Pedophiles have the exact same ability to develop romantic feelings for children to fall in love with them as any other person has for the people they’re attracted to. Of course, a pedophile will have to be in a position where he can have a (completely appropriate) relationship with the child enough to get to know him or her in order for that to happen, and that is not always the case. Many pedophiles choose to avoid being around children for a variety of reasons, ranging from a concern that they will offend a self-inflicted doubt instilled by the internalization of the prevailing and stigmatizing narrative that all pedophiles are child molesters or ticking time bombs waiting to explode to a paranoia that others will find out about them if they look a little too long or awkwardly at a child, to simply wanting to avoid the pain of unrequited love, which can be hard to bear. And yet a lot of pedophiles find themselves in a situation where they have fallen in love with a child, and all they can do is suffer it in silence.
In summary, a pedophile’s attraction to children is virtually indistinguishable from a heterosexual man’s attraction to women or a homosexual woman’s attraction to other women. Of course there are variations in the way pedophiles experience their attraction to children, but not in a greater or lesser degree than there are variations in the way others experience their own attractions. For some it is more visceral, more physical/sexual, while for others it is much more emotional, and even paternal in many cases. Pedophiles can certainly obsess over children, but not in any higher degree than any other person can obsess over someone they are attracted to. And of course, pedophiles can behave inappropriately with children, making unsolicited and unwanted sexual advances, but once again, there is no evidence that this would happen at any higher rate among pedophiles than people of other sexual orientations.
Assuming that a pedophile’s attraction to children is inherently perverse or evil is wrong and only contributes to further the stigmatization and vilification of people who, as a group and by definition, are not criminals or desire to harm anyone in any way. Acknowledging that there’s nothing inherently wrong about being attracted to children, given that it’s not something a person was ever given a choice about, in no way excuses anyone from behaving inappropriately with a child. Accepting that there isn’t anything inherent to pedophilia that makes anyone do anything they don’t want to do, or that impairs anyone’s ability to know right from wrong, also doesn’t excuse child sexual abuse.