I do have mild feelings for P, but there’s a block around those since I learned about his situation. I have no intention of acting on those feelings, but I still need to be careful for my own sake. Playing the role of educator seems to energize P, so my one friend who knows about his situation suggested I go into P’s office during office hours, build rapport that way, and then at the end of the semester (I’m planning to transfer schools to finish my degree) tell P he can e-mail me if he ever needs someone to talk to. I’m sure P has friends, but it does seem like he could use the support. Maybe my age will be an advantage in this respect, but at the same time I don’t want to do anything inappropriate.
So I guess my question is, what do you think of the situation? Does my friend’s plan sound like a good idea?
Honestly, right now I just want P to be happy. Whatever else happens I can deal with. It’s not my place to fix the situation, but I want to do whatever I can to support him. — Concerned Student
Um, no. I cannot think of a worse idea than you trying to “fix” or somehow support your professor — whom you have a crush on! — through his personal issues that you accidentally found out about. Actually, I can think of a worse idea — using your professor’s office hours to “build rapport,” with a misguided idea that your age will be some sort of advantage in the fight to save your professor’s emotional well-being. WTF? How on earth would your age be an advantage? Unless you’re hoping to boost his ego by making him feel sexually appealing to a young co-ed, how would your inexperience and naïveté possibly be of benefit to an older professor going through a personal dilemma?
And for the love of God, don’t use his office hours as your own personal Florence Nightingale launch pad. That time is for students with legitimate needs to come see him. That time is for him to plan lessons, grade papers, read student emails, and maybe enjoy a croissant in peace. It’s not for building rapport with a lovesick college student who hopes to win his heart through a series of bad ideas. Just, no.
Mind your business, stick with people your own age, and trust that P has better support in his life than what some young student he barely knows could offer, however well-intentioned it may be.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
artsygirl February 7, 2013, 9:04 am
AliceInDairyland February 7, 2013, 9:08 am
SuzyQ February 7, 2013, 11:00 am
My thoughts exactly.
MMcG February 7, 2013, 9:10 am
WWS – You had me at “Um, No.” 🙂
Fabelle February 7, 2013, 9:11 am
Haha, so you want to start visiting your professor during his office hours to “build rapport” in hopes that by the end of the semester, your planned “please come talk to me ~anytime~ you need…support ;)” won’t be completely out-of-nowhere & odd? And this plan definitely ISN’T appealing because of your “mild” feelings towards the man, right? Riiiiight.
Sorry to poke fun at you, but I had to kind of laugh at this. Please be honest with yourself about your reasoning & look at the situation objectively—doing this would definitely be inappropriate. Listen to Wendy (seriously, every line of what she wrote is PERFECT)
Desiree February 7, 2013, 9:12 am
I once had a crush on a professor. I had pretty reasonable suspicion that the crush was somewhat reciprocated. This professor wore a wedding ring daily. So I followed the only course of action open to me: STAYED THE HELL AWAY (didn’t come early to class, left immediately when the bell rang, and absolutely avoided office hours). Believe me, LW, I had all sorts of fun fantasies about that situation playing out, but the truth would have been so different. In acting on my wishes, the “best” scenario that could have happened was: I crossed a moral/ethical line, made a fool of myself, and embarrassed my professor. The worst possible scenario is much nastier. So, acknowledge the appeal of an older man in an authority role, and then move on to less complicated crushes.
asdf February 8, 2013, 3:16 pm
You did absolutely the right thing. If LW genuinely cares about her professor’s well-being, she won’t take advantage of his personal vulnerability to put him in a position that would be emotionally and professionally destructive.
She needs to understand that this isn’t Hollywood. If it were discovered, it would be a case of professional misconduct, much like a doctor or psychiatrist sleeping with his patients or a judge sleeping with a defendant in her court. It could lead to dismissal, revocation of tenure (if he has it), and a bad name that will follow him in a very small world where gossip travels at the speed of light. Even if nothing like that happens, she’s tempted her professor to cross a line, and that can take an ethical toll even if he refuses.
