789decision789 asks: What do you do as a teenage facilitator, when your student is madly in love with you?
Hi 789decision789 –
I’m going to assume that the student you describe is younger than you. My answer would be the same even if they weren’t, but it sure makes it easier if they are.
Given that I am about as adorable a dog as has ever sniffed a tree, I face this problem all the time. And while it’s nice to be lovable to the world, and it’s great to be really attractive to someone you’re interested in, it really puts you in a tough position when someone you don’t want any romance with (or legally/morally can’t have one with!) lets you know they’re completely smitten with you.
But the reason it’s tough is that you don’t want to hurt their feelings, or damage their growth and self-esteem. And the closer you look at that, the simpler it gets to know what to do: BUILD their growth and self-esteem instead!
How do you do that? I’d suggest something along these lines: “I am so complimented and flattered that you feel this way. It means a great deal to me that someone as wonderful as you would have those feelings. Of course, I can’t begin to return them, and that’s actually a good thing for you. You’re going to find people your own age you’ll feel this way about, who you’ll be able to go out with and have great times. Also, you now know that you can feel these feelings, so you know you’ll be able to again – and that’s when you’ll be able to get them more returned. But I can promise you, I’ll never forget how wonderful you’ve made me feel by telling me this, and I will never betray you for your trust or openness.”
You see, by saying these things, you’ve honored them for their bravery, and really respected their feelings. Ideally they’ll walk away from this conversation actually feeling better about themselves than when they came in!
As I said before, this is easier if there’s an age difference. But if there’s not, or even if they’re older than you, you still want to say basically the same things; you just emphasize that your job or your position in life prevent anything happening (I give the same advice to married people who are approached for dates!).
The most important thing to remember here, 789decision789, is that nothing bad has happened. Someone said something really wonderful and complimentary to someone else. The only way it can go bad is through your discomfort. If you stay relaxed, and feel good about it (within the necessary boundaries!), this is simply a wonderful experience for all concerned.
After all, when someone pets me and says “I wish I could just take her home,” I give them a lick, but still walk off with Handsome – and no one is upset!
Thanks for the great question!