Dear Captain Awkward,
I am 21 years old. I am in a long term relationship, which will be going on four years this spring. He and I have had our ups and downs, but for the most part our relationship has been great. We have a lot of fun together, and have been through so much together. He is my best friend, and also a great, adventurous, and generous lover. We have great sex, and frequently. I love him. I love his family. I love his friends. I love his taste in music. I love his warmth and humour. I love our life together. I feel like being with him has made me a better person. But recently, something has happened that has things all messed up and confused for me.
That thing is this:
I’ve developed a huge infatuation with my college professor. (I’m wary about saying “I’ve fallen in love with my college professor”, because I know how silly that sounds)
I still love my boyfriend so much, but recently, nearly all I can think about is this man, lets call him Dave (not his real name). Dave is old enough to be my father, and he’s married, and I’m pretty sure that he has grown up children around my age, not to mention the fact that I am a student of his. These feelings should not be happening for many reasons, and yet I just can’t stop them. I’ve never fallen for an older man before, let alone such an older man. He is the smartest person I’ve ever met, and he talks to me like he thinks I am very smart as well. I get nervous around him. I want him to think that I am clever. I could listen to him talk for hours. He is so warm and kind and has a great sense of humour. It doesn’t help that he teaches in a field that I have a profound interest in, and is a well respected authority in the field, so I see him quite often. He is super confident and knowledgeable, and really, really handsome (and sexy).
I often find myself trying to think of great questions to ask him regarding this field, partially for my own interest, but mostly so that I can have his full attention for a while. I get butterflies in my stomach when I see that I have an email from him, or pass him in the halls.
The upside is, I’ve been working really hard in school lately to impress him. The downside is, I feel so much guilt for having these feelings. I love my boyfriend so much, and I feel terrible for fantasising about this man (although it’s quite possible that my man fantasises harmlessly about other women from time to time without acting on it). The feelings that i am having for Dave would be so wrong even if I was single.
I’m starting to get worried by how much this is consuming my thoughts. Sometimes I actually start to think that Dave is interested in me too. I sense some sexual tension sometimes, but I’m 90% sure that this is just me projecting my sexy thoughts onto him and he is really just trying to be a helpful teacher to an interested student. I’m worried that things will get out of hand, and that I will do something to embarrass myself, and/or hurt more than one person.
How do I rid myself of this infatuation? I just want everything to go back to normal! I don’t want to feel this way.
Hot for Teacher
You have this crush, or limerence, because learning is awesome and working at something you’re great at is awesome. What he’s doing in his class is creating an experience where you are actively learning about stuff you care about, where you feel respected and safe to ask questions and express yourself. If it’s as great as you describe, and he is as adorkable as you say, I can understand why you are crushing. You’re not alone in wanting to send an email with the word “sans” in it.
This calls back a little bit to the feelings are not reasons discussion of the other day. Your prof may in fact be noticing you back. But there is so, so much to lose and very little to gain by declaring your love or propositioning your married professor. If he says no? Weirdness. If he says yes? Weirdness.
Mostly what will make this go away is time. You can do a few things now. If you’re feeling truly off-kilter, do seek out a counselor who can help you find strategies to retrain your intrusive thoughts about this guy. Don’t guiltily admit the crush to your boyfriend. Do channel the attraction you feel into screwing your boyfriend’s brains out. Do watch out for mentionitis (Not only will it give you away every time, talking about your crush to other people gives it life and an audience and makes it more real). Do keep telling yourself “This is a crush, it is a normal part of life, it will pass, don’t do anything stupid.” Do forgive yourself for fantasizing – we all do it sometimes and crushes of the intellect can be incredibly motivating and fun. Do put more energy into your other classes, friends, family, exercise, activities, whatever. Do make friends with other people in the class and get some of your positive lift from them.
This will be something you look back on and laugh, I’m pretty sure.