To a much lesser extent, it might conceivably also lead to academic problems for her if it’s believed later that she (explicitly or implicitly) traded sexual favors for grades. After-the-fact denials, even if they’re true, will be hard to prove.
The best thing LW can do for him is to be a good student. Her professor no doubt has other people in his life who can help him; but even if he didn’t, that’s not a role she can play.
cdobbs February 7, 2013, 9:24 am
It just sounds like the LW is using whatever situation the professor is going through to put some scheme together on seducing him…I don’t know how you found out about his personal issue (gossip maybe), but it really is none of your business…leave the man alone…if you do have a crush on him, wait till you transfer to tell him, who knows maybe he would be open to the idea, but don’t use his personal problems as a way for you to insert yourself into his life
bagge72 February 7, 2013, 11:43 am
Yes this! If she didn’t have a crush on him, she would not care what is going on in his life. Just pretty much is just looking for a way to bang him once she leaves the school, and they can’t get in trouble.
artsygirl February 7, 2013, 1:37 pm
You are right on it cdobbs. Her letter came across as disingenuous (‘mild crush’) and not a little bit condescending. Ahh to be in college when you think you have all the answers to the world and are oh so grown up (Look I drink coffee!). She seems to think that they are peers rather than him being an authority figure.
ktfran February 7, 2013, 9:24 am
What is this so called “problem” the professor has? Inquiring minds want to know. Seriously.
And if this “problem” is really affecting his teaching, faculty will start to notice as will students. Something will be done. It’s not your job, LW, to fix things.
lets_be_honest February 7, 2013, 9:46 am
the fact that she wouldn’t say, but kind of dangled the carrot made me think (aside from other things) that this one is just all about drama.
ktfran February 7, 2013, 9:52 am
Oh totally agree. But I want to speculate anyway. Maybe he has a drug problem and a druglord wants to chop off a leg. Or maybe his wife caught him cheating with another student, male. Or maybe he found out about a long lost twin brother who is in a mental institution and he feels guilty that his life is so awesome.
In reality, I think you’re right LBH, it’s just some dude who’s having a hard time at the moment and the LW is blowing it way out of proportion.
sarolabelle February 7, 2013, 10:06 am
maybe he spilled food on his favorite jacket and doesn’t know how to launder it and it is smelling up the classroom…that’s the issues my professors had…..
Oh no, wait, there was the one professor who only washed his hair once a week. It was clean on Monday but nasty on Friday. Phew!
MissDre February 7, 2013, 11:02 am
He’s probably going through a divorce and she wants to jump in and be the woman that saves him.
painted_lady February 7, 2013, 9:30 am
Oh honey, no. Just…no. Don’t be that girl.
First off, if you’re admitting to having feelings for him, please admit that all of this is motivated by the desire not to support him, but to get in his pants. It’s okay – seduction by (and motivated by) nurturing is not a new thing. But you insisting that all you want to do is to be there for him in a rough time (I’m assuming this is probably marital trouble?) makes you look like you’re either not very self-aware or you think people are dumber than they actually are. You’re not fooling anyone except maybe yourself.
Also, if you’re really wanting the best for this guy, like you say, then I want you to realize that trying to jump this guy’s bones during office hours (or after the class is over) could get him fired. Even after the class is over, especially if you’re still a student, but even if you’re not, it still looks bad. A professor dated a friend of mine after she graduated, and he still got a strongly-worded talking to. So even if everything works out exactly like you want it to (unlikely), if this guy’s personal life is falling apart, don’t do anything to dismantle his professional life.
katie February 7, 2013, 9:30 am
yea, you lost me with “I do have mild feelings for P”.
WWS. and in the future, use your powers/plans of manipulation for good.
lets_be_honest February 7, 2013, 9:43 am
And even if there were no crush, isn’t equally bizarre that she found out about a secret and thinks she should just place herself into the middle of it?
I just can’t imagine if I were gong through something and someone knew about it, who I wasn’t close with, and they decided to “save” me. Just so, so weird. I get being compassionate, but this is nuts.
Lianne February 7, 2013, 9:44 am
She sounds a bit self-righteous to me. Like it’s her “duty” to come to his rescue?
KKZ February 7, 2013, 10:05 am
A lot of people, men and women, have a “fixer” personality that can run the spectrum from “What can I do to help?” to “I’m the only one who can correct this!” On the surface it looks selfless, and the person may feel like s/he is offering selflessly, but the closer you get to that second extreme, the more likely it is that there are selfish motives under the surface.
KKZ February 7, 2013, 10:05 am
My husband can be a fixer. We had a little spat last night because I was whining about how much I hate doing cardio and ab work even though that’s what I really need to do to get the results I want to see, and he launched into a lecture about how I need to do this and this and that and all my problems will be solved. That thoroughly annoyed me because I wasn’t asking for advice, I was just venting, and he was thoroughly annoyed that I resisted accepting his “fixing” and basically said If you don’t want me to offer solutions, don’t complain.
Lesson in communication: Give him some sort of signal to make sure he understands when I just want to vent vs. actually need help.
Ani Nani February 7, 2013, 11:03 am
My husband sounds a lot like my mom. I actually got to the point with her where I began offering a disclaimer before I started venting. Something along the line of: “I don’t need you to offer suggestions. I just need to vent and you to listen sympathetically.” It actually helped a lot.
Ani Nani February 7, 2013, 11:04 am
My husband doesn’t sound like my mom. That would be weird 😉
Iwannatalktosampson February 7, 2013, 12:29 pm
I’m your husband. It annoys the ever living shit out of me to listen to Ethan complain when he seems unwilling to suggest my (awesome) suggestions. GAH. This is a lesson I need to learn too. Be more compassionate when he’s complaining about things (he brought on himself) and understand that he might just be venting.
honeybeegood February 7, 2013, 3:29 pm
I think what you meant to say was “I need to join the dark side and ask honeybee about lifting heavy ass weights to get the results I want.” 😉
katie February 7, 2013, 9:48 am
yea, that is a good point. haha good call!
LM February 7, 2013, 11:30 am
One word comes to mind… trifling!
Though, I’m not saying the LW is, but still…
EricaSwagger February 7, 2013, 9:31 am
Diana February 7, 2013, 9:33 am
As a college professor myself, I think I can safely say this is the Worst Idea Ever. You risk not only violating boundaries (which are in place for a good reason), but also putting your professor in a terrible position where he could lose his job. Here’s the thing, LW: the student/professor relationship can be wonderful, but it is a professional relationship. You don’t really know this man beyond a highly specific context, and I’m sure he’d be hugely uncomfortable at best and blazingly offended at worst with your (transparent) agenda of trying to be his shrink. Secondly, it irritates me that you have the hubris to imagine you can play a role comparable to what an actual mental health professional would for this man. Trust me: having been through training as a therapist myself, I can tell you, they are equipped to handle other people’s problems in ways you can’t even imagine. You are in school; you do NOT need to be taking on this man’s baggage as your own. Focus on figuring out who you are and what you want out of life. What bothers me most about your letter, however, is that you don’t really want to help this man for his own sake: you seem to want to be his confidante as a means to an utterly inappropriate, risky, and selfish intimacy. Even if you somehow managed to get him to reciprocate your crush, any (ill-advised) relationship that might follow would always be colored by your reverence for him and could never be equal. Keep your distance and respect the boundaries that are in place for a very good reason.
GatorGirl February 7, 2013, 9:57 am
You’re so spot on. My fiance is in grad school and teaching his own class this semester- kids do not seem to understand there are boundarries!
Amanda February 7, 2013, 10:33 am
lissa February 7, 2013, 11:39 am
I cannot second your comment enough, Diana! I am also a university professor, and I can’t imagine anything more uncomfortable than receiving attention from a student about any personal issue of mine – because it’s personal! 99.99% of professors have (and want!) strict boundaries between their personal and professional lives as it pertains to teaching. Whatever this personal “situation” might be (divorce/breakup, death of a loved one, anything), you are the last person he would turn to for comfort and the most awkward person to show up at his office with a suggestive offer of emailing if he wants a shoulder to lean on. Transferring schools is completely irrelevant. You are, and always will be, his student.
