Is it unethical for a teacher to date a former student?

Relationships between students and teachers are always considered an off-limit zone in schools—colleges and high schools. Presidents and heads of schools always maintain a strict policy that forbids teachers from having any romantic relationship with their students. However, some students and teachers, having fallen hopelessly into the Bermuda triangle of Aphrodite, are still curious to know if it is still against the school’s policy to date a former student. In this article we shall see if it is unethical for a teacher to date a former student? 

It is considered acceptable and not unethical to date a former student. However, if such a romantic relationship is kindled immediately after the student’s graduation, it might be assumed that both the teacher and the student were involved in sexual relations when the student was still in school. And this might spell trouble for the teacher.

Keep reading to know the consequences a teacher faces in dating a former student right after graduation as well as the reasons why teachers can’t date their students.

Is it unethical for a teacher to date a former student? 

A teacher’s penalty for dating a former student immediately after graduation

The strict policy imposed by the school authorities does not restrict teachers from having romantic or sexual relations with a former student. Nevertheless, if such romantic or sexual relations were to occur immediately after the student’s graduation, rumors will fastly spread within the walls of the school as to when such romantic relationship began. 

A committee might be set up, and if it is proved that the teacher’s romantic or sexual relationship began when the student was still enrolled as a student, such a teacher would be fired with immediate effect. If it is unproven, the teacher may still be forced to resign. 

This is because, despite the strict policy of the school which only forbids teachers from dating students currently enrolled in the school, a school is not just an educational center, but also a commercial center. Every school management would love the name of their school never to be marred by public controversy.

Therefore having such a teacher who has been associated with such a scandalous act as part of the school’s educational team, might lead to the school’s name being dragged in the mud. 

But why can’t teachers date their students? Is there a reason why this policy has been implemented on adults who are legally able to date or have sexual relations with other adults?

Reasons teachers can’t date students

The reason teachers are forbidden from dating students include the following:

  • Breach of Power & Trust
  • Conflict of interest
  • Lack of concentration

Breach of Power & Trust

Within the academic sphere, teachers are considered to have power over the students. This perceived power stems from the fact that the academic success of every student is dependent on the teachers.

There is also placement of trust in the teachers by not just the students but the parents and guardians of the students as well as the school’s management. 

A student’s academic success is dependent on the behavior of the teacher towards the student. Such a teacher who has been vested with the trust and power over the students is meant to serve as the compass that will guide the student in pursuit of academic gold. Anything else would be considered a distraction.

Conflict of Interest & Lack of Concentration

If students are allowed to date their teachers and vice versa, not only will there be a breach of power and trust on the part of the teacher, but there would also be a conflict of interest on the part of the student.

The student’s aim for enrolling in school is to achieve academic success and the only person that can guarantee such success is the teacher. Dating a teacher would create a hole of distraction. This will in turn create another objective in the subconscious of the student, thus detracting them from achieving their real goal of academic success. 

Therefore, teachers should dress in an ethical manner that portrays them as people with integrity, ensuring that their students represent them (the teachers) in the best way possible to achieve academic excellence and high moral standards.

But what are the ethics of a teacher and why are they so important?

Ethics of a Teacher

The ethics of a teacher include:

  • Diligence 
  • Truthfulness
  • Fairness and equality.
  • Transparency 

These four ethics are very important in the life of a teacher because students, most times tend to emulate their teachers. This is because teachers represent the students’ parents in school, directing the student’s thoughts and strengthening the student’s focus.

Also, the job of a teacher, if it is lacking in any of the four ethical demands of the teaching profession might prevent the student from gaining academic excellence as well as exhibiting good moral character.


Although a teacher is not refrained from dating a former student, it is advised that such a teacher should wait for at least up to a year before dating such a student. This is to avoid rumors that will smear the image of the teacher and might cost him or her the job.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can a teacher date a student if they are 18?

No. As long as the student, despite the age, is enrolled in the same school as the teacher, it is considered unethical for the teacher to date such a student.

  1. Can a teacher marry his former student?

Yes. However, taking into consideration the time of graduation of the student.