That’s straight from David Benioff’s mouth. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve read the same books.
Of all the reasons I can think of for Sandor to be attracted to Sansa, this one is almost completely off my radar. I never thought, reading ACOK, that he wants her because he can never have her. He wants her because she is the living, breathing testament to every story and song about knights and fair maidens he heard when he was a boy, before his brother shoved his face in that fire and burned away not only flesh, but idealism and honor and the possibility of something beautiful and real in an otherwise ugly world. Sandor is attracted to Sansa because she’s not just a pretty little bird who recites all the pretty little things she’s been taught to say. She has a mind and an opinion and she’s not afraid to show him that. He’s attracted to her because she’s offered him compassion and tenderness and empathy. He’s attracted to her because she reminds him that he’s more than just a dog.
Is there a small part of him that thinks he can never have her? I suppose it’s possible, but that didn’t stop him from waiting in her room and offering her protection and a way out of King’s Landing during the Blackwater Bay battle. If he truly thought he could never have her, would he have done that? Would he have waited around, knowing his life was now forfeit, if he didn’t believe in the possibility that Sansa might accept his offer and come with him?
No wonder the Sandor/Sansa dynamic was gutted so badly in the second season of GoT. At least half of the showrunner team is utterly without a clue.
You’re actually saying partly the same thing as Benioff, I think. Sandor wants the thing he can never have- that sweet innocence and hope that Sansa has. Compassion and a positive sort of strength, and a warm safe place- that’s what she is to him, and what he thinks he doesn’t deserve, and so he won’t have. He may want her and that goodness, but he doesn’t actually believe he can have it. He may have tried in Blackwater, when he was drunk and desperate, since he had just walked away from the king, a dangerous act. But I suspect he didn’t really believe she’d take him up on his offer.
Benioff is straight-up wrong about plenty of things but this isn’t one of them. It’s largely a matter of interpretation, so neither of the takes on it- yours or Benioff’s- is wrong.