I am 23 years old and a computer science major so naturally I spend a lot of time around men. This is great. I have a tight bond with the few women that also study in my year, but I am also excessively fond of dick jokes and beer and get along well with a lot of the men here.
I had some really awkward teenage years and I am finally learning to appreciate and love myself. I am very positive and outgoing and I know this is what attracts a lot of men. I dress “prettily”; I like dresses and since I recently lost some weight I’m just enjoying experimenting with fashion. I do not, however, fancy that I am especially wonderful and unique — it’s basically just that these guys don’t meet a lot of women in their day-to-day lives and I smile and seem fun and then they all think they are in love.
One issue this causes is that it’s pretty painful “breaking” all these hearts. Most of the time I consider these men to be my friends and to hear them profess their love for me and then reject them really hurts. I mean, we all know what it feels like to be rejected, right?
The other issue is respecting professional boundaries. I have started teaching and last Friday one of my students kissed me at the university bar. It is frowned upon, but I’m not sure I can actually lose my job over it. I realize the appropriate response is to wait to date him until after the course is finished, but it’s not that simple because I am already seeing one of my other students (in secret). I started dating him because I had taught him longer than the other guy (whom I didn’t even realize that I liked until Friday) and I justified that I’d probably teach him after summer as well so why not just start dating him now (horrible justification, I know; I learned my lesson there).
So please teach me to set boundaries, because somewhere along the way between happy and hanging out and then falling in love I must be neglecting something, right? — Heartbreaker
Yes, you are neglecting the divide between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. I find it difficult to believe you don’t know how inappropriate it is for a teacher — even a T.A., if that’s what you are — to date her current students. In fact, I believe you know very well how inappropriate it is but you just don’t care. And that’s the problem. You don’t care because so far the consequences for your inappropriate behavior haven’t been anything too unpleasant. But what happens if/when you get discovered and then reprimanded for dating a student? What would happen if one of these boys you’ve kissed decided to press charges against you for sexual harassment? What if Boy 1 found out that you kissed Boy 2 behind his back, decided to make you pay for that indiscretion, and told the dean that you’ve been forcing yourself on him? Don’t think that could ever happen? Well, it can. Anytime one person is in a role of authority, she is vulnerable to such claims. Don’t think just because you’re 23 and you’re pretty and charming that you’re invincible. You aren’t, and sooner or later, your bad judgment is going to catch up with you.
Speaking of bad judgment, I have a feeling that all of these men who are professing their love to you are led to believe those feelings might be at least a little bit reciprocated. Most guys aren’t in the habit of professing love to any woman who wears dresses, smiles at them, and acts “fun” — even if their interactions with other women are few and far between. No, something tells me YOU are giving them some indication that you’re interested in them as more than just friends. At the very least, I suspect you like the attention and you seek it out. You say your teenage years were awkward and it’s only recently that you’ve begun to come into yourself a bit more (and have lost some weight). And now that you’re surrounded by guys all the time, it’s natural that you would experiment with some of this newfound self-confidence and see how powerful it can be in attracting attention.
Self-confidence in a cute, outgoing, smiley 23-year-old who likes dick jokes can be intensely magnetic. Now you know.
If it hurts so much to have to break so many hearts by being so intensely magnetic, stop creating the illusion of hope if there is none. Instead of hanging out with your male classmates outside of class, hang out with your female friends or with your male friends from other majors who aren’t as starved for female companionship. Or! Do everyone a favor and invite some of your female friends to join you and your computer-major guy friends when you’re hanging out. Introducing a few other ladies to the group — especially ladies these guys wouldn’t normally get to meet — would go a long way in taking some of the attention off you. But, of course, you have to be willing to share some of the attention. From the tone of your letter, I’m not so sure you are. So maybe that’s your best starting place.
If you want to set boundaries, just set them. But to stick with them, you have to convince yourself of their necessity. (Other people’s) broken hearts are one thing. Getting your own heart — or, worse, your professional reputation — broken is something else altogether. If you don’t start behaving with a little more decorum and maturity, you’re going to find that out first hand.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.
L May 24, 2012, 9:17 am
Rejecting a guy is NOT the same thing as breaking his heart. Not even close. Rejection might create a bit of awkwardness, but that’s it. These guys aren’t “proclaiming love” to you, they’re telling you they think you’re hot. Big big BIG difference. It’s time you put on your professional big girl panties and respectfully decline ALL your students. What you’re doing is incredibly unprofessional.
bagge72 May 24, 2012, 9:17 am
I agree with Wendy on this one LW. First you are being very inappropriate with you students (wish I had a teacher like you back in the day though, because that is every guys fantasy) and judging by all of the teachers that have been in the news constantly, I’m assuming this type of thing usually doesn’t work out. Second you probably are putting off the wrong signal to all of these guys. You see it all of the time where a pretty girl thinks she is one of the guys, because she drinks beer, loves sports, makes jokes, and is out going. That isn’t how it works, if a guy sees a girl that cool he wants to stick is dick joke inside of her! These girls don’t understand that these guys are their best friends, because they are stuck in the friend zone, and yeah you are a great friend who’s nice to hang out with, but that isn’t how it started out, and given the chance the guy will fuck your brains out. Just don’t get mad when the guy gets a girlfriend and does the slow fade with you.
Amanda May 24, 2012, 10:13 am
LW, you are jeopardizing your career with your inappropriate behavior. You may not think your behavior is a problem, but people will gossip and your professional reputation WILL suffer. Why take that risk?
Will.i.am May 24, 2012, 11:48 am
Fuck her brains out is correct. Are guys even ok being in the friendzone without getting something in return? It doesn’t have to be sex, but maybe the ability to be around all her cute female friends, or she always buys the beer or liquor.
FireStar May 24, 2012, 9:22 am
I think most women go through a phase in their life when they realize that they have a certain power over men – usually it is in high school and thankfully both men and women grow out of it since the men realize that a partner should treat them kindly and women realize that having power doesn’t mean you should use it. Since you are a late bloomer and are dealing with men that might be late bloomers too here is what you need to know: The rush you get from all the attention isn’t worth hurting the feelings of what are probably very nice guys. It damages them but it also damages you. You are going to assume (wrongly) that you are immune from consequences when you are the one holding all the power all the time. I used to know a girl that never clued into the fact that just because you COULD run a man – it didn’t mean you SHOULD. The boys from undergrad were exchanged for older men since boys her age eventually figured out they want nothing to do with that kind of girl. She had stories of men giving her cars, leaving their wives for her, “surprising” her with overt displays of affection – like your student at the bar – she targeted the wrong man one day though and her stories of how she was the victim of an attempted seduction threatened his career and he lashed back and lashed hard. He was older but wasn’t so much of a loser in his own life that he would allow someone to take advantage of him. She was disgraced and left for the other side of the country but had difficulty getting hired even there because her reputation preceded her. It is not a question of if your bad behaviour will catch up with you – but when. There is no secret to having boundaries. You set them and then you keep them. So all the excessive flirting and leading men on that you seem to have as your MO? Cut it out.
theattack May 24, 2012, 12:57 pm
This is perfect.
diamore May 24, 2012, 9:24 am
OMG…you can’t date/kiss/sleep with your students! There is no ethical or legal justification for that, especially as a teacher! This is the type of thing that gives the profession a bad rep. I’m sorry, but as an educator myself, the issue of professional boundaries is something that is always present, and when abused, it upsets me. You can’t use your fiduciary position like that.
So, stop it! If you want to date, find guys outside of your faculty, not in your classroom.
As for setting boundaries, just say ‘No thank you, as you TA, a non-profession relationship is inappropriate’. Professional reputation lasts lifetimes longer than a broken heart.
amy May 24, 2012, 9:30 am
My fiance’ isn’t even allowed to spend time with his students outside of the class. When he was looking for apartments, he had to make sure that undergraduates didn’t live in the building to avoid breaking the rules of teaching at the university (he’s a graduate teaching assistant) let alone flirting with them at a bar. God god. This girl makes me a bit sick to my stomach.
diamore May 24, 2012, 9:54 am
I know, you really have to be aware of the policies before embarking on any sort of relationship outside of the classroom because it’s everyone’s reputation on the line when that person gets caught. And I have no doubt she will get caught one way or another.
And if you have to “secretly” date anyone, you know you’re being irresponsible.
Sunshine Brite May 24, 2012, 10:10 am
WTF agreed… I was kind of with her until this. The late bloomer, just lost weight, I’m allowed to do what I want because I’m an adult phases all hit her at the same time. That can be hard, although the tone in the letter makes me think I’d find her annoying.
But seriously! Why was she chilling with her students to begin with, it can only go downhill from there. Let alone dating one and crushing on another… This is going to blowup in her face so big. I hope she doesn’t want/need to teach past this term.
Will.i.am May 24, 2012, 12:20 pm
Anyone who says, “I hate to break all these guys hearts” is so full of shit in my book. It’s ugly duckling syndrome and she loves the attention and pumping of her ego. She’s a bit heartless in my book and probably very superficial.
Sunshine Brite May 24, 2012, 1:07 pm
Ugh, I hope she doesn’t get stuck there. My boyfriend has a friend who’s considered good looking and his girlfriend supposedly has ugly duckling syndrome and is about 6 years older than this LW. People tolerate her. They tolerate her jealousy. They tolerate her self-serving little statements. I hope by then this LW realizes that she wants people to like her, not just tolerate her.
Violet May 24, 2012, 2:10 pm
I have an acquaintance like this. She was heavy for most of her life until she hit about 20. Now she is very slim and more conventionally attractive, but whoa, did her personality change. She is consistently bratty to other females and frequently speaks about how many men are pursuing her. It’s amusing, I didn’t know there was a name for it. 🙂
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:14 pm
Reminds me of New Money, people who are so vocal about their wallets because they used to be empty.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 4:21 pm
I was a TA my senior year of undergrad, with students in my class who were also seniors (we had students of all years). It would have been nuts if I had not been allowed to “socialize” with them outside of class — one of the girls was in my sorority!
gillociraptor May 25, 2012, 11:37 am
This girl is likely a graduate assistant working in a class that is only undergraduates, and she may be responsible for grading their work, so she could have quite a bit of power in this situation.
My undergrad was the same way, though. I went to a small liberal arts college with no grad school, so all our TAs were our peers. As a result, they weren’t allowed to grade papers or tests; they were only allowed to read drafts and make comments.
wendykh December 14, 2012, 3:02 pm
actually my university has a guidebook that can basically be summed up as “how to date your students”. They got over trying to police adults having sex and relationships and instead decided to help their profs and students do it in as mature manner as possible. Otherwise it’s just driven underground. We even have several deans and faculty admins who met as profs and students. Scandalous is screwing your HS students, not grown ass adults in college/uni.
amy May 24, 2012, 9:25 am
Girl. Those guys are not in love with you, they are just trying to get with someone that is flirtatious because she feels great about her body. Good for you for the self esteem but oh my god…
How is there room for these guys in your life with your giant inflated ego???
Stop with the students and kick your ego down a notch… or two, or three… or four.
I highly doubt the guys are “heartbroken” when you tell them no. They just didn’t get lucky with someone who is entirely full of herself thinking that every man she comes in contact with is in love with her.
Ugh… just, ugh…
amy May 24, 2012, 9:26 am
Secretly dating a student? Please tell me this is a joke.
Your ego is ruining your professional career. Get over yourself, please.
a_different_Wendy May 24, 2012, 9:27 am
LW, I agree with Wendy that dating anyone you teach is completely inappropriate. What I don’t agree with is that you must be encouraging these men because they just wouldn’t profess their love otherwise.
The truth is that a lot of guys, particularly ones who aren’t around girls a whole lot, will mistake friendly interest and conversation as romantic interest and invitation. I like hanging out with nerdy guys (they are the coolest), a lot of my jobs have been populated by mostly guys, and I have had this problem my entire life. My guy friends will quietly develop feelings for me, and then tell me about it and expect us to live happily ever after, only to be shocked and broken hearted when I have to tell them I’m not interested that way.
The truth is, the only way to deal with it is to tone down your natural friendly instincts. Don’t ever give them the remotest idea that you’re flirting. Try not to smile so much, and if necessary, lie about already having a boyfriend. Just do everything you can to make it clear that you’re not interested. And trust me, you want to do this, because eventually you end up with stalker types who will not give up and leave you alone.
Mel May 24, 2012, 9:32 am
I don’t know, from your post I get the feel that all nerd guys are sad, pathetic and desperate for female attention. I have nerd friends and they’re nothing like that.
I know you probably didn’t mean it that way… although assuming she’ll end up with stalkers is a bit too much.
a_different_Wendy May 24, 2012, 9:52 am
Yeah, I didn’t mean it that way. Sorry if it came across. Most nerdy guys are pretty awesome actually, but a lot of the guys I’ve known, some nerdy and some not, just have trouble telling the difference between ‘friendly’ and flirtatious’.
There’s nothing sad, pathetic, or desperate about that.
And I guess with the stalker thing I’m just speaking from my own experience. I invited I guy I worked with to go out with some friends and I for NYE, and spent the next 6 months reiterating over and over and over again that I wasn’t interested, dealing with constant texts, emails, calls. Eventually he started getting really angry and even more inappropriate and I had to report him and have him fired. Most guys *aren’t* like that, but some are. And if you hang out with mostly guys you are bound to come across one of those eventually.
DMR May 25, 2012, 5:55 am
This is true, but it’s also true that there ARE nerd guys who are sad and desperate for female attention. She seems to have found the motherlode of such guys.
Slamy May 24, 2012, 11:38 am
Unfortunately, I know first hand that when I think I am just being nice and friendly, sometimes guys will take it the wrong way (particularly guys who don’t have a ton of girls that talk to them) and think I’m being flirtatious, or that I’m interested in them, when I’m not. I love laughing, and making people laugh, and this can be taken the wrong way.
I was a late bloomer, as well, and I like attention, but after having people I thought were my friends confess their love to me, I’m a lot more careful about who I’m extra friendly to, and I have certain friends that I will only see in groups. I had to learn this.
It’s kind of similar to when girls think you are hitting on their boyfriend when you’re just being nice. This is how I learned that you always pay more attention to the female half of the couple, and when a guy friend gets a GF, the sure way to make sure you stay friends is to befriend the lady.
Slamy May 24, 2012, 12:14 pm
BTW, LW… STOP SLEEPING WITH YOUR STUDENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You’re going to get in trouble. Just stop. I get the appeal of wanting what you’re not supposed to have, and the thrill that comes with getting it and being secretive and all that. Quit before it [inevitably] blows up in your face.
amy May 24, 2012, 9:34 am
The problem is that she loves the attention, it’s totally evident in this letter.
She states that she “can’t stop guys from falling in love with her”. She loves the attention from them, and it needs to stop. She’s not looking at how to stop their “love”, she’s looking for justification in her actions.
After all, she is so pretty, smart, flirty, etc. that the guys just can’t help but fall in love with her. The way you stated your response is entirely different and it does not reek of narcisism like the LW’s response does.
I agree with your response, but I don’t think the problem is needy guys for the LW. I think the problem is the LW, period.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:43 am
Yes, you are getting it exactly right. That’s the major difference in what another wendy was saying and whats actually happening.
a_different_Wendy May 24, 2012, 9:59 am
Still, on the off chance that she actually wants to stop them from paying that sort of attention, toning down the flirtatious/friendly behavior is the only way. If she was actually just writing in for validation of her behavior and to let everyone know just how awesome and pretty and smart she is, then she is probably going to be sorely disappointed by most of the replies.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:11 am
If she stopped trying to be sooo cool, and she knows she’s doing this, that would work too. She just reeks of wanting the attention. The whole I’m so cute andI love beer and dick jokes? Come on. I love beer and dick jokes too. I wear dresses. A lot of women do. The difference is we don’t flaunt those things to try and get attention. Its the old ‘if you really are that, you don’t walk around trying to tell everyone.’
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 4:28 pm
But the other side is that you have to give details like that when trying to explain the situation and a frequent DW would know that. She explained a justification for why she thinks they might be attracted to her for other reasons than herself. (i.e. she’s one of the only girly-girls they see on a regular basis). I thought the letter took a weird sharp turn to the right when she started in on the student thing, but I think we’ve all been in situations where nice guys we weren’t interested in liked us and we had to deal with the awkward fall out. She said explicitly that she was having trouble with boundaries –i think she could use a little benefit of the doubt that some of the details weren’t bragging, but were filling in blanks that otherwise, we would have to speculate about.
katie May 24, 2012, 6:28 pm
isnt it funny that the LWs are screwed either way?
she gave details, and we hate her for it.
if she hadnt given any, we would hate her to.
DMR May 25, 2012, 6:00 am
Yeah, I agree. Sometimes everyone here at DW analyses WHY a particular letter writer included certain facts. (and often, to my mind, draw erroneous conclusions). Usually, it’s simply because they’re making an effort to paint as complete and honest a picture as they can.
For example, letter writers often get criticized for bragging when they’re just trying to give you an accurate picture (e.g., “I’m hot and I get a lot of attention from the opposite sex”). Information has to be taken at face value for this to work (most of the time).
CG May 24, 2012, 10:18 am
Yeah, she’s like the 23-year-old version of Samantha Brick. I’m surprised she didn’t throw a line in there about how she doesn’t have any female friends because they’re all JELLY H8RS!!!!! :p
dabbler May 24, 2012, 10:20 am
I knew a guy that loved to talk to anyone and everyone when he would go out. He’s super flirtatious and touchy-feely. He’d meet a girl, flirt his ass off, ask for her number, call/text all the time, then couldn’t figure out why all these girls would think they were dating, or at least headed that direction. He says he’s just being nice and friendly, and enjoying meeting new people. Now, I could never tell if he was really that naive (which I doubt), or being deliberately obtuse because he thrived on that attention (which I suspect is the case). Maybe she’s something like this guy, sending what appears to be clear signals that he’s interested, when he’s really just enjoying the attention and the feeling of being wanted. I mean, c’mon. Most people at this age and stage of their lives aren’t going out looking for a new best friend.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:33 am
Ugh, I have the exact same problem, but with women too.
(k, I’ll read the letter now)
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 9:36 am
Sigh, me too.
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 9:47 am
Well, we are ALL in love with you Addie. Men, women, probably even Miles.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 9:57 am
Aww, I’ll walk with an extra pep in my step today, honeybee!
PFG-SCR May 24, 2012, 10:05 am
I was actually thinking as I read the letter that I was in love with the LW!! I’m a little unsure of my feelings for the rest of you, though.
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 10:09 am
Just don’t tell my husband. Sometimes he gets a little jealous.
Mel May 24, 2012, 9:34 am
“I have a feeling that all of these men who are professing their love to you are led to believe those feelings might be at least a little bit reciprocated”
You flirt with them because you like the attention. You may not even realize what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Are you answering inappropirate comments with a smile? Do you use cutesy nicknames with your friends? Do you touch them a lot while talking? Do you share intimate details of your life with them? Intimate as in “Oh, I went out yesterday and got new panties”, and not as in “I ate bad pizza yesterday and now have diarrhea”.
And you can avoid all this, and with that avoid all the love professing. But to avoid it you need to be able to pinpoint exactly what it is that you’re doing wrong.
And dating a student = WRONG. Dating two at the same time = OMGWTF NO.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 9:34 am
Oh lord. Wendy’s advice is great, as usual. I’ll just add a few of my deep thoughts:
1. People’s newly-discovered hotness is so… annoying, sometimes. My friend Tara was really overweight in high school. Then she lost like 50 pounds. Now she can’t stop looking at herself in the mirror. And posting those “sexy” pics of herself on FB – you know the kind, camera held high angled down on her, pouty mouth, ample cleavage. It’s not hot when you’re 33. I’m sure you don’t do that, I’m just saying, Tara is annoying.
2. I’m a little bummed the nerdy boys in my math classes didn’t profess their love for me – I should’ve dressed more prettily!
3. “It is frowned upon, but I’m not sure I can actually lose my job over it.” – Actually, I am pretty sure you could lose your job for dating a current student. There should be a code of conduct manual that you can review. There’s probably one posted on your school’s intranet.
4. It’s so beautiful in Chicago. I think I’m going to take a mini road trip to Wisconsin to hike around Lake Geneva. Any unemployed Wisconsinites (is that what you’re called?) want to join me?
5. That’s all, but 5 points is better than 4. I guess I could’ve stopped at 3 too.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:45 am
Oh jeez, I know people like that too. Its so ridiculous, especially at our age.
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 9:49 am
If you want to take a slightly longer trip up to Madison, I’ll hike around the capitol with you. And yes, we are Wisconsinites 🙂
PFG-SCR May 24, 2012, 10:01 am
I thought you were called CheeseHeads as payback for calling us FIBs? 😉
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 10:10 am
Well, that too I suppose. But despite what people think, we don’t ALL own a cheesehead hat thing. I don’t at least.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:02 am
I LOVE MADISON. I drove through Madison on Sunday on my way back to Chicago from Minneapolis. It took us 10 hours to make that drive because we kept stopping at antique shops in cute Wisconsin towns along I-94/90. … I think Wisconsin has the cutest towns.
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 10:11 am
And you didn’t stop to see me? I’m hurt! But Wisconsin does have some beautiful towns. I grew up in a tiny little township but live in Madison now. I work about a block away from the capitol and its beautiful down here.
Kristina May 24, 2012, 9:36 am
It’s really not that hard to stay away from your students, but I have a feeling you date them because you like to break the rules, and like being in that position. It may be legal, but it’s extremely unprofessional and you should know better at your age. It’s clear you like the attention, but these guys are not in love with you. Get over yourself and stop acting so immature. I suspect you’re leading these guys on a bit because you like the new attention, and that you somewhat enjoy being in the position of having to ‘break’ their hearts–which trust me, their ‘love’ is not that deep to begin with. Setting boundaries really isn’t that hard. It takes self-control, which you need to work on.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:37 am
You sound like every other immature 23 year old girl out there who didn’t get enough attention in high school. Except you are dating your students. So, uh, stop doing that. Its very inappropriate. Also, I’m a little confused as to how you say you “learned your lesson” when you are still doing it. Grow up.
amy May 24, 2012, 9:38 am
bagge72 May 24, 2012, 9:54 am
Haha right! She learned her lesson from the students she made out with in the bar, or the one she has been dating? She sounds like a late bloomer so she is acting like a freshman in college, except she has a lot more riding on who she is riding amiright!
katie May 24, 2012, 10:06 am
“more riding on who she is riding”
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:13 am
I get it. I mean, everyone loves feeling good about themselves. I think this will naturally pass for her once she truly believes she is cool or pretty or whatever. I don’t think she does yet. She’s still trying to prove that to herself by acting like this. But you gave her some good info above that these guys don’t like her, they just want to bone her.
Will.i.am May 24, 2012, 2:07 pm
Even though she looks prettier on the outside, she still feels like that fatter, less attractive girl on the inside. So she plays guys to chloroform those thoughts in her head.
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 9:42 am
My favorite part of this letter is: “whom I didn’t even realize that I liked until Friday.”
LW, I realize that your teenage years were awkward and you’re likely going through a somewhat late blooming period…but saying things like “I didn’t realize I liked him until Friday” is something a middle schooler would whisper to her bff at the cafeteria table during lunch.
And in fact, most of your letter doesn’t reflect very highly on your maturity. It’s fine to have discovered yourself and to embrace your body and feel hot…we preach it to women all the time. But there’s a difference between confidence and cockiness…and you’ve veered toward the latter. I know the newfound attention is a pretty potent high for you right now, but that doesn’t give you license to lead people on or act unprofessionally.
And for the record, just remember that for now, these young, inexperienced guys WILL eat up the cockiness…but as you get older, guys worth dating seriously aren’t going to be attracted to women who lead people on or who have a really inflated ego. In fact, it’s going to repel a lot of guys in the future if you keep it up. A think a little humility will go a long way here.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:46 am
ha, good pick up RR on the last Friday realization.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 9:54 am
In LW’s defense, I applaud her use of “whom” in that sentence. Kudos!
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 9:57 am
To play devil’s advocate, Wendy has a master’s degree in English and edits the letters…not so confident it was the LW who knew the difference between who and whom. Just sayin.
amy May 24, 2012, 9:59 am
How could she possibly have the time to proof read her submitted letter when she is too busy breaking the boy’s hearts? 😉
Wendy May 24, 2012, 9:59 am
It was all the LW in this case.
amy May 24, 2012, 10:00 am
Ooops, I was a little late with my snarky response below lol.
bagge72 May 24, 2012, 9:58 am
haha yes, this reminds me of Katie’s middle school journal!
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:03 am
Ha! I was going to say the same thing!
katie May 24, 2012, 10:06 am
haha… good call guys! good call.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:15 am
I’m afraid to even look at my old journals. I like to blindly remember my past the way I’ve created it in my head. I’ve been trying to get my daughter to start a diary (and no, not only so I can read it), so I told her that I used to and now she wants to see them.
TaraMonster May 24, 2012, 12:24 pm
I went through some of mine the other day. LOL. DO IT! The things I said. Lordy. My journal from when I was 13 contains the finger from a latex glove because of those “condom pocket” shirts that were all the rage back then (ya know, the little square pockets on the 3/4 sleeve shirts?). My friends and I made fake condoms to put in those pockets… I don’t know why I’m admitting this. haha.
convexed May 24, 2012, 1:26 pm
You can absolutely lose yr job. It is almost always verboten to date, sometimes even socialize with, current students. It creates a mixed up dynamic, as you assign their grades, and too much famiiarity damages fair grading. The students will absolutely tell their friends and classmates, bc its something to brag about, and the way you grade the students you are banging will be a cause for concern, suspicion, and jealousy among the other students, who may report their concerns. Yes, even if you don’t give the students an A. If you must date a student, you must disclose the relationship immediately to your dean and the student must be transferred to another classroom, out from under yr authority. You can lose yr job and jeopardize any and all future postions in yr field, even if they don’t involve teaching, bc you need your university references as you get started. If you are teaching as part of a fellowship, you can also lose yr funding and be removed from the program. Thee consequences apply to confident lovely girls equally as to pervy old man professors. Get yr head straight; you have a problem.
bagge72 May 24, 2012, 10:36 am
I don’t have a journal, but I have all sorts of good stories from when I was a kid, like the time I wanted to be like Popeye so I went out to the lawn, and ate the grass, because I thought it was spinach, but I chocked on the grass blades. Or the time I saw a commercial for Selsun Blue, and when I was taking a shower, I decided to wash my hair with the only blue thing I could find in the bathroom which turned out to be toilet bowl cleaner.
JK May 24, 2012, 10:41 am
When my brother was 4 hair gel was popular (circa 1986). At McDs my mum sent him to the toilet by himself (waiting outside the door), when he came out he´d spiked his hair with the “gel” by the basins… yep, liquid soap.
caitie_didn't May 24, 2012, 9:47 am
Ugh, girl: take your inflated ego to the moon or something because nobody wants it here.
I bet you’re also the type of girl who has no female friends because “women are just so catty and bitchy”. More likely every girl you know doesn’t trust you further than they can throw the bathtub. I sure wouldn’t, if I knew you.
FYI: your university will have strict anti-fraternization policies and you deserve to be reported, fined, lose your job and be disgraced academically for your rampantly unprofessional and unethical behaviour. Just because you’re finally getting attention from some dudes doesn’t give you license to be a dumbass. Grow the f*ck up.
L May 24, 2012, 9:58 am
Agreed. Her ego was ridiculous.
caitie_didn't May 24, 2012, 6:07 pm
I absolutely loathe women like this. And I know that it reflects more poorly on me than them because we don’t need to compete with each other and all that but really? This LW sounds like the girl who will openly, totally inappropriately cross the line with your boyfriend while you’re standing right there.
I admit that I’m biased because my freshman roommate was one of these women. She was not significantly more or less attractive than me, but you’d better believe that she’d push her own mother down the stairs if it meant unobstructed flirting with any guys in the vicinity. I refused to compete with her for attention or play into her weird dog and pony show, so I think to a lot of guys I came off as comparatively standoffish or even bitchy (because often, 18,19,20 year old guys haven’t figured this type of girl out yet).
Slamy May 24, 2012, 11:43 am
I also don’t get girls who say they don’t get along with other girls. What?! Female friends are great (and important).
TaraMonster May 24, 2012, 12:32 pm
Well, those women are just looking for a nice little patriarchal pat on the head, IMO. I vacillate between feeling exasperated by that attitude and feeling bad for women who don’t realize how beautiful sisterhood can be.
My little cousin said this to me in her freshman year of college: “I just hang out with guys. Girls are so catty.” I shut that shit right down. “What about me? I’m your cousin, but I’m still a woman. Do you think I’m catty?” And then we had a nice, long chat about gender dynamics. She was really receptive to it, but that’s because we’re family and I can talk to her like that. I guess that’s the only way you can really combat that attitude: on an interpersonal level.
It still pisses me off, though!
Will.i.am May 24, 2012, 2:14 pm
They don’t because they love the drama of hanging with all the guys. I knew a girl like this and she’s always passive aggressive. Like why the world sux, but she’s awesome. Why her guy doesn’t deserve to be with her, but she’s breaks up with him every other week, yet gets back together with him instantly. People like that frustrate me to no end. They are and create their own DRAMA!
Fabelle May 24, 2012, 9:47 am
LW, you have “I just realized I’m hot!” syndrome. I know it sounds like I’m making this up, but I’ve found that it’s a real thing. If it happens when you’re 16 (like, “I’m suddenly comfortable in my post-pubescent body! I look kind of good & people find me attractive!”), you usually learn to navigate & discern the positive/negative attention by the time you’re in your early twenties.
However, you’re 23 and seem to just be “coming into your own” (which is kind of a silly phrase, but I can’t think of another.) There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a little more problematic to be discovering these things at 23, as opposed to 16 or 17, because there are actual consequences if you fuck up along the way. You’re an adult. You cannot be dating your students just because they give you attention. It doesn’t matter if they’re the same age as you, or whatever– you’re in a position of authority, & they need to respect you.
Being a charming, friendly, attractive “cool” girl means that all kinds of guys are going to “fall in love” with you (especially when you’re surrounded by them!) Figure out when a conversation is going from friendly to flirty, & then ice it immediately when it does. And– not to generalize, BUT– at your age & in your situation (at university), most guys are NOT trying to hang out with you platonically. If you don’t want to break all the hearts, then DON’T hang out one-on-one with any dude.
Fabelle May 24, 2012, 9:50 am
Just realized a bunch of people said something similiar– oh well, at least we’re all on the same page!
amy May 24, 2012, 9:57 am
The more she sees this, the better.
I say we keep hammering this point home. She’s going to wind up in trouble
TECH May 24, 2012, 9:50 am
“Self-confidence in a cute, outgoing, smiley 23 year old who likes dick jokes can be intensely magnetic. Now you know.”
Love it! Now you know, so get over it!
As everyone else is suggesting, guys don’t just come up to you and “profess their love” for you if you haven’t given them some indication that you like them back. You can be friendly, pretty, funny, and everything else wonderful — but still not give out that “available” vibe.
I get the feeling from your letter that you love the attention you’re getting. “Oh woe is me, so many guys want me, how can I set boundaries?” I don’t know, bring a certain level of maturity to your relationships. Maybe a good start would be to only date one guy at a time, and not in secret. How do you set boundaries? A consistent pattern of making good decisions and saying no to sh*ty ones.
Zepp May 24, 2012, 9:54 am
This reminds me of the Britney Spears song “Oops I did it again”. Whoever said most girls go through this stage in high school was right. This happened to me all the time in high school, but instead of loving it (like this LW) it actually made me really uncomfortable. So by 18 I learned to not keep hanging out with guys 1:1 if I could tell they had a crush on me, no matter how much I enjoyed their friendship. It’s not really hard to do, hanging out in groups is really fun too.
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 9:55 am
I used to be a supervisor in a halfway house for people coming out of prison. More than 3/4 of my clients were sex offenders. I trained every single new staff person that came in and sometime in the first shift I always told them the same thing:
DON’T SLEEP WITH THE OFFENDERS. You will be discovered and you will be fired (and potentially prosecuted).
Well, ya know what? It still happened. More often than I would like to admit.
So now, I’m going to tell you something similar.
DON’T SLEEP WITH YOUR STUDENTS. You will be discovered and it is quite likely you could be fired and professionally shunned. So. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Anyway, other than that, I agree with a lot of the other commenters that you are probably going through the stage many girls go through as teens when you become comfortable with yourself and realize the power you can have over men. Just because you have the power doesn’t mean you should use it. Set boundaries, stick with them, develop better and more appropriate friendships and try to gain some maturity.
Mel May 24, 2012, 9:59 am
With great power comes great responsibility… like having to wear a higher cut top around your students.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’ll go away now.
Amanda May 24, 2012, 11:06 am
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:24 am
What?!?! Who the hell would sleep with known sex offenders, especially people trained in that field.
You are very right about being shunned. You get caught once, good luck ever getting a job again. You don’t get one freebie mistake in the real world.
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 10:42 am
They are often very charming and cunning. While I was the supervisor (for about 2 years), I had to fire 3 people plus found out about one more after she abruptly quit. She is now married to the offender. With one of the other girls, the offender was a very good looking young man (with a very violent history at the young age of 26) and he would make her do things just to show his power over her. For example, he would get his roommates to go out to her desk at 2 or 3 in the morning (they were supposed to be in their rooms by 10pm) and he would tell her “put on your coat, we’re going out for a smoke” and she would just do it even though he was obviously “showing off” to the other guys.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 11:09 am
How can girls, or anyone for that matter, who are so easily taken advantage of be in that line of work. What a horrible idea.
JK May 24, 2012, 11:10 am
Amazing. I mean, I get the manipulation, but wouldn´t just knowing what these guys had done put these girls off them?
honeybeenicki May 24, 2012, 11:27 am
You would think so, but apparently not. I mean, we had to read their files when they came into the facility and the files were often fairly graphic. I got in trouble when I told the person who was above me that I was refusing to hire any more females on the night shift because it was an issue.
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 9:56 am
I also just want to note that this whole letter is a fantastic example of brag-plaining.
amy May 24, 2012, 9:58 am
I am sure she’s been taking lessons from the “I’m too pretty to live my life” lady.
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 10:12 am
Can I just say that Samantha Brick is just…not all that pretty? I mean, not pretty enough to be talking about how pretty sure is 24/7, anyway.
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 10:12 am
*She, not sure
amy May 24, 2012, 10:24 am
I know, that’s the part that was so funny hahahahahaha
bethany May 24, 2012, 10:43 am
Who is Samantah Brick?
bethany May 24, 2012, 10:44 am
Nevermind- just googled it!
You’re right, she’s not pretty enough to have a complex about being pretty.
JK May 24, 2012, 10:44 am
Wendy linked an article like a month ago… a journalist that wrote some artcile about how everyone hates her because she´s so beautiful.
Jessibel May 24, 2012, 10:53 am
I had to google her to figure out who you were talking about, and yeah, I remember when that whole kerfuffle happened where she was in the news for claiming she was just too damn pretty, I remember looking at her and being like…but, no you’re not! I agree with you there!
TheGirl May 24, 2012, 2:25 pm
Yup. She’s nice looking, but she’s no Megan Fox.
MissDre May 24, 2012, 10:01 am
call-me-hobo May 24, 2012, 10:07 am
Can I also say that we are very glad you are back? Two days of commenting in a row- be still my beating heart!!
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:09 am
Your welcoming RR back was a lot sweeter than mine.
RR, my heart is beating too.
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 10:11 am
Haha! I’m glad I was missed. I feel like I missed out on so much bonding and fun!
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:24 am
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:25 am
I don’t get this either. I think it’s from some silly show these kids today watch…
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:29 am
Um, guys, can you stop talking about things me and Addie know nothing about. Its kind of rude.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:35 am
Very. Kids today have no respect.
ReginaRey May 24, 2012, 10:44 am
Brag-plaining = Complaining about something so that you can not-so-subtley brag about it. Like “Woe is me, how can I keep guys from falling in love with me?? I’m just too cute and I love dick jokes. Sigh, it’s so annoying!”
I have a Facebook “friend” who does this allllllll the time in picture form. She’ll post a picture of herself looking “hot” in a skimpy dress and bleachy, fried hair, way too much makeup, and the caption will be something like “Ugh, I have such tiny hands.”
Samantha Brick is that British “journalist” who can’t stop talking about how she’s been so successful because she’s just soooo pretty and because men love her and women hate her blah blah.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 10:49 am
Ha. Tiny hands. I pictured the SNL character. I have to turn away every time she’s on. Freaks me out.
Thanks for filling me in. Yes, I know girls like that. So obvious. Why do people not think these things are obvious.
Jessibel May 24, 2012, 10:56 am
Eek, I posted in the forum a week or two ago about some girls being horrible to me and now I’m worried I was brag-plaining! Meh 🙁
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 11:01 am
Can you get over yourself Jessi? Kidding, I didn’t see the posting, but since you are a long time reader, I doubt you did that because you know we’d call you out on it. 🙂
Jessibel May 24, 2012, 11:04 am
As I would expect y’all to, because you’re all awesome!
JK May 24, 2012, 11:08 am
I went back and checked, because I couldn´t remember which post was yours. Don´t worry, you weren´t brag-plaining at all. 🙂
Jessibel May 24, 2012, 12:04 pm
Phew! You guys ever have that, where you think back on something you’ve said and then get all “oh, crap, was I being a total douchenozzle without realizing it?!”
Which reminds me, I have an update on that, so I’ll go post!
JK May 24, 2012, 12:07 pm
Yes, definitely. And my natural state of paranoia does NOT help with that!
Jessibel May 24, 2012, 12:16 pm
I know! When I was younger, I was able to chat with EVERYONE and not get worried about what I said…even total strangers. My friends used to joke that I’d be able to have chemistry with a chair because I was always striking up conversations with strangers (apparently I missed the “stranger danger” day in Kindergarten..hehe). But for some reason in my older age I’ve developed this paranoia that I’m ALWAYS saying the wrong thing. Maybe I should see someone about that…:-P
amy May 24, 2012, 10:15 am
Just re read the letter… and yes, it still sounds as awful as it did the first time I read it. However, I caught this gem:
“I’m not sure if I can actually lose my job over this” in reference to being at a bar with a student that kissed her, oh and by the way, she is secretly dating another student.
YES. You can lose your job. I don’t know of ANY university that condones teacher student relationships. Conflict of interest anyone? Anyone?
amy May 24, 2012, 10:17 am
*Sob… how, but how can you fail me on this assignment?? I thought you liiiiiiiked me! You kissed me back… waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!! You don’t love me anymore… omg… sob… sob… gasp… how can you fail me???”
Upset student goes straight to her superios. Badda bing, badda boom. Done deal, you’re out of the job and possibly out of the school.
wendykh December 14, 2012, 3:15 pm
FTR Plenty do. Just not while you’re actively grading them, and if you do start dating them you must get someone else to grade their work such as a TA or another prof. At our uni this would simply be handled by her telling the prof “I am dating Steve so you’ll need to grade his assignments.” That is all. It’s really not necessary to fill consenting adult sexual relationships with drama.
amy May 24, 2012, 10:18 am
Mainer May 24, 2012, 10:18 am
I don’t think I can really lose my job by kissing a student, it is more frowned upon…like masturbating on an airplane.
bagge72 May 24, 2012, 10:49 am
Elle Marie May 24, 2012, 10:31 am
I work in academia and deal with TAs and the code of conduct governing teaching assistants and teaching staff – dating a pupil can most certainly get someone expelled from a graduate program (if the person is teaching while enrolled as a graduate student), and can get any other type of instructor fired.
One thing that has always irked me about higher education is that instructors at the college/university level don’t receive the same kind of instruction on how to teach that teachers of elementary or secondary (grade school/high school) receive. (At least in the US.) One of the many things my seminars on teaching emphasized was the need to cultivate a professional teaching persona. It is OK to be friendly with students; it is not OK to be friends with them. You are an authority figure and need to lead by example, and part of that means keeping appropriate emotional and physical boundaries with students.
Amanda May 24, 2012, 11:26 am
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 11:28 am
I was going to say, I’ve been a TA and there was a day of ethics training. Its was made VERY clear dating students was a no-no. Even socializing with them was somewhat frowned upon.
I think its pretty suspect that she claims ignorance about how deep of shit she could get herself in.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:38 am
O.M.G. I have been up for 4 hours… and only now did I remember: HAPPY HALF BIRTHDAY TO ME! Carry on.
BriarRose May 24, 2012, 10:49 am
I know a girl like this. She’s a bit older than the LW, and a great girl–truly. She’s smart, capable, and pretty. Like the LW, she works in a profession with mostly men, and therefore gets a lot of attention. It’s very clear she loves the attention, and does her best to nonchalantly play it up–hanging out with the guys in groups and one-on-one, texting them, taking them places with her (shopping, movies–all “friendly” outings). She tells them her problems and makes them feel needed, special, and wanted. And when they inevtiably try to kiss her, or profess feelings, she is SHOCKED and HORRIFIED that they could have possibly thought she was interested in them.
This has led to her being alienated at work, as more and more men fall victim to her, and the few girls she does work with openly ignore her. Personally, it’s become difficult for me to maintain a friendship with her. She constantly bemoans her lack of female friends.
LW, please don’t be like my friend. She is also in jeopardy of getting in trouble at work, and that worries me for her and you. It is an important and useful skill to be able to be polite and friendly to co-workers and students, without being “friendly” and giving people the wrong impression. Everyone likes attention, but you need to accept that you will not be finding that at your place of employment. By all means, date (outside of work!) and enjoy compliments and attention from the men you are dating. But please realize that work is not the place to have your ego stroked, other than in regards to your actual work, which is what you should be focusing on while you’re there.
Leroy May 24, 2012, 11:14 am
In the sequel to the Ugly Duckling, she goes through a phase like this and almost gets herself kicked out of the pond.
This letter is actually kind of cute. It doesn’t seem like she has much experience w/ ‘men’. Without the references to college, this could have been written by a 15 year old girl.
OH NO, all these men are in love with me, what can I do ??? – I guess that I’ll have to kiss them all, boo hooo.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 11:17 am
Wow. your first line. That is the most perfectly put way of describing this situation I have ever heard.
steeze May 24, 2012, 11:24 am
you know what always works for me when i want guys to know this is strictly platonic?
i joke about my uterus bleeding when i have my period or the major farts my lunch gave me.
theyll get the picture pretty freaking quick and youll be hilarious too!
no but seriously, if you give out vibes that your want attention, youll get it. theyre not in love but they do want to get in your pants. thats it.
oh and stop making out with your students. even if youre just a ta. thats pretty shady and douchey.
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 11:37 am
Funny advice, but somewhat true. I had some guy friends I was very close with, but didn’t want to date, and I’d trot out “Its like we’re platonic soul mates!” Emphasis on the platonic.
If you don’t flirt with them, all but the most socially clueless guys will get that you’re not interested.
JK May 24, 2012, 11:42 am
Ugh, I got in trouble once for using the term “platonic”. Apparently here (Argentina) it is used in the sense of an impossible love, not as I was used to using it.
So of course, when I said that I had platonic feelings about X (who was taken) there was a gossip fest! Hard to explain later what I actually meant.
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 11:48 am
Oh, another sure-fire way to imply you’re not interested: talk about guys you are into around your male friends. Nothing gets “I’m not into you” but gushing about somebody else.
Michelle.Lea May 24, 2012, 10:26 am
ah i can remember something similar. but my memories are from high school. i was (and well, still kinda am lol) awkward, and when i discovered that there were a few boys that liked me, i ate up that attention. actually, myself and another friend quite enjoyed inviting boys over to her house when her parents werent home, and cuddling with boys on the couch. and yep, it was cuddling. both of us were pretty naive, and immature for our ages (i was a total late bloomer). we teased those boys horribly. and then sent them home – usually abruptly. we were pretty horrible to them. and when i think about it now, i’m very very thankful we had nice boys that were our friends, and never tried to push us into anything.
and well, that’s what it sounds like you’re going through now. except you’re in your 20’s, i was about 16. i grew out of it. you need to, quickly.
