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How to repair a broken relationship with a professor


kiwifly

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This isn't a romantic relationship with a professor - it is a professional, academic relationship. My relationship with this man goes back a few years. I was a wide-eyed, hopeful college student who wanted to learn everything that was possible in a specific area of research, and he was my mentor who took the time to not only help me learn these things but to also inspire me to always think in new ways. He also my main supporter when I applied to graduate schools, and I actually was accepted to the school where he now teaches.

 

However, that is when things started to turn sour. Being a new professor, he is very busy and so I didn't expect the same level of help that he was offering me before when I got here. But he did lead me to the program he was running, which turned out to be nothing like what I wanted. I was upset and even voiced my concern to him early on saying that he had told me something completely different about the program than what I was getting. I switched from the part of the program he was running to another section without giving him a warning. Feeling bad, I went to speak to him about it, but was faced with bitterness as he told me he had no time to speak to me anytime soon. After a few emails back and forth trying to arrange a time to meet and discuss my issue after he kept cancelling, I gave up and never spoke to him about the issue. The fact that he kept cancelling and the fact that I did not receive anything suggesting an apology for falsely advertising the program made me very upset with him. In fact, I resented him so much for what he did and how he was behaving that I began to ignore him and haven't spoken to him since.

 

It has now been 4 months. Every time I see this professor in the hallway I feel enraged, and it makes me feel sick to my stomach that I've developed such a strong sense of hatred toward someone who helped me get to where I was today. Though I have tried to get myself to send him an email to finally set up a time to meet to discuss all this, I always end up closing the email because I know that I will get too emotional if I have to speak to him in person.

 

I am at a point where I would like to forgive him for what he did so I may be able to restore what is left of this relationship and to get rid of this hatred that seems to be stuck inside me. I would also like to make it in a way where I can also apologize for my behavior, since I am now realizing that how I am acting is exactly how he has been acting, which is what was making me so angry in the first place.

 

Does anything have a suggestion for how I can do this? I will set up a meeting to meet with him sometime this week, but where do I even begin once I sit down in front of him? Is there a way I can tell him how his behavior and false advertisement of the program pushed me to this point without sounding like I am insulting him?

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But if you set up a meeting, wouldn't he just cancel again? I would suggest apologizing right off the bat. Maybe when you see him in the hallway, just start walking a few strides with him & say that you wanted to first off, apologize for getting upset about the incident & let him know that you appreciate all that he's done for you.

 

I have a couple questions. Are you sure that he was intending to mislead you? Maybe what he told you was really the way he percieved it to be at the time, or maybe he even still sees it that way. Also, perhaps he didn't know a lot more about it than you did? After all, it sounds like you were both new to the same place at the same time. I can't imagine why he would purposefully mislead you? But if that were the case, why do you need to repair the relationship anyway? Surely you could find a new mentor for your future endeavors.

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What, specifically, did you believe the program offered that it did not?

 

Given that you're an adult who is fully capable of evaluating programs of study and selecting one for yourself, I wouldn't try to meet with Prof to accuse him of deliberate deception. His view of his program differs from your own. That's fair. Deciding that a friend who has demo'd loyalty for years has intentionally misled you is extremely harsh, and it's not surprising he's unwilling to set himself up for that kind of exchange.

 

Probably not a good idea to attempt a meeting while you're still angry. If you're able to sort out exactly how much responsibility for your choices belongs to you, you'll be able to weigh how much such a meeting matters to you and exactly what you hope to accomplish by it. This could either help you modify your approach or gain you a less charged perspective to live with throughout the remainder of your studies.

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I agree with alli's post above. It doesn't look like he intentionaly misled you in any way. Also, I'm not too sure either why you need to "repair the relationship"? You have taken another course in the program and moved on. Will confronting him change anything? What are you looking to achieve?

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