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Still Struggling with this 'relationship' 26 years later

(37 Posts)
Rachel700 Tue 18-Oct-11 21:16:08

I am 41 now, married with children.

When I was 15, my maths teacher and I got along very well. I was always mature for my age (or 15 going on 50 as the teachers always said). He was unmarried, I adored him - everyone knew, including him.

He taught me for 4 years, right into the sixth form, where I also took maths. Over the years, I had the sense that we were 'friends' because we got along so well. He would always ask me to stay behind after class, we had lots of banter that went over the heads of the other kids, he had a nickname for me that he used when nobody else was around.

I knew at the time that I apparently had a 'crush' on him. I knew he probably didn't feel the same way and never allowed myself to believe that he might. I did sometimes wonder about it, but would shrug it off as 'impossible.'

By the time I was in the upper sixth form, I came to my senses. This guy was never going to be mine - surely if he felt the same way, he would have told me by now. I'd been stupid, I thought. I'd wasted my time on him and I'd better move on. He was 20 years older.

I began dating a boy from the lower sixth - six months younger than me. I remember noticing that Paul (the teacher) was a bit frosty with me around this time but talked myself into thinking I was imagining it - wishful thinking I thought. Deep down, I knew he was jealous. I just didn't have the courage to believe myself.

Anyway, I left school and worked in an office for the summer before leaving for university. Paul knew where I worked and one day he rang me out of the blue in the office, just for a chat and to wish me luck at university. I was surprised he'd called me and said I'd keep in touch. I knew where he lived, so I began writing to him and we wrote to each other until I was 25, at which point I was living abroad in Cyprus. My contract then ended and I came back to my home town to start a new job.

Being back close to Paul was like a thunderbolt. By this point I was with a really great guy who I planned to marry and we'd just bought a flat. My boyfriend worked away and Paul would come over and see me occasionally when he wasn't around (which was most of the time). A few years passed and by this point we'd got to know each other on more equal terms I suppose. Then one night when he was leaving he kissed me and admitted how he had always felt. He didn't say exactly how long he'd had feelings for me, just said 'always.'

I was utterly confused, bewildered. I didn't know what to think or do. I didn't know how I felt. I did love him - I always had - but my llife had moved on and I'd had to deal with having left him when I was 18 assuming that he didn't feel the same way because he hadn't told me. I also loved my boyfriend very much.

Horrible few days passed. He'd left my flat and left me hanging and confused. I tried to call him but he didn't pick up. I saw him in a petrol station and he pretended not to have seen me. I felt he'd let me down, he was a coward - not that bloke I thought he was. Eventually he picked up the phone, I said we needed to talk, he said he didn't want to talk. We ended up going to a country pub where we discussed what had happend or rather I talked and he listened and said he had nothing to say on the subject but that it had been a mistake and had felt 'wrong'. I said it was a good job we hadn't ended up together after all - he disagreed strongly. God I was so confused.

In the end we agreed not to mention it again. I wasn't happy with that, didn't feel it had been dealt with but I could see he was struggling with it. The next time I saw him, he was still struggling and said he wanted to be 'more than just friends' with me and seemed to be trying to tell me he had really deep feelings for me but not being able to find the right words.

To be honest, by this point I felt he'd been such a coward that my view of him was shaken beyond repair. I viewed him differently, sort of pitied him but hated him for having stirred it all up and run away. We never mentioned it again untl the day I got married, when he was leaving my wedding reception and I hugged him and told him I loved him (had said that to all my friends) and he responded that he loved me too. He was sober. I looked at him and could see he meant it. NOt great timing, my wedding day.

That was 10 years ago. I'm now married with the kids, have a wonderful husband who I love to bits and a happy life. He remains unmarried. I'm glad I didn't end up with him but we're still friends.

We went out for lunch together on Saturday - I always feel so mixed up after I see him. I can't make sense of any of it, never really got 'closure'. I'm at the point now I need somebody else's perspective on what happened. Did I handle it wrong? Should I ever mention it again? DOes he have closure?

KCEHNR Tue 18-Oct-11 21:29:06

Feeling a bit sad like when I saw Bridges of Madison County, reading this...

