Once upon a time, a girl had a consuming crush on a guy. He had green eyes, a brilliant smile and a striking voice. He taught her things related to existence, knowledge, values and mind. But this was fitting. He was, after all, her philosophy teacher.
Nellie A., a political science student at LAU, does not see her philosophy instructor just as a university professor but as the “perfect full-packaged man.”
“He is smart and handsome at the same time,” she said with winking eyes. The whole story began when Nellie heard his name from random people on campus. Curiosity led her to search him on Google, and she found out that he is a music composer as well –a detail that made her like him more and more.
“I listen to his songs when I wake up and before I sleep,” Nellie said while the sound of her teacher’s song played out of her laptop.
“I think he can tell I have a crush on him because my face lights up when I see him,” she laughed. “But anyway, he wouldn’t care for me because 70 percent of the Lebanese population has a crush on him.”
Stories of student-teacher relationships, considered by many as inappropriate, certainly raise some eyebrows. But most of the time, a crush on a teacher is innocent and unrequited.
Nellie believes that her likeness to her teacher has not reached the stage of obsession. She just sees him as someone who attracts her intellectually and physically. “I really wish I get the chance to sit and talk to him for hours about philosophy, history and other issues,” she explained. “But he is a busy person he won’t have time for me.”
Students like teachers because of their personalities and the authority they have, rather than their looks, Nadim Mohsen, a cultural studies instructor at LAU, said. He believes that students’ crush on teachers is normal and understandable.
“It is a natural situation, we all get attached, impressed or we have a crush on somebody at some point in our lives and the crush doesn’t go anywhere beyond this,” Mohsen explained. “It is light unrestricted and very innocent.”
Mohsen sees students’ crush on teachers as something productive and positive. “It makes everybody happy and it makes you want to go to class,” he said. Mohsen added that it would not bother him to know that students like him. He would feel rewarded but understand the responsibility that comes with such situation. “I have to make sure that I keep the image of instructor, father and friend combined,” he explained.
According to an online dictionary, a crush is a “painful experience.” But Dr. Norma Moussally, the student counselor at LAU, said that having feelings for one’s teacher may have positive effects. It helps students build their identity and discover what their interests in life are. “Students will be more outspoken and interactive in class,” she said. “They all want to impress their teacher.”
Few instructors at LAU seem to particularly grab students’ attention. Their names have repeatedly been mentioned to us. All share the same combination of traits; charisma, competence and sense of humor.
Psychologists suggest that people don’t get crushes on the people they want, but rather on the people they want to be like. Most of the times, students’ crush on teachers is not about actual romantic or sexual desire, but is rather related to a quality the young men and women want to bring out in themselves.
Aya, an economics student who refused to give her full name, gets butterflies in her stomach whenever she sees her political science teacher outside class. She describes him as “charismatic, smart and good lecturer.”
“I get too shy when I talk to him and, most of the time, I go to his office and ask him dumb questions I already know the answers to,” she laughed.
While Aya only thinks about her political science teacher as someone she admires, Leah, who also refused to give her full name, see things otherwise. “If my teacher asked me to go on a date with him I would definitely agree,” she said. Leah does not know the right term for describing her feelings toward her communication arts teacher, but what she knows well is that she loves discussing various issues.
Although the class Leah took with this instructor ended in January, her visits to his office didn’t come to an end yet. “I even know where he goes on his lunch break,” she said. “I would always be there waiting for him.”
Students’ crush on teachers is not only restricted to girls. Young men also expressed their likeness to some female teachers on campus. Raed B., a banking and finance student, described his business instructor as a “mesmerizing lady.”
“I really admire her, she is the kind of women I want to marry in the future,” Raed laughed. “But I just admire her, nothing more.”
Several films and songs address students’ love for their teachers, attesting for the universality of such a phenomenon. Rena Del Cid’s “To the Teacher Crush,” for example, speaks of the huge crush a student has on his math teacher, describing how much he wants to be “the numbers in her mathematical world.” The movie “Notes of Scandal,” tackles a similar story.
Nadine Ayoubi, a political science instructor at LAU, believes there is a fine line between admiring a teacher and having emotions for him or her. “The student has to know where this line is and define it,” she explained. “When you go beyond this line in a very obvious way, you can say that there is something wrong.”
Ayoubi herself is familiar with the issue. Many years after she graduated, she married a teacher she once had a crush on; now Dean of Students Raed Mohsen.
When asked whether it would bother her to know that some students may like her husband, Ayoubi said she would smile and sympathize because years ago, she passed through this phase and was a fan of him too.
Although some instructors believe that, most of the time, a crush is innocent, others think that talking about this topic is taboo and unethical.
Bassam Doughan, a business instructor at LAU, believes that, in university setting, a student’s crush on a teacher cannot be considered innocent anymore. He said instructors shouldn’t allow it to happen and should draw clear limits in their interaction with their students.
But that does not deter Nellie A.. Ten years later, when her philosophy instructor’s hair will start to thin and wrinkles will form around his eyes, her appreciation for him will always stay the same. “I really wish all LAU guys were like him,” she smiled.
LAU Tribune staff