Ephebophilia (Sexuality)

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Ephebophilia refers to primary or exclusive sexual attraction by adults, both men and women, to mid-to-late adolescents or young adults aged 15–19. It comes from the Greek: έφηβος (ephebos), variously defined as "one arrived at puberty", "a youth of 18 who underwent his dokimasia and was registered as a citizen (Athens)", and "arriving at man's estate"; and φιλία (-philia) "love".[1] Despite this classical etymology it is a term of modern coinage, having been attributed to German scientist Magnus Hirschfeld several times, often giving a date between 1906-08.[2][3] It has also been used by the Frenchman Felix Buffière in 1980, and described at length by Tariq Rahman in 1988 who argues that it should be used in preference to 'homosexuality' for describing grown men's aesthetic and erotic interest in adolescent boys when classical literatures in Persian, Turkish or Urdu are under discussion. The term was additionally revived by Ray Blanchard to denote men who sexually prefer 15 to 19-year-olds.[4] The typical ephebophilic age range has also been given as ages 15–16 (however, the average legal age of consent in USA and all the other English-speaking countries is 16).[5]

Since ephebophilia involves biological, fertile adults, it is not considered a pathological paraphilia or a psychiatrist disorder or diagnosis,[6] unlike pedophilia which involves pre-pubescent children (generally under the 13 years of age, for boys can be even from a little higher and under).

Reversing the roles, teleiophilia (from Greek "teleios", meaning "full grown") is the preference and attraction to older adults. While gerontophilia (from Greek "geron", meaning "old person") is instead the preference and attraction of the young to the elderly.


Despite being considered natural and socially accepted also in Western societies for many centuries, the nature of ephebophilia is today confused and unresolved, and a variety of beliefs about it are held. The term pedophilia is commonly and mistakenly used today by the general public and the media in the West (including entertainment and social media) to refer to any sexual interest in minors below the local age of consent (the average age of consent in USA and North America is 16, same for the rest of the mainly English-speaking countries, in Europe between 15 and 16) and/or even age of majority (in most countries is 18 but it can vary, also in US), regardless of their level of physical and mental development (thus spreading and increasing not only mis/disinformation but especially ageism and, in the case of males, misandry, both already present at concerning levels in the modern-day liberal-globalist and "woke" West, hypocritically propagandized particularly by modern Hollywood[7][8][9][10][11]). Some people wrongfully regard ephebophilia as a milder form of pedophilia, in which the object of attraction is closer to the normal age of a sexual partner than with a true pedophile. Other people regard ephebophilia as resulting from chronophilia, wherein the chronophile's sexual age is discordant with his or her actual chronological age but concordant with the age of the partner. Yet another theory characterizes ephebophilia by a refusal to age psychologically, and a desire to reconnect with one's youth.[12][13]

Attraction to mid-to-late adolescents is not classified as a psychiatric diagnosis or disturb and is not generally regarded by psychologists and psychiatrists as pathological[14] except when it interferes with other relationships, becomes an obsession which adversely affects other areas of life, or causes distress to the subject.[15]

Sexual desire that includes adolescents as well as older individuals is common among adults with many sexual orientations; this is not labeled "ephebophilia" because the attraction to adolescents is not exclusive. In other cultures and countries, it is considered normal for adults to include adolescents among their sexual interests. In these cultures an attraction to adolescents is not necessarily thought to require an essentialist classification in terms of abnormality, deviancy or mental health, but is seen as a possibility or a taste. In certain Middle-Eastern cultures, as reflected in literature written in Turkish, Persian and Urdu, the expression of love for attractive adolescent boys is found in classical literature. In Urdu, for instance, it may be a metaphor for the mystic's quest for an immanent deity; a lover's desire for a woman who, being a veiled lady or a courtesan, is impossible to own; or in some cases, boys who take the place of women in gender-segregated societies. This attraction of men to adolescent males is not seen as effeminate or regarded as homosexuality, per se, but is usually considered sinful. Nonetheless, an open male attraction to adolescents may still be ridiculed or disparaged as inappropriate or unhealthy; an attraction to adolescents is something one is expected to "grow out of". These cultural assumptions have come into contention with the advent of "Western modernity" and the resultant exposure to cultures with different and influencial norms. In Japanese society, another example, the attraction of men towards teenage girls (high-school students) is a visible cultural phenomenon, with manifestations such as manga and anime art,[16] and school uniform/sailor fuku fetishes. Relations with teenage girls (e.g. enjo kōsai) are tolerated much more than in much of the today's Western world (though this wasn't uncommon in older or relatively older Western comics, especially superhero comic books and other related media such as animated/live-action TV shows and films).

In fairytales, adolescent girls are sometimes made the object of desire from older men. While suggesting it, this may not be ephebophilia since the males do not have necessarily exclusive or primary preference for adolescent girls. Some fairytales that are alleged to contain ephebophilia are Rimsky-Korsakov's opera version of the Snow Maiden, Vasilissa the Beautiful, and Sadko.


While ephebophilic desire is not regulated by any statute, aspects of sexually expressed ephebophilia may be against some laws. Depending on the age of consent in a given jurisdiction, an adolescent may be capable of giving legally-recognised consent to physical relations. If the younger partner is below that age, it is commonly criminalized as statutory rape, regardless of whether the younger partner agrees to - or even initiates - the activity. Reasons given for this include:

  • Some adolescents are unable to understand the physical, emotional, and social consequences of erotic physical activity. According to the August 2006 issue of Scientific American, the neurological development of adolescents is not yet complete, leading to deficits in their higher cognitive functions including judgement, attention, and response to crisis situations.
  • Some adult relations with adolescents can be due to an abuse of power, using psychological coercion.
  • Relations with adolescent girls can lead to pregnancy and parenthood, for which adolescents may not be prepared emotionally and/or financially.

Relationships between adults and adolescents that do not include certain "physical activity" are generally legal, assuming no other laws regarding child welfare are violated. For example, a romantic relationship with an adolescent below the age of consent is generally legal (depending on how low is said age of consent), especially when the adolescent's age is above the age at which their parents could consent to marriage. In other jurisdictions, this may be illegal.


  1. Rahman, Tariq (1988). "Ephebophilia: the case for the use of a new word," Forum for Modern Language Studies, 24(2), 126-141.
  2. Dr. Victor Servatius (1960). Ephebophilie en wetenschap ("Ephebophilia and science").
  3. http://www.ihlia.nl/documents/pdflib/Vriendschap/1960/1960-04.pdf
  4. https://doi.org/10.1007%2Fs10508-008-9399-9
  5. https://books.google.com/books?id=NhEpCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA30
  6. https://peakd.com/medicine/@epicenterdefacto/ephebophilia-isnt-pedophilia-its-not-even-a-psychiatric-disorder
  7. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0629692/trivia/?ref_=tt_ql_trv
  8. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0511631/trivia/
  9. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt1313139/trivia/?ref_=tt_trv_trv
  10. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt4863440/trivia
  11. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt2507294/trivia/?ref_=tt_ql_trv
  12. https://books.google.com/books?id=daqHAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA155
  13. https://web.archive.org/web/20110623130406/http://www.usccb.org/comm/kit6.shtml
  14. https://books.google.com/books?id=pNh7DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT1713
  15. https://books.google.com/books?id=pNh7DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT1713
  16. https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/07/29/interview-japanese-video-game-developer-discusses-the-rise-of-loli-censorship-in-anime-and-video-games/

See also