On skeezery.

Dear Coquette,

I am really in need of your help. I’m a senior in high school, and last night I went out to dinner with a man 15 years my senior who isn’t a teacher per se but advises some activities at my school. He’s a guy I’ve really enjoyed spending time with and he’s moving away in a month which is why I was excited to have a friendly dinner with him. Which is why I was even more shocked and uncomfortable when he started telling me how hard it was for him that I was 17 and that he connects with me better than he does with women his own age; that in a perfect world, we’d go on a road trip together and do comedy shows and “make love by a campfire.” He told me about how for the first time in his life he’s single and non-virginal and how that’s big for him. He didn’t try anything physical, but I am so beyond out of my mind uncomfortable and have no idea what to do, especially when I see him next. I’m planning on talking to his supervisor, but need some more broad ideas about how to deal with this on a personal level, i.e. the anxiety I feel when I see him, feeling slutty for whatever cleavage I’m showing, etc. Please help. Thank you.

Yikes. Sorry, kiddo. This dude is so gross. It sucks that you have to deal with this kind of skeezery in the last few weeks before you graduate high school.

First things first, don’t you dare for one second feel ashamed. You’ve done nothing wrong. I know it can be rough out there, but you’re not slutty just because you’ve got a pair of tits. This is a harsh lesson in the power of your nascent womanhood, but it doesn’t have to be a negative one. The silver lining here is that you can learn what it feels like to stand up for yourself in the face of inappropriate behavior.

Definitely talk to his supervisor, and if at all possible, refuse to be put in a position where you would have any further contact with this guy. It’s not that he’s necessarily unsafe. More than likely he’s just an emotionally stunted man-child with no clue how to relate to women. Still, what he did was wrong. A 30-something adult in a mentor role simply cannot be acting this way to a high school-aged student, and you don’t need to be dealing with his kind of creepiness. Let the supervisor and the school administration handle him.

On a personal level, don’t be surprised when your initial anxiety shifts into something more akin to anger. If you catch yourself getting a bit snippy with your friends and family, just take a deep breath and recognize what you’re really feeling. Don’t swallow your emotions. Allow yourself to feel them. That’s a big part of processing stuff like this. Eventually, that sick feeling you get in your stomach will mellow, and you’ll be left with little more than pity for this guy.

You’re gonna be fine. In fact, you’ll probably come out of this with a fresh chunk of emotional maturity you can take with you to college, and with any luck, this whole episode will lead to you developing a healthy aversion to dating actors.

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