SingingTunelessly Tue 18-Oct-11 21:47:09

Sorry not sure what you are asking? He was your teacher, you got along well he obviously had deeper feelings for you than you for him..........he's now 61yo and unmarried, you are happily (presumably) married....... errrrr. Why do you think you need 'closure' for something that, well, never was? confused

springydaffs Tue 18-Oct-11 21:51:23

Walk away from this man, cut him out of your life. He came on to you when you were a child. Whether or not you were 'mature' for your age, you were a child - his attention would have made you feel 'mature' btw. He singled you out for special treatment, had a private nickname for you, private banter. did he invite you to call him by his christian name at school? He abused his position and he emotionally abused you.

To this day I find it hard to have much clarity about 'relationships' like this because I've been there and I can't tell you how much it messed me up. I am not in the least bit surprised that you can't get him out of your guts after all this time. I had to have heavy-duty therapy for a long time to get my teacher out of my guts/head/heart. The fact that you are still in turmoil suggests we have had a similar experience. As you say, he managed to tell you on your wedding day that he was in love with you (in love? I doubt it) - if he really did love you (not himself) he would have kept his mouth SHUT; also when you were his pupil he should have not gone within a 20 mile radius of you if he was aware he was attracted to you on some level.

I don't think I'm making much sense - or a bit of sense but not a lot; an indication of how much a similar abuse of authority messed me right up. YOu are not responsible for him, he is not your friend. he doesn't wish you well and didn't when he abused his position when you were a child. He is an emotional inadequate - not your problem. Paedophiles operate from a very similar place I'm afraid. I would suggest you get some therapy to get this man out of your guts. I'm sorry it happened to you too.

This isn't Bridges of Madison County here. It's not bad timing, it's not two adults who got the timing wrong. It's a man and a child.

JeremyVile Tue 18-Oct-11 22:00:31

I'm not much of a swooning romantic I'm afraid so my initial reaction is to think you should just get over it. Whatever it is.

He sounds a bit of a loser, albit one who has tried to behave decently most of the time.

I wonder what it is you are getting from this continued friendship?

I'm not sure, seems like you are not being honest - whether thats just with the way you have told the story in your op, or in general with yourself.

I dont get your shocked reaction to him telling you he loved you on your wedding day. You said it first...on your wedding day. And having said it to your other friends doesnt cut it, not with the history between you both - there's no way it wasnt loaded.

Its possibly unfair to you, and of course I dont know you so feel free to ignore, but the way these things usually go I'd hazard a guess that you both get off on the swoony drama of it all. Possibly with no real desire to take it further and whenever one of you shrinks back the other will prod away until there is a little frisson of the star crossed lovers again.

I dont know, either just have to get over it. Its all a bit silly.

rachel700 Tue 18-Oct-11 22:02:30

thanks for your replies.

I've never seen the film that's been mentioned so can't comment...

Daffs, I'm sorry if this has stirred up your stuff. I really appreciate what you are saying and I can see similarities but can honestly say that Paul never acted improperly in any way while I was a 'child'' (to all intents and purposes for a matter of a few months until I was 16 - he taught me from 14-18 but I never had any feelings for him or inkling he felt anything for me until I was virtually 16).

He never suggested I call him by his first name at school and I never did so until I left when I was 18.

He never gave me any indication he had feelings for me. The banter we had was initiated as much by me as it was by him - it was banter - it was a nickname - we were friends.

I work with abused children for a living - I do recognise the way paedophiles operate and this was not the case at all. He might have been a bit inadequate but nothing else.

I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience and honestly thank you for your advice, I know it comes from the heart

rachel700 Tue 18-Oct-11 22:11:22


Wow, that's really honest! I like a bit of honesty.

I have thought about 'walking away' from him over the years, usually when I've seen him recently (like I did on Saturday), mainly because seeing him leaves me a bit mixed up and I just can't put my finger on it. I'm perfectly happy with my life, I don't want to be with him. I suppose it feels unresolved and I wish he hadn't closed the subject when we tried to discuss it.

I don't want to walk away from him because I like him, simple as that. We still get on in exactly the same way we always did - we just click, he's easy company and I've known him for all this time.

