cont. I’m praying a lot for he and I as individuals and for guidance and control of emotions, but even when viewing him only as a brother in Christ, the feelings still nag at me. I can’t jeopardize our mutual church positions though so I’m stressed.
The difference between 20 years old and 17 is not so wide that you would be seen as an old adult taking advantage of an adolescent. Although I am not a professional in psychology, I would guess that your attraction falls with the “normal” range as you are still quite young yourself at 20 years old.
Also, I’m kind of confused as to why your feelings and emotions have you so worried.
If you have feelings of fondness for him, and you have kept these feelings to yourself, you have done nothing wrong. If your feelings for this young man go beyond fondness on a mental and emotional level, and you feel a sexual attraction, then this is where you need to tread with great caution.
It is quite possible to develop a friendship with someone without having to let sexual attraction complicate things and get in the way. The basic rule of thumb is to simply continue treating him as a brother in Christ even if within you have stronger feelings for him. That means no words, messages, or actions, which can be perceived as coming on to him.
His parents should be aware of any communication—no sneaking behind them.
Treat each other with respect, with a sense of gradually getting to know each other without “coming on too strong.” Have talks about his goals in life, about his friendships, about his beliefs, about his family. If you see maturity, and the practice of chivalry and virtue, encourage that in him. The first stage of any relationship is to encourage each other in virtue, and between Christians, to build up each other in faith.
Before you worry or think about someday dating him, be his friend. It’s as simple as that. Because if you don’t give him the respect and help of a friend, what are you intentions in wanting to be his girlfriend someday?
First, getting to know him as a friend, will give you a healthy sense if the two of you are mature enough to go further later on. Being a friend and talking just like friends will open him up to you and help you see if there is any real compatibility.
It could be that the better you get to know him, the more you will feel like a friendship is all there is to this. What if you find he is very immature? What if you find that he flip-flops and does really know what he wants in life? What if you find that he has not developed a distinct identity apart from his parents and family?
If that’s the case, you should have the smarts to realize he is not just physically young but psychologically still a kid and he needs time to be allowed to grow up more.
To push ahead and be aggressive in wanting to date someone, even if they’re 18 already, but who is not ready for it, is doing something for what you can get out of it, and not doing it for what is good for the both of you.
And that, unfortunately, would be more “taking advantage” instead of being mature yourself. I hope some of these comments gives you food for thought. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel