Live Through This

Lesson Learned

Crushing on teachers was my hobby, and I was good at it.

Lisa Simpson crushing on Mr. Bergstrom.

My standards have always been low. The prerequisites for a teacher crush were simple, and easily met: young, male, with a full head of hair. And the hair was negotiable.

It started, as these things do, in elementary school, when having the chance to stare at an adult male all day was reason enough to develop some rudimentary feelings of attraction. However, I didn’t perfect the art of the teacher crush until high school.

It starts like this: find someone funny. It doesn’t matter if they’re wearing really dorky sneakers, or have a bad haircut, or (too often) sport pants with pleats—if a teacher has a sense of humor, he’s the one. I’m sure that other people have had myriad crushes on teachers for that whole Dead Poets Society vibe, with creative inspiration all wrapped up with the raging hormones, but not me. I was in it strictly for the flirty banter. Funnily enough, I found my favorite targets were not in the English department, but in math and science, where they were even more starved for attention, and more likely to flirt back. Not in a creepy way, but just in a friendly, fun way. If a teacher actually hit on me, I would have run away screaming and called the police, because even at 15 I knew that no decent grown man would be interested in a high school girl. (That’s my caveat, and I’m sticking to it.)

That said, there’s nothing else for them to do—teachers are as captive as you are, as bound by the school’s walls and schedule. Just like the handsome boys a few grades above, the teachers need to walk down the halls to get to their classrooms and offices, to duck into the bathroom, to head outside for some air and maybe a sandwich. For me, having a crush just meant having something to look forward to during the course of the day, some interaction that would get my heart beating a little bit faster. I loved the feeling of blood rushing through my body at the sight of a crush object. And when I was in their class itself! Forget about it. I would quickly finish whatever quiz or assignment we were doing, flip the paper over and begin to write long, goofy notes to the teachers in question. The notes were just me babbling about my day, and the movies I had seen, all pointless drivel, nothing risqué. I was never at a loss for things to say, and for some reason, the teachers seemed to find this behavior amusing. It seems that I was very good at skidding along the line between funny and alarming, with test scores good enough and homework in on time. Not one ever ratted me out.

The spring of my senior year of high school, I was walking down a street near my parents’ house one night, and bumped into my then-current teacher crush. He wasn’t particularly handsome or cool, and I knew that if we’d been the same age, I never would have entertained the thought of him as a romantic figure. But still—he was 23 or so, just out of college, and had a cute face, which was enough. I was smoking a cigarette, which he scolded me for. I replied, “I’m 18. It’s legal,” a double-entendre which I am still proud of myself for having the balls to say. In my memory, he coughed slightly, but lingered for a beat. I wasn’t his type either, I’m sure, but there was something in the air, no doubt buoyed by my boldness and all the hallway flirting I’d accrued over the year. I sailed home, as satisfied as if he’d kissed me.

A year later, I went to visit some family in San Francisco, where the aforementioned crush had started law school. I had my cousin drop me off near City Lights, and the crush and I met up for a drink. I was still under 21, but I’d long had a fake ID, should someone have asked. When telling this story, I refer to this evening as “a date,” which I suppose it was, though once we were at the bar, drinks in hand, it was completely obvious that any chemistry we had ever had was gone. He explained to me how the law was like a puzzle, and I talked to him about the poetry I was writing at school. It was an unequivocal flop. When we finished our drinks, he put me in a taxi back to my cousin’s house in the suburbs, which cost an astronomical amount. Teacher crushes, more than any other kind of crush I’ve ever had, have taught me a valuable lesson, which I suppose is appropriate. The lesson is this: crushes are like self-designed hobbies, constructed to pass the time in an enjoyable way, with little grounding in reality. I was far more satisfied with a witty, inappropriate remark made on a street corner than I was with an actual date. Teacher crushes are best left in the classroom, where they belong, floating around with chalky dust motes and daydreams. ♦


  • jesus_chan September 27th, 2011 11:18 PM

    I know exactly where you’re coming from! Every year of high school I’ve chosen a teacher to admire; all from the English, Art and History departments. Seems I have a type.