I don't like unresolved stuff. I guess the crux is that I wish I knew how far back his feelings went - I suppose I made a decision when I was 17/18 that the friendship was going nowhere and decided to get on with my life. I assumed I was correct in thinking my feelings were not reciprocated. Was I wrong? Perhaps it doesn't matter, but I based my whole 'plan' and life trajectory on thinking it wasn't reciprocated.

springydaffs Tue 18-Oct-11 22:33:33

initiated as much by me as it was by him

You will know from your work that children learn to initiate intimacy even when the dynamic is unhealthy/damaging for them.

How old are your children btw? If your daughter (if you have one) gets to 18 and has a similar relationship with a teacher 20 years her senior, how would you feel about it? Particularly if you knew that the relationship became established some years before?

I think your (ongoing) turmoil OP points to something more sinister than you are accepting at present.

Thanks for your kind words. btw, my 'relationship' with my teacher was exactly the same as the relationship you have described in your OP.

JeremyVile Tue 18-Oct-11 22:35:38

What do you think he'd say if you were to ell him how mixed up you feel and how much you just want to get events straight in your mind?

I'm not reccommending you ask btw, I really dont think any good will come of it and I dont think whatever answer he gave ou will help you feel less mixed up.

But I can certainly sympathise with needing to get things straight in your head. I like clarity, I like things to be neat and concise and to be able to say 'well, this happened because of that and I feel X way about it' and be able to tie it all up and move on. I dont like things being unresolved.

If you are certain he poses no threat to your happiness or your marriage (emotionally or otherwise) then ask him. Tell him to man up and put your mind at rest.

I just honestly dont think it'll bring you any sort of closure.

JeremyVile Tue 18-Oct-11 22:38:13

...and also, could it be that somewhere buried deep down you need him to tell you how far back his feelings went because you know he was wrong to have fostered this intimacy with you at 15/16?

garlicScaresVampires Wed 19-Oct-11 02:28:42

I have been struggling to understand why this business affects you so deeply - and why you're still seeing him. I think Springydaffs and Jeremy have it. All those years ago, he fostered a relationship with you that went beyond appropriate limits. He should not have been bantering secret jokes with you - that is intimacy - and, on the level of unconscious wisdom that we all have in us, you knew he'd broken a boundary. He was and is responsible for this.

I was thrown out of the crash Spanish class at my school ... because the teacher fancied me. My teacher took an appropriate action (although I was pissed off, I knew he'd done the right thing.) This Paul could have curtailed his toying with you or moved you to another teacher. He didn't. The reason he didn't is because he was, and is, the sort of man who enjoys fucking around with women's heads ... or, possibly, children's heads.

Other replies mentioning paedophilia may seem OTT and I respect your professional expertise, but I feel the others are right and you have blinded yourself to the mechanism that made you emotionally vulnerable as a child and still has hooks in you today. If you can manage to take half a step back from your emotional entanglement in this, I think you will see the quite shocking importance of what he successfully did to you.

Whenever you see Paul or seek contact with him, you confirm his continued power over you. Stop it. Your closure is in your own hands.

AnyPhantomFucker Wed 19-Oct-11 07:32:58

you want "closure" ? (whatever that is)

stop seeing this man

easy...job done

he sounds like a narcissist who enjoyed the attentions of a young girl and has got some weird gratification in keeping you hanging on to something (what ??) for so many years

what would your husband think if he realised you were mooning over an old crush on a teacher ? Still meeting him and considering telling him how you really feel about him ?

think about what you are doing

this isn't some "star crossed lovers" is weird, and inappropriate and was from the off

AnyPhantomFucker Wed 19-Oct-11 07:35:05

btw...why the slight name change after the opening post ?

springydaffs Wed 19-Oct-11 08:33:50

Easy? phantom, not easy - nothing like. Neither is it silly Jeremy sad

garlic, you are genius.

mummytime Wed 19-Oct-11 09:26:37

I'm sorry but he did act improperly. Things were laxer in the past, but did you know it is a sackable (and very serious offence) for any teacher to have a relationship with any pupil, and that means until 18. Also most universities would now sack any lecturer who had a relationship with a student (that is at least 21).
There is the age thing, and the student - teacher thing. Both of which are bad.
I would suggest you get this man out of your life. Get some counselling. Oh BTW you are probably not the only student he had a special relationship with.

