I’m a 25-year-old male attracted to 16-year olds.
I thought this was normal since lots of men are into teen girls. 16 is the age of consent in my state. Recently, people were calling this person online a pedophile for being attracted to 17-year olds despite only being 20.

I guess the proper term would be Ephebophilia, only if it’s your main focus though?
I don’t have a preference for 16 year olds (I’m attracted to older men too) and it doesn’t put any strain on my marriage. It’s not an obsession.

Is this normal? Is it common? Is it as bad as pedophilia and hebephilia?

A. Normal has different meanings in different contexts. In the sciences, normal is a statistical reference meaning plus or minus one standard deviation from the mean. This number is about 68% of any total. Thus we can describe anything as being “normal.” We can have normal shoe sizes, we can have normal weights for men and women of a certain height, we can have normal IQs and normal and abnormal amounts of milk consumed for a person of a certain age. Describing normal in this way simply means that 68% of the population possesses this characteristic.

There are other meanings of the word normal when used in the mental health field and by the general public. For instance, cultural norm violation. Doing something which is in opposition to the norms of one’s culture, could be considered and would be considered by some to be abnormal or not normal.

Sexuality is like the dark web. It’s there and it’s accessible by virtually anyone, but it is not well understood or documented and generally not discussed. Sexual desire and behaviors are rarely discussed in conversations, even with close friends or relatives. Sexual topics are almost always heard in the context of humor.

Sigmund Freud said that humans had only two drives or motivations. One was Thanatos, or the death drive, and the other was the sex drive — and the sex drive comprised almost the totality of human motivation. Many have disagreed with him, some on a logical or philosophical basis but by far the most, by the ever present desire to deny the presence of sexuality, by keeping its discussion and acknowledgment in total darkness.

Generally speaking, you cannot control that which arouses you sexually. However, you can, in every instance, control your behavior. Your sexual behavior must not harm you or any other human being. That is why all non-consensual sexual contact between people is considered rape and could earn one life in prison, without the possibility of parole. It matters little that which you find to be of sexual interest as long as there is not the slightest possibility that you or anyone else will be harmed by your resultant behavior.

Obviously, I could not possibly have answered all of your questions. Nothing short of a multi-volume set of three inch thick leather bound books could come close to explaining human sexual desire. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle