Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Does My High School Teacher Want to Date Me?”

I’m 22 and just graduated from college. Recently, I’ve been in touch with a teacher (in his early 30s) from my high school. We always had a good relationship and have gotten lunch a couple times in the past but we’ve definitely moved past that. We got dinner one Friday night, he picked me up and paid. I took him to a baseball game with a couple of my friends, and he in turn brought me to a baseball game with some of his. We’ve been texting regularly and last week I went to his house to watch the various sporting events that were happening and we ended up snuggling on the couch. But the whole time he kept saying how I’m going to make some guy really happy one day and he wants to set me up with his friend or something. My mom thinks he wants to date me, which may or may not be true, but despite knowing I’m mature for my age I can’t help but think it’s weird that a normal, sane, good guy in his 30s would have any interest in my unemployed self. Am I right? Is this weird? And how do I handle this? — Former Student

You want to know whether it’s “normal” that a guy in his 30s is interested in a 22-year-old woman? Seriously? Hell, yes, it’s normal! Pretty much every hetero guy, regardless of his age, is interested in a 22-year-old woman. What he’s interested in doing with her varies, for sure. Most would like to screw her. A few might like to go on a few dates and have a casual relationship. And some might be interested in a genuine, committed relationship. My hunch is that your former teacher definitely wants to bump nasties, and could possibly even see himself dating someone like you,  but feels conflicted because not only is he your former teacher, he’s much older than you and knows the power dynamic in your relationship would be greatly skewed to his advantage.

A guy without much integrity would use that advantage to his favor and jump on you. But if he has even an ounce of integrity, he is questioning his friendship with you and trying to talk himself out of “doing anything.” That’s what he’s doing when he tells you that you’ll make some guy a great girlfriend, and that he’d like to set you up with his friend. He’s doing what he can to create some sort of barrier to keep you safe from him, while pulling you close and snuggling with you on the couch. Did I mention that he’s conflicted?

Honestly, if I were you, I’d MOA. Unless you’re a super mature, experienced, wise 22-year-old, the age difference in this circumstance is too great. And since you asked in all sincerity whether it was normal for a guy in his 30s to be interested in a 22-year-old, I’m going to say that you probably aren’t wise enough yet to date a man that age. You’ll get hurt if you do. Trust me. I mean, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get hurt dating someone else, but the playing field would be much more even if you stuck with guys your own age.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.

91 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ReginaRey May 29, 2012, 9:12 am

    Am I the only one who often finds it a little suspect when a guy in his 30s hits on women in their early 20s? I mean, you’d think someone in their early 30s who was genuinely interested in a serious, committed, mature relationship would know that the age-, experience- and maturity-discrepancy between him and someone JUST out of college would be far too wide for a serious relationship to really pan out. If the ones who really want serious relationship are aware of that discrepancy, then it would seem that the ones who DON’T want serious relationships are the ones who continue to pursue something.

    LW — I think a 10+ year age difference can work out in relationships often enough, but likely not for where you are in life right now. You just graduated college. You’re just dipping your toe into the real world…trying to navigate everything that that entails. No matter how mature for your age you are now, you’ve still got a lot to experience and a lot of maturing to still do. I think this guy likely knows that, but still wants to have sex with you, and feels guilty about it. Have sex with him if you can handle the no-strings-attached thing, but please don’t expect this to pan out into any sort of serious, committed relationship.

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    • avatar

      Misty May 29, 2012, 11:05 am

      It’s working out wonderfully well for me (25/35, started seeing each other casually at 22/32 and things got more serious from there), without any creepy overtones.

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    • avatar

      CG May 29, 2012, 10:25 am

      ITA about the age difference. I am all about age-appropriate relationships. Now, if the LW were, say, 45 and the teacher were in his mid- to late-50s, I would consider that to be different, just based on their life experiences and maturity (what RR said!). But no one in his 30s should be messing around with someone who a few months ago he would have had to buy beer for. Totally creepy and inappropriate!

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      • avatar

        ES May 29, 2012, 10:56 am

        However it happens. I am 11 years older than my husband. When we met he was barely 21 and before I could turn the other way I had fallen for him. Granted I look way younger than my age. But I am not nor have I ever been “creepy” or “inappropriate”.

        I agree He is conflicted mostly by the age difference and the former teacher status. I don’t feel like he is being inappropriate, he’s trying to do the right thing while his feelings for you are growing.

        Why not give it a shot? If he is a good person you never know what can come from this.

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      • avatar

        DMR May 30, 2012, 7:05 am

        “age-appropriate relationships”?
        Whatever happened to the phrase ‘consenting adults’?