GirlWithALlamaTattoo Wed 19-Oct-11 11:55:56

There are some people you have a connection with, and you'll never quite understand why. I should think this chap will always make you feel a bit unsettled, but if you enjoy his friendship, you'll carry on dealing with it. If he makes you feel uncomfortable or freaked out, which isn't the impression I'm getting from you, then ditch him and don't look back.

I'm sad to see so many people assuming that he's up to no good. They met when he was a teacher and she was a pupil. They couldn't help that. Nothing inappropriate happened. They became friends after she'd left school, i.e. adult to adult. It would be a shame to avoid contact with anyone who isn't at the same life stage as you, wouldn't it? Think how many friends you'd have to cut from your Christmas card list.

garlicScaresVampires Wed 19-Oct-11 12:11:48

I imagine that's what OP wants to hear, Llama, but how would you feel if you saw this post written by your partner - that he's secretly in love with a woman who taught him as a teenager and still meets her? Or if your DC had a crush on a teacher who flirted with her/him?

garlicScaresVampires Wed 19-Oct-11 12:13:08

Thanks, Springy. smile and sad

buzzskeleton Wed 19-Oct-11 12:18:10

I'm afraid I lean to the side of the people who say you and he are kind of enjoying the emotional drama and that he crossed a line he shouldn't have years ago.

I think you're a bit player in his personal fantasy and always have been.

I think it'd be best to stop playing these games with him & stop seeing him, it's not healthy.

JeremyVile Wed 19-Oct-11 12:23:36

Is the school element of this really relevant?

Sounds a bit murky and would hopefully not happen now but nothing actually happened.

The VAST majority of this friendship has taken plce with OP as an adult.

There may be a need for her to look into her own feelings about the early days, but from what she has written I can see no justification for anyone else assuming that she is being manipulated or that he is this unsavoury character.

Counselling? Shocking importance of what he did to you? PLease...

2rebecca Wed 19-Oct-11 12:30:46

He's a 60 year old bloke who fancied you when you were his pupil, flirted with you a bit, kept in touch with you, probably still fancies you but for some reason has never managed to have a lasting relationship with a woman. I do think teachers flirting with pupils is wrong.
You fancied him as a pupil but when he told you he fancied you before you got married rejected him. You then wonder why he wasn't keen to chat to you any more.
I'm not sure what you want from this guy? You chose your current bloke over him, he felt rejected by that. I don't understand why you think he is cowardly for not wanting to pretend to be friends with you after you had rejected him. I presume that when he told you he had always fancied you at your flat he was expecting you to respond in kind and you didn't.
Although I think he was wrong to flirt with you when a pupil, I do think that he was right in not telling you he fancied you until you were an adult and had been away from school for a few years. I don't think he has been cowardly at any point.
I'm not sure what you want from this guy? You chose your current bloke over him, live with your decision and leave the teacher guy alone.

JodieHarsh Wed 19-Oct-11 12:40:53

Meh. Just enjoy it. As long as it's not threatening your marriage there's nowt wrong with a bit of melancholy dreaming in a caff every few months <callous>

AnyPhantomFucker Wed 19-Oct-11 13:58:00 is quite easy if you take those ridiculous, romantic, rose tinted "we are star crossed lovers" glasses off and see it for what most on this thread have seen it for

I feel a bit sorry for this woman's husband, tbqh

mooning in caffs is for teenagers, not grown women with responsibilities who are old enough to know better

a grip should be got here, IMO

PenguinsAreThePoint Wed 19-Oct-11 14:04:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MooncupGoddess Wed 19-Oct-11 14:17:16

Oh God, he sounds like one of those men who love moping dreamily over women (especially younger ones hmm) but can't handle an actual relationship as they tend to involve difficult conversations about feelings. They are bad news because they somehow suck one into their mixed-up world.

Youthful crushes are very powerful so it's not surprising you've never quite got over this one... but if it's still messing with your head maybe you should think about cutting contact.

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