Lee May 24, 2012, 12:14 pm
Long time reader, first time commenter! I just had to comment because this situation is one I deal with a lot. I’m a female senior mechanical engineering major with a similar affinity towards dresses, so I see this problem frequently. However, the comments are correct in their assessment that by seeking that attention there is a greater chance these boys will make a pass at you. I’ve found that a good compromise is to be friends with guys who are already dating or engaged and to get to know their significant others. I’ve made several excellent female friends this way and they are generally in other majors. The added bonus is if you have to do a late night project with their boyfriends for class, they won’t be concerned about the random girl their SO is working with!
As for the teaching bit, that lady is in for some trouble. Although it’s strangely common for TA’s to date students (my Aunt and Uncle met that way, my boss met his wife that way), it seems like something you wouldn’t want to mess with especially since the LW doesn’t seem to know what she wants. I think she should tell them that she can’t see either of them due to school policy. She should probably stop drinking with students too in order to avoid any new problems!
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 12:24 pm
Wow, everybody needs to lay off this poor LW. For only by continuing all the behaviors outlined in her letter will she ever achieve the destiny she truly, fully and most richly deserves…
Samantha May 24, 2012, 12:55 pm
Too true! I just had drinks with the 32-year-old version of the LW. She’s still single and still delusional. Oh, and only sporadically employed.
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 12:43 pm
LW, you’re very likely just now learning to deal with a lot of things that the rest of us figured out in high school or younger. You’re coming across, as you might have gathered, pretty full of yourself and sort of obnoxious. However, there really is some navigation that you’re missing that you very possibly just have zero clue about how to handle.
One, if you really don’t want attention from these young men, you are allowed to say so. If the advances you are getting make you uncomfortable – touching, comments – or even the amount you are getting from certain of these men make you uncomfortable, you get to say so, and anyone who verbally abuses you for saying so IS A DICK. You get to say, “Hey, you’re not on the list of people who get to touch me.” You can say, “Wow, that comment was completely offensive and dehumanizing. Please don’t talk like that to me.” Even if you were okay with it at first, if the amount escalates or the flirt-er just doesn’t seem to be getting the message that you aren’t interested, YOU CAN SAY SO. “Hey, I’m going to assume you mean this as a compliment, but you’re making me uncomfortable now. I didn’t say anything at first because it seemed rude and I hoped you’d stop.” My point is, just because men find you attractive – also, differentiate between attraction and love, if you want to sound not-obnoxious – you are not being rude to tell them they don’t have a chance. There’s this weird double standard women – especially young and naive women – have to deal with in that we shouldn’t sleep with everyone we meet, but that if we straight up say, “Hey, you and me? Not boning,” we are nasty bitches (or whores, which I can’t even begin to unpack). It sucks hard core, but at the same time, if you don’t enjoy the men you work with and go to school with treating you like a 3-D centerfold, you gotta learn to stand up for yourself. That student who kissed you should have heard, “That was entirely inappropriate. Do not do that again. I will be reporting this.”
Is any of this fair that it’s on the woman to call men out for not having boundaries with the opposite sex? No, not at all. Should you have to be the one to speak up? No. But if this is really the problem you say it is, this is how you fix it.
Oh, and quit dating your students. That’s monumentally stupid. I dated a couple of undergrads who had been my students my first semester of grad school, but it was AFTER they were out of my class and would never be my students again. I also dated a staff member, but he never taught any of the classes I took, nor was he in charge of anything involving my assistantship. And I got the all-clear from the academic advisor before anything ever happened. Forbidden fruit may be dangerous and sexy, but getting your ass thrown out of school for inappropriate conduct is the furthest thing from.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 1:04 pm
I can’t help but wonder… If a MALE 23 year old wrote in about how he was secretly dating one of his female students while making out with another in a bar — would you REALLY open your response with three epic paragraphs outlining about how woefully unfair it is to men that they have to be the ones to set the boundaries with women…?
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 2:02 pm
Well, no. I’m not saying she’s not being obnoxious, and that she’s bringing it on herself by her actions – but everyone else already said that. Where I was coming from was that I also think there’s a chance that some of this is unwelcome, or at least is giving her some problems navigating, and rather than just reaming her – which may very well be needed, but I think that was already pretty well covered and hopefully woke her up – I was giving some suggestions as to how to cope with any advances that she is either personally or professionally uncomfortable with.
I worked in a bunch of scene shops in college and beyond and enjoyed the hell out of being the only girl in most of those situations. If the LW feels that way, for the love of all that is holy, own it! But at the same time, at least in my experience, there were moments that crossed the line from “Oh boy, aren’t we having fun flirting! This is awesome harmless fun!” to “Wow, that totally went someplace that I am NOT okay with.” I was always under the impression that because I was “one of the guys” or because I had ok’d flirting in previous situations, I automatically felt conflicted about being not okay with someone crossing a line for me. And I do have every right, despite my feelings, to say, “Hey, not okay. Stop, please.” This may not apply to the LW, and I absolutely should have been clearer about that, but I don’t see any harm in advising a woman who clearly has some boundary issues anyway on how to say “No” firmly, clearly, and maturely.
I wondered when she referred to dealing with “broken hearts” if maybe she meant she was getting some heat for rejecting people. If she’s not interested but not conveying that well, I figured the above tips would help. Or maybe she’s just being intentionally ignorant about how she’s comin across, and yes, that’s massively irritating.
And no, I wouldn’t tell a man how it takes awhile to realize that, if you’re a woman who was raised and socialized to “defer” to a man and that “no” is impolite, you do eventually have to learn to speak up for yourself in a direct way. Men don’t get the same kind of verbal abuse and intimidation from women as women get from a man they’re rejecting. So, no, I wouldn’t assume automatically that a man doesn’t know how to appropriately set boundaries with women who are going to think he’s a stuck-up bitch for saying, “Hey, over the line.” There are other things that men have to deal with that women don’t, for sure. But please don’t try and back me into a corner because you disagree that my personal experience dealing with this isn’t valid.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 2:53 pm
What decade were you raised in? No, seriously, you last paragraph confused me greatly. Look, I’m forty. And I honestly don’t think I have ANY female friends — and I have friends from all over as nobody in LA is from LA — that were raised to sexually defer to a man out of sheer politeness… So, somehow, I can’t see very many 23 years olds raised that way either. Sorry, I just can’t. Maybe if this was 1962, sure. Or even 1972. But in 2012. No. Sorry, I just don’t buy it.
Moreover, none of that applies here. What she is doing in actually very predatory. She is the opposite of that…
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 3:06 pm
You’re so right. I completely imagined that stuff that happened to me. Sexual harassment? Totally no longer a thing.
Again, I have said I could be wrong about how I’m interpreting this, and also that other people have made great points, so I’m not sure what else I can say other than the above that will make you happy. Seriously, any ideas?
MJ May 24, 2012, 3:22 pm
You’re fighting the good fight here, p_l. Thanks for presenting another side.
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 3:26 pm
But the LW isn’t being sexually harrassed here. She’s using her position of power to get what she wants. She IS being predatory. The guys are being stupid, sure,but taking the bait is not as bad as what she’s doing.She should not be a TA if she doesn’t know how to handle guys who come onto her.
Male and female TAs both learn how reject advances from people.Women may be taught to be a little “nicer” about doing the rejection but I don’t know any girl who is taught that one shouldn’t turn down a guy because it’s “mean”.And I’ve never heard of a man being considered a little bitch for turning down a girl,whether it’s because he’s in a position of power or simply isn’t interested in the girl.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:11 pm
She should not be a TA if she doesn’t know how to handle guys who come onto her.
This. Thank you. This woman is an adult. She’s not 16. Naivety (sp?) is no longer an acceptable excuse. I know painted and katie are trying to play devil’s advocate, which I can appreciate, but even if the girl didn’t have the word “no” in her vocabulary, there is still no excuse for not knowing how to say no. She knows enough to know how to lead a guy on, she should know how to get them to back off too. She just doesn’t want them to.
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 4:17 pm
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 4:18 pm
Yep! I also don’t buy the “woe is me” that she’s putting on.She’s loving this.
katie May 24, 2012, 4:39 pm
i agree with you. but i just think that in her head, the LW might actually BE 16… you know what i mean…? ive actually met girls like this, i dont know if you have, but it is sad.
and the whole she shouldnt be a TA if she doesnt know how to handle herself should be applied to any and all situations and professions everywhere all the time. think of how many problems could be solved by just following that..
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:55 pm
ha, I wonder how many people would be jobless…
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:15 pm
I don’t mean to keep picking on your comments, and I get you’re just trying to present this letter in a better light, but the argument here is pretty flawed. So “girl” (23 year old WOMAN capable of having a degree and job) doesn’t want to be a bitch because she’s super polite and so naive. So instead of telling a guy to back off, she just goes along with everything he does and says? Come on. All I’m hearing is “well, I didn’t know how to say no, so now I’m pregnant by my student/co-worker/rapist/friend/guy at the grocery store who flirted with me.” We should not have to teach a 23 year old woman how to say no. I loved your suggestions, if you were telling them to a 12 year old, or even a high schooler. Not a grown woamn.
katie May 24, 2012, 4:50 pm
the reason like it is because it gives a why- not a free pass. so instead of the “omg your so self absorbed” that is all above us (which may very well be whats happening, were not in her head obviously), its something much deeper. a life lesson that she hasnt learned yet.
didnt you know anyone in college with helicopter parents who knew nothing about social interaction? i knew these people… maybe thats why it doesnt seem so out there that a 23 year old woman wouldnt know how to properly conduct herself with men and with students. those people do exist, as sad as that sounds….
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 5:16 pm
That was more in response to the “What decade did you grow up in?”
Look, I really really don’t mean to say just because she doesn’t know how to define her boundaries that she gets to do what she wants. Even if she is as predatory as the worst-case interpretation makes her into, she still needs massive help figuring out where to draw the line. It’s the difference between (sorry, teacher reference) my saying to a student, “Quit yelling at me!” and telling her, “Hey, tell me, without yelling, exactly why you’re angry.” Should she be yelling? Hell no. Should she know by age 13 not to yell at a teacher? Absolute-fucking-lutely. But she *doesn’t.* I can feel as self-righteous as I want about sending her to the office when she yells, but if she hasn’t learned a different way to handle herself by next Friday, then I’ve failed her.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 5:29 pm
Sexual Harassment is VERY real. And it’s a very REAL problem to be sure… But I simply don’t think that young women today are in any way at all encouraged to just sit back and take it…
theattack May 25, 2012, 2:53 am
We’re not at all encouraged to just go with the sexual harassment, but I don’t think we’re socialized with the tools to say no and deal with it very well. I think most women who experience this want to do something and say no, but they don’t know how, and so many of them do give in to the pressure because, well, that’s how power-coercion works.
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 3:40 pm
I’m 26, and while I usually have no problem being assertive, sometimes I find myself bumping up against this issue. Being hit on or pursued by a guy in a way that makes me uncomfortable, but as it wasn’t crossing a MAJOR line, being unsure how to respond because I don’t want to be perceived as a bitch
Certainly as I’ve gotten older, this has become less of an issue, but when I was younger there were definitely times I wasn’t liking where things were heading, but I didn’t want to get called a bitch for shutting it down.
It may be less pronounced of a problem than it was forty years ago, but its definitely still a problem. There are still certain social expectations for young women that can make it hard for someone who is young and naive to stand-up for themselves against unwanted attention.
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 3:43 pm
Edit: I do not think this particular LW is in this boat. It does not seem she is being made uncomfortable by all this male attention. But more generally, this is still an issue for many young women.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 4:55 pm
Great point. BGM and I disagree about almost everything, and this is one of them. Many strong women do feel, in certain sexual situations, that they can’t just be like “No, you are making me uncomforable” or else they’d be considered a bitch. A perfect example of this happened to me a couple of months ago.
I am a strong independent woman who had just broken up with my ex and went out drinking with friends.I got nicely buzzed, almost drunk, but not. I met a guy, we clicked, but I knew where I was in my emotional state. He asked if I wanted to get out of the bar. I told him that if we left together, it wouldn’t go the way that he imagined. He said “oh?” I said that I just want to make out and cuddle. He said “That sounds good.” I said, verbatim “no seriously, you won’t get laid.” and he was like, “I’m ok with that.” I said verbatim: “are you sure… let me make this clear… you will not be getting off in any way tonight. I really am just in the mood to make out and talk and cuddle.” “sounds good” says he.
Back in my apartment, I spent ALL night trying to keep this guys hands out of my pants (I gave up on my chest). With all the force I could muster. Literally pushing back as he tried, while demurely saying over and over again “No, seriously, let’s just go to sleep.” Bruises the next day from where our arms had crossed — thats how hard I was pushing. Why? Why didn’t I just tell the motherfucker to get the fuck out of my bed and out of my apartment? Because he is friends with friends I’m not that close to and he works in my industry. And if I did that, I’d be the crazy girl who went nuts on a guy SHE brought hom, what did she expect Fucking bitch. And I didn’t want to deal with that, with having to try to explain what happened and why I was justified. So I stuck it out, eventually went to sleep, and woke up with his hands down my pants. Can’t win em all I guess.
So you didn’t have to be raised in the 50’s to feel that type of pressure, that a forceful “NO” makes you a bitch. And the girls I told the story to said “how terrible” but and many nodded. The guys I told the story to were sick to their stomachs. It exists.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 5:00 pm
This is a good example of what you were trying to say. Sorry that happened.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 5:58 pm
You know whats frightening to hear to be totally honest, and I hope I’m not insulting you, but the fact that any girl or woman is more afraid of being called a bitch, then she is of waking up with someone’s hands in their pants.
That’s scary to me. Let’s not ever let that be ok again. The collective “we” are stronger than that. I know it.
JK May 24, 2012, 6:02 pm
I really don´t get that. I hate getting people mad at me, rethink everything I say, etc.
But I´ve never had a problem getting others to respect my boundaries. Once in a club a guy grabbed my ass (I wore skirts that were so short I don´t know how the hell my parents let me out of the house), I turned around and slapped him. And the bouncer next to this clapped. Admittedly it was a visceral reaction, had I thought it through I don´t know if I would do the same (I am pretty against violence).
katie May 24, 2012, 6:06 pm
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 7:39 pm
I think that BGM is right, a lot of the blatant stuff is gone. (Although clearly, as your story illustrates, its still lurking around.
