Dear Dan: Last summer, I reconnected with a high-school teacher I hadn’t seen for a year. We first met when I was 15, and I had nothing but respect for him and his intelligence. I also had a crush on him for the next four years. Fast-forward a year. He is sexting me and sending dick pics and wants to hook up. He has told me he loves me. I feel violated and tricked, like he was supposed to be someone I could trust and he didn’t respect that.
Now I wonder how teachers really see underage high-school girls. This whole experience has made me feel dirty. Moreover, he has never respected that I have a boyfriend and that I want nothing to do with his advances. I met up with a former classmate, and she told me that this teacher and another teacher said similar things to her. Ew! Most former classmates of mine still believe him to be a respectable man and a great teacher. But I know him for what he really is, and when I think of it, I get so angry. How do I move on from this?
— Schooling Thankfully Over Permanently
Dear STOP: I would never want to minimize the creepiness factor of a former teacher sending you dick pics and refusing to take “I want nothing to do with your advances” for an answer. (And you didn’t just say “I have a boyfriend” and hope that he would hear “And I want nothing to do with your advances,” right? Because if all you said was “I have a boyfriend,” STOP, he may have heard, “I would love to fuck you, but I have a boyfriend.”) And I definitely believe high-school teachers — all teachers who work with minors — should refrain from fucking current students and sending dick pics to former students. One is statutory rape and an abuse of power (fucking underage students); the other is career suicide (hitting on former students will get your ass fired eventually). As for the other issues you raise… This guy was your teacher when you were 15… you had a crush on him for four years… a crush he doubtless picked up on… and you somehow reconnected with him after not seeing him for a year… and one year after reconnecting, he’s still contacting you despite your rejection of him.
If I’ve got the timeline right (math is still hard!), STOP, you were 19 or 20 when you reconnected with your former teacher and you’re 20 or 21 now. Maybe even 22. That means nothing happened — nothing appropriate or inappropriate — until you were (1) no longer his student and (2) legally an adult. Your former teacher did nothing inappropriate when you were his student (you surely would’ve included that detail), and so far as you know, he’s never behaved inappropriately toward a current student. Which means either your former teacher has a solid age-range floor (he’s not attracted to anyone under the age of 18) or he’s capable of exercising self-control (not only can he refrain from fucking girls under the age of 18 who he happens to find attractive, but he can conduct himself in such a way that those girls have no idea he finds them attractive).
Your former classmate’s story complicates the picture — and yucks the picture — but she was a former student and an adult when these teachers said “similar things” to her, right? That’s still creepy, of course, it’s still not OK, and it’s still potential career suicide for both these idiots. But it’s not technically illegal. If you honestly believe that either or both of these idiots are behaving inappropriately toward their current students, STOP, you should approach the administration at your old high school with your concerns. Doing so will result in the end of their careers as educators — but if these guys are trying to fuck their current students and/or grooming their current students for fucking a year or two after they graduate, then both should get the fuck out of teaching.
As for feeling dirty, STOP, I don’t understand where that’s coming from. You didn’t do anything dirty. The realization that this teacher might have had a crush on you back when you had one on him — and he might not have had a crush on you then — shouldn’t hurl you into some sort of existential crisis. If knowing that a teacher might have found you sexually attractive back when you were a junior in high school leaves you feeling violated, tricked, and angry, STOP, if that realization has you convinced that all teachers are secret perverts, then you seem to be operating under a faulty set of assumptions about what teachers are. They’re not robots, they’re not eunuchs, they’re not humanoids from a parallel universe where life isn’t occasionally complicated by an unwanted sexual attraction. Teachers are human beings, and like all other human beings*, they sometimes experience sexual attraction, including sexual attraction of the unwelcome and/or inappropriate variety. What they choose to do about it — suppress it, act on it — determines whether they’re respectable men and women and (possibly) great teachers or total creeps and/or sex offenders.
This does not, of course, excuse what your former teacher is doing to you now. He’s sexually harassing you. Tell him to stop and threaten to take it up with the school board if he doesn’t. How do you move on? You do what I do on Twitter: Block and forget the asshole — BAFTA.
* Except for asexual humans, of course. Except for them.