I am a seventeen-year-old girl who is in love with an older teacher. He likes me a lot and is very attentive to me. He has bought my lunch, but at the same time I feel badly because he could be my father. I don’t know what to do. I’m very attracted to him. Help me!

Dear Friend,

Thank you for asking for our advice. What you have written makes it clear that you don’t feel comfortable about the age difference between you and your teacher. When you are older, such an extreme difference will not be as significant, but at seventeen it is a concern.

How emotionally mature are you? Emotional maturity is the ability to control your actions no matter what your feelings are. A person who is emotionally mature recognizes the feelings, but only acts upon those feelings when it is the wisest thing to do.

Emotional maturity doesn’t depend upon age. Many adults are not emotionally mature. They continue to act upon their feelings even when doing so is destructive to their lives and the lives of their families. No matter what their ages or the age difference between them, they tear apart their marriages and their families by not being able to restrain themselves from making bad choices. When they look back on a horrible choice that they made, they say things like, “I don’t know what made me do it.” The truth is that they did it because they felt like it, and they weren’t emotionally mature enough to think ahead to what would happen as a result.

If you are emotionally mature, you will honestly consider the negative consequences that could result from a romantic relationship with a much older man. In some cases there are older men who are attracted to underage girls because they have psychological issues that have kept them from developing relationships with women closer to their own age. In the worst-case scenario, they may be looking for a sexual relationship with no interest in emotional entanglements. (A sexual relationship between a minor and an adult is illegal in some places.) In order to avoid what could be an unpleasant situation, we urge you not to be alone with this man for any reason, at least until you are older and you are certain that he will treat you with respect.

For a young girl like you, it is flattering to have an older man take an interest in you. If you haven’t had a good relationship with your own father, there may be a subconscious emotional need that you are trying to fill. But no matter how you may feel, please don’t act on your feelings, but rather proceed with caution and good sense.

God gave you the intelligence you have to help protect you from harm. And He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to be your best Friend and to help you make wise decisions. You can pray today and ask Him to come into your heart and to give you the strength and wisdom you need for this situation and every situation.

We wish you well,