But the more subtle stuff? Its everywhere. There have been weird guys on the bus sitting next to me and asking me personal but not explicit questions, like my name, where are you going, complimenting my looks. Its hard to start with a “Fuck Off” or “Leave Me Alone!” (although increasingly I don’t have a problem saying that). After all, its not explicit, its not *really* harassment, right? So to tell him off would be impolite, right? And we are taught being impolite is bad. And these guys *will* take offense to it. I think to an extent women, particularly young women, have a hard time speaking up, despite feeling uncomfortable, despite their boundaries being (slyly) violated.
Nadine May 24, 2012, 9:15 pm
The “slyly” is key. Its the guy who stands too close at the bar, who follows when you move away. Its the hand on the small of the back, that stays too long or slips too low. Its the kiss on the cheek that moves too close to the mouth. Its the hug from a male acquaintance who then starts whispering in your ear.
In my experience, I have no trouble making my boundaries clear with strangers. I swear at street harassers, and I’m the first with a finger up when a car honks at me and my friends. I’ve pushed away people in clubs, and reported others. I’m a waitress currently, and I dont give a shit if some drunk idiot wants me to stop walking so they can compliment me, or touch me or ask me my life story. I will cut them short, and continue working.
Its the ‘friends’ , the friends of friends, the people who you work with sometimes, or people who you want to work with, who get away with it. I smile a lot, and am interested in peoples lives, but I don’t greet people I dont know with a hug or a kiss. I don’t like to be touched, so I don’t touch. But its a bit awkward to start blaring, in the middle of a normal conversation, about what my boundaries are. I found this much harder when I was younger, and I had plenty of male friends try it on. I knew it was coming, and the only thing I could think of to do was to stop talking to them alone. I just didnt think I had the confidence to shut it down in a way that would preserve my friendship. I still dont know how I would do that, to be honest. I guess I’m like the LW, here.
painted_lady May 25, 2012, 11:06 am
It can even be so insidious that you start believing you were responsible for it – not like some crazy manipulation, but just the way things go down can feel like you were complicit. My last year in grad school I was at a party and dancing with a guy I’d fooled around with before. Between fooling around that time and the party, I’d discovered his girlfriend was a girl I had stage managed my first year and genuinely liked, though I didn’t know her that well, and while I *was* friends with the guy, I didn’t appreciate it when he started trying to kiss me, and I asked him to stop. He gave me some guilt-trippy response pulled me into a side hallway, where the bathroom was, and I backed away and told him I needed to use the bathroom (I didn’t). He followed me in there and put himself between me and the door and continued trying to kiss him. I finally got really emphatic and pushed him out of the way, at which point he got all sulky and went and whined to his friends. I got teased so badly for all of it later, both for kissing him (I did at first) and for ending up in a bathroom with him (which felt like my fault for kissing him), and everyone wanted me to know how angry he was at me. For some reason – partly because I’d kissed him back at first, partly because I didn’t want to start drama, partly because it felt like since I was an active participant once before, it felt like I was somehow being unfair for rescinding his rights to do whatever he wanted with me – I actually laughed myself. Oh silly me, always making stupid drunk decisions. What a spaz, dancing with a guy and then getting myself backed into a hallway. It never really occurred, because he was a friend, that I not only never said yes, I specifically said no and had to physically restrain him to get out of the bathroom. My friend wouldn’t hear my no and because he was a friend, I didn’t see it for what it was. If this were a stranger who had done this, I’d have been screaming and hitting and scratching; anything it took to get that guy off me.
painted_lady May 25, 2012, 11:18 am
By the way, not that it matters, did NOT know he had a girlfriend until after I’d fooled around with him. Just realized how that looked.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 1:44 pm
Its so, so, so highly unlikely that she doesn’t know how to ward off advances from guys. Like, impossible almost. She does not need a lesson on how to do that. No one does. She also clearly is not being made uncomfortable by any of these guys either. She’s not only comfortable by it, she’s enjoying it and asking for more. I have to say I’m surprised by this because I was looking forward to your comment since you are a teacher. Her behavior is inexcusable, imo.
As to “Should you have to be the one to speak up?” Absolutely she should! If someone is uncomfortable, it is on them and only them to say another’s behavior is making them uncomfortable, unless its so obviously inappropriate. In this case though, if she is encouraging it, how on earth would the guy know she doesn’t like it?
katie May 24, 2012, 1:57 pm
i think that you would be surprised at how hard it is, if this hasnt been explained to you, to actually go through with it. to be, in your head, screaming, i want to leave and i dont want this guy to be touching me- or whatever… i think you might be surprised at how many of the “flirty” girls who talk with guys all the time feel uncomfortable with it.
i think that everyone here needs to seperate the two issues this letter brought up: the “problem” she is having with male attention, and the kissing/dating her students. they are very different.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:03 pm
But she isn’t having a “problem” with male attention. She’s enjoying it. She made that so clear.
I’m sorry, but there is no way I can understand letting “it” happen, so to speak. If someone’s making me uncomfortable, I say so or walk away from them and avoid them. There’s a million ways, nice, bitchy, mean, apologetic, to say get the hell away from me.
Anyway, LW asked for us to give her boundaries, not tell her how to get guys to stop making her uncomfortable. Huge difference. One admits she can’t help but behave inappropriately, as a teacher and woman, and the one admits she’s flirty but uncomfortable.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 2:07 pm
But the girl seemed to have no problem whatsoever with the guy kissing her — she LIKED it. Big time… She wasn’t secretly screaming inside like some pathetic shrinking violet… Instead it was a cold and calculated oh, well: “I realize the appropriate response is to wait to date him until after the course is finished, but it’s not that simple because I am already seeing one of my other students (in secret).”
Sorry but it sure doesn’t sound like it was in any way hard for her. Or that she didn’t want it to happen either… Frankly, posts like these make you all look very weak. Honestly, it’d be like me writing in to defend a rapist by saying you don’t know how awful blue balls are. I simply can’t believe how quickly so many of you are leaping to the defense of what is pretty clear cut not only inappropriate behavior — but so deeply and morally wrong.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:12 pm
I’ve seen maybe 2 out of 132 comments defending this LW.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 2:43 pm
I’m only referring to those, too, I guess.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 5:31 pm
But there were also a surprising amount of… well, it happens. My aunt and uncle met this way and blah blah blah.
katie May 24, 2012, 2:20 pm
you guys are assessing everything as one issue again…
being with a student is terrible and stupid. that has been well covered, i am not arguing with that.
but the other issue is she “keeps breaking guys hearts”, which means that these guys are coming on to her all the time, and she keeps letting it happen. if she gets some kind of sick pleasure out of that, then fine. thats already been well covered as well.
BUT…. one reason could very well be because she doesnt know how to say no. she doesnt know how to say i dont like this, i dont want you treating me like this. i had a huge, huge problem not knowing how to say no for a long time. so i can empathize with that. the whole thing that painted lady said is real- you feel impolite, you feel like they will make fun of you- theres a bunch of reasons why just going with it and letting the guy act or say whatever he wants seems better then saying no. if she is having this issue, she needs to learn -quickly- how to be able to say no to a man.
and also, i am not completely convinced that she is some terrible person who is getting off on the attention of these hapless nerds.. so maybe were just reading it differently.
i would say honestly that this is most likely what is happening. the girls who are like this (like i was) look all happy and perky and like they are LOVING all the male attention when that really isnt the case. i mean, that might have been why this whole thing started with the student! do you think that just because someones a TA (a late bloomer, learning lessons we all learned in high school in college) couldnt be manipulated into something like that by a much more experienced college guy? its not like they are far away in age… someone above said how one of her male students tried to flirt with her… in the wrong situation, that could be how it all happened.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 2:48 pm
Sometimes though, there really should only be ONE issue.
Look, if some lame-ass guy wrote in saying his young female student kissed him in a bar and he just had to let it happen as he was already secretly dating another and then rationalized all this away by mentioning that hey, he always had to beat them off with a stick because he had suddenly become such a hottie… I very much doubt there would be ANY such of a defense made for him. (And rightly so, I will say right now. Some actions are indefensible. Banging a student of yours is right up there with drunken date rape in my opinion. It’s beyond morally bankrupt… The student can often very much feel they are in no position to say NO.)
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:52 pm
Interesting counterpoint raised about who feels uncomfortable saying no.
I did like the advice about how to learn to say no, although I found it inapplicable to this LW.
Anyway, totally agree. There are no two ways around it being one person taking total advantage of another.
katie May 24, 2012, 3:17 pm
im not defending her dating a student in the slightest- i totally agree with you, especially BGM, about beyond morally bankrupt.
im seperating the issues, and talking specifically about the fact that she has all this *apparent* unwanted attention.
im not saying that this is definitely happening, but its a possibility. and from my personal experience, i understand it. and so if this is what is happening, this LW needs to learn to say no. to any and all men that she doesnt want that kind of attention from.
katie May 24, 2012, 3:18 pm
“So please teach me to set boundaries”
thats right from the letter…
Leroy May 24, 2012, 4:16 pm
I don’t think that she’s terrible either, she’s just enjoying her new found mojo, breaking hearts and making out with her students in bars – hopefully her secret boyfriend doesn’t see her!
Honestly her behavior seems more naive than predatory. Realistically these guys probably aren’t in ‘love’ with her. The fact that she thinks that, and that she’s ‘breaking their hearts’, suggests to me that she doesn’t have much experience w/ guys. Though it is just like a geeky guy to make some big heartfelt proclamation when he likes a girl.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:18 pm
The more I read these comments, the more I (hate to say it) think that these would not be the same where the genders reversed. Trust me, I hate to say that. But you’ve got to be kidding me that this isn’t terrible. She’s 23 years old! Give me a f’in break that this is acceptable.
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 4:23 pm
I don’t think she’s terrible, or predatory, either. I agree she probably loves the attention, and is bringing it on herself. And that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Except she putting her job, future, and friendships at risk.
And I’d like to think I’d give a guy in this situation the same advice, which is: I know its fun to get all kinds of attention, but you need to knock it off. You’re kind of being an idiot and a jerk.
She’s not naive per say, but young and having fun and perhaps not fully cognizant of the impact of her actions. Not the worst thing ever, but better behavior should be expected.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:31 pm
So next time a 23 year old male teacher writes in and says he’s hooking up with not one, but two students, and flirting with every woman at his job, I expect to hear a lot of sympathy for him because its likely he’s just enjoying the attention and not actually a terrible predator.
She’s not kind of an idiot. She IS an idiot.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 5:33 pm
Thanks for pointing out the obvious, LBH. It truly is appreciated. And you’re exactly right. The double standard on this letter is so over the top I am beginning to think many people on here are just seriously out to lunch.
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 4:24 pm
It’s like when a female teacher has sex with an underage male student,people root for the guy and the teacher’s punishment is not what it should be.But if a male teacher has sex with an underage female student,he’s a horrible predator(which I fully agree with,btw).
katie May 24, 2012, 4:25 pm
i agree that at 23 she SHOULD understand this. but the fact is that she doesnt understand it…. and i think that is terribly understandable when you take into account that she is inexperienced and is not used to having male attention. she is the girl you and I were in high school… only she is experiencing this in college. its not right, but understandable given the circumstances.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:34 pm
I keep hearing this argument, oh, we were the same way in high school. A lot has happened to this girl since high school, presumably 5 or 6 years ago. A lot more than just losing weight. Like going to college, living in the real world, having a real job, etc. Just because someone used to be fat and didn’t get attention, and now doesn’t know how to handle it does not give them a get out of jail free card. She’s a grown woman.
katie May 24, 2012, 4:40 pm
see my above comment lol
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 5:36 pm
Seriously? It’s terribly understandable? Okay, imagine applying this same argument to rape? He’s only 18. It’s totally understandable that he is just so unexperienced… How could he ever know that NO really means no?! You are all out to lunch here. You just are…
katie May 24, 2012, 6:03 pm
but we are not talking about something like rape. we are talking about apparent in-experienced nerdy boys professing their “love” for a girl who might not know how to conduct herself with men, and who is also a TA (not teacher, a TA) who is dating someone in her class- which happens all the time, as evidenced above.
nothing that she is doing is smart, none of it should be happening, but i am saying that yes, it may be understandable, if she never learned how to conduct herself in the first place. i shudder to think what she is going to do in her first “real life” job! she is very immature, obviously, in her thoughts and actions. thats what im saying. its not an excuse, its a reason.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:13 pm
Katie, we in no way know how PRESSURED either of the young men in question were. And frankly, this LW is the most unreliable narrator we’ve had yet around here…
katie May 24, 2012, 6:25 pm
your very right (on both counts, for sure).. we have no idea. but this is a case of TAs and college students dating, which has lead to happy relationships and marriage according so some people here who have shared their stories.
im just saying that these situations arent the same as someone raping someone else or the same as say a high school teacher dating a high school student. there is a real dynamic off there. it is very possible that she is terrible bitch so many people here think she is, talking these students of hers into doing whatever she wants them too.. i dont eliminate that possibility. but given the information she gave, i see it as a girl who doesnt know how to conduct herself properly and doesnt understand what is over the line in terms of professionalism. thats not a predator.
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 4:21 pm
lol i forgot that she’s already dating a guy and cheating on him.
katie May 24, 2012, 4:23 pm
i agree with this a lot.
and, i dont think i would say anything differently if this was a man. everyone needs to know how to say no, no matter who they are and who the person is who is giving the attention.
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 2:26 pm
And read the end of my first comment (I know it’s long! I always have a lot to say!). The LW absolutely shouldn’t be dating students, and the rationalization that “Well, I’m going to have him as a student for awhile so might as well start now” is CRAZYPANTS. She’s going to get her ass fired. Whether she’s traumatizing these legal adults or not is questionable, the fact that she doesn’t *think* she can get fired is so, so professionally negligent. If any of your justifications for doing anything is “Well, I doubt I can get fired,” you SHOULD NOT DO IT.
Jessibel May 24, 2012, 5:21 pm
Yeah, the tone of her letter is that she’s reveling in it. I can see us being sympathetic for one…maybe two guys “falling” for her and her being uncomfortable with saying “no, I’m sorry, I don’t want to go out with you.” I think that’s probably happened to a majority of us at least once, where someone misinterprets our being nice to them as us wanting to date them. So, I can see this happening to her maaaaybe twice and if that was the case with her letter could have defended her. But once we get into break ALLLL the hearts! it’s become a pattern where something obviously isn’t working and the only common factor here is her and her behavior, and that’s what comes across in her letter. That could even get a pass from us where we could tell her to get her head out of her butt and become more self-aware, and examine her own behavior to see why this pattern is holding up. In my opinions, she totally loses me and she gets no sympathy when she admits to dating a student, and then technically cheating on said student with another student. That being the case, I know most of us just probably ache to tell her “put on your big girl pants and do the right thing, because you’re an adult honey and you should know what that is, and we can’t be understanding of your dilemma” Now, I know it’s feels better to do what you want and consequences be damned, but as adults we all have to do things we don’t like and maybe end an inappropriate relationship because it’s not right (dating a married man/woman, dating a student, dating a teacher, cheating on a spouse…stuff like that).