FYI – this is the kind of horror story we faculty share with our colleagues about the terrible things our students sometimes do. Not the kind of notoriety that you want. The last thing this guy needs while dealing with a personal situation is the added drama of a misguided student trying to “build rapport.”
Please, please, please, do as Wendy advises and keep your friend circle to your friends, and leave this poor man alone!
FossilChick February 7, 2013, 1:19 pm
This this this! I hope the LW also keeps in mind that what she intends, what the professor perceives, and what the college administration sees might not be the same thing. The consequences could be dire, and the professor would take the heat — especially if they are an adjunct, lecturer, or untenured. I am an instructor at a university where the administration goes off like a faulty smoke detector. A student once drew hearts on my end-of-semester evaluation, presumably as a joke, and I had to have several meetings to assure the department chair that this was just an 18-year-old trying to be cute and there was nothing going on. I’ve had colleagues with complaints against them from students in their classes because ONE student was taking up all the office hours and meeting with the professor privately, like the LW is planning to do, and the rest of the students suspected something was up. These accusations are always a nightmare, especially because any kind of “crying wolf” hurts people who are actually experiencing a non-consensual relationship with someone who has power over them and who don’t know how to stop it without assistance from the university.
LW, the relationship I want to have with my students is this. They show up and do excellent work. They come to my office hours to engage with the material, ask questions, and improve their skills. I write them letters of recommendation and use connections to help them launch careers. All of this is in my job description, but it only works as long as its transparent and honest. If you care about this professor, even if you care about the professor in a way I personally wouldn’t approve of, then you shouldn’t do anything to further damage this person.
Milla February 7, 2013, 3:37 pm
THIS. Also, LW, just because your professor is friendly, engaged, and supportive in class doesn’t mean that he actually wants to be friends with you. I like my students— and there are often one or two that I could see remaining friendly with after the class, but for the most part, I want to go home and live my own life when I’m not teaching. I get this sometimes from young male students who want to form a closer relationship with me— chat with me after class, walk with me to my car (please don’t do this, please don’t do this), find out about my personal life. UGH.
The classroom can create a space of false intimacy where students assume that they are much closer to their professors then they actually are. And sometimes professors and students (usually grad students, but every once in a while undergrads) do become friends, but it’s through work first, like developing a thesis, preparing for exams, or talking about opportunities in the field. For example, I love my advisor to the ends of the earth and back. She is truly one of my favorite people in addition to being a great professor. We’ve talked about plenty of personal matters, but our relationship is first and foremost, of a student and a mentor.
Lianne February 7, 2013, 9:36 am
The whole time reading this, all I could think was, WTF?
GertietheDino February 7, 2013, 9:36 am
lets_be_honest February 7, 2013, 9:38 am
Most bizarre letter ever.
ktfran February 7, 2013, 9:44 am
Ooh, during March Madness, we should fill out brackets for effed up or crazy letters and then declare the most bizarre letter ever.
lets_be_honest February 7, 2013, 9:49 am
ktfran’s a genius!
ktfran February 7, 2013, 9:54 am
I think that’s the first and last time I’ll ever read that.
MMcG February 7, 2013, 3:37 pm
Nope – because ktfran’s a genius!
I’m fully supportive of anything that makes this a drinking/gambling game. Now we just have to pick the initial 64 LWers who get to enter the pool…
sarolabelle February 7, 2013, 10:08 am
I want to do that!
Rachel February 7, 2013, 11:11 am
That is an awesome idea!
thewriteway February 7, 2013, 3:52 pm
I am all for that!
thewriteway February 7, 2013, 9:41 am
You know…I thought I sounded stupid when I was an LW. And I probably did…but this crop of LW’s lately makes me feel pretty normal and sane…
Sunshine Brite February 7, 2013, 9:43 am
Completely horrible idea and wildly inappropriate. I hope your studies are not in any sort of counseling, therapy, social work, etc. field because you need to stop immediately as you would do more damage than good in the field. This is just ridiculous.