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    • avatar

      AndreaMarie May 29, 2012, 11:30 am

      You hit the nail on the head that life experience makes the age gap that much more dramatic. I’m 10 years younger than my SO but I’m 28. Our lives are in line and we are both dealing with the same issues like commuting, working, bosses, paying rent/bills, friends getting married/having children etc etc. At 22, and recently out of school, regardless of maturity there are experiences that someone that age has not lived through and had the opportunity to grow from and gain perspective from. For example, its hard for someone who has yet to deal with all that comes with a full-time career to relate with someone who has been working almost 10 years. Plus I always felt that there’s alot of growing up that happens between 21-25. I am so different in so many ways from the woman I was at 22. It’s a mental and emotional growth spurt that happens.

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      • avatar

        MissDre May 29, 2012, 11:38 am

        Yup.

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      • avatar

        Ladybug May 29, 2012, 12:44 pm

        It’s been said in response to other letters–with awesome Friends references to Monica/Richard and Rachel/Tag–it’s not really the age difference, it’s where you are in life overall. A 22 year old just isn’t likely to be in the same place as someone in their early 30s, and that’s how it should be. Frankly, a guy in his early 30s who’s in the same place mentally, emotionally, etc. as a 22 year old is probably someone you should hesitate to get involved with no matter what age you are.

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    • landygirl

      landygirl May 29, 2012, 12:15 pm

      Having been a girl of 22 at one point in time, I tend to think that people in their late teens and early 20s think that they are mature beyond their years and have life all figured out. It isn’t until you get older that you realize what a fool you were by thinking such a thing.

      I tend to think men are attracted to younger women because they think it will help them recapture their yout (typo and I’m keeping it.)

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      • avatar

        Jubietta May 29, 2012, 12:30 pm

        “What’s a yout?”
        My Cousin Vinnie
        Love it!

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    • avatar

      cporoski May 29, 2012, 12:36 pm

      do you ever watch New Girl? They had this whole thing about younger girls which I thought was spot on. It comes down to that younger girls are more easily impressed as a rule. My husband’s good friend has had a string of younger girlfriends. They are pretty and aren’t worried that he hasn’t bought a house, has no direction, ect. He is a great guy but most ladies his own age would expect him to have more figured out.

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  • Budj

    Budj May 29, 2012, 9:18 am

    I agree with Wendy.

    I also agree with RR….10 years is a pretty large gap in most circumstances for a young 20’s…not to say it couldn’t work…but it’s a bigger risk due to prior history considering he was the LW’s teacher…

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  • avatar

    sarolabelle May 29, 2012, 9:30 am

    Sounds like my ex boyfriend! He texts and keeps in touch with most students and it was a real problem for me. I didn’t understand why he had to have dinner with someone who was 19.

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    • theattack

      theattack May 29, 2012, 4:50 pm

      This can definitely go different ways, and I don’t know why your ex was doing it, but I don’t think it’s always that weird. Some teachers like to see where their students go in life (kind of like looking at their finished product), and some like to continue providing guidance. I remember after I graduated high school, my band directors continued to email me and call me to have lunch because they wanted to see how my college music classes were going. And I wanted to keep in touch with them because they taught me a lot, and I used them for references for a few years.

      Then of course, there are the teachers that are just being weird and socializing with their former students.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary May 29, 2012, 9:33 am

    Ok, I know that the LW is “legal” but I find this creepy. Like the teacher was probably attracted/interested in her while she was a student. I’ve heard a lot of personal anecdotes of male high-school teachers dating former students as soon as they are 18 and graduated. So this just gives me the willies.

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    • avatar

      a_different_Wendy May 29, 2012, 9:53 am

      I think it’s a little different since she’s 4 years out of highschool and in her early 20’s, not just out of highschool and barely legal.

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary May 29, 2012, 10:38 am

        I don’t know…I just don’t. I mean it’s only been 4-8 years since she was his student. That’s just me though!

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 29, 2012, 11:32 am

        Even if he was attracted to her when she was a student, he was able to act professionally and appropriately at that time (unlike the TA from the last letter).

        Four years is a decent amount of distance between him being an authority figure for her, and more of a peer. And a lot has changed in her life. People grow and mature a lot in those four years between late teenagedom and early twenties, and she also has an educatio

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    • avatar

      ele4phant May 29, 2012, 11:17 am

      Hmmmm…maybe, but maybe not. A lot can happen to a person in four years, so I doubt she’s just like she was when she was 18. It still feels a little, weird, but there is a substantial amount of distance between him teaching her and now.

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    • Lyra

      L May 29, 2012, 1:24 pm

      Agreed. One of the girls in my high school class started dating one of our previous teachers at 18. He was 26 or so at the time (and incredibly immature, might I add), and it creeped me out. They were together for a good 2 years, and it was just so weird that they started dating almost right after she had graduated. That meant to me that something was going on while she was still in school…

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      • avatar

        Jillie z May 29, 2012, 4:13 pm

        This reminds me of my hot geometry teacher in high school (we all flirted with him obnoxiously, because he was obviously off limits) who then got a senior pregnant and her dad forced him to marry her and also got him a teaching job in another district. I wonder where they are now!

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 May 29, 2012, 9:35 am

    LW, I do think your teacher wants to date you, but you two are in different places in your life right now, and he is trying to be the nice guy here, but leading you on while trying to do that. Even though you think you are mature for your age, I’m sure he is thinking that if he did get in a relationship with you, then he would either have to go out, and party all of the time, or be comfortable with somebody who is out all of the time while he is at home. I’m not saying that is what you do, but that is really what a guy that age thinks about when asking himself if he wants to date somebody that young.

    For example I was at a friend’s birthday party the other day, and we are all in our 30’s, but there was this girl that was 21, and we were all just hanging out talking, eating food, catching up with everyone’s life, and this girl was literally yelling every 5 minutes “Who wants to play drinking games” and everyone would just look at her say nothing, and then continue talking. I was thinking to myself, if this was 5 years ago I would be the first one at that table!

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest May 29, 2012, 10:10 am

      You sound like a real bore at parties, bagge 😉

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 May 29, 2012, 10:50 am

        Yeah unfortunately I’m not as fun as I used to be 🙁
        A couple of years ago though I would have been right there with her, and kicking her ass at them too!

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      • Budj

        Budj May 29, 2012, 10:55 am

        I love them…and can still hold my own…but the hangover’s you start getting in your mid-20’s really make it a once in a while occassion, haha.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 May 29, 2012, 11:08 am

        Oh I can still definitely hold my own, they next day is always a lot less fun though now! Like if we had a DW meet up in Boston, and everyone wanted to play High-Low, beerpong, and flip cup I would be all in! The situation above was just funny, because this girl was hammered 10 mintues into the party, and yelling it every five minutes. She was wearing a nice outfit though, that kept showing he vulva off, but I had to agree with my fiancee that it was trashy so I wouldn’t get in trouble! But once she was drunk enough for her P to be out she was surrounded by 40 year old guys trying to get her to drink more… and that is where we get creepy old men from kids…

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie May 29, 2012, 11:33 am

        So true!! I can’t bounce back like I used to. One extra drink at Happy Hour and I’m a bloated, tired, achy mess at work the enxt morning.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow May 29, 2012, 10:34 am

      Whew! I’m not the only one who hates drinking games now.

      My boo has some friends who are CONSIDERABLY younger – and when we go to parties they all want to play flippy cup and beer pong. Nothing against all of that, but really? I haven’t played since I was probably 19. It makes me feel ancient. I like drinking, and I like games, but I don’t need a game to get me drunk.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 May 29, 2012, 10:58 am

        I wouldn’t say I hate them now, it just takes certain situations to play them! If I had a place to sleep, and a bunch of people who were all going to act like an idiot with me, then I would probably still play them. A couple of years ago, my fiancée, and a bunch of my friends wives, and GF’s went to a bachelorette party, so we all got together with multiple 30 packs, aftershock, Jameson, and some hot wings and relived our times in college together with about 100 games of beerpong, and flip cup. Didn’t have any need to drive anywhere, and couldn’t get in trouble from the SO’s haha so we drank until we got sick, and then drank some more.
        No we just save this activity for our bachelor parties which mine is coming up next, and then two more friends right after that.

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      • Budj

        Budj May 29, 2012, 11:00 am

        So what I’m hearing you say means I could expect to find you in a similar situation to the tanin’s episode of HIMYM?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 May 29, 2012, 11:11 am

        Hmm I have to look that episode up to see what it is, I feel like I’ve watched every episode of that show too!

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 29, 2012, 11:24 am

        OK, maybe “hate” is a strong word. There’s a time and a place…..which, typically, is college. Haha.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 29, 2012, 10:39 am

      I hate drinking games as well…If someone makes me play I’ll drink water. Every time I play a drinking game I end up “asleep” 30 minutes later. No bueno

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 May 29, 2012, 11:14 am

      I would also like to add that I have seen that age difference work out as well, because I still have a lot of friends in there mid 30’s that love going out all of the time, and a lot of them have ended up with early 20 somethings! I just think it depends on where the two people are in their lives!

