I'm 14 and in love with my teacher

Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between infatuation and love.

Dear Thelma,

I'm just a regular 14-year-old girl, but when I moved to my new school, I met this teacher. She's a beautiful Canadian woman who teaches Physical Education.

She has beautiful, smooth, strawberry-scented brown hair and deep, melting brown eyes. Her name is Jessica and I've developed feelings for her.

It stopped for a while, but now the feelings are back and even stronger. I confessed to her about how I felt on Facebook and she said that feelings like these are inappropriate, and that she's 20 years older, which really upset me.

I know her, and I feel she can come up with a better response and maybe give better solutions. She told my counsellor, who in turn, told my mum. It was all really intense.

They all checked out my Facebook because this student, who was also my best friend, sent them screen shots of my post about Jessica.

We aren't friends anymore because she doesn't deserve my trust, and now, she's stealing Jessica away from me.

Jessica doesn't teach my class but she teaches my ex-friend's class. Now I have my own therapist. I swear I'm not crazy. I'm not obsessed either, I'm just in love with someone whom I have a 0.1 per cent chance of being with.

Now Jessica is ignoring me and it hurts. She knows all my problems, and was there for me during my darkest hour. It's hard to forget someone who has given me so much to remember.

Every day I look back and think about our last words which we shared. She said, "OK?"

And I said, "OK," and a few seconds after she left, I said, "Maybe 'OK' could be our 'always'." She was just standing at the door talking to some student. But I think she heard. I'm glad she did because I want her to know how much she means to me. -Okay

Dear Okay,

It is hard being a teenager. It is bad enough that your body is going through so many changes. To make things worse, there are also social changes that further confuse one.

Adding more spice to the soup is the development of feelings that were never there before. There are new feelings for things and causes, for example.

Suddenly, things that didn't matter before take on a new significance. Many teenagers decide that they want to become vegetarians, much to the chagrin of their meat-eating parents and family, for example.

Sometimes, teenagers start developing feelings for other people. Some may call it infatuation. Others may call it a crush. Often, it is mistaken for love. These things happen. For many teenagers like you, it is a normal experience.

This is not to undermine or disregard what you are feeling or how strong it is. Instead, it is to point out that, perhaps, you are confusing this feeling with something that it is not.

When you feel something for another person, it doesn't have to be confined to just the romantic kind of love. You can feel great compassion.

You can feel immense satisfaction from being with that person. You can also feel like you never want anything bad to happen to this person. Or, you can feel that you never want anything to come between you and this person.

These are all very different feelings. Yet, they may not all be romantic love. You can love a person in a platonic way. It doesn't change what you feel for that person. It doesn't make the love any less significant or important. But know that this love is one of friendship.

This kind of love is important, too. Many great stories have been written about love between two people who were nothing more than friends.

This kind of love can be misconstrued - by others; and even by yourself sometimes. What makes it certain that the love is platonic is knowing that it cannot go beyond caring immensely for the other.

Your teacher was right. She is a lot older than you. Plus, she is your teacher. These facts make it inappropriate for you to take your fondness for her any further.

You can always be friends. Just remember, however, she will always be your teacher. Even after you have left school, you will know her and recall her as your teacher. That in itself tells you that what you feel for her cannot go beyond platonic.

It may seem like a betrayal to you, but what your friend did was the right thing. Things like these, if left unchecked, can become dangerous. It can also affect your studies.

She is not stealing your teacher away. As a matter of fact, she behaved just like a best friend should - in your best interest.

Just because you are seeing a psychiatrist, it doesn't mean you are crazy. It also doesn't mean you have a problem. It is just that the changes you are going through right now can be very intense and confusing.

A psychiatrist can help you understand what is happening in your body and your mind.

There is no shame in seeing a mental health professional. It is better to have professional help than to go through a very confusing experience all alone. It would be worse if you are given the wrong or inappropriate kind of advice.

Right now, what's important is that you understand that what you feel for your teacher is extreme fondness; it may even be love. But, you have to be wary that the love you feel for her is the appropriate kind.

Appropriate to your age difference, and to the fact that she is your teacher.

It may be difficult at first, but as time passes, you will find that it becomes easier. What you can do is to surround yourself with people who care for you.

They are there already - your parents and your friend. They will help you overcome this trying period, so that you come out of it better and stronger. - Thelma