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My professor wants to date me... help!


MissJaneDoe
English Conversation About COLLEGE ...
English Conversation About COLLEGE LIFE - TALKING ABOUT A PROFESSOR

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So I find myself in a rather complicated situation. One of my college professors, whom we will call "Jeremy," has taken a liking to me. I took a class with him and did well, so I agreed to work as an assistant with him last semester. It became evident throughout this semester that he had an unusual and unprofessional fondness for me... texting me to say hello, awkwardly pointing out he is single, placing a lingering hand on my shoulder, and, finally, asking me to go out to eat with him. The semester is now over but the flirting hasn't stopped: he still texts me, recently asked me out again, and finally - here is the new complication - has sent me a friend request on Myspace.

 

I would normally ask someone to leave me alone, but the problem is that Jeremy is a professor in my major and I will very likely have to take another class from him. Here is the further complication: he is best friends with the head of the department, so I cannot complain to the head either. I do not want to give him a rejection talk when the situation would be so very awkward in the months I would be required to see him.

 

I feel so angry that I worked so hard to do a good job as an assistant, rightfully earning a good recommendation and reference from Jeremy, and I am afraid I will be forced to throw this away if I have to reject him.

 

Here is my question: I can handle the rest of everything until I graduate, but I do not want to accept him as my friend on Myspace, allowing him more access to my personal life than I want. I am torn between just ignoring the request (and accepting the possible awkwardness that would ensue), and accepting the request (which I do not want to do, but perhaps it is worth it to avoid how awkward things would be given the close contact I will likely have to have with him in order to graduate in nine months).

 

Please help!

 

Sincerely confused in Oregon

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"There's a high likelihood that I've mistaken your intent, but I just want to be clear and make sure that you know I don't see you in that kind of a way", and then ignore his friend's invite and act like nothing happened next time you see him. You never know, maybe your friendliness have caused this misunderstanding in the first place. So you have to tell him what it really is.

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You could probably ignore the friends request. Is it like Facebook where a person can't see anything about the profile unless they are a friend? If so, how will he even know you logged onto myspace and saw his friends request? You could be like me and have an account but only log on once every 6 months?

 

Oh it's an awkward situation! Hope everything works out for you!!

 

Ammy

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You know in your heart what is best for you. You know what you need to do. It really is that simple. So you gotta deal with him in a few months when you grad. So what? You really think that will be of main priority to you come that time frame?

 

For some reason, I though my prior post #4 was deleted.

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Have you thought of being honest with him? Just telling him how you feel and that you are sorry that you don't feel the same but you feel a little awkward with the constant persistance?

 

If his a decent guy he'll probably be a little embarrassed and ignore you for a while. I doubt he would fail you on purpose - if he is a decent guy.

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Have you thought of being honest with him? Just telling him how you feel and that you are sorry that you don't feel the same but you feel a little awkward with the constant persistance?

 

If his a decent guy he'll probably be a little embarrassed and ignore you for a while. I doubt he would fail you on purpose - if he is a decent guy.

 

The problem is we don't know that for sure.

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It really sucks that he's put you in this position.

 

I would be so angry. You haven't really given us much of a guide as to whether his unprofessionalism comes from wanton disrespect, or cluelessness, or outright abuse of power or what, but here's some suggestions. they may or may not be appropriate or wise.

 

THE NO SYMPATHY APPROACH

 

Best case scenario that I can think of is that you confront him on his behaviour. List all the things that he's done which cross the line of professionalism, and tell him how angry you are (if you are that is) that he's put you in this position where you feel like you have to be nice to him because of the power dynamic, and because you need him as a professional reference. Tell him that from now on, you expect him to treat you professionally like all other professors are expected to with their students, and that he'd better not sulk because he brought it on himself and you shouldn't pay a price for his mess up. And that he should not try to cross the line with any other students in the future because it's not fair.

 

If you did this, it would not give him any chance to try for sympathy. He would be faced with the knowledge that if he didn't snap out of it and start treating you with professional respect that he will be damaging your career just the way all the policies predict it will when people in positions of power try to cross the line with people in positions of less power.