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    • theattack

      theattack May 29, 2012, 4:53 pm

      Am I the only person who never liked drinking games in the first place?

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      • avatar

        Violet May 29, 2012, 9:36 pm

        I never did either, theattack. I had a mission, let’s just get the alcohol where it needs to go and nevermind all the games!

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom May 29, 2012, 9:48 am

    I can see I’m going to be in the minority here, but I don’t think him being in his early 30’s and her being 22 is a big deal. I also don’t think it’s a big deal that he used to be her teacher. They are both legal age and consenting adults. I do think he is attracted to her and is testing the waters to see how she reacts to him. The fact that he hasn’t “pounced on her” may be because he is interested in something more substantial than a fling. I’m assuming that she is somewhat interested in him too but honestly can’t say for sure based on her letter. If she is, she should say something and then she’ll know for sure.

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    • avatar

      Michelle.Lea May 29, 2012, 9:54 am

      I kind of agree here. the age difference isnt the big deal to me, it’s the fact that he was her teacher. but it’s obvious that she’s graduated and everything. it’s finding out if they’re in the same places in their lives based on their wants and needs. i have a set of friends that met around the same ages, and they’re still together and married 6 years later.. she was pretty mature for her age for sure.

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    • katie

      katie May 29, 2012, 10:04 am

      i agree with you as well, but i wonder if the fact that he hasnt pounced on her yet is because he is trying to rope her in even harder, so to speak… kind of like make her “fall” for him and then there is less of a chance that she would leave him, and then he can have all the sex he wants…

      i dunno. tough to say.

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      • avatar

        laxhaxtax May 29, 2012, 11:43 am

        I am also in the minority. I think honesty is always the best policy. She should ask him what he wants from this relationship. She can tell him she expects that since he is a guy he might be wanting sex but that she is not into being a bed buddy. This man might be full of integrity which means that he might very well have been interested in her while she was in hs but did not act on his feelings(unlike that creepy guy in the news lately). He might have made himself wait until she was finished with school assuming she has some experience and can manage their age difference. I married young and have had a very good marriage. Is she mature? Does she know where she is headed job wise, location wise etc.? Just ask questions. How deep are her feelings for him? I can tell you that my husband never had a chance after I met him and that is how both should feel or they are just wasting each other’s time. Questions will either give you a good feeling to move forward with this man or the idea that you need to MOA.

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      • katie

        katie May 29, 2012, 11:48 am

        very good advice. its always better to know then to guess!

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    • Leroy

      Leroy May 29, 2012, 12:57 pm

      I agree. It’s the fact that she doesn’t recognize the potential for his interest that causes me to suspect that she’s too young. And I think that Wendy’s right that his comments, about her making some guy lucky etc., are indicative of a crush that he’s trying to mitigate. That’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve found myself doing in similar situations – I slip into big brother mode. But as least it suggests that he actually likes her. A chicken hawk wouldn’t be talking to her that way.

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      • theattack

        theattack May 29, 2012, 4:55 pm

        I think she does recognize the potential for his interest… That’s why she wrote in after all.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy May 29, 2012, 6:08 pm

        That’s true. I mean the likelihood – that that man who is cuddling with her and telling her she’s so great might actually like her. And that it’s normal for older men to still find women in their 20’s attractive. That seems naive.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay May 29, 2012, 6:40 pm

      I agree. Just because he is older and was her teacher doesn’t automatically make him creepy. There are plenty of people, including some who have commented on this thread, who have been in relationships with similar age differences, and they obviously don’t all involve a creepy predator. Sometimes you can’t help who you like. It sounds like he realizes how it seems and is half-heartedly trying to hold back.

      But as others have said, it may just be that they are in different places in life. I don’t think it would hurt to try things out, but the LW should be prepared for strong reactions if they do get together.

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  • MackenzieLee

    ColorsOfTheWind May 29, 2012, 9:51 am

    the power dynamic also seems pretty evident with her questioning why this guy would be interested in her “unemployed self”

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  • avatar

    Claire May 29, 2012, 9:56 am

    testing

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  • Kristina

    Kristina May 29, 2012, 10:04 am

    Of course it can work if both of you are in similar stages in your life, but you aren’t and that’s why age matters sometimes. You’re just out of college and unemployed, and probably a little lost as to what to do next. But if you think it’s weird because he was your teacher at one point, I don’t think that weird feeling is going to go away. I also think that any guy in his 30s who is still pining for a young girl he taught a few years ago (whether he just wants sex or wants more) is not very emotionally mature. So whatever you want from the relationship, I don’t think any of it is worth it.

