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Teachers are one of the chief influences during a person’s formative years. Very often they leave deep imprints of their knowledge, humanity and tolerance on the budding minds of the students. Sometimes such relationships can be renewed years later with a romantic angle. So whether you are seeing a former teacher or just want to know what it would be like to do so, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Be aware of the law
Like medicine, teaching is seen more of a vocation than a profession. Hence it is guided by a code of ethics which may however vary from one society and country to another. In most developed societies including United States, there are not legal barriers on a person wishing to date a former teacher, provided both are above the age of majority and there is no longer any continuation of the teacher-student relationship between the two. If you are above eighteen and have already graduated, dating a former teacher would not be something illegal. And yet if you are a recent graduate, say less than a year since you passed out, your teacher partner may have some explaining to do to the institution where he/she is employed. This is because most institutions have a very strict policy barring any romantic or sexual involvement between a teacher and a current student. And if you have graduated only recently, there may be doubts that you both already shared more than a professional relationship while still at school or at least harbored such intentions. Thus in order to save both yourselves from embarrassment and potential trouble, it is best to keep to a cooling-off period like for instance a year or so after you graduate.
See that you or your dependents have no link to the institution
Dating a teacher is a big issue since romantic or sexual relationship between a teacher and student is a grave professional misconduct that can be punishable on several counts. This is because the teacher is in a position of power vis-à-vis the student and can use it to gain romantic and/or sexual favors from the latter. Equally important, if a teacher is romantically involved with a student it means that he/she has compromised on the principle of partiality and could easily allow the student/partner undue advantage as regards question papers and evaluation of grades. For the same reason often many educational institutions forbid a romantic relationship between a teacher and an individual whose ward or dependent is a student there. So even if you are no longer a student, but your dependent is, it would be better to clarify your position so that you do not endanger your partner’s job unknowingly.
Don’t interfere in his/her profession
There is nothing legally or even ethically wrong, if you begin to date a former teacher several years after you have graduated. After all you are both consenting adults and you are no longer bound by the constraints of a teacher-student relationship. At the same time though you share an identical background in the nature of the same educationl institution where you once studied and where your partner probably still teaches. It may only be natural for you to ask him light-heartedly how his/her co-workers were as persons rather than as teachers – and your partner may even indulge you with an amusing anecdote or two about the goings on in the staffroom. But avoid asking your partner too many questions about his/her colleagues and students. Questions like how a particular student performed or what other teachers thought about some other student may put your partner in a difficult situation. He/she may not welcome your intrusive questions which may even threaten to compromise principles of confidentiality and professional ethics. So even if you are a former student, know your limits and respect your partner’s professional compulsion.
A big age difference, possibly
If you are dating a former teacher or thinking of something on those lines, ask yourself if you can handle a substantial age difference. If the person in question was your teacher when you were in school yourself, he/she must have by then already passed high school and teaching school with perhaps a few years of experience too. This implies an age gap of at least seven or eight years or sometimes a couple of decades between you two – a considerable difference when it comes to being romantic partners. While a former teacher as a partner would bring stability and maturity in a relationship, also remember that after the novelty has worn off, you may crave the fashions and trends of your age group. After a certain period, you may even be dismayed to find that your partner has aged much more than you have and that now you both have very little in common.
Potential for distrust
If you are going to have a relationship with your former teacher, make sure that there is no room for jealousy and suspicion. This is because just like you first met your partner at school, so too hundreds of other students are coming into daily contact with him/her. If your relationship is on shaky ground, it will be only too easy for you to imagine him/her encouraging romantic favors from other students too – in a moment of weakness, you may think that if being a teacher didn’t stop him/her from being involved with me, what is it to say that he/she is not involved with another former student? Such thoughts could be extremely destructive to your relationship. This is not to imply that other professions do not have scope for infidelity but here, your being a former student gives the issue an added complexity.
Finally a romantic relationship with a former teacher is open to the same kind of challenges and opportunities that exist in other kinds of relationships. It is up to you and your partner how you cope with the former and make full use of the latter to build a healthy, fulfilling relationship.