 

THE SYMPATHETIC APPROACH

 

Kindly tell him that you got his friend request, and that you don't want to be communicating on facebook, or in any way other than professionally, and that you have a rule of keeping a line between your personal and professional life, and that you really value him as a professional contact and don't want to do anything to lose that. Ask him point blank if he has a crush/feelings for you. If he tells you how he feels, hear him out, sympathise, tell him you're flattered, and sorry that you don't feel the same way, but also tell him that you wish he'd kept it to himself, because it's not fair for him to put you in this position. Check in with him (as many times as necessary) to see that he's strong enough to continue on with the professional relationship that he owes you (because you've done nothing wrong).

 

So basically, confront him, and either let him know he's not going to get away with subjecting you to his unprofessionalism and won't put up with any sulking, or be nice and clear, so he will have no excuse for being upset at you.

 

I'm sorry you've been put in this situation. I think some people in power don't realise how they can sabotage innocent people's careers by being selfish.

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You shouldn't have been his assistant. You shouldn't have accepted the offer. Did it not seem unusual just offered the position to you. Be more careful in the future. You need to take care of yourself and not rely on others to do it for you or eventually there will be no one there to help.

 

You need to deal with the consequences of your actions on this one.

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You shouldn't have been his assistant. You shouldn't have accepted the offer. Did it not seem unusual just offered the position to you. Be more careful in the future. You need to take care of yourself and not rely on others to do it for you or eventually there will be no one there to help.

 

You need to deal with the consequences of your actions on this one.

 

I totally disagree with this post.

 

You are not to be blamed for accepting his offer. That said, this is a time for action. Take the obvious choice and confront the professor about his behavior. The only reason to be concerned about his reaction is if you've acted inappropriately at some point in the your relationship with him.

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Oh dear, and another sleazy professor loses his job. I really can't stand it when my colleagues do this sort of thing. Yes, there are attractive students around all, and yes some professors will inevitably take a liking to some, and one or two will even develop feelings for some, but the simple rule is: you don't act on it. Ever. It puts the student in an impossible position, as is the case here.

 

In this case, if I were the student, my first action would be to invent a boyfriend and start talking about him. A lot. I don't have a MySpace account so I don't know how i works, but if there's no way without accepting him for him to see whether or not you use the account, then just ignore the invite and if he raises the question, just tell him that you didn't realise you'd had it because you don't use that account anymore. That will sufficiently defuse the situation, and the incessant talk about your bf will get home the message to all but the most persistent offender, and hopefully you can then maintain a good working relationship with the guy without any awkwardness caused by saying something that neither of you wanted to hear.

 

If that doesn't work, then we can revisit more radical options, but it should do the trick in most cases.

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Just tell him you'd like to keep your relationship professional and then decline the Myspace invitation. I don't think it has to be a big thing.

 

Is he like Professor Lasky from Saved by the Bell or is he more like Wilford Brimley? Yes, it's unwise for a professor to take an interest in their student, but that doesn't automatically make them sleazy. We had some guy at my university tell a student he wanted to get freaky in a hot tub with her. That's sleazy. Adding a student to your Myspace is just unwise, not sleazy. But a lot of students add their professors on facebook so I can see how the professor might get overzealous in friendly relationships - especially if the professor is anywhere close to the age of his/her students.

 

And 99.9% of professors would not let personal issues affect a student's grade. Even if the professor is a bit sketchy, he's gonna know it's not in his best interest to to mess with a student's grade who could easily file a complaint against him.

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And 99.9% of professors would not let personal issues affect a student's grade. Even if the professor is a bit sketchy, he's gonna know it's not in his best interest to to mess with a student's grade who could easily file a complaint against him.

 

I wish that were true, but I could tell you countless tales that would make you think twice about that. Grading students work is, in the vast majority examples that I see, a decidedly approximate science anyway (I could give you countless tales about that too), so there's plenty of room for personal feeling (not necessarily romantic feeling, but just how much a student is liked, which affects the perception of how diligent the student is etc.) to have a significant effect without it being open to challenge, and it often does.

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I'll rephrase it to "negatively affect a student's grade".

 

Yes, some professors show favor to certain students. But it's very very rare for a professor to pinpoint a student and push that student's grade down to below the actual level the student is performing.