    And, I find it funny her mom knows about this. I would think that would be awkward.

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    • katie

      katie May 29, 2012, 10:08 am

      i agree about the weird feeling… i would definitely never be able to shake that, i dont think…

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  • katie

    katie May 29, 2012, 10:08 am

    this is a little odd situation, but probably not unheard of. this guy was/is a young teacher, so maybe the power dynamic isnt as skewed as it looks… if he is now in his early 30’s, when he taught the LW in high school he was probably still in his 20s…

    kind of similar to the letter last week about the college TA dating her students and all the stories that came up from that… its a sticky situation, but not unheard of, and can be successful if you navigate it correctly.

    if you actually like him, then you could try dating him… why not, right? just remember that the situation is a litte tricky, and so i would say to just be a little more aware of how he treats you, what he says to you, ect, to make sure that his intentions are honorable and he isnt a creeper.

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  • avatar

    _jsw_ May 29, 2012, 10:30 am

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with those ages – lots of men in their early 30s are at roughly the same level of maturity and desire for a relationship as lots of women in their early 20s. I know of a number of couples who met at those ages and who are still together after many years (I don’t mean it’s a guarantee of things working, obviously, just that, based on couples I know, it definitely can work).

    I also don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the fact he was her teacher. He was in his mid-20s when she was a hight school student, yes, but he didn’t hit on her then and there’s no reason to believe he had any sexual interest in her at the time, which was about half a decade ago.

    But I agree that his behavior is not that of a man who is interested in a woman as relationship material. I think the age and how they met is mostly irrelevant, as she is an adult now. But his behavior? Too screwy. Take out the teacher bit. Take out the age bit. What’s left is a guy who cannot show any clear indication of interest in a relationship. To me, that’s the sign to MOA, not the other stuff.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow May 29, 2012, 10:37 am

    I just realized that I’ve never dated a guy in his early 30s. And I’m 30. My boyfriends get younger as I get older!!

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray May 29, 2012, 3:33 pm

      Until a couple of years ago, I could say the same thing (I’m 33)! I had BFs in their 20s and 40s, but never 30…. I had a theory: the good guys in their 30s are married, and the ones still single have commitment issues. So you either got to catch them single in their 20s or wait until they are divorced in their 40s…. Just a theory people!

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl May 29, 2012, 10:56 am

    I think this is weird. He used to be in a position of authority and is now treating you to dinner and cuddling with you? I don’t even care about the age difference, there is something off to me about the power differential. LW, I would back off from this guy and find someone who’s never had authority over you to snuggle with.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant May 29, 2012, 11:24 am

      Oh…I don’t know. He doesn’t have authority over her now, and hasn’t for quite some time. She’s now an adult with an education, his peer really. I agree with many others that the issue isn’t the age difference, or the fact he’s taught her in the past, but that they are in very different places in their lives right now.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 29, 2012, 11:44 am

        I think it really depends on the person. I would never consider having a friendship (or romantic relationship) with a former teacher or boss because the power differential. To me it’s creepy and innapropriate, it isn’t for some other people. Just because he isn’t actively teacher her right now doesn’t mean that all of the past authority is whiped out.

        I also don’t think it is necessarily true that they are in different places in their lives. There are plenty of recent college grads who act like a 30+ year old and there are plenty of 30+ year olds who act like they are fresh out of college. I know a couple with a 7+ year age difference that is married and very happy and in the same “phase” of life. I didn’t get from this letter, other than the age and employment status, that they were in different phases of life.

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 29, 2012, 12:06 pm

        I’m not attacking your response, per se, but I thought what I wanted to say might work here.

        I honestly don’t understand the power differential everyone is talking about. And I’m trying.

        And how does this work with friends? For instance, my current boss happens to be one of my closest friends. We became friends before she was my boss – we worked together in different groups, I was new to the city, she introduced me to a lot of people, we became friends. Due to structural changes within the company, she is now my boss. Do I need to cease being friends with her because of the power differential?

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      • katie

        katie May 29, 2012, 12:12 pm

        well i think thats what makes these situations especially tricky, just like yours. i would say that your friendship is now tricky… what happens if she has to fire you? you have to be mature/understanding enough to get that its not personal. there are some people that wouldnt be able to deal with that if a firing happened, and they would cease to be friends… on the flip side, if you could understand it, you could continue being friends without hard feelings…

        in matters of dating someone where the power is off, its very similar. you have to be able to get over/overlook/look carefully at specific things in the relationship and make sure everyone is eqiupped to deal with the issues that could arise.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 29, 2012, 12:54 pm

        In your case I think it’s different- you were friends before there was a power differential. You have an established relationship as peers. I don’t think it’s the same when the relationship is based on one person having more “power” or “authority” and then trying to be friends or romantically involved.