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 2:15 pm
Again, I should have made more clear that I could TOTALLY be reading this wrong. In the case of classmates, though, I don’t think a few lessons on “This is how you draw the line” are going to hurt her any. And no, you’re right, women should be able to set up clear boundaries, but in my experience in working in mostly-men workplaces, it tends to be a little more common that the men feel entitled, to a certain degree, to be able to treat the women in a less respectful way. If all the boys are doing it, it seems totally acceptable and that one person – who also happens to be one of three women – who’s going “Hey, this feels weird!” is the buzzkill that’s ruining their good time. Fortunately, I’ve had very little experience with that, but it happens. And if you haven’t given yourself permission to say, “Dude, making boob jokes are fine, but peering down my top ‘as a joke’ is TOTALLY NOT,” then yeah, once you say it and they make you feel like the Grinch who stole Dickmas, you’re less likely to ever say it again.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:18 pm
Ok, ok. I can get behind this. (insert dick joke here)
Seriously though, I hear what you’re saying. Generally speaking, I agree with this.
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 2:56 pm
And your point that women need to learn to speak up in a firm and timely manner directly to the men who are making them uncomfortable. I wish sexual harassment seminars were better at this, and I wish mostly that the fallout related to saying “Nope, over the line, buddy,” weren’t so unpleasant sometimes. But the more women who can say that, the more men there will eventually be who see that not as a referendum on masculinity but rather as what it is – a request to stop.
katie May 24, 2012, 3:27 pm
i just want to pipe in and say i was never told how to say no to anyone, ever.
so maybe we should work on teaching that to young people as well.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:02 pm
OK, but you know the word no. You sorta make it seem like you didn’t ever know saying no was an option, which I cannot believe. I get what was being said about this a little. But you’re making it seem like if I walked up to you and asked you to jump off a bridge/have sex with me/run around naked in the snow, you would have to do it just because no one ever explained that you didn’t have to actually do what people ask of you.
katie May 24, 2012, 4:28 pm
lbh, im really glad you were raised to be a strong lady, but you have to understand thats not the way it is for everyone. of course it wasnt as extreme as someone asking me to jump off a bridge, but saying no wasnt something i could muster the courage to say at one point, especially with boys. i couldnt form the words. i get that you might not understand it, and i hate my younger self for being so dumb, but… its there. it happened.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:36 pm
Maybe you are right. Maybe I’m just seeing this through different eyes. I don’t mean to dismiss what you are saying has been true for you.
katie May 24, 2012, 4:42 pm
i know that. no worries there.
painted_lady May 24, 2012, 4:36 pm
That totally makes sense in a larger perspective. And it’s not like I’m saying “Oh, you don’t know how to say no, free pass for you!” It’s more that – especially if you’re super-naive or a late bloomer – trusting that your “no” instinct is correct (whether it’s “This man is making me uncomfortable” or “This is a really, really bad idea and will get me fired/cost me friends/be more drama than it’s worth”) is harder to do at first, especially if you’re brand-new at dealing with it. It took me a long time to trust that instinct and to say no/cease and desist because the mere fact that your hesitant is its own reason.
Again, I’m not saying, nor will I ever say, that the LW gets a pass because she doesn’t know how. But telling her “WTF is wrong with you?” while useful in and of itself is not telling her how to take a different path.
And maybe she has zero “no” instinct. In which case…well, I don’t know what to say then. But offering tools isn’t the same as excusing behavior.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 4:53 pm
“But offering tools isn’t the same as excusing behavior.”
Something More May 24, 2012, 10:15 pm
It’s not the inability to say no per se, it’s the lack of being taught to stand up for yourself in those situations. i swear I JUST talked to my daughters about this an hour ago. I wasn’t raised to say “This makes me uncomfortable.” I was raised trying to please a very demanding mother who didn’t talk to me about boys and sex. And it carried over. I had sex too young because I didn’t want to upset anyone or speak up about it, especially in my Catholic household.
Milla May 24, 2012, 12:46 pm
LW, people have already made this clear, but DO NOT sleep with your students. I teach through my grad program as well, and I just. . . I’ve heard of other (male) cohorts who have slept with students, and while depending on your institution’s policy, you might technically be okay (although, as people have already pointed out, you are primed for a sexual harassment charge and possible expulsion), but it is scummy. As their teacher, you hold power over them— grades, instruction time, etc. It’s the same reason that employee-boss relationships are unacceptable.
I am so bewildered by people who want to sleep with their students, though. The moment someone comes and sits in my classroom I instantly lose any attraction that I might have felt towards them.
Amanda May 24, 2012, 3:03 pm
I completely agree. Dating one of your students is just creepy.
Seattlebean May 24, 2012, 1:28 pm
WOW. This resonates…
You know how I got my job at the college I work, LW? The previous person started a secret relationship with a work-study student. And there were technically no rules at the time forbidding it, other than that the work-study student would have to switch positions so that the power dynamic wasn’t as skewed.
Well, you know what happened? The student didn’t want to leave her position, they broke up and then she claimed that he had pressured her into the relationship. Then she started dating someone else, and he didn’t handle it well, and the whole thing blew up to Beverly Hills, 90210 proportions.
Long story short, he was let go from his position and I was hired. I’m thankful for that because i love my job. But I also had to deal with a divided staff, resentful students and the other assorted aftershocks. Granted, this is a teacher-student relationship, not a supervisor-student relationship. But many of the consequences are the same. Can you imagine how ugly this would get if this became public knowledge amongst your students? Your colleagues? Your supervisors?
My experience with this is that no matter how much you think you’ve got it covered, IT.WILL.BLOW.UP.IN.YOUR.FACE.ANYWAY. The student and the supervisor in the situation I outlined had an agreement to “Deny, deny, deny!” if they ever got caught. Clearly, that didn’t happen. These things have a habit of blowing up, especially when the parties involved are immature and inexperienced.
The supervisor ended up losing his job, losing his friends, having to move home and being unemployed for over a year. So how do you set boundaries? You imagine losing EVERYTHING you’ve got, then you put on your big girl pants and and just do it.
It’s okay that you’re a late bloomer but you have to understand that you really should be acquiring this experience with guys outside of your job. Dating someone you work with/teach is SUCH a minefield, even when you have lots of experiencing in the dating world. There’s so many additional factors that come into play. It’s just SO not worth it at this stage of the game.
YouGoGirl May 24, 2012, 2:01 pm
I am also a teaching assistant at a major university. Every TA is required to go through a day of training, which includes a discussion of sexual harrassment. Teaching assistants are in a position of authority and are not supposed to date their students. If a TA dates a student, he or she could get in a lot of trouble. Once a male student actually flirted with me in an effort to get a better grade.
Teaching assistants and upperclass undergrads are often close in age. It is not unusual for there to be an interest between a TA and a student. If there is a mutual interest between the LW and one of her students, there is nothing wrong with starting a relationship once the class is over and she no longer has authority. This is assuming that she would not be his TA again. One of my professors married one of the graduate students in my department.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:31 pm
I just told my boyfriend about brag-plaining. He goes, Oh I know, its like when all these girls are trying to leave the bar with me at closing time. So annoying.
JK May 24, 2012, 2:42 pm
Your BF sounds awesome. 🙂
Of course you deserve an awesome BF.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 2:44 pm
Lindsay May 24, 2012, 3:31 pm
I find it very hard to believe that a student would feel comfortable kissing a TA unless he (or she) was given some sort of message that it was OK. Not to mention a group of guys who are being presented as having very little contact with women. I imagine many of them would be fairly reserved about asking her out unless they believe their feelings were reciprocated.
I have a friend who this reminds me of. She has droves of guys asking her out, most of whom she’s not interested in. She’s cute and nice, but not any more of a knockout than any other woman I know. The difference is that she flirts with them all. Not just that, but she texts them back eagerly and always takes them up on invitations to go to concerts, dinner, whatever. So, they continue to pursue her because she’s showing all the signs of liking them back. Anyway, I imagine this is similar to what the LW is doing. Some guys are aggressive and completely sure of themselves, but most don’t pursue you that much unless you give them a reason to. There are many ways to be friendly without going overboard.
Fabelle May 24, 2012, 4:09 pm
I also have a friend like yours– a lot of people have been mentioning having friends like this, but the description of your friend sounds the most like my friend (annnd record # of times I could’ve used the word “friend” in a sentence? Ugh.)
But anyway, she’s always asking guys to accompany her places, smoke weed with her, grab dinner, & accepting their invitations to do the same. When they indicate they like her, she pulls the “But we’re just BUDDIES” thing.
I’m also constantly chiding her when we’re out at a bar or something, because guys approach to hit on us & she’ll give every sign that she’s interested– talking to them, asking personal questions, and generally wasting their time (because did I mention she has a boyfriend??) Meanwhile, I’m trying to give them a nice, but dismissive, “get out of here” vibe. So it gets preeetty annoying.
moonflowers May 24, 2012, 3:33 pm
Just to second all of the TAs here who have gone through sexual harrassment training – it’s highly inappropriate to date one of your students, especially if you’ll be teaching him again. This is the setup for a giant sexual harrassment charge against you.
Another thing to be aware of is your reputation for fairness – if people find out you’ve been extra-cuddly with two particular students, the other students in your class will suspect you of unfair grading practices. If you absolutely must date someone who will take classes you TA, arrange it so that other TAs will always grade him and be very forthcoming about that with everyone. But it’s still not a good idea – it creates a lot of rumor and resentment among your students, whom you should be seeing as equal in your eyes.
I’m also a woman TA in an engineering field, and while yes, there are lots of instances of inappropriate attention from the geek guys surrounding me on a daily basis, there are also ways to respond that lay down the law about what you think is ok or not. Simply telling people you’ve got a boyfriend should stop a lot of it. (Although to be honest, it only slightly slowed down the creepy 40-yr-old divorced dude who hit on me at a conference last year…)
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 3:53 pm
“Just to second all of the TAs here who have gone through sexual harrassment training – it’s highly inappropriate to date one of your students, especially if you’ll be teaching him again.”
I think this is a good point. If the undergraduate program is small, and if neither the LW or her secret boyfriend are close to finishing, there’s a good chance she’ll be his TA again. It would seem the smart thing to do would not date undergraduates in your department until one or both of you finishes. Just because you’re not their TA one term doesn’t mean you won’t be the next.
AlenaLynn May 24, 2012, 4:29 pm
I was kind of understanding her sentiments in the first part of her letter, though I thought she was laying it on a little thick.
So, I asked my boyfriend (who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is working on his masters in software engineering) about girls in CS classes. Some quotes: “[There was ] one. She was an IS major though (He was being a snob, he thought IS wasn’t as intense of a major, apparently). The rest were cave trolls.” (He’s a real charmer… but this was a private conversation, he wouldn’t be that harsh to them in person, at least)
I summed up the first part , and he said, “I’m sure that’s how it goes.” and (my favorite): “If ever your confidence is wavering, take a CS course and they will start building idols in your honor.”
So I think she may be leading her guy friends on a bit, if they ALL are professing their love, and she’s probably doing it because she loves the attention. Also, her second part is ridiculous. She knows it’s wrong, she’s enjoying it, so she doesn’t care. I bet she intentionally hasn’t looked up the rules because she’s hoping that if she got caught she could get away without serious punishment, since TECHNICALLY she did not know the rule.
AlenaLynn May 24, 2012, 4:53 pm
Oops, I meant to say that I was asking him about ATTRACTIVE girls in his programs. Not just girls in general, though they were definitely a lot less girls than guys in his programs.
Sue Jones May 24, 2012, 5:26 pm
As a former ugly duckling/late bloomer I can relate to some of it. I had to try really hard to get any sort of attention in high school ( never went to prom unless I invited the guy, etc) and suddenly in college, BAM! I had WAY too much attention and had to learn the hard way how to deal with it all without hurting a nice boy’s feelings. I also was in a male dominated field at the time. I handled it by stopping all make up, dressing more hippie, not shaving legs or underarms, etc. That was a bit extreme, I will admit ( some women gain weight), but then I got a steady BF in college ( the no make up etc. did not completely work… for the crunchy guys it was a turn on…) and that helped tone it all down since I was unavailable ( I did wonder why no guys were talking to me at parties anymore for a while.. Duh!) So find a (legal) steady and tone down your dress when you are in a professional situation. It does help. Later as I got older and the dating field thinned out I could dress however I wanted to, but truthfully, in your 20’s if you are reasonably attractive, you look good in a burlap sack!
Nadine May 24, 2012, 8:50 pm
I understand the desire to do this (dress down, repel repel repel) but…… doesnt it make you sad? That its up to YOU to control men and their desires? I am torn on this because its far too closely related to “she was asking for it”, and who are we to decide the flirting limits for someone who wrote a letter on the internet.
I was an awkward teenager. I “bloomed”. I hate/d the attention from strange men. But I love fashion. I love skirts and fifties dresses and heels. I like to look good. so does my boyfriend. He wears natty suits all the time, has a collection of cravats and ties and hats and scarves and watches. We look awesome when we go out. But he gets admired in a totally different way than I do. And it bothers me. Why should I change ME so YOU stay out of trouble? Why should I change ME so that I can be taken seriously? Is this really the correct advice?
I am sure people will tell me the world doesn’t work like that, and I have to be aware of my decisions, even if I dislike the outcome. And that is not incorrect. But godammit, men have been telling women how to be for a million bloody years. We will never convince people that our bodies are not representative of our minds if our advice to overly zealous hopeful lovers is for the woman to ‘dress down.’
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 8:57 pm
I agree. If she genuinely is just being herself and not giving these guys false hope by leading them on, she shouldn’t have to police her behavior and dress to repel their interest.
And you know what? Its not going to kill a guy to get rejected. If they are socially awkward and don’t get that a woman being nice and smiling in their direction doesn’t necessarily mean she’s interested, they need to learn eventually. So as long as a woman is kind and respectful when she lets him down, he’ll live. And he’ll be a little more socially aware next time.
This, of course, is all contingent on whether or not she’s purposely leading them on or not. If in fact she is giving off flirtatious signals or appearing to be interested when she’s not, bad on her.
Nadine May 24, 2012, 9:02 pm
Exactly. And yes, I am ignoring the student teacher yuckiness. I am responding more to the tone of the comments.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:21 pm
Sue Jones May 24, 2012, 5:32 pm
And in my profession, before I was married, if I saw a male client, I always wore a ring on my wedding-ring finger to work. That way they would not flirt with me. And I still dress more conservatively (scarves that hide your chest and jackets or cardigans help a lot) when I am seeing males in my office. I just do not want that sort of energy in the mix.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 5:38 pm
Whoa with the predatory thing.