 

You would be surprised. It's hard for professors to be fired. I was beaten DOWN by a TA last semester and nothing was done for me. I got regraded and my mark went from a 20% to a 90%. Nothing happened to him though.

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He is behaving unethically since you are still a student in his department.

 

I suggest you just continue to ignore him, while saving evidence of these attempts to contact you etc.

 

If he does give you a lower grade than you expect, you can present the evidence to show he was behaving unethically. So you are safe from that standpoint, in that if he does, you have texts, messages etc. showing he was behaving inappropriately towards you.

 

Just avoid him as much as possible until you leave and always be 'busy' should he try to get you to do things with him outside of work/school.

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Just straight up tell him that nothing is ever going to happen between the two of you. You can let him down easy and tell him that he is a decent guy and what not, but anything between you two is out of the question. Or you can take a more aggressive approach and tell him that you don't like his advances, they are highly inappropraite and unprofessional of a college professor, and that they need to stop immedietly. Odds are that unless he is the stupidest professor in the world and doesn't care about keeping his job he will get the message and leave you alone. Either way if the advances don't stop you have options, and can get him into a great deal of trouble with the school and possibly even fired. And don't worry about dealing with him or his friend the department chairman and them hindering your ability to graduate. Again if they value their jobs they will back off and behave in a strictly professional manner toward you. Trust me the school would get rid of both of them in a heartbeat if you complained about them and they continued their behavior. I'm sure your college doesn't want a gigantic lawsuit and to see its name smeared accross every newspaper and tv station in the country. Best of luck. And remember that you have rights.

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yes, i agree. i think that inventing a boyfriend and talking about him might help get the prof away. it doesn't have to be anything drastic either. maybe something like if he asks what you did this weekend, say you and your bf went to his parents house and had brunch with them. i'd ignore his request on myspace, i think that's not a proper professor/student boundary to cross.

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Hm..owh

 

Dont let it get further than it, believe me its a not so nice situation, I had an affaire with a teacher of mine and its rly awkward and strange now even tho I still want him so badly.

 

I think u should make it clear to him that youre not interested and you would appricitate if he stopped making moves to you. Dont be afraid to do it. THen if you notice he giving you worse grades then you deserve(in order to revenge) you NEED to report it to a headmaster, and make sure u keep the texts, and his friend request on myspace (dont accept but also dont deny it, just let it stay there incase u need it in future )

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He is behaving unethically since you are still a student in his department.

 

I suggest you just continue to ignore him, while saving evidence of these attempts to contact you etc.

 

If he does give you a lower grade than you expect, you can present the evidence to show he was behaving unethically. So you are safe from that standpoint, in that if he does, you have texts, messages etc. showing he was behaving inappropriately towards you.

 

Just avoid him as much as possible until you leave and always be 'busy' should he try to get you to do things with him outside of work/school.

 

i agree with most of that advice. keep the evidence, in case he ever gives you a lower mark that you think is unjustified.

 

i'm not so sure about ignoring him, though. what he's doing is making you uncomfortable, you shouldn't have to "just deal with it". it creates a hostile work environment. perhaps you should just tell him that you're not interested, then if that ever affects your grades, you could speak to another higher up about this. and if you're still not sure, you can go to a counsellor at your school. we have counsellors and student centre workers who give advice (or show you your options) for these situations.

 

You shouldn't have been his assistant. You shouldn't have accepted the offer. Did it not seem unusual just offered the position to you. Be more careful in the future. You need to take care of yourself and not rely on others to do it for you or eventually there will be no one there to help.

 

You need to deal with the consequences of your actions on this one.

 

that's ridiculous. she needs the experience and it seems to me like she never did anything wrong. being an assistant is a professional relationship, he's the one overstepping the boundaries by asking her out.

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Welcome to ENA. Don't accept the man as a friend on myspace and there's no need to mention why or even say anything at all to him about it. Don't take any classes from him. Unless your major/school is very small, this shouldn't be an issue. There were all of four professors in my undergrad major, didn't like one of them, didn't take his classes. Cultivate other references. Finally, if he asks you out, tell him bluntly but politely that you aren't interested in dating him.