Sunshine Brite February 7, 2013, 9:45 am
Same goes for your friend.
theattack February 7, 2013, 9:50 am
For real. This letter reminded me of some people in my college social work classes who seemed to think they were better than the people they were unsuccessfully trying to help and they could solve anyone’s problems just because they thought they were special or something. This sort of “help” violates so many basic principles of helping professions it’s not even funny.
LW might be right that he needs some help, but she is definitely not the one to give it to him.
lemongrass February 7, 2013, 10:02 am
I wonder if this is another issue of some being told they were a special snowflake and could have anything they wanted if they tried. For the record, I plan on teaching this little guy that everyone is special in their own way, not just him. I want him to have good self esteem but not think that he is better than others.
Sunshine Brite February 7, 2013, 10:32 am
Yay lemongrass! I swear, that sort of “help” is so judgy and white knighty that it just makes me gag. I like that, self esteem is great and everyone should have it in their own way.
Franny February 7, 2013, 9:44 am
Did anyone else take the mention of her age to indicate she was older than a normal college student? I feel like she brought it up to sort of say “I’m older than the rest of his students so I am the best one to help him in this situation.”
Still a misguided thought, obviously.
theattack February 7, 2013, 9:45 am
I did too. I was confused by Wendy’s comment on her age.
Sunshine Brite February 7, 2013, 9:50 am
The LW was the one who originally mentioned age and how it would be “an advantage.” I guess I didn’t read it as her being older but like Wendy did, younger and wanting to just be there.
Lianne February 7, 2013, 9:53 am
Same here. Like she could offer a different perspective than people “his” age.
katie February 7, 2013, 9:52 am
i actually didnt even know what to make of that. it was just as vague as everything else!
honestly though, it probably does mean that she is young, at least in relation to P (so maybe older then a “typical” college student, sure, but still young so he would be attracted to her?). so, her being young and easy-going/easy to talk/whatever would be to her advantage to foster a relationship with him? i dunno.
it makes no sense.
theattack February 7, 2013, 9:54 am
I thought it meant she was older than the average college student, so he might feel more open to talk to her.
Fabelle February 7, 2013, 10:09 am
I interpreted it as younger, like the average age of a college student. I think she said it as an “oh, I could offer a different perspective” thing, but we all know what she REALLY means. (I’m sorry, all I see are thinly veiled euphemisms in this letter.)
Fabelle February 7, 2013, 10:11 am
Like… “playing the role of an educator energizes him”=she wants to dress up as a schoolgirl on her second visit to his office
katie February 7, 2013, 10:20 am
ha this is the best explanation yet.
Lindsay February 7, 2013, 12:01 pm
Me too. Because I have no idea how being possibly 20+ years younger than someone is going to make you so much better at supporting someone. Not hating on young people, but I can’t imagine decades from now seeking out an 18-year-old to help me fix my problems.
Jen February 7, 2013, 10:18 am
I was so confused by the age comment. I also thought it was that she was perhaps older than the traditional college student, so she felt like she was closer in age to her professor. But then everything else in the letter suggests otherwise! It was very strange to word it as “mild feelings for P,” so that threw me off. Well, that along with her not including any details of the situation at all. That makes it difficult to have an understand of really what’s going on, but even with more details this is a horribly misguided idea. I think the LW may have some issues of her own to sort out. Suggesting to someone you barely know (and even if you sit in a lecture room with only 5 other students, you barely know your professor) that you could offer them emotional support is not a rational thought process.
ebstarr February 7, 2013, 11:43 am
Oof, I hope she’s young! If she’s older, she’s being kinda creepy and should really know better than this. If she’s like 18, though, she might just legitimately not realize what are appropriate ways to respond to a crush, and she will have to learn about boundaries and not being creepy as she grows up.
theattack February 7, 2013, 9:44 am
Don’t embarrass your professor or put him in a situation that compromises his professional life. You might think doing this would help him, but it won’t. He’s not actually going to talk to you about his problems, so hinting around that you know something is just going to embarrass him. He is an adult who can take care of himself.
ktfran February 7, 2013, 9:46 am
I just noticed the picture with this letter. Nice Wendy!
lets_be_honest February 7, 2013, 9:50 am
I don’t get it. But that dress is pretty!
ktfran February 7, 2013, 9:56 am
Oh, it’s from the movie An Education. Great movie. And the photo is appropriate for this letter.