        Also, your friends, not lovers…so that adds another different layer.

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  • avatar

    Anna May 29, 2012, 10:57 am

    It very well could be that his intentions are better than they seem, despite the age difference. Maybe he’s so shy about voicing his feelings for you because he doesn’t want you to run screaming and call him an old perv. My dad is 15 years older than my mom. When they met, he was in his mid to upper 30’s and she was in her early 20’s (not sure of exact ages). They got married in 1975 and are still happily married today.

    If you couldn’t see being with this guy, definitely MOA. If you are interested in him and want to see where it could go, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a shot. Age is just a number when it comes to dating.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki May 29, 2012, 11:50 am

      I agree with you. I especially agree (most of the time) that age is just a number, as long as that number is over 18 (in most cases). My husband is 10 years older than me. Sure, I can’t say we’ve been happily married for 40 years or anything but that’s because we haven’t made it that far yet. So far we’ve been together for 6 years, married for just over 3. We got together when I was about a month away from turning 20 and he was a few months from turning 30.

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  • avatar

    SweetPeaG May 29, 2012, 11:28 am

    I usually take age gaps on a case by case basis. I know guys who have dated younger woman (6-7+ years younger). They were nothing but gentleman with the best of intentions. To some it may have looked fishy, but knowing that the guys were stand up guys- it wasn’t weird/suspicious.

    And, I actually think that this teacher sounds like a NICE guy. I fully agree with Wendy that he is feeling very conflicted about his feelings… which is a normal response of a nice guy who doesn’t want to do the wrong thing. If he were a big ol’ creep, he may have tried to get into her pants already.

    But, being that he seems so conflicted, I foresee this becoming a bit of a mess. I wouldn’t want the LW to expect a relationship with a guy who might continue to be tentative and anxious. It might be hard for her to walk away, but I might recommend it. I could see a handsome guy in his 30’s, with all his shit together (intelligent with an actual career!) being very appealing to a 22 year old girl. Okay, that is very appealing to most woman. But, she could end up very hurt if her feelings don’t line up with his.

    Hey LW… why don’t you let him set you up? His friend could be pretty awesome. You never know.

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    painted_lady May 29, 2012, 11:35 am

    I don’t think the age difference is inherently a bad thing, nor is a man or a woman who would be willing to date a student who graduated nearly half a decade ago, though I personally wouldn’t ever be comfortable dating someone whom I as an adult had mentored when he was a teen. What does, however, give me pause, is that you seem uncomfortable with it. You call it “weird.” So don’t go out with him. Just because you can’t quite put your finger on why he seems off, if it feels off, you get to respond accordingly. Tell him, “Hey, you’re cool, but I’m definitely getting the impression you’re interested despite what you say otherwise. I’m not interested in you romantically, so I would appreciate if you could respect that.” If he feels the need to explain how these things that make you uncomfortable shouldn’t make you uncomfortable and the problem is you, or he says he will change and then gradually goes back to the exact same thing, lose him. If, however, there’s a noticeable improvement in how he acts toward you, then I say there’s no harm in keeping him as a friend – either he didn’t realize he was being so obvious, or maybe he thought you were digging it and didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.

    If you *want* to date him – if “weird” was your way of saying “strangely exciting in ways I’m not quite comfortable with admitting to” – then I would just be very, very careful. Skewed power dynamics aren’t always a bad thing (they can be kind of hot), but you’ve got to really have a huge amount of faith in your ability to stick up for your own wants and needs. If you’re with someone who formed a relationship with you from a position of power, it sometimes becomes easy to be manipulated. Given that you’re not trusting your own instincts as to whether this man is even interested in you, I would say you’re not there yet. It’s okay – at 22 I wasn’t either! – but that means that you really need to re-draw some of the lines with this guy or you’re going to go from “How’d I end up cuddling on the couch with this guy?” to “When did I say I was okay with furries?” before you notice what’s happening.

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      painted_lady May 29, 2012, 11:41 am

      Oh, and furries? Totally harmless kink – just an example. Always get consent before trying a new kink, kids.

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    • katie

      katie May 29, 2012, 11:50 am

      this is what i would have said if i was as eloquent and had gotten more then 3 hours of sleep last night.

      good one!