 

You are both adults, he expressed interest, you aren't interested. I don't see a great big deal here despite the fact that given the "quality" of our courts these days, my opinion is likely in the minority.

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  • 7 months later...

Hi MissJaneDoe,

 

I was looking on the net to see if some people have been in this sort of situation like I have. And I found your post with a lot of good replies from other members. I decided to join eNotAlone, so I could share my experience with the rest of the people here.

 

A few months have passed since you posted; therefore I wonder what happened with you and your professor after that. I must say that this is a very awkward situation in which a lot of things are involved. And if it is not handled correctly, it could make things become very complicated. In the meantime, you might feel worried and lost, as you might not know to whom to tell this.

 

May I share my own experience with you. "My professor wants to date me" happened to me two years ago. We haven't seen each other (maybe just once in the elevator), after the internship project I had with him was over; I’m now a part-time student. Recently, he was invited as a speaking guest to the class I'm taking right now and he managed to notice me. He was watching me. I felt embarrassed so I put my eyes elsewhere immediately. In the meantime, all sorts of awkward feelings suddenly emerged with flashbacks of the times we worked/talked/ate/laughed together two years ago...

 

How he is

 

He acts 100% like my homosexual friends. And he looks particularly exactly (whether physically, emotionally or verbally) like my gay “uncle” (a friend of my parents). I was 90% sure that he was homosexual (besides the rumors at school that he was gay), but I still kept a 10% for “just in case he isn’t”. He looks young (late 30s or beginning of 40s) and enjoys knowing what today’s students do. He is the kind of professor who likes to talk a lot with his students and tends to be very affectionate. We (students) knew he had a son, as he kept talking about him in the class. However, he never mentioned anything about his mate or his family... and I was thinking that his son could be an adopted one if he was really homosexual.

 

He started it

 

I was one of his students two years ago. A few weeks after the class started, he said aloud to the few students who were in a group discussion with him in the class that I was “elegant”. Some of the students who were with him and he were looking in my direction, as I was sitting far from them. When my turn came to meet him, he repeated that I was an “elegant” woman, with other students around us. I was a bit shy, but didn’t take it seriously, as some people I knew liked to do this sort of things with me.

 

A few weeks later, at the end of the class, I was going to ask my professor something just before I leave. There were just a few students left in the classroom who were chatting together. And I suddenly noticed he has been relaxingly watching me. As I walked towards him, his pupils became bigger and bigger… They finally turned so big that the white areas of his eyes became very small. I knew that this could be a sign that he likes me. I was starting to wonder a little bit about his sexual orientation too. However, my gay uncle did that once (looking at me with enlarging pupils) to me as well.

 

The conference event

 

For the rest of the semester, he sometimes kept watching me during class time and I started to feel a bit weird. I remember one day I was looking for a seat in a lecture hall to assist to the conferences. The room was apparently filled up. He suddenly said, right behind me, “We’re following you!”. There was another professor behind him. I finally found some seats near the stage and he sat between his colleague and me.

 

Because I was the only student sitting near the stage with the professors, our program’s Director kept looking at me when he was talking on the stage. I felt super awkward.

 

How it went on

 

As I wasn’t performing very well in his class, I had to ask him for advices (as a lot of students did). I told myself it could be a chance for me to know exactly if he likes me or not (I was curious too), while talking to him. He also helped me a lot on my projects. We talked a lot together and laughed a lot too. At a given time, we were so troubled with all sorts of physical and technical problems we encountered with my project that we started laughing and laughing… for the whole evening. Honestly, it was really funny. In the meantime, he kept acting, which was still to me, by that time, like a homosexual man (he kept standing very close to me, kept touching me slightly, kept having some kind of female manners…). He also repeatedly told me that I was “cute”, and then began laughing alone. I remember he once touched my cheek (in the manner of an uncle who would do this to his niece), and said that I was “really cute”.

 

He tried to date me

 

He then offered me to do an internship project with him (or with other professors if I wanted) and explained to me how the whole thing worked. It sounded very interesting and it could be a chance for me to learn more. I agreed to do it with him later. Meanwhile, he asked me what I do on Friday evenings and what I usually liked to do and so on. He asked me if I go to cinema. He said that we could go to ski once together. And he told me he was alone… Of course, I didn’t say anything for all what he said. I just liked him as a friend because I enjoyed the funny moments we had together. He also kept encouraging me and complimenting me all the time.

