The Coaching Situation

I came to America when I was 13. Instead of being with kids my age, I sat with my teachers and talked to them. Being with them made me more mature and thoughtful person. There are many guys who love me, but I don't love them because I think they are not mature enough. I like them as friends only. The story begins in my senior year in high school, when I met my new Govt. teacher. I was impressed to know that someone who is young can be that mature to take care of all that..especially for a guy!! I liked when he lectured in class, I was so impressed with his ability to make people believe what he believes in and to make people like him. I became very obsessed with him that at home, I would just think about him the whole time.

I ended up having a bad grade from his class. My counselor called up my Govt. teacher and told him to help me. When I went up to him, it was the first time I ever talked to him. His voice, his eyes staring at me, his smile made me dizzy. From that day, I started spending more time with him. I got better in that class by his help. We were very different and didn't really know much about each other's culture, but we'd always agree on each other’s arguments about religion or this world. He'd just read my mind and say things that were in my heart. To see him or talk to him, I'd make excuses to go into his class.

By the last week of school, there was a growing fear in my heart. The day before graduation all seniors had a trip to the park. I usually don't go, but he told me he’s going, so I decided I’m going too. On that day, I was thinking that maybe this is the last time I get to be with him. The tears won't stop and my heart was aching. On the way home, I sat in the front seat and he sat by me. As his arm touched mine, the blood rushed through my nerves. I closed my eyes, wondering what’s happening to me? He asked me what’s on mind, that I look upset. I smiled and said nothing, that I didn't know.

Finally, we got back and I said bye and that I was going to use a phone. He said to use the phone from his classroom. When it was time to go, last minute I turned around and went up to him and all I could say was that I’d miss him very much. He said that's very sweet and put me into his arms. The world seemed beautiful in his arms. I said bye again and ran to the door before I started becoming weak again.

As I left his class, I cried. I went home and wrote this big letter about how I feel when I’m not with him, how my life has been changed since I came to his class. He was so busy on graduation day I didn't have a chance to give that letter to him. I went home and at night I couldn't stop crying. There was one more school day left for the other kids. I went to his class and there were other students by him. He knew that there is something private I wanted to share, so he took me outside and asked what happened. I told him I am sad I will not see him, that I want to be his friend. He said I can be his friend, that I can always email, call or come to his class to talk to him. My heart became lighter. Finally, there was a smile on my face and I hugged him and left.

I emailed him many times over the summer, but he didn't reply so I tried to forget him and stopped emailing. I started college and became busy. I didn't forget him, but learned how to live without him. One d ay my brother said one of his senior classes is very hard and he needed help. I spoke to his counselor, who told me to talk to his teacher and gave me his number. My brother didn't tell me it's his govt. teacher. When I called I knew it was him. The memories flashed back. I couldn't say hello back and hung up because I was a little mad about him not replying, but I had to talk to him for my brother because no one in my family speaks English. I called back and asked him to help my brother. He said he would and wanted to talk more, but I said bye and hung up. The whole day I couldn't stop thinking about him. I went home and emailed him. This time he emailed back and said sorry about not replying before.

A long time ago, I told my high school counselor I’d help if she ever needed a translator. The next day, she counselor called and asked for my help. I started working in high school as a volunteer helping in the classroom, 2 of them being govt. classes. I was so happy to see him again. I spent lunch and 3 periods all with him. One day, he came very close and touched my hair and told me it was beautiful, that I always look very nice. The next day I emailed him I asked if he has a girlfriend. When I was with him in lunch, he told me he does. Tears came into my eyes so I left. He ran after me and kept saying my name and asking if I am all right. I told him not to worry. He told me to write everything down on a paper because he knows that I express myself better on paper. I said I’d try, hugged him, and left. I did write a letter. He read it and told me that he’d answer next week, but he became too busy to talk. My college finals were coming, so I had to stop volunteering. I could never hear what he had to say about this letter.

