So I’m 19 I met this girl online, she’s 13.  we started talking and eventually we started talking about sex, it lead to a couple sessions of sexting between the two of us, and unfortunately we sent pics back and forth a couple times, I feel completely disgusted with myself.  I deleted the message app and my account so I could never talk to her again.  I don’t think I would ever act on this, I hope at least. I’ve never seen a kid in public and was attracted to them, I’m usually attracted to my age group. it was just once or twice and I feel gross and terrible about it.  Basically I’m asking for your professional opinion and how I could go about making sure I don’t make a stupid mistake like this again.  Thanks 

A: To be considered a pedophile in psychological terms there must be a period of at least six months of recurrent urges, fantasies or actions toward a minor (in most cases 13 years old or younger) with an age span of five years or more. To fully meet criteria you must have either acted on the urges or they cause clinically significant distress. It sounds like you meet some of these criteria but not all.

Although I am a psychologist and not an attorney, the exchange of pictures and texting may have already broken the law and is a very serious situation.

The saving grace is that you realize your mistake, feel badly about it and want to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  My suggestion would be to find a therapist in your area who specializes in sexual disorders and make an appointment for a consultation.  Keep in mind that everything in therapy is confidential, especially if you seek treatment on your own rather than being referred by another party. I hope this experience has been a learning experience for you and you do make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts