fantasizing about his partner as a younger child is just fine, and pictures or video of her youth could help him do that. It's actively a good thing if it lets him build a relationship he otherwise would not be able to.
Of course, it also might not work. But I think it's worth considering.