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College Student in Love with Professor
Q: I'm a 20-year-old junior in college and I've been talking online with my 53-year-old professor a lot. He started hinting that he was sexually interested in me. At first, he said that he was just teasing. One day, after class, we kissed and talked about having sex. He's never forced this on me in any way. He says that he wants to be a lifelong friend and that I mean a great deal to him. He also says that I'm mature for my age and that we just had an instant connection. If it wasn't for his obligations (he's married and has kids) and his age, he said he would marry me.
I'm in love with him now. Still, sometimes I think that maybe he's done this kind of thing before or that he will in the future. He said that he has only cheated once on his wife, to whom he's been married for almost 20 years. Is this a mistake?
A: I can understand your emotional conflicts regarding your relationship with your college teacher. You're both flattered and confused. However, this teacher should be removed from his position and it's up to you to report his wholly inappropriate and unethical actions to the college administration and assure that no other young woman will fall victim to this man. No college instructor should ever engage a student in this blatant sexual and manipulative manner. He is forbidden to do so in a morality clause in his contract. Additionally, a 53-year-old married man's pursuit of a 20-year-old girl is unhealthy at every possible level. He is toying with you and your vulnerability by using his position as a trusted teacher to lure you into this totally imbalanced and unsavory affair.
As infatuated with him as you may be, do you respect yourself and what you are doing? Please use your doubts and your suspicions that he has manipulated other girls like this before to inform your actions. I understand that you might not want to get this teacher into trouble or to cause yourself embarrassment by reporting his inappropriate behavior, but I would appeal to you to take action so that this stops. Through his sexualized behavior with you, he has demonstrated that he should not be in a position to associate with young women on a college campus.
I am sure that your college's counseling service, your parents, your friends, and family members will rally behind you to support your stopping this man's continued abuse of his female students. This is not a romance or a great love, as much as you might want to conceive it as such. Break off all contact with this man. Thanks for being courageous when it seems easiest and safest to do nothing.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.