Dear Wendy and Wanda,
What should I do if I am obsessively in love with my professor?
What’s a Wendy?
Wendy adores all of her professors, and all of her professors, even the crabby ones, adore her as well. How could they not? She aces every problem set, making them very easy to grade; writes insightful essays with perfectly formatted sources; and always has something to contribute to the class discussion. This may not win her points amongst all her classmates, but it certainly does with the profs. Wendy has probably never had a crush on a professor, but she brings them all gifts at the end of the semester all the same.
What’s a Wanda?
In nearly every other aspect of Wanda’s life, she’s more of a “catch flights not feelings” kind of person. However, every once in a while there’s a professor who is equal parts passionate, hot and not a jackass who really catches her eye and attention. This is pretty much the only time that Wanda will turn into a Wendy. She will do things like showing up to office hours and doing assignments ahead of time so she will have plenty of time to have deep discussions on areas of improvement and interests in their work. Eventually, Wanda will make a fool of herself at the end of the semester department parties and the crush ceases. Now Wanda doesn’t even remember the professor’s name.
We are fortunate that a lot of the professors here are really cool, smart and have their lives together; plus, they care not only about their research but also about their students. Ordinarily that makes for a great undergraduate experience, but it is understandable that when all that is wrapped up in a cute exterior, it can create some trouble. Because of this, even though you have strong feelings I do think that there is a fair possibility that what you are actually suffering from is not love, but a very intense crush. This is good news as even though the process may not be easy, crushes are relatively easier to move past.
I think the first thing you have to accept here is that nothing can happen. Any professor who would engage in a romantic relationship with a student has questionable ethics at best and therefore would not be someone that you would want to get involved with. There is a sharp power differential here that you can’t ignore. Realizing that this is the case is the first step to being able to move past this, even though it might be difficult.
That being said, I am now going to draw an extremely imperfect parallel, but one that I think will be useful nonetheless. Think about crushes you have had on celebrities. With celebrities, the reality is that nothing can happen because you will never really meet them. With your professor, the reason for the constraint is different, but the result is the same. In both these cases the best way to move past an obsessive crush is to accept that your relationship can’t be romantic, but nevertheless to enjoy and appreciate the ways in which these people are part of your life. If your crush is Stephanie Beatriz, that probably means watching and rewatching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and following her activism work. If your crush is your professor, I think that means continuing to participate in class, go to their office hours and seek their advice on topics that you trust their opinion in. I say this because if they are great enough to be worthy of your adoration, they are probably worth keeping in your life — that is if you have the strength to compartmentalize your feelings. However, if separating your feelings proves to drain too much of your emotional energy, your other option is to minimize contact. In the end, your choice on how to cope with this should be based on which course of action will best preserve your emotional health and your academics, in that order.
And finally — you had to have known this advice was coming — the best way to get over someone is to find someone else. I know college kids can be stupid, but it might be worth it to find someone who is the same kind of stupid you are, so you can try to figure it out together.
So… you have a crush on a professor. I wish I could say I haven’t been there before, but alas, I have. It’s torture to be in a close space with an above average looking person and watching them command a room and hearing them speak about something they are clearly knowlegable and passionate about is just so incredibly sexy. It is very easy to fall in love with a professor, especially when you may suffer from Wellesley Goggles. So what to do?
As long as you keep your fantasy a fantasy, I think it could be fine. Don’t act on it! Cause that would mean that that prof is sh*thead and is definitely not worthy of your time. You deserve better. But, if the fantasy is just in your imagination and does not affect your academic or social life, then who cares. But if it does…
Stop thinking about them, first off! That’s the hardest part though, because how can you not? Just try throwing yourself into other areas that you are interested in (and preferably do not have much to do with the prof).
Find someone else to focus your feelings towards. If it is difficult for you to find someone irl, then do so online, or even find some celebrity and just spend every other waking moment fantasizing about them. For some of us, having an older (and thus more experienced) lover is an exciting possibility, and some of our only regular interactions we have with older folks are through our professors. But that does not mean we can just have them, we can still think and fantasize about older and hotter celebs (or even Dads when they visit campus).
However, after the class is over and there is a diminished power dynamic, you are two consenting adults, so what is there to lose? (Besides the prof’s job.) But hey, that is on them!