She’s 23. She is at most, 4 years older than the youngest student, who is (most likely) 18 at the youngest and likely around 21 if he was at the bar. She says she teaches once a week — doesn’t sound like a full professorship to me. Sounds like she may teach a subsection or one class a week. There’s a good chance she may not be responsible for grading or there could be blind grading. She is not (necessarily) a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person. She is not a high school teacher fucking a student. She is not a middle school teacher fucking a student. She is not a professor manipulating students, getting them to sleep with her to get good grades. She just doesn’t have that much power. These guys may even be her friends that she knew from before she was teaching classes. Cut her some slack!
That being said, it isn’t very SMART to sleep with students, as Wendy said. Lots of bad things can happen from it. But she isn’t a pediphile people. I knew tons of people who hooked up with their TA’s, my brother is marrying his! (Yes, she’s older than him!). They met when she was his TA and I think may have started dating then too. I always thought it was a little funky, but it worked for them, and she certainly didn’t get fired or anything like it.
Schools are not unaware of the issue and they have rules based on what atmosphere they want to foster and what they think they’ll get sued for. If it isn’t forbidden, then it IS allowed. You spend that much time together, people are bound to develop feelings. Not great for your career, but again, if school didn’t ban it, it isn’t because they didn’t think about it — it means they accept such relationships. If the school doesn’ tthink she’s a horrible person, maybe we shouldn’t either.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 5:41 pm
It’s the POWER aspect that makes it predatory… And you are all LYING through your teeth if you claim you wouldn’t think a 23 year old MALE pulling the same shit on his 18 year old students was predatory…
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 6:00 pm
I might think it might be predatory. And I would tell him that it was dumb and that it probably wouldn’t end well, if for no other reason than that she would probably grow feelings for him and that would end badly, or he grows feelings for her that aren’t reciprocated and that would end badly. My indignation would also depend on whether or not he was in charge of her grades.
But even so, whatever I would think about a male in this position is entirely irrelevant to how I feel about the LW. Even if you think I am softer on a female LW than I would be on a male LW, that doesn’t affect whether or not I am being fair to the LW — it only affects whether or not I am being UNFAIR to the hypothetical LW. It is besides the point.
And I just don’t think there is that much power going on here — enough to make it innappropriate, but not enough to make it evil or disturbing or predatory.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:05 pm
Okay, fine. I can’t wait to see you all cut the next guy who pulls this same shit a break. Even though I would bet a million dollars that you won’t.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:08 pm
I wonder if all of you who are so blase’ about this ever went to college… I’m not sure any of you understand the role of TA. They can have real power. I had one accuse me of plagiarism my freshman year and it was a HUGE mess… (I was later vindicated.) And he didn’t even have it out for me so much as he just thought my paper was “too sophisticated for an undergrad…”
A TA spurned could seriously fuck with somebody’s life and academic career if so inclined.
katie May 24, 2012, 6:19 pm
and yet there are all the stories people posted of TAs and students who dated happily and even got married…
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:26 pm
That’s the exception rather than the rule. There are women out there somewhere, somehow that fell in love with their rapists… And now are married to them and bearing their kids… Does that make everything just hunky dory?
katie May 24, 2012, 6:36 pm
there seemed to be a lot of stories, just here on this post, for it to be the exception.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 6:36 pm
I WAS a TA, in undergrad. And I was responsible for grading everyone’s homework and their finals. I get that its a big deal. But I also know that I hung out with several of the people at the bars and outside of classes — I was already friends with them.
If it’s not allowed, it’s not allowed. If it is allowed, it is allowed. She is not intrinscially a bad person because she is dating someone in her class or kissing someone at a bar that she has authority over– she just has the power to be, which means she should probably not do it. She may be being dumb, but she isn’t necessarily being evil or manipulative.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 6:38 pm
Even if I (or all of us(?)) did cut into the next guy, it doesn’t follow that we were wrong in how we handled her situation. It is irrelevant.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:45 pm
It’s relevant in that you are all shamelessly imposing double standards… Moreover, it’s SIMPLY wrong (beyond all debate even) in that what she is doing is morally wrong. That so many of you can’t see that simply astounds me. Look, I challenge ANY of you to find a college or institution of higher learning where TA’s banging students isn’t a direct violation of that organizations code of conduct.
katie May 24, 2012, 6:48 pm
it is definitely morally wrong. i totally agree with that.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 6:57 pm
I just looked it up at my school. If there is no grading, then it is not a “direct” violation. It MAY be, but it isn’t necessarily.
“4.Position of authority includes but may not be limited to situations in which the faculty member makes or is responsible for an evaluation of a student for admission, coursework, promotion, financial aid, research funding, suspension, expulsion, or other discipline. (Faculty members providing instruction without evaluation are not necessarily in positions of authority.)”
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 6:00 pm
whoops,sorry BGM…didn’t see you’d written pretty much the same…
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 6:01 pm
whoops,sorry,BGM…didn’t see you posted pretty much the same thing I did.
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 6:01 pm
whoops,sorry,BGM…didn’t see you posted pretty much the same
katie May 24, 2012, 6:15 pm
i would tell a male or female the same thing:
as a TA, your putting your professional life on the line. as a student, your putting your grades and reputation on the line and opening your self to possible manipulation.
its stupid all around to do. but a 23 year old dating an 18 year old is not unheard of, and as so many people said above, they have seen it work out… a TA could be a predator in the same way that anyone you meet in any way could be a predator.
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 5:59 pm
You’re right,it’s not that she’s a pedophile…the students aren’t underage.I don’t think anybody is suggesting she’s a pedophile. But she’s a predator because as a TA she has authority. She’s secretly dating one of her students.That’s morally wrong on her part and dumb on the guy’s part.She’s cheating on said guy by kissing other guys.Again,it’s morally wrong on her part.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 6:10 pm
It just means she MIGHT be a predator, it doesn’t mean she is. Dating your subordinates doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a predator. It just is incredibly difficult to distinguish, which is why (a) lots of places have rules against it, because its impossible to determine afterwards; (b) it is wise to avoid it to avoid any appearance of impropriety or manipulation. Caesar’s wife should be above reproach.
When we aren’t talking about minor children, it is always the DANGER of manipulation that is bad. A very nice Boss could ask out their receptionist because they thinks the receptionist adorable and smart and pretty, and the receptionist might say yes because they find the boss adorable, smart and pretty. Or the receptionist might say yes because they are scared that otherwise, they’d lose their job. So some companies ban the boss from asking out the receptionist to avoid any Scenario B’s. Others recognize that can occur and put in place systems to deal with Scenario B’s. Others ignore it all together. If Boss asked me, I’d tell Boss not to ask out receptionist. But just because Boss does anyway, that didn’t necessarily make Boss a predator — not with the receptionist in scenario A. Boss just runs the danger of being in Scenario B without knowing it — and that’s why it should be avoided.
katie May 24, 2012, 6:18 pm
exactly- that is why people say to keep your professional lives and private lives separate.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:23 pm
Much of the thinking in the thread is precisely why so few people take sexual harassment seriously.
“Oh, gee. It might be predatory to be sure, but really, who’s to say…”
Eagle Eye May 24, 2012, 6:37 pm
I agree, it’s not okay, considering that both friends of mine, as well as my boyfriend have TA’ed in recent years, I certainly believe that if any of them (men and women) were to tell me that they were shupting their students, I would have counselled against it (especially the boyfriend…lol) and I would have looked down on them for being unprofessional.
However, I have also been in the situation in which I was a student while another student (female) was not-so-secretly involved with the TA. In this case, well, everyone judged them for it since even the professor figured it out, but no one really thought of him as being predatory.
Eagle Eye May 24, 2012, 6:40 pm
Now, that said, he wasn’t grading our work, my professor most definitely had the final say on grading, and had that not been the case, I would have been much angrier about the whole situation.
6napkinburger May 24, 2012, 6:47 pm
Actually, I think sexual harassment is an incredibly big deal. I think in many situations, the authority aspect renders the aspect of choice an illusion. In my company, I’d ban Boss from asking out receptionist, because the situation is most likely going to be either Scenario A or Scenario B above, with no Scenario C, Scenario C being that the receptionist says No to boss. And I think that is terrible.
But it doesn’t follow that because Boss is necessarily an immoral person by asking receptionist out. It doesn’t follow that an immature 23 year old is an immoral person for dating a student who she probably considers more of a peer. And I do think that the fact that she is a TA or a lecturer and not a professor and might have minimal authority over him makes a difference.
Milla May 24, 2012, 9:39 pm
I do think it is immoral for the boss to ask the receptionist out, because Boss always comes with more power. Period. Either way Boss has put Receptionist in an incredibly awkward position, either by saying yes and having to deal with the resulting relationship, or no and having to deal with the awkwardness later— even just perceived awkwardness. Receptionist will have to wonder if his/her rejection of Boss will affect how her/his work performance is viewed.
If, in the best-case scenario, the LW just heads up one discussion section a week and doesn’t control grades, then yeah, it’s professionally less of a problem, but. . . jeez. It’s poor teacher behavior and frankly skeezy. That power differential is always present, because as a teacher (I teach freshman comp most of the time, but this applies to anyone, TA or lecturer) I rely on my authority to control the classroom, give assignments, mediate student discussions, etc. Finally, I can’t imagine the other students in the class would be too keen on it.
If they want to wait until after the class is over and grades are posted and they’re SURE they won’t work together again, then fine. I have no problem with teachers becoming friends with their students after the class is over. But during? Hell to the no.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 10:01 pm
I totally agree. That ANY women on here would feel otherwise leaves me truly baffled and beyond confused. Maybe women today AREN’T as strong as my generation… Maybe something happened to the parenting style since then… Maybe that’s why the show GIRLS has such an overwhelming appeal to many… But I can honestly say that all the women that I came of age with in the early 1990s were much more hardcore and, I guess, moral when it comes to obvious shit like this…
theattack May 25, 2012, 2:26 am
I’m 22, and I’m confused about that attitude too. But really, I think all of my friends my age would understand the problem here, so I’m thinking it’s just a difference in personal morals.
wendykh December 14, 2012, 4:31 pm
maybe because we don’t want to feel infantilized and feel comfortable choosing with whom we have sex and when. You can’t say on one hand she’s this evil vicious predator and then on the other say she’s 23 and should know better and can’t possible be naive. Because if that’s true, guess what, it’s true for the young men she’s flirting with as well.
Trixy Minx May 24, 2012, 6:44 pm
I read in a news article awhile back that nerdy or unattactive men tend to think that attractive women are interested in them even through chit chat. I think the thought process was that since an attractive woman was chatting with him he instantly thought it meant she was interested. Even though there was no flirting.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 6:47 pm
The same would be true of a hot guy chatting up a fat blob. What’s your point?
Trixy Minx May 24, 2012, 7:04 pm
You really need tto stop with these rude comments.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 7:22 pm
I don’t think “nerdy and unattractive” is really all that much more kind than “fat blob”, truth be told. It’s apples and oranges here. Neither are particularly polite. The idea that women are helpless victims of their beauty is laughable at best…
Trixy Minx May 24, 2012, 8:54 pm
You really have a hatred for women dont you?
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 9:12 pm
No, do you have some deep dark hatred of all men? Look, I simply don’t think that attractive people of either gender should pawn off their own deliberate sexual misadventures as being beyond their control simply because they are so damn hot. I’m sorry, I simply don’t buy it. And that’s why I was so snarky about your post. This entire thread is increasingly, seemingly, post after post of people rationalizing away what is very bad, very immoral behavior.
Trixy Minx May 24, 2012, 9:26 pm
Where does it say I hate men?
Every single one of your post is snarky. There is no reason to be such an ass to everyone.
Fabelle May 25, 2012, 8:27 am
BGM. If you don’t want to be constantly accused of misogyny, or otherwise responded to by offended commenters, then you should probably curb your usages of “you all” when referring to women. You don’t do it in every comment, but throughout this thread (& others) there’s a spatter of “all of you” “why do you all…” “I can’t believe you all…” You take a few comments that you disagree with, & seem to assume the thought processes in THOSE comments apply to the entire gender.
rainbow May 24, 2012, 6:48 pm
Everyone was very clear already but since I was a CS major I thought I’d talk about my experience a bit.
There are two types of women is CS. Some of them are there for just the program, and some of them are there also because deep down they believe they’re not hot enough to be noticed unless they’re one of the only women around. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the two, since the ones with the hotness considerations usually:
-Always mention how they have a better time around men than women and are always trying to prove they’re “one of the boys but cute”
-Always mention how OMG there are so few women in my field
-Are always flirting with everybody
-When discussing grades, talk about how they did better than all the other girls in the class instead of talking about coming out, for example, sixth considering guys too.
-Get defensive or insecure when you mention the fact that if things continue like they are there will be as many women as men in CS majors very soon, an respond by talking about how they are so special and have such a great time with the boys and not everyone could, even though it has nothing to do with the issue being discussed.
-Underestimate the boys making it sound like they’re dorkier than they are
They are not necessarily hotter than group one (sometimes it’s actually the other way around and that’s why their boy-life is so messed up), but they get maybe 10 times more attention. Because they’re after it.
Look, LW: Most of the other girls in your class know how to make those boys interested in them too. Only they are too busy actually coding stuff and wanting to be taken seriously because of their mind. You get all the attention because you’re suddenly in “boy-who-doesn’t-hate-me” paradise, and it’s messed with your head, and you’re putting your energy in the wrong place.
Also, you’re getting involved physically with people you are supposed to be having only an intellectual relationship with because you’re insecure about your mind, and you think they’ll evaluate it more positively if you throw your tongue in the mix too. And people you’re “using” in your quest to be the hottest and most special and sexy snowflake know this and “use it” to their advantage too, and it makes you look clueless. STOP. RIGHT. NOW.
jlyfsh May 24, 2012, 7:00 pm
I think the tone of your letter bothers me more than anything. Are you thinking of dropping the guy you’re currently dating to date this new one? The way I read that part I wasn’t sure. I mean I hate to say this but are you sure that your ‘secret’ relationship is a secret at all? Perhaps people know that you are willing to date students and therefore think they might actually have a chance. Wait until you’re no longer their TA and then date them.
And you don’t seem to hate this attention as much as you make it seem (going off your tone), I think you need to take a step back and just think about your actions some.
LW May 24, 2012, 7:09 pm
I am a T.A. (sorry I did not clarify that). I am from a European country where the rules are not as strict. I am on my bachelor’s degree. I have no power over the students’ grades. I did not receive sexual harrasment education – I am the only female T.A and I don’t think anyone deemed it necessary. But yes I should know better, dating a student is super stupid.
On that note I am only dating my student (as in we spent time together a couple times), we are not exclusive, nor are we in love (obviously). I’m an asshat for using that word wrongly. Also the men are 25 and 21.
