Thank you for this thoughtful and compassionate message! My interpretation of the situation is pretty much exactly in line with yours. I think this guy did genuinely see me as an intellectual and emotional peer. And he can be forgiven, I think, for seeing me as more emotionally mature than I actually was — it’s hard to tell how developed and confident in their own boundaries a young person is, especially if they do speak, write, act like an adult.
But of course, there is this other sliver… he reached out to me on Myspace when I was 17 for what reason? I think mostly genuine reasons. But I never saw him approach and attempt to mentor young men. I did see him approach and attempt to mentor young, good-looking women, because they also ended up as contributors to his blog. I don’t think he was trying to groom any of us into a relationship with him, and I don’t think he planned on doing anything untoward…but I do think he was looking for exciting (and intellectually stimulating) attention from young women, and I do think that’s a bit fucked up. I bet if he had been self-aware that he was doing that, he wouldn’t have done it. I think he was basically a morally upstanding person but that he had some instincts here that were not the best.
From what I can tell, he is doing much better in his life than he was when we met. And I’m still really grateful I got to write for his blog and had his support at that time in my life, even though the relationship got complicated.