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      ele4phant May 29, 2012, 11:51 am

      I think you make a good point about her being uncomfortable. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there’s a power dynamic, gender, age differences, ect., if someone is uncomfortable with the advances of someone else, then it needs to stop.

      While there’s nothing morally or legally wrong with this theoretical relationship, if the LW doesn’t want to go down that road that’s that.

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    • theattack

      theattack May 29, 2012, 5:04 pm

      You nailed it, painted lady! I love your response so much. Definitely the best here.

      I too wondered what she meant by “weird.” Does SHE feel that it’s weird, or is she just asking if the numbers are weird by societal standards despite her comfortable feelings? Or is it your strangely exciting theory? LW, if you feel skeeved out, then don’t get involved. If you feel comfortable and you’re worried about what other people think, don’t worry about it.

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  • avatar

    AndreaMarie May 29, 2012, 11:56 am

    My younger sister is 22 and recently met a guy who is 31 at the gym. She asked me if I thought it was ‘creepy’ and I told her I kind of did. I’m totally ok with an age difference. I’ve always dated men older than myself and my current bf is 10 years older however, my SOs and me have always been in the same place in life. My sister still has a semester left for her science degree and will be living at home and commuting 2 days a week to campus. She works a part-time job as a server and most of her expenses are being paid by my parents since she isn’t finished with school/getting a salary yet. I told her I think its a little creepy for a grown man in his 30s to have any interest (other than sex) with a girl as young as her. She’s in a place in her life halfway between a girl and a woman (thanks Britney). I immediately thought he was either very immature or not in a stable financial/career/whatever place in his life.

    But besides the age difference and even the former teacher part, its all about his behavior. He’s clearly attracted to you (definitley physically and he’s probably into you as well) but he’s walking the line with “cuddling” and texting and hanging out but still trying to make it clear to you, by telling you he’ll hook you up etc, that he is not interested in pursuing the relationship with you. Take it as it is, a friend that you have a good time hanging out with. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in with the texting and cuddling. Pursue other guys, go out with other guys etc but still be friends with former teacher.

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  • caitie_didnt

    caitie_didnt May 29, 2012, 12:57 pm

    I don’t have a fundamental problem with age differences, and I don’t think the teacher is being super inappropriate because they’re no longer teacher & student. However, I totally agree with many people that life stage is really important and that a 30-something pursuing a young 20-something *might* be doing that because they feel that many women in their age group want a serious relationship and they don’t. Plus, there’s the fact that young women are easier to impress, to manipulate, and less likely to care that a guy doesn’t have his shit together. The guy’s intentions here seem fairly honourable, but the LW should maybe sit down and talk honestly with him. And the LW mentions that something seems “weird”, which she is totally allowed to feel. She doesn’t have to have a reason to not continue seeing him.

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      DMR May 30, 2012, 7:09 am

      Too much is being made of the “life stage” thing. When two people are madly in love and having sex every night, life stage doesn’t really come into it.
      When two people settle down, do chores on the weekend, and talk over breakfast before heading to work, and plan holidays in the Carribbean, life stage still doesn’t come into it.

      Get over the life stage thing.

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      • avatar

        Zepp May 30, 2012, 7:23 am

        yea but the thing with life stages is if they are different the scenerio you described doesn’t happen. Thats the whole point!

        The LW is unemployed. She doesn’t have a weekend per se, and who knows if she gets a shift job like waitressing (which a lot of people do right out of college= while she job searches she’ll be at work whenever he is off. She won’t be up talking to him over breakfast, she probably went out late with her friends and is still sleeping while he’s getting ready for work. She can’t afford a holiday in the carribean, or maybe she wants to go to the local beach with her friends instead on her time off.

        Do you get it? The scenerio you just described as ‘life stage not mattering’ is 2 people in the same life stage!

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      • avatar

        Zepp May 30, 2012, 7:32 am

        maybe you are misunderstanding life stage to mean age? Thats not what the people mean… they mean it more like lifestyle.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 29, 2012, 1:40 pm

    Maybe the male teacher just really feels hot… You know, maybe he’s “lost some weight” and is “experimenting with fashion”… Hey, at least HE’S not making out with random students in bars because he was apparently sexually socialized with a pathological inability to say no…

    Whatever. I do love that THIS behavior is labeled creepy here by some, whereas plenty were making hilarious excuses for the world’s worst TA just days ago…

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    • avatar

      MissDre May 29, 2012, 1:45 pm

      I’m pretty sure tons of people told her she was being completely inappropriate. And as far as I can see, plenty of people are on both sides in this case too.

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      • katie

        katie May 29, 2012, 1:49 pm

        thank you.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 29, 2012, 2:02 pm

        Whatever… That it was even up for debate with the other letter still shocks me days later.