If you haven’t seen it, watch it! I think it’s Carrie Mulligan’s first big role. She was nominated for an Oscar too.
kerrycontrary February 7, 2013, 10:16 am
Love that movie, but Lynn Barber’s book is great. The affair with the older man is only a part of her very full and interesting life.
ktfran February 7, 2013, 10:21 am
I’ll have to check out the book sometime. I haven’t read it.
the_optimist February 7, 2013, 10:11 am
It’s from An Education, a movie in which a young student falls into an affair with her teacher…and HILARITY ENSUES! No, just kidding, it’s pretty sad. The LW should probably just watch this and live vicariously through the female lead’s character.
Sunshine Brite February 7, 2013, 10:33 am
I could not remember the name of that movie. It was bugging me as I totally saw it.
Jess February 7, 2013, 9:49 am
Ouch, but yes. Needed to be said.
lemongrass February 7, 2013, 9:54 am
Oh dear god. You are not so important to your professor that you would be a good, much less appropriate confidante. Get over yourself. Give him credit- you like him, surely he already has people in his life he can talk to or get himself to a therapist. Also, you do not have a “block” on your crush on him. If you did then you would see what a horrible idea this is. Look at your motivations.
GatorGirl February 7, 2013, 10:02 am
WTF. Seriously. What are you thinking?? You’re going to become BFFs with your college professor and “fix” his problems which might lead to some wonderful romance/marraige? This is not a Lifetime movie.
Unless what ever is going on is directly affecting your ability to learn from this man, stay the frick out of it. If it’s affecting his ability to teach you, report it to HR or the head of the department. You’re a student, he’s the professor. There are lines you don’t cross. Stay on your side of the damn line. Gah.
Sue Jones February 7, 2013, 10:05 am
WWS. Don’t cause this poor guy more problems by creating an awkward situation. His life is NOYB.
Heather February 7, 2013, 10:11 am
All I can think of is the housekeeping lady from family guy. “No, no es a good idea, no.”
But seriously, NO.
Sara February 7, 2013, 10:15 am
Many higher ed institutions extend their free counseling services to faculty. If P really needs extra, outside support, he can see a trained professional for free to minimal costs through the school. Also, if he truly enjoys being an educator, I am confident that he would not feel comfortable drastically changing his relationship with a student from educator to person person who is “being fixed” by a student.
sarolabelle February 7, 2013, 10:19 am
LW, please just leave the professor alone.
There are people in your city who go to bed hungry every night. There are animals in your city that sit in a cage all day waiting to be adopted. There are little babies that don’t get to wear clean diapers because their parents can’t afford them.
You can help others who need more than this professor.
Essie February 7, 2013, 10:49 am
No, no, no. Just no.
Your prof’s personal life is none of your business. At all. You’re only going to embarrass yourself and him by intruding. How incredibly presumptious to think you’re going to ‘save’ him.
I’m sorry, I know I’m being harsh. But your crush on him is so glaringly obvious in your letter. And your plan to insinuate yourself into his life is kinda stalkerish.
Let it go.
Bossy Italian Wife February 7, 2013, 10:51 am
WWS this beyond bad boundaries.
You accidentally found out about a personal situation of your professor’s and you need to BUTT OUT! People are entitled to their privacy and you don’t need to put your nose in it. Go on a date with someone you connect with and stop lusting after your professor. And don’t play Miss-Fix-It.
Oldie February 7, 2013, 11:10 am
LW clearly has more than her self-confessed ‘mild interest’ in her professor. In her daydreams, she has already birthed her third child by him, after redeeming his tortured soul and showing him a love he didn’t think was still possible for him. This bit of silliness would have been better left for the Friday quick responses.
Bon Vivant February 7, 2013, 11:16 am
lets_be_honest February 7, 2013, 12:05 pm
Every time I say MYOB to my daughter, I wince a little because I sound just like my mom.