It's been 3 weeks since I left. I am very depressed because last week I found out he got married and called him to congratulate him. He said our friendship will never end, that I should keep emailing him. I couldn't say anything and hung up and I am very depressed now!! I am always thinking about him and crying that why couldn't he be mine. I am feeling like someone has taken him away from me, I just don't know what to do?? Would you please help figure out what is the right thing for me to do now? Still be his friend or just stop and forget everything. I know that for sure that I can't forget him, but when I think of him being with his just kills me. I don't know what to do? I hope you have a conclusion to my story..

The Coaching Response

We cut out about ¾ of your very long story. From the passionate and detailed way you wrote, everything is still fresh in your mind. You can easily go back and relive each detail, moment by moment, reinforcing your beliefs about what happened. Yet I don't know if what you said is how things really happened, because it's easy for you to misinterpret it.

There's a big difference between intellectual and emotional maturity. Emotional maturity happens when we have enough experiences in life to give us opportunities to look honestly at ourselves and how we see others. Maturity grows when we learn to identify assumptions, where we misinterpret things, and what we can do differently. Coming from another country is challenging as you adjust to a new culture. It's easy to misunderstand people's behavior until you learn exactly what the differences are. You’ve also never felt such depth of emotion before and it has an attraction and passion of its own, making you feel alive and filling your loneliness. Unfortunately, it’s also causing you hurt.

I’ll give you a different perspective on what you believe happened. When you first felt the attraction to your teacher, you saw many traits that you admired. Your attraction was a natural reaction, yet your emotions caused you to see things that weren’t there, creating a personal fantasy. You need to look back at what happened and understand your story based on facts and not on what you wished was there. The cultural differences add to your confusion and cause you to think that the teacher was interested in you.

As a teenager in high school, it’s difficult to understand so many new feelings. When they overwhelm you, you don’t know what to do with them or how to act. With an attraction, it’s common to idealize or make someone better than they really are in your mind. You lose your ability to see clearly. Had this man been just another teenager, it would've been easier for you to communicate your feelings. Since you were unable to do that, you tried the best you could to understand all the emotions you were feeling. Your teacher was concerned for you and you interpreted his concern as his liking you romantically in return.

If somebody is nice, attentive, and is willing to spend time with you, what does that really mean? Was that person just doing their job or saw that you were sad and lonely and wanted to make you feel better? You need to find out and not assume anything. In this situation, a teacher can't have a relationship with a student, even if you hoped for it anyway.

When you went to college, the dynamics changed, because this man was no longer your teacher. Yet, even if there was a possible relationship, honesty was the most important part of starting it. Without it, a relationship doesn't exist. You can't decide that the other person knows what you think because they don't. I can imagine you thinking: but he said this and did that. He told me he couldn’t believe I didn’t have a boyfriend and complimented me on my hair. But what does that really mean? Was he trying to make you feel better because he saw that you were insecure, or some other reason? You unilaterally decided what his words and actions meant.

The next time you're attracted to someone, communicate how you feel very clearly. You can’t make a vague comment here or there and expect the other person to know what you mean. You now know you can't assume that another person knows how you feel. It makes you think that the other person feels more for you than what they really do. Your assumptions cloud the truth.

Your ex-teacher needs to take responsibility for not drawing a clear line with you. In his position, he's aware of possible of student attractions, especially with a minor, and needs to take appropriate steps to make sure it doesn’t get out of control. I suspect he enjoyed the attention you gave him, and his ego got in the way of his responsibility to you and to himself. I think he's too afraid of hurting your feelings to cut off communication with you, so this is a decision that you need to make.

You need to look back at how you fell for this teacher and you need to identify where you could have done things differently. What could you have said in the beginning to your teacher, to a counselor, or to anyone else to help you with this situation? Where did you find “evidence” that he was interested in going beyond the relationship you had in the school classroom? Where could you have said “NO” to yourself, in actions and thoughts, to prevent yourself from being hurt? Where were you not honest with yourself?

I know that your heart is aching and right now, what I’m saying probably won’t make you feel better to begin with. Read through this a few times over the next few days and weeks and make a decision to build your emotional maturity to see how you can do things differently in the future. It’s okay to like somebody and to find out if the interest is mutual. If it’s not, you’ll learn it’s okay not to have everyone you like you back, and that there will be others who will catch your eye and make your heart race.

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