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    • landygirl

      landygirl May 29, 2012, 3:05 pm

      They are both wrong though you can’t really compare the two because they are different circumstances.

      I fail to see why you’re so hard on women who post here. Most of the responses I saw to the other letter were saying that what she was doing was wrong and to stop. I’ve also seen responses above where people say that didn’t think he was out of line and it wasn’t all that creepy.

      There is also a difference between a 23 College TA and a 30 somthing HS teacher. I don’t expect a 23 year old to have the best judgment but I do expect it from someone in their 30s.

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        ele4phant May 29, 2012, 3:29 pm

        Agree agree agree!

        Neither of these situations is black and white – but if it came right to it, I say the ex-male teacher situation is morally okay, and the TA situation is not.

        But the age differences, nature of the job (a TA position, while having some authority still isn’t the same as being a full fledged teacher for underage children), and the amount of time since the power-differential existed all serve to make these different scenarios, and difficult to make direct comparisons.

        And while I love BGMs at times, the stark black and white he viewed this situation with (and those who disagreed with him) drives me up I wall. The TA is in wrong, she MUST be a creep and a predator. Anyone who takes a nuanced view MUST be hypocritical and excusing her bad behavior.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 29, 2012, 5:13 pm

        Actually, my point is that there is rarely such nuance and care ever given with the men… That said, that was one case where it was very clear cut. Agree to disagree on that, I guess…

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      • landygirl

        landygirl May 29, 2012, 6:51 pm

        Nuance by Coty circa 1975?

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    Tracey May 29, 2012, 1:06 pm

    The key here is that he’s said he wants to fix her up with a friend and that the furthest things have gone between LW and the teacher is snuggling on a couch.

    Translation: “I’d love to sleep with you and I am attracted to you, but I’m not willing to cross that line…yet. I’m kind of freaked out because you’re a former student, and my scruples are in conflict with my hormones. Because of that, I want to fix you up with a friend because this will end the temptation for me. But this will have to happen before we end up snuggling on my couch again…I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.”

    I’m with Wendy on this one. Find someone closer to your age and maturity level right now. It would be what’s best for you and especially for the teacher. Think about it: You don’t want gossip about what could’ve been happening in that classroom when you were younger to taint his professional image or cause you all sorts of personal or professional headaches in your town.

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    ele4phant May 29, 2012, 5:23 pm

    I would say then that your argument was premature. When faced with a moderately similar situation that reversed the genders, my observation is that the majority of women here aren’t condemning the guy as creepy or inappropriate. And if they are, it seems overwhelming that that is due to a rather large age difference, an element absent from the previous letter. The nuances in this situation, IMO, have been thoroughly examined.

    Do you disagree?

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 29, 2012, 5:53 pm

    In this case, they are. But I hazard a guess that if if had been a MALE in that TA, letter nobody would have been sympathetic. And that’s the real irony. Nobody should have been sympathetic.

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      ele4phant May 29, 2012, 5:56 pm

      Its puzzling to me that you are judging people solely based on your own personal assumptions of what you think they will do – particularly given you have been presented with a similar situation that HASN’T panned out that way. But any-whoo…

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 29, 2012, 6:10 pm

        Um, okay. I was NOT the only person who felt a good number of the posts in that thread were hopelessly fucked up. Far from it. But whatever.

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      • Leroy

        Laura May 29, 2012, 6:31 pm

        Why are you so traumatized by that thread ?! She was just a TA, and her ‘students’ are the same age that she is. It may not be advisable, but it’s hardly a sex crime.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy May 29, 2012, 6:34 pm

        I’m not Laura I’m Leroy – WTF is going on??

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 29, 2012, 6:44 pm

        You know what? You’re all right. You’ve all won me over.

        And hey, the next time your boss who is the same age as you wants to fuck you, don’t come crying to me. Drop that skirt and have a little fun. Hey, it’s all good. It’s hardly a sex crime. Just go with the flow. As long as they are hot — why complain.

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        Addie Pray May 29, 2012, 7:47 pm

        Well, I’d advocate just lifting the skirt – it’ll save time both on the front end and back end when the deed is done. That’s definitely how I would do it, if I were to do it. Not that I would do it. That is a disaster waiting to happen.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl May 29, 2012, 6:45 pm

        It’s the robots…

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  • avatar

    DMR May 30, 2012, 7:06 am

    Have Sex Already!!!
    (HSA)

    What are you waiting for. You’re both adults. You like him, he likes you.

    Life’s too short to walk away from a budding love affair just because other people don’t approve.

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