Last night, I met up with a former student of mine and we talked for nearly two hours. She is 18 and seems going on 30 and has had an interesting time of it. More on that later.
Our deeper connection began when she started overtly trying to seduce me. She has an old man obsession, (obviously!), as well as a teacher obsession. So here I am, conveniently both an old man and a teacher, and wham. Her provocations were really starting to get under my skin. She has the kind of physical beauty that makes people, both men and women, actually stop dead in their tracks on the street and stare. She is quite seemingly sexually precocious (as are many of my adolescent students these days) and has a deeply mischievous streak. An impish, unconventional, free-spirited Aquarian.
At 18, she identifies as polyamorous (her word) and only interested in open relationships. She is currently in an open relationship with a 27 year old guy who lives in another city.
We started having more in depth, personal conversations recently, as she graduated and is no longer a student at the school where I work. Occasionally, when she was a student, we had a heart to heart talk about this or that. Another faculty member at the school was trying to get her to have sex with him and he got caught (another student he was making advances to turned him in) and immediately fired. She was wracked with guilt over it. I told her, "he's the adult. you didn't do a damn thing wrong. You aren't responsible." Even if it may not be *strictly* true, it's what she needs to hear at age 18.
The tough thing about our friendship isn't really that bad, but it's distracting. She has made it crystal clear she would be sexual with me any time. I have made it clear to her that I won't, under any circumstances. This was the bottom line last night. Why not? she wanted to know. Because I think a relationship like that with me would harm you, I heard myself saying, while the greedy priapic devil on my shoulder was fuming.
The strange thing is it's just entirely on a gut level, this sense that it would harm her. I don't even know why it feels like this. It's just the truth of it. I don't think the potential harm even only has to do with her age. That seems to be part of it, but I think it goes deeper than that. I have remained open that perhaps I am stuck in convention, that perhaps the red flags are illusory and I am just not willing to go that far outside convention. This may be, but it doesn't seem that way now.
So I'm trusting my instincts. This is the sort of thing I might have majorly made a mess of had I been operating from any other framework but complete honesty. How strange it is to say to her "of course I would, in an instant, in a heartbeat, but I can't. Don't want to cause you harm. It doesn't feel at all safe." She sat with it for a minute. "No one has ever turned me down," she said, as if she were 40 and had already left 22 years of male conquests in her wake. I didn't ask her how many that had been. But she said "Can I tell you something?" "Sure." "I just had sex for the first time last week." Ah, interesting. She had just returned from visiting her open-relationship SO. The first time. Just days ago.
"Hey, well, I'm happy for you guys," I said, trying not to sound completely astonished, and she beamed. "It was really embarrassing," she said, "but my mother was all, like, 'was he any good?'" Ha, figures. Her mother is one of these "best friend" mothers. I'll not write now about the icky boundary issues that have resulted, but you might have a sense of that already anyway.
It's a strange world, for sure. I went home thankful to have avoided stepping right into something *way* over my head. Keep it simple. Keep the lines of communication open. I have a chance to help the kid out, but probably only if I keep it in my pants. What a concept.