I am a 21-year-old college student, set to graduate in May. For the past year or so, I’ve had a major crush on one of my sociology professors, but I’ve always thought that he was unobtainable.
However, recently, he approached me between classes and asked if I’d like to go for a drink with him. It goes without saying that I was absolutely flattered, and wanted to accept right away.
However, I’m also a bit concerned, because there’s a 14 year age gap between us. Also, I’m worried whether it’s appropriate for a student to date her teacher — even though he won’t be my teacher in a few months, once I graduate. What do you think I should do?
Hot to Trot in Hell’s Kitchen
Dear Hot to Trot:
Reading your letter reminds me instantly on a little crush I had on a handsome teacher some years ago. It’s kind of exciting, right? The idea of dating a professor – meeting in hallways, secret messages, etc. – is very exciting, because in a way, it’s taboo.
But sometimes this situation is better if it remains a fantasy. There is nothing wrong with the age difference: you are 21, and as a “new” adult, the life lessons now begin.
Life Lesson #1: Never put yourself in a position of being manipulated, threatened or used. Your sociology professor is in a position of power. This man holds the key to whether or not you pass this class, which can ultimately reflect your ability to graduate. And since you are on the verge of graduating, this can make you vulnerable. This professor is 14 years your senior, which also translates to him having much more life experience than you. He may know how to “seduce” you into whatever it is he wants. What does he want? The cookie – um, I think you know what I mean!
Scenario 1: You go out and have a drink. It’s a great date, one thing leads to another, and you sleep with him. Everything works out, and he marries you. Happy ending! Uhm…NOT likely!
Scenario 2: (a more realistic scenario): You go out with him, have a drink, and he makes advances, which you turn down. He’s angry. Here’s where he uses his power to abuse you: two weeks later, you’re not passing the exams or papers, and you cannot understand why. One day, you confront him and he kindly offers to pass you, provided you give him what he wants.
Before you know it, you’re part of a scandal and it’s his word against yours. You are TOO close to graduating with a degree – there is too much at stake here.
So what should you do? Tell him you are VERY flattered, and that the interest is mutual. Let him know that right now your priority is to graduate. Tell him as part of the graduation celebration, you’d love to go out for a drink with him – AFTER graduation. Then have the drink…tell him you’d like the drink to be accompanied with food. You deserve a real date: dinner and drinks.
Sometimes “just drinks” gives a man the impression that you are just going to hook up. I think you’re smarter than that and you deserve more. Good luck and do the right thing for yourself!