Some of the friendships between boys and men who are attracted to them become sexual. Sexual activity may be initiated by the man with the boy’s apparent willingness or encouragement, or by the boy himself.8 However, this is not inevitable. Some men may have many affectionate relationships with boys, but only very occasional sexual contact.9
Both criminological and non-criminological research reports that sexual practices with pre-pubescent children are usually of the kind considered to be less severe, resembling sex play more than sexual assault. Studies have found that the most frequent activities are cuddling, caressing, fondling, and masturbation, followed by fellatio. Least common is anal intercourse.10 Sexual relationships with adolescents may be more likely to involve fellatio or intercourse.
Researchers have written that sexual activity can occur in the context of various kinds of relationships.
- Sometimes the relationships resemble adult heterosexual "love affairs" in that the man feels "in love," expresses affection, desires what he considers a "consenting" sexual relationship, and will stop if the boy resists.11
- Some relationships may be friendships which involve boisterous sex play without affectionate interaction.12
- Some men develop sexual relationships with gay adolescent boys, for whom feelings of attraction are mutual.13 According to a Cornell University researcher who has studied gay youth extensively, such relationships appear to be similar to gay relationships among peers in terms of the meeting place, the length of the relationship, who is most likely to initiate it, the outcomes of the relationships (positive or negative), and the way they end.14
One study found that most of the boys who had sexual contact with men in the context of affectionate relationships kept up a close relationship with the man for over three months. In some cases the relationship lasted for several years, but the sexual component rarely lasted over one year.15 Some studies have found cases where the sexual component of the relationship ended by mutual desire when the boy reached adulthood, but the two remained close friends long into the younger one’s adulthood.16
9. Wilson & Cox, 1983.
10. Bradford et al., 1988; Howells, 1981; Ingram, 1981; West, 1998.
11. Howells, 1981; Ingram, 1981.
12. Ingram, 1981.
13. West & Woodhouse, 1990.
14. Savin-Williams, 1998.
15. Ingram, 1981.
16. Ingram, 1981; Tindall, 1978; Wilson & Cox, 1983.