Q: My professor invited me over to his place the other day. I didn’t hesitate and went over. I had a good time and spent the weekend with him. This week I learned that another classmate did the same thing. I thought I was special for him but now I feel like I was used. What do I do?
Ans: You had a good time because he made you feel special. How about you feeling special about yourself anyways? We often need someone to make us feel a certain way because we intrinsically don’t. That someone happens to be your professor, a person with whom you have a mismatched power equation.
Do you need approval from someone in that position to feel special? If so, start seriously looking at why you do and also at alternative ways of achieving it. Firstly, embrace self-acceptance and self-approval, because you are the only one who can make you truly feel special. If the need for approval stems from trauma and you still feel that you require external resources (other people), explore sexual dominant/submissive relationships instead. They are temporary, bound by time and space, deeply fulfilling, and much easier to manage than relational dominant/submission. You are currently walking into the latter type of relationship.
The power dynamics of this type, where there is a hierarchy of authority, can take nasty turns and make you feel insecure, anxious, worthless and secondary. Just like you are feeling right now. He clearly holds more power than you, and you not feeling good about yourself is a tall red flag flapping right at your face. You are probably turned on by this and feel even more attraction towards him.
It’s normal but it’s not because you have feelings for him. It’s because he is making you feel used. Be wary of people in positions of trusted authority who use their power equation to their advantage. Engaging with them will cause emotional hurt, which is much harder to heal than pain caused by kinky play.
The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual wellbeing (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)