  • elaine September 27th, 2011 11:22 PM

    You have no idea how much I can relate to this. I always develop short but obsessive crushes on my male teachers. It isn’t really because they were attractive, but because they would listen to me. I have a weakness for any guy who will give me the time of day.

  • Gretchyn September 27th, 2011 11:26 PM

    I’m so glad someone actually wrote about this, because I constantly find myself crushing on my dorky yet humorous teachers, though I haven’t gotten the courage to drop any flirty remarks on them yet. I totally agree that it’s just something fun to look forward to during a school day. Thanks for sharing. X

  • Aubsessivecompulsive September 27th, 2011 11:41 PM

    At my school there’s this teacher couple to whom we all refer to as “the Bradgelina of the school.” They’re both hot as hell and we’re all hopelessly obsessed. The only thing better than a teacher crush is crushing on the entire family~

  • Dylan September 28th, 2011 12:25 AM

    You have no idea how much I love reading this right now. I just realized how in crush mode with my foxy British instructor I am. Like three weeks later, I’m like…yessss, perfect teacher crush opp…

  • katiedd September 28th, 2011 3:49 AM

    I teacher-crushed a little bit in high school but it really became a full-time hobby when I got to college. I went to a big university and was taught by a lot of grad students doing their teaching assistantships.

    They were young, handsome, incredibly funny and intelligent, and infectiously passionate about their subjects. I’d sit and listen to their exuberant lectures and funny, creative explanations and daydream about running into them outside of class and going on spontaneous romantic excursions like something out of a movie.

    Of course, it was their complete inaccessibility that made my feelings for them so strong. Sometimes the longing was actually painful, but I wouldn’t trade those crushes for the world, and they still remain as some of my fonder memories of college :)

  • timelady September 28th, 2011 3:54 AM

    I never had a teacher crush in high school. My first year of college was a different story. My stats teacher looked like David Tennant and was an uber-nerd who made jokes at a 7 am, 3 hour long class. He was young, too, in his late twenties, I think. My first and only teacher crush was married.

  • Marguerite September 28th, 2011 5:50 AM

    I loooooveeeee Aria + Ezra from Pretty Little Liars <3 they are like the only reason I watch the show…

  • stellar September 28th, 2011 11:12 AM

    whoa! so true about them being the ones who will take the time to listen…

  • Claire September 28th, 2011 5:03 PM

    Part of me wants to say “eeewww gross” at this, but I am a prime culprit. Sadly, it seems that I have a thing for beards, if my teacher-crush track record is anything to go by. I always feel like Juno’s best friend in (duh) Juno, when she’s obviously flirting with this old bearded dude at school (“Really? I *love* Woody Allen!”)

  • glimic September 30th, 2011 5:49 PM

    I was an avid teacher-crusher in high school. My sociology teacher was a dead ringer for Kevin Spacey, and I was hooked! I remember watching Pacey and his teacher passionately lust after one-another and feeling really sad when it inevitably couldn’t work… poor Tamara.

    I continued my crushing into college, where my graphic design professor made 8 am classes completely worth it. He was tall, blonde, smart, inspiring and oh-so very talented… After working on a independent study project together we struck up a friendship that continued even after I moved away… We were just married in July, and live a ridiculously happy and non-scandalous life together. and I get to crush on him every day now!

  • ichewmylips September 30th, 2011 9:18 PM

    I had/have? a serious crush on a teacher. Well, he’s no longer my teacher…but i can definately relate to the feeling of excitment. Everytime i could see him my heart would literally beat 100 times faster. I’m not sure if I actually like him or if this is just some silly phase. I still think about him and it’s been 3 years. I wonder if that’s normal?

  • AineFey September 30th, 2011 9:45 PM

    I had a little crush on one of my history teachers. He was so goofy and adorable. It was the one semester that I actually learned something in history. I got A’s on history tests. Something that never happened until I had this teacher, my last year of history in high school.