 

He wanted me to be his assistant

 

We talked about our internship and our program one evening in his office. He told me he would need an assistant very soon in his office and asked me if I would be interested. I told him I didn’t have any experience in this kind of work and might not be qualified and so on. As he is a good talker, he managed to finally make me say: “Ok… I’ll try and see.”

 

He didn’t want me to leave

 

I could feel that he didn’t want me to go every time I was going to leave his office. One day, I finally noticed it was 6:30 pm on my watch and told him that I really had to go. He looked discouraged. Another evening, he asked me many things before I left as to “make me stay longer with him”.

 

“I like you very much”

 

I finally got the answer I’ve always wanted to know. I was laughing one day during a conversation in his office and his face turned fully red. Since then, he’s started to ask me thousands of questions and tried at every moment to make me laugh by telling me jokes. He said that I was beautiful one day. Then, another day, with some troublesome emotions on his face, he told me: “I like you very much”. I didn’t understand why he looked that “troubled”, while he had always behaved very friendly before. I believe this could be explained later.

 

My internship

 

He flirted with me during the whole internship. After the summer vacations, I thought that he would now stop loving me, but not. He stayed the same. And he also told me that he didn’t really remember the things he told me about the job of being his assistant. Later, I noticed there wasn’t such a position. I think he made it up to see if I would agree to be his assistant…

 

I acted as I didn’t understand or didn’t care every time he was expecting some reactions from me during our conversations. I was shy sometimes and I think he liked that unfortunately. He kept looking at me whenever possible. Obviously, I felt very awkward. He also let me know his age by telling me his zodiac sign (he was 44 and I was 23). I tried many times to make him understand that I was just interested in being “normal friends” with him, but in vain.

 

Facing our program’s Director

 

Because his office was very close to that of our program’s Director, I sometimes encountered our Director when I walked to my professor’s office (for my internship project). In the corridor, as we passed by each other, he sometimes looked towards me and I immediately looked away. He made me remember the way he looked at me during the conference event. I was so embarrassed. I was scared that he would think that I had other intentions than just keeping my student-professor relationship… Although my professor told me several times to go to his office whenever I wanted to, I never went there for other things than for my internship project.

 

His girlfriend

 

I was actually glad that someone was in love with me. However, when I was in his office one day, he started to say something about his girlfriend during a phone conversation with his colleague. I never paid a lot of attention when he talked on the phone. But I was starting to doubt he was trying to cheat on his girlfriend. Later on his blog, he mentioned, for the first time I believe, something about his girlfriend. By that time, I thought that I understood why he looked that “troubled” when he told me he liked me a lot. I suddenly realized that he lied to me at the beginning, when he told me he was “alone”. And fortunately I didn’t love him; otherwise, I would have been totally heartbroken.

 

He was embarrassed

 

I noticed that it was good that I didn’t manage to make him a friend of mine. I didn’t want to have a friend who attempts to cheat on his mate. At the end of my internship, we had a lunch together. Our conversation was more serious for once. He began by telling me embarrassingly that he had a girlfriend. He told me some personal things as well. He looked a bit nervous, which was really rare. By that time, I didn’t want to know more about him. I’ve always found that it was immoral for a married man or a man with a girlfriend to attempt to date another woman.

 

Conclusion

 

I shall say that I might have given him some wrong signals at the very beginning, because I thought he was homosexual. I might have been too friendly with him. The shyly way I smiled and looked at him might have made him think that I was interested in him as well. That would be my fault; I learned a big lesson here.

 

In my case, I couldn’t be aggressive (ex: telling him directly that he acted really unprofessional). He was like the vice-director of our program; I might have to face him again in the near future, as there aren’t a lot of students in our program. I chose to be "kind", also because I considered him as a potential friend of mine at the beginning. Besides, he has really been nice to me.

 

I guess there isn’t a fixed best solution for this kind of "My professor wants to date me" situation. It depends on a lot of things. Sometimes, we are better to act like a “good student”, but other times, we need to be very direct to stop the situation right away.

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