"He led her out on the deck and stood beside her looking down at the sea. He reached out and caught hold of her hand. It seemed as though he were trying to get strength from it. Then he turned as though to take her in his arms, but instead walked abruptly back to the music and light of the salon. 'This is quite absurd of me,' he murmured."
--The Small Rain, page 84, Chapter Six
Perhaps it is not a universal phenomenon, but it seems that a great moment in a young girl's life when she experiences the attraction of an older man, who is not her father, whose affection for her is not fatherly (although perhaps can be disgused as such, when convenient).
When you are young: fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen, as Katherine is in The Small Rain, your male peers are, at the time, generally lacking in the competent maturity that you know, in your wise little womanly heart, that you will one day need.
There is this strange tug towards older men, for they hold this sort of vision of the future. And you know that you are not really able to talk with them, or be a companion for them, for you feel young; young enough to be their daughter, but you also know that you are not their daughter. And there is a certain excitement in that. It is rather Freudian. And I wonder that Freud never discussed it.
Jung brought up the idea of the Electra complex, which, to me, seems to be a ridiculously phallo-centric view of the world. Of course, women go crazy over any phallus within view, and have to compete over it. There's a reason no woman has ever requested a dick pic, Jung.
I don't think that Freud or Jung would ever touch upon this, because it is a rite of passage of girlhood (and, like most rite-of-passages, not everyone experiences them universally): the experience of perhaps falling slightly in love with an older man. And, perhaps experiencing his affection in return.
He is protected by the age difference and his ability to pass off anything that approaches the limits of propriety by putting on a brotherly or avuncular demeanor. And yet, their mutual affection can thrive, in that secret place of fantasy.
A young girl, under the age of seventeen, is surrounded by boys who are not acting rationally; whose brains have not fully developed, and are acting in ways that seem unmotivated by any logic, because they aren't. They are not motivated by logic. The way they approach relationships is a mystery to the girls. He likes her, but he only talks to me about it. He says that he has a huge crush on her, but he's never spoken to her! He was flirting with her by showing off his pitching arm.
To young women, whose brains are just developing relational wisdom, this is all very mystifying. And so, these older men, who seem to understand the logic of human interaction better, become substitute Romeos.
These older men speak to that spark of womanhood that is beginning to burn inside of this young girl. She is dazzled by him. Dazzled by his conversation, dazzled by the way he treats her "like and adult" and "not like the others." Dazzled by the way he ushers her from the world of childhood into the world of grown-up feelings. She senses something mature and ripe inside of herself she never knew was there before. And it is that new ripeness inside of herself that she is more in love with than the man. The man's a catalyst in her own discovery of herself.