I’m 16 and I feel like I’m a mess. My problem is that I’m getting obsessed with any older good looking guy I see. Lately, I have been having erotic dreams about my teachers and the effect of it drives me crazy. It even affects how I behave in class. I have a boyfriend and I want to make these stupid dreams and this whole thing stop. What do I have and what can I do? I went to our school “problem-solver-woman” and she was incredibly not helpful.
I applaud you for having the courage to talk about this issue with your school counselor. I’m sorry to hear that the experience was not helpful, but I hope that does not discourage you from seeking guidance in the future. Now I’ll take the risk of turning out to be a disappointment as well.
First I want to point out that it’s entirely normal to be attracted to people other than our romantic partners. There seems to be this cultural ideal that true love means being disinterested in anyone else. For that reason, often people don’t talk about the fact that they still find other people attractive, which leaves lots of room for guilt as we then assume there must be something wrong with us or our relationship when we do experience attractions.
Second, we need to consider hormones. Testosterone is the hormone most related to sex drive and sexual interests. For both males and females, testosterone levels are typically highest in the late teen years. So, while the hormone-driven teen is a stereotype, there is something to be said for the fact that teens are dealing with levels of hormones that are indeed different than they were just a short time earlier. Your erotic dreams are likely a result of increased sex drive, and don’t have any underlying meaning or psychological cause.
Third, often the more we try to ignore or suppress particular thoughts, the more those thoughts seem to force themselves into our awareness. That may be especially true when those thoughts are bothersome and cause us worry or anxiety. A vicious cycle is created in which the more we worry about having particular thoughts, the more likely those thoughts are to pop up. Then, those thoughts make us worry even more that something must be wrong because we can’t control the thoughts and they seem to happen more often. Yikes.
With all of that said, my suggestion is to keep reminding yourself that what you’re experiencing is normal, and probably more common than it seems to you now. Also, realize that thoughts, dreams, and attractions are not the same as desiring to act on them. Thoughts and attractions are very difficult (if not impossible) to control, but behaviors are definitely under your control. So, the attractions and dreams you’re experiencing do not say anything about your relationship with your boyfriend and how you feel about him, or about what kind of person you are. As you keep reminding yourself of these facts, your anxiety should decrease, which takes away the fuel that has been super-charging the runaway thoughts.
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