Bon Vivant February 7, 2013, 12:11 pm
I have taken to saying a lot of things my mom said, that as a kid I *swore* I would never say… 🙂 I now find them humorous and accurate.
The Redhead February 7, 2013, 11:40 am
Sounds like someone’s been reading Gabriel’s Inferno & other silly romance novels….
muffy February 7, 2013, 11:44 am
This letter is so weird…
Lindsay February 7, 2013, 11:57 am
W. T. F. It’s been said many, many times already, but your professor’s personal life is none of your business. Your professor, assuming he’s a good one, has no interest in you supporting or befriending him. I’m not sure why you are so convinced that he doesn’t have anyone to support him outside of the university, anyway. People go through shit sometimes, and they don’t need people that they are paid to provide a service to butting into their lives like stalkers.
And this is a really minor thing compared to the rest of the crazy, but “Playing the role of educator seems to energize P” .. WTF X2. Of course, he enjoys educating — it’s what he chose as his career. Not to mention that it’s the only thing you’ve ever seen him do. Clearly, you are reading way too much into things, which is what people often do with crushes, but in this case, you’re on the verge of crossing a major line.
MissDre February 7, 2013, 4:36 pm
Yeah, what I can’t figure out is why she thinks she needs to be the one to support him. I’m sure he has a best friend, or a group of friends. Or siblings that he’s close to. Or parents. Or children. People who know him far better and for far longer. I’m sure whatever he’s going through, he’ll survive. And if he’s really seriously struggling, he’ll seek professional help. One of his students is not going to magically make it all better.
Iwannatalktosampson February 7, 2013, 12:31 pm
I can’t even focus on how outrageous this LW is because I MUST KNOW THE SECRET. I am having a nosy day.
But for realz LW – you are an unfortunate specimen. Mind your own business. Stop reading romance novels. Get a hobby. In exactly that order.
bittergaymark February 7, 2013, 12:36 pm
Just bizarre… WWS. Nothing else to say… Just bizarre and strange — this letter is. And while I, too, would LOVE to know what the secret is… Rest assured, everybody, it’s something simple, ordinary, and oh-so-predictable… You know, marriage troubles. (Of course!) All the better reason for her to swoop in and save the day by getting him to fall in love with her and thus divorce so they can live happily ever till the next student…
FancyPants February 7, 2013, 4:47 pm
… BGM, you went easy on this one. I was REALLY looking forward to your response.
Bittergaymark February 7, 2013, 7:42 pm
It just… Well, you know, bored me.
Lucy February 7, 2013, 1:27 pm
LW, you don’t want to go with your friend’s plan. If you do, you will spend the next, oh, 50 years thinking back on your behaviour and cringeing in remembered humiliation. Just keep your rom-com fantasy life in your own age group.
HmC February 7, 2013, 2:04 pm
Nice choice of picture Wendy! An Education was a great movie and I love Carey Mulligan!
LW, watch An Education if you want to know how affairs with older married men generally turn out.
honeybeegood February 7, 2013, 3:57 pm
Or the first season of American Horror Story for how it could be…
Lindsay February 7, 2013, 6:47 pm
OMG, this chick is so Hayden.
stickelet February 7, 2013, 2:53 pm
All I could think while reading this letter was ‘Inappropriate, Inappropriate, Inappropriate’. The whole thing is wrong on so many levels, and the friend gave terrible advice. LW, listen to Wendy and everyone else.
landygirl February 7, 2013, 2:54 pm
Butt out and mind your own business. You are not a savior, you’re a student and he is your teacher.
AnonThisTime February 7, 2013, 4:31 pm
LW, I feel you, I really do. I had a huge crush on one of my professors that I got to know pretty well over my last couple of years in college. At the time I probably would have said that I knew him VERY well, but with time I realize that that wasn’t really the case. I was thrilled when he gave me attention and imagined that I was an important person in his life, but what was really happening was that I was contriving reasons to be around him and he had a whole host of women that he enjoyed spending time with.
