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My Student Has a Crush on Me

A reader is afraid she is being sexualized by a student.

Dear Dr. G.,

I am a higher secondary teacher. I am 27, am married and have a 4-year-old daughter.

I keep a close rapport with all my students, since it's very necessary to be friendly with teens to handle them. I want to write about one of my favorite students. He is 18, a very good boy, studies well, very well behaved, sincere in whatever he does and has a helping mentality towards others. He likes my subject and was always ready to help whenever I needed it — like making subject magazines, arranging an exhibition (he draws beautifully), and typing my notes. I also helped him to prepare for some competitions.

We have spent a lot of time together at school. But in the past few weeks, I've noticed that his attitude towards me has been changing. He is no longer comfortable when he is with me and avoids my eyes while talking. I have caught him staring at me many times when I am teaching. Sometimes, I feel like he doesn't like me showing friendliness towards any other boy in his class.

I am very much worried. He is my favorite student. I can see that he is distracted in class and that will definitely affect his studies. I can't believe that the boy who laughed and joked with me easily a few weeks ago has completely changed. I tried to talk to him but he is avoiding me.

One of my colleagues suggested that he may have a crush on me. I was embarrassed. But the more I think about his behavior ... I don't know what to do. How do I handle him? Please help me with your suggestions. I want my best student back.

Should I tell this to my husband?

A Concerned Teacher

Dear Teacher,

Hold on to your seat. I have many ideas about what may be going on in this situation. Yes, the young man may have a crush on you. That is not unusual. I have spoken to many men who have told me that they had crushes on their teachers during their high school years and even earlier. In your case, you are very close in age to this young man, so that makes it even more likely that he may have developed a crush on you.

You also spent what seems to be an unusually significant amount of time with him having him do extra work for you and helping him with his projects.

I must warn you that you must watch your boundaries with your students, both male and female. You are their teacher, not their friend. This boy may have become confused and may have felt that you were interested in him.

Now, I'd like to ask you a very difficult question. Were you attracted to this young man and/or flattered perhaps by what might have been his crush on you? What I am trying to say is that while it is important to have a good rapport with your students, it is not helpful to have a "favorite student" and it is important to be aware of your own feelings.

His discomfort may be due to a crush that he has on you or he may have sensed a particular fondness that you had for him. You do seem to have a great deal of interest in what sounds like a very special young man. Please examine your own feelings carefully.

I suggest that you let the student be. If he needs a bit of distance, then honor that and let him have the space that he needs.

I am not sure why you want to discuss this issue with your husband. Are you concerned about your feelings, behavior, and relationship with your husband? Or are you concerned about how and why the relationship with the student went awry and you want your husband's input?

I strongly suggest that you be clear about your motivation for talking to your husband before you do so. When you are clear about that, then go ahead and talk to him.

Please let me know the outcome. I wish you luck. I hope the situation with this young man was a learning opportunity for you about keeping appropriate boundaries with male and female students.

Good Luck,

Dr. G.

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