Thank you for all your comments so far. I am reading and rereading them all.
Lastly nowhere do I state that these people are antisocial nerds, they’re just plain old regular nerds. (and I also noticed I wrote “all” in my letter. Well that is obviously not true. But more than I would like have expressed interest in me).
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 7:25 pm
Oh, well, if you’re hot and from Europe and only casually seeing the guy…then by all means, carry on.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 8:30 pm
Are you serious?
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 9:06 pm
No, no, no, LBH. That was me sarcastically adopting the attitude of pretty much everybody in here but You it seems…
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:15 pm
Ha. Glass of wine = missing sarcasm.
JK May 24, 2012, 9:17 pm
I didn´t even comment on the letter itself, becuase I thought most people were doing a great job of saying it for me. And for the record I agree with you, lbh, etc.
I don´t see where you´re seeing SO MANY people on board with the LW, to me it seems the opposite.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 9:22 pm
It’s only in the latter part of the thread, JK… Suddenly, there are a surprising number of what I felt were…curious responses… It’s ironic in that this happened right after LBH (rightly) took me to task by saying that there were only maybe two of such responses and I agreed…
Then BAM! Suddenly, a whole bunch of posters seemed to be giving this LW way too much benefit of the doubt.
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:27 pm
Easily swayed opinions? Up play or downplay the story, mold it to fit your argument, sounds ok….
lets_be_honest May 24, 2012, 9:24 pm
It is true. Very few don’t equal majority. You know this bgm. It flames everyone when you group “us” all together.
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 9:36 pm
Frankly, the fact that ANYBODY thinks that the actions of this LW are beyond reproach simply astounds me. To me, this is one of the most cut and dry letters in ages. It almost makes me want to send in a bogus, sex flipped letter in a few weeks just to see the responses… but I have no patience for setting up bogus email accounts…
MarieDC May 24, 2012, 9:45 pm
goddammit.i was seriously considering doing that too…you took my idea!
bittergaymark May 24, 2012, 9:50 pm
Well, I would never announce that I was going to do such a thing, if I were planning to do such a thing…
Leroy May 24, 2012, 10:20 pm
In the LW’s defense, the US is often very heavy handed in the application of such policies. And they’re unusual by international standards. They didn’t even exist on most US campuses until the 90’s, because they were never required. Bad behavior was dealt w/ by administrative oversight, not by these sorts of blanket prohibitions on private relationships.
There’s really no good reason that a TA can’t date a student who is taking a class that she’s TA-ing. Schools typically have adjudicative processes in place to deal with incidents of coercion or unfair treatment, which address student rights broadly. I think that it’s fair to assume that they would be especially sensitive to claims of sexual harassment.
wendykh December 14, 2012, 4:35 pm
Exactly. The US is ridiculous in it’s genital policing of grown adults. Other places deal with harrassment when it happens, and don’t assume two adults having consensual relations automatically = a freaking crime. Ridiculous.
Leroy May 24, 2012, 8:33 pm
she’s fishing with dynamite!
Sunshine Brite May 25, 2012, 9:21 am
“I did not receive sexual harrasment education – I am the only female T.A and I don’t think anyone deemed it necessary.”
And apparently no one should think hot, European female TAs need sexual harassment training either. Only male TAs need things like that.
ele4phant May 24, 2012, 7:59 pm
I don’t mean to offend, but if they rules are less “strict”, why do you feel the need to keep this secret? My sense is that while it may not formally prohibited, you seem to sense there is an unwritten code that frowns upon dating students.
If you’re just dating this guy casually, I highly recommend you break it off, or at least suspend the relationship until you’re done with the term. Maybe its just my puritanical American values speaking, but at the same time I think you are putting your job, and possibly the university, in a vunerable position by dating a student. You may not be in charge of his grades, but you do have some authority over the class, however minute, yes? Even if you and he never have a problem, perhaps other students may be jealous or precieve he gets unfair treatment, and could take it up with the professor/administration.
If you’re not in love with this guy, then worry more about your job then your love life.
P.S. I don’t mean to condemn you. As a graduate student, I TAed for students virtually the same age as me. Some of them were smart, funny, attractive, and if I hadn’t been in a serious relationship outside of school I would have found it hard not to have been interested in a few. But my TA position is how I paid my rent/kept myself fed, so even if I had been available, the professional risk wouldn’t have been worth it.
If this income is important to you, or if teaching is something you want to do in the future, use your head here. There’s a lot potentially at risk.
BettyBoop May 24, 2012, 7:22 pm
One little point that I didn’t see mention: LW, you think you are secretly dating a student I can assure you it’s no secret. At LEAST one of his friends know, and probably one of that person’s friends know and it’s probably already becoming a rumor somewhere by someone who saw you making out with that 2nd student in a bar. You risk everything by being inappropriate now and the sex cannot possibly be worth everything you’ve worked for. As for the dudes hitting on you, are you sure that’s really what’s going on or are you seeing the attention as something more? That can go both ways. Regardless, you are not a victim, you are an active participant. Decide what you want and stop being so damned passive. That’s never pretty.
DMR May 25, 2012, 6:12 am
“you think you are secretly dating a student I can assure you it’s no secret.”
I completely agree with this statement.
the_rural_juror May 24, 2012, 7:44 pm
As I read this all I could hear was that song “don’t stand so close to me” by the police on a loop in my head. I think the reason you consistently reject your peers over your students comes down to a desire for power. I imagine you probably didn’t feel very in control during your awkward years and the student-teacher dynamic is appealing in that sense. You say that you taught your current boyfriend for longer than the guy you kissed so I can only assume that was a different semester? In that case couldn’t you guys have looked into him signing up for a different section this time around that you weren’t teaching? Maybe if you let your friends know that you’re off the market, you wouldn’t be as aggressively pursued by the majority of the male undergraduate population in the department of computer science. God it’s so hard being awesome :/. Look at your life, look at your choices..
acastil5 May 24, 2012, 8:45 pm
Sorry honey you know exactly what your doing. The faux I-don’t-know-why-all-these-guys-like-me act gets old once you get your driver’s license. The hubris you display in thinking you are breaking these guys hearts also shows you haven’t quite grown up yet.
I’ll cut you some slack though, you say are a late bloomer. But you need to get your act together and start acting like an adult, because nothing is more unattractive than a woman caught up in high school games.
acastil5 May 24, 2012, 8:56 pm
Oh, and while I can’t talk a WHOLE lot here seeing as I dated one of my students when I was in college,(We were the same age, I was a more of a group leader with the title of TA, I didn’t have any control over his grade), I would end your relationships NOW. If you have power over his grade, then its trouble. You get paid for your work (I didn’t) its trouble. I squeezed by, but if things had happened differently, who knows?
If you are going to be there for awhile, you need to start building a good professional reputation. Be on time, do what you say your gonna do, AND DON’T DATE YOUR STUDENTS. You could be the best at what you do and if your professional reputation sucks, then it doesn’t matter. I don’t know what you want to do, but references and recommendations are gold, and you don’t want people giving you faint praise because they believe you can’t conduct yourself in a professional manner.
iwannatalktosampson May 24, 2012, 10:18 pm
I just had to add my two cents really quick (because I can’t help myself) about the whole sexual harassment thing. For the women that don’t think what she’s doing is a big deal – congratulations – you have just destroyed 30 years of women trying to get themselves taken seriously in the work place. It does not matter if the person being sexually harassed (here the students) “want it” or have a crush on the boss/teacher too. It is not appropriate. And for every one person that is into the boss – there are 99 that just want to be taken seriously in their work place.
They don’t want to have to wonder if they are getting raises or get hired because they have big boobs or the teacher wants to bang them. Sex (or drunken bar make outs) don’t belong in the classroom or the work place. It should be a safe place. Women have been fighting to be taken seriously FOREVER and still are today (trust me I still see it daily) and for you all to say that it’s okay for this teacher to make out with multiple students is astounding to me. Talk about double standards.
iwannatalktosampson May 24, 2012, 10:19 pm
Oh and also I was a TA in college as well – and you know what? I kept it professional. You know why? IT WAS FUCKING college and there were approximately 18,000 other guys I could have made out with.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:24 pm
God I miss college.
iwannatalktosampson May 24, 2012, 10:27 pm
I miss the approximately 10,000 guys I probably did make out with. Sigh.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:29 pm
That should’ve been on Wendy’s list for recent grads – hold on to your lover now, because the dating pool is about to SHRINK.
iwannatalktosampson May 24, 2012, 10:33 pm
Eh I don’t know about shrink as much as you mature and start being more selective about the people you make out with. Like maybe you shouldn’t make out with the guy that lives on the floor below you that you have class with Friday morning solely because you want to. And then see him hung over once a week. You learn the feeling of shame in college.
Addie Pray May 24, 2012, 10:36 pm
I disagree. My standards went way down as the pool of eligible men shrunk. I used to be surrounded by smart, available, cute guys that I could reject because they didn’t have curly hair. Now? I’m hard pressed to even meet a guy who is single and available in within my age range. Hair and everything else is optional.
New Balls notwithstanding, of course. 😉
Trixy Minx May 25, 2012, 2:17 am
Addie you should go back to school! 😉
bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 1:14 am
Hah! So true… So true about destroying 30 years and the work place… Though I would argue it’s like 50 years if you take a look at, say, Mad Men… Again those that disagree with you and me and LBH not only truly baffle me, they make me truly sad. It’s true. They set you all back. And that is something that should make you all feel mad and angry. But instead, far too many of you just shrug it off with a “eh, she’s just enjoying the fact that she’s hot. woo hoo! girl power!”
Leroy May 25, 2012, 1:33 am
What has she actually done to harass anyone? Do you know what constitutes sexual harassment? Or is it that you have such a morbid and depraved view of human sexuality that you assume that all intimate relationships involve coercion?
bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 1:36 am
The very nature of their relationship implies coercion. It is NOT cool to be in power over somebody and then expect them to make out with you in a bar or secretly date you… It’s just not cool. That I have to keep explaining this makes me think the entire world has suddenly gone daft. Which — frankly — would explain a lot.
DMR May 25, 2012, 6:10 am
It’s not coercion if the boys are the ones hitting on her.
lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 9:44 am
So if I offer bjs to my boss for a raise, he’s not in power? Only I am? The whole reason for the offer is because he IS in power.
The points by Iwanna above are so accurate. Even if there is no coercion (impossible, boss is a boss is a boss), anyone sleeping with the boss or teacher are setting all of us back.
DMR May 27, 2012, 11:23 pm
Sure there’s a power imbalance, but that’s not the same as coercion.
Many relationships have some kind of power imbalance built into them whether through age, different social status, money, and workplace relationships.
I’m against people exploiting other people but we shouldn’t get too precious or absolutist about it, or hardly anyone would ever get married.
wendykh December 14, 2012, 4:48 pm
Actually I have heard women in the employer position claim to be sexually harrassed by an employee. Utter nonsense. Sexual harrassment is NOT a mere invitation to sexuality. Harrassment is the non-acceptance of or punishment for a rejection of said invitation.
ele4phant May 25, 2012, 11:04 am
I think she’s in the wrong, without a doubt. I don’t think she’s Mary Kay Letourneau though either. A 23 year old TA pursuing students also in their 20s, while still wrong and somewhat exploitative, isn’t on that level. The world isn’t black and white here.
iwannatalktosampson May 25, 2012, 7:20 pm
Yet…if this was a male hitting on the poor innocent girl who has just never learned to say no then it would be black and white? PUH-LEASE.
DMR May 25, 2012, 6:08 am
Wendy is 100 percent correct.
There’s traditionally been a bit of blind-eye-turning to college TAs mingling with students. But that’s no guarantee of protection. It could still blow up in your face.
Your reputation with others- with the department, with female students, with people who aren’t a starry-eyed male nerd – is important. And the effect will be invisible to you at first.
Here’s my advice: Get a boyfriend. Not one of your students. Talk about him incessantly and at every opportunity. But don’t do it this semester, because every one of your horn-rimmed fan boys will be red with rage and jealousy, and you will get blowback. Wind it back for the rest of this semester, then get a boyfriend over the break.
Also, if you’re so hot (and I believe you that you are), there are undoubtedly other guys, not students, who would love to shag you senseless. Go find them.
themintyness May 25, 2012, 10:09 am
Wendy and the other commenters have left some really good advice and insight, and here’s my two cents.
LW, you are 23 years old. You are not acting like an adult, even though you are one, and you’re not even acting like a responsible person. Why are you risking everything you have built so far? I know your field isn’t easy, so why throw it all away on a few awkward boys (no offense meant–I personally love dorky nerds!)?
I hope you know that no one is attacking you personally, but you still have a lot of soul-searching and growing up to do.
Caris May 25, 2012, 11:48 am
Just because they are in comp sciences doesn’t mean they are awkward or that they like every girl that they see or that they are dorky nerds.
Caris May 25, 2012, 11:43 am
You kinda sound like a girl in my friend group. Get over yourself. They just want to fuck you, they are not in love with you.
What this girl I know does is the following: she dates a friend for a couple of months, then she breaks up or they break up with her. And she wants to be friends with them immediately after and also pretends the friendship to be exactly like it was before they dated. She also can’t stop hanging out with guys that want her because she LOVES the attention, so she just keeps leading them on.
SpyGlassez May 25, 2012, 7:04 pm
I have a little bit of a different approach to this question, because I am getting engaged to one of my former students. It is entirely possible to meet someone even in a situation like this, where you are in an authority position over them. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle it, and baby, you’re taking the wrong way.
My fiance and I met when I was teaching writing at the local Community college. He is barely 2 years younger than I am; at the time I was 28 and he was 26. It was an accelerated, 8 week course that met for 3 hrs two nights a week, so it was pretty busy. Because it was my first semester teaching, I was really focused on the class and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to him at first, except for the fact that I did notice that he laughed at all the lame jokes I put into my lectures.
During the time that the class was in session, he only stopped to talk to me three times after class ended. Once was because he was going to miss a class, once was because he had never written a research paper and wanted some advice on where to start, and once was to tell me about something he’d come up with in relation to the class. Nothing at all romantic – since it was a condensed class, it wasn’t uncommon for people to stick around afterwards to ask questions or have me take a look at something. The last time, he did walk me out to my car, but since we were talking and my class knew I lived an hour away, I figured it was just to be polite and not slow me down from getting home. On the night of the final exam – the last night the class met – he asked if he could send me an email or shoot me a message on facebook because he wanted me to take a look at something he wrote for another class. I agreed to that. After final grades had been posted – and he was no longer my student – he and I chatted on FB for about 24 hours, set up a date, and have been together 2 and a half years. Since he was no longer my student – and never would be again, because he only had to take one writing class for his program – we made no secret of dating. I checked with my dean, let her know the situation and how it had started, and she said we had done nothing inappropriate.