Looking back, I’m now embarrassed that I spent so much time and energy on this man. If I were to go back in time, instead of focusing so much on being around him I would spend some time thinking about WHY he was so damn important to me in the first place! That’s what I suggest that you do right now. Why do you have a crush on this man and not someone your own age? You say that you’ve put a “block” around your feelings for him, but what would you do if he asked you out? Tried to kiss you? Made a pass at you? If you think you’d have a hard time turning him down (or get butterflies in your stomach thinking about it) that means you’re still too close to him and should get some distance.
What do you want to help him so much? Sure, it’s painful to watch a slow-motion car crash when someone has problems that are affecting other aspects of their life. It’s probably not fun to watch whatever this situation is affect his teaching, but you are not the person to help him with this! Be supportive by being the best student that you can, don’t spread information about his situation to anyone else and just back off. You’d be a lot better off spending some time thinking about your own motivation. In case you’re wondering, I later realized that I was obsessing over my own professor because I was too naive, inexperienced, and scared to have a relationship with someone my own age. Crushing on someone “older and wiser” helped me to gain some confidence, but it also wasted a lot of time and makes me feel super embarrassed in retrospect!
Boosker February 7, 2013, 4:57 pm
This letter is equal parts adorable and terrifying. It’s seriously cute that she’s trying to help in whatever misguided way she can (even if her motives might be a little sketchy). It’s also seriously disturbing that a student would consider this plan. I, too, am a college professor. After class when I’m trying to grab my things and run across campus to my next class, I don’t want to hear about your illness, about how cute your children are, about the memoir that you’re writing, or about the totally awesome concert you went to last night (which, coincidentally, is why you were 50 minutes late). I think it’s best for everyone that I don’t have office hours.
MissSally February 7, 2013, 4:58 pm
Yeah, this is a bad idea. It may be a great fantasy, but terrible when actually put into practice.
This reminds me of my two almost-experiences dating a professor! The first time, I was very young and living abroad. After the semester ended, the prof in question and I made it as far as the campus bar (with my best friend stationed at another table watching) before I feigned illness and left. It was just too weird.
A few years later, in another country, I signed up for another class in a language I was totally intimidated by. In the weeks before the class started, I found out it would be taught by a native speaker. I dropped that class and scheduled something else, thinking it would be too hard.
After the semester ended, I went to a party and found myself talking to a very handsome, smart grad student from abroad. We started dating and before he became my wonderful fiance, I learned he was the teacher of the class I dropped! Wow, I was glad I did that.
Point of these stories? Sometimes there’s something there and sometimes there’s not – I know if I’d met my fiance in a classroom setting, I’d still have had a huge crush on him, but it would’ve been very hard for either of us to approach the other even after the semester was over. (The first situation? That was just dumb.) However, a professor’s office hours – and any time you’re still a student of his or of his department – are NOT the right time to find out.
If this is more than a fleeting crush, wait it out and send the guy an email after you’ve transferred, explaining that you no longer attend XSU but you always really enjoyed his classes and hope he’s doing well. If he doesn’t prolong the conversation after that email, just drop it.
fast eddie February 7, 2013, 7:13 pm
The single best thing you can do for him is to be good hard working student. I volunteered a few times to help my instructors by typing notes for them and once by writing a positive student input for her annual review. She lived not far from my wife and I so we remained friends for years after I finished school. At no time did I consider crossing the professional boundary but as friends our mutual support of academic and personal goals still persist and I’m honored to call her a friend.
If you want to get cozy with this guy wait until you have no more classes that he’s teaching. Otherwise it’s begging for trouble for all parties.
Violet February 7, 2013, 7:44 pm
I feel secondhand awkwardness.
Meredith February 7, 2013, 7:58 pm
I’m guessing you’re the type of person who spends a lot of time daydreaming about perfect little fantasies playing out in your real life. Which is cool, I mean, I do it too from time to time. I’m sure this scenario of rescuing your sad professor from his troubled life and the possibility you might become close friends who fall madly in love with each other is super fun to fantasize about…but it’s misguided. Don’t act on it, you’ll end up looking like a fool. Your friend shouldn’t have encouraged you on this either. Sorry, but it’s best to keep this fantasy as just that.
pamplemousse February 7, 2013, 9:09 pm
This sounds like mild stalker status.