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Stepping into Minefield? Overly Cautious?


Practical1

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Hi,

 

I'm new here and find myself in a slight predicament of manners.

 

I just finished a semester teaching part-time at a university, and one of my former students - who has since been informally communicating with me via Facebook - is more or less flirting with me and asking me out.

 

My concerns about this are two-fold:

 

1. The student is 18, and I am 30. While I'm flattered (and while I won't be teaching at the school anymore by choice), the age difference is a concern.

 

2. In my previous experience as an instructor elsewhere, I have been electronically harassed, stalked, and publicly defamed by a previous former student around the same age who was quite obsessed with me (and who I certainly never dated). The short version is that I'm a rather private/shy person, and I ended up in therapy for 2 years. While I haven't experienced anything near those extremes from the current person - who happened to be a good student with a winning personality - I'm always a bit wary of the possibility.

 

All that being said, I'm aware that I'll need to have a direct and honest conversation with this person that reflects both how I feel, and my concerns. However, I'm looking for feedback on whether this is a conversation I have in person, or through Facebook. (Person does not have my phone number, which I'm not making an option.) Any advice on how to handle the conversation would be welcome as well.

 

Thanks!

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why not just reply to them that you will only discuss questions about class? you do not need to meet in person for that.

 

while i think there is not age difference i wouldn't approve of, 18 and 30 are completely different ages. someone who is 18 has barely experienced anything usually, cannot drink, etc. you @ 30 have probably done the whole party scene more than likely and are in career-mode maybe looking to eventually start a family with someone. the mentalities of the two more than likely will be completely different.

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while i think there is not age difference i wouldn't approve of, 18 and 30 are completely different ages. someone who is 18 has barely experienced anything usually, cannot drink, etc. you

 

Is it true that in the states you cannot drink before 21 ? Because in Europe most young people drink when they are 14-16 ... The bad thing is that you learn drinking before you can drive :S

 

Anyway sorry for being offtopic ! It's true what ghost says that the age gap might cause problems since an 18 year old person will have other plans in life then a 30 year old one. These future perspectives might not match.

 

However, I know alot of persons that have an even bigger age gap and that live together since years in happyness ! Like this 22 year old dude with a 50 year old woman, a 16 year old girl with a 25 year old guy etc. It might be because we have other values but it worked out for them !

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Is it true that in the states you cannot drink before 21 ? Because in Europe most young people drink when they are 14-16 ... The bad thing is that you learn drinking before you can drive :S

 

Anyway sorry for being offtopic ! It's true what ghost says that the age gap might cause problems since an 18 year old person will have other plans in life then a 30 year old one. These future perspectives might not match.

 

However, I know alot of persons that have an even bigger age gap and that live together since years in happyness ! Like this 22 year old dude with a 50 year old woman, a 16 year old girl with a 25 year old guy etc. It might be because we have other values but it worked out for them !

 

yes, it is true. have to be 21 here. driving @ 16.

 

anyways, 16 and 25 i have a problem with. 22 and 50 is okay.

 

but i think it all comes down to maturity and your goals in life. have to have some commonality. but 16 and 25 i see as very wrong. but that might be acceptable elsewhere.

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Thanks for the responses.

 

I guess I should clarify that I'm not going to pursue anything here resembling a romantic relationship. While there are occasions where age differences don't make a difference, this one does. In this case, I believe the maturity levels are very different; and the fact that the person in question cannot legally drink, and is in higher education-mode is quite different from where I am, and where I'm going to be.

 

So it is not a question of whether I should or should not pursue a relationship here. I'm not.

 

However, the question at hand is whether to let this person down easy via Facebook/e-mail, or in person.

 

And note: it is beyond a simple "I don't answer questions outside of class."

 

I guess - to put it simply - if you were this 18-year old with an interest in your former professor, would you rather be let down through e-mail or in person?

 

It's awkward either way, sure, but which do you think has the best opportunity for open, honest, and direct communication without misunderstanding, or the loss of dignity for such a young person?

 

Thanks again!

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