The problem stems from when the relationship is one-sided and not consensual. If someone is too young to consent, or one person is coercive, then relationship is predator-like. If the relationship is based on one-sided attraction, then it is not consensual.
As a Group, the Devotee/PWD relationship is not consensual. While there may be many examples of consensual Devotee/PWD relationships, they do not represent the majority.
Devotee/PWD relationships are more often characterized by a one-sided attraction where the PWD may not even be aware of the existence of the Devotee and/or his or her sexually based attraction.
Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, and disclosure. Unhealthy relationships involve deception, lack of trust, and non-disclosure. Unhealthy relationships are detrimental to both parties, but are more damaging to the unwilling object of attraction.
The current state of the group Devotee/PWD relationship is unhealthy. It is unquestionably harmful to PWDs. I think it is also harmful to Devotees because many of them operate in a secretive and voyeuristic manner at best, and a coercive and predator-like manner at worst.
It all comes down to consent. If a PWD consents to a “friendship” or relationship with a respectful Devotee, then there is no problem. If the PWD doesn’t consent, he or she should be left alone, period. That is how all healthy and consensual relationships work. If a Devotee doesn’t disclose due to fear of rejection, then he or she is involved in a one-sided non-consensual relationship regardless of how “innocent” or “harmless” he or she may feel.
As a final note, I am noting saying that full disclosure is easy. If it was easy, then we would not be having this discussion. But comparatively speaking, the obstacles faced by many PWDs everyday are greater. Why create more problems for PWDs? If you truly care about PWDs, then you should be doing all you can to support them even if it makes you uncomfortable or seems difficult.