Friday, November 9, 2012


Crushes on Professors and "How Can I Tell If I'm Boring?"

1. I'm going to keep this brief. Basically, like many before me, I have a crush on one of my college professors. I wouldn't consider anything other than a little flirting until after I'm done with his class, but do you have any tips for seducing him? Maybe some subtle-but-effective flirting techniques? Also, without really knowing much about the situation, what are my chances?

I have no tips and if your professor is a stand-up guy, you have no chances.

I know, I know, I'm very cruel! There are happy couples 'round the world who met while one was teaching the other, and for good reason — it's intoxicating, sitting below a handsome (I'm assuming), older (I'm guessing) man and feeling the weight of his perceived wisdom envelop you.

For every happy ending, though, there are five messes. Probably more.

Working really hard and getting an A from this professor will feel infinitely better than having his eyes linger too long over your decolletage, if he's into that sort of thing. If he's not, a flirtatious student could make things difficult for him — most professorial contracts strongly frown upon fraternization with students, and a even the rumor of indiscretion can stick for years, or longer.

The silver lining, though, is that these kinds of crushes can be good opportunities to think about what qualities you might value in a romantic partner — is he funny? Kind? Confident? Pick out the things you like most about him, and keep them in your back pocket when engaging with possible paramours who aren't directly affecting your GPA. 

2. How can I tell if I'm boring, and what am I supposed to do about it? I've been working really hard on liking myself, and I've come to a point where I could name several things that I appreciate about myself, which is a lot better than I was doing a year ago. But I can't shake the suspicion that I'm just boring. I mean, I think I do some pretty interesting stuff: I work two jobs, write for and edit a well-respected niche magazine, plan some fairly successful events, and generally go out around six nights a week. I'm pretty well-educated and well-read, I try to keep up with current events, and I have strong opinions and (I think) a good sense of humor.  

Still, I am pretty convinced that I, as a person, not what I do, am boring. I'd say that about 75% of the times I consider expressing an opinion, telling a story, or making a joke in a social setting, I realize "This is boring and no one will care!" and keep it to myself instead. I'm good at small talk, listening, and any sort of conversation in which I have a goal (see: event planning). I just feel like I can't contribute anything most of the time. I don't need everyone in the world to find me fascinating, I would just like to feel that there is some subset of people who think I am interesting, preferably a subset including myself. Help?

A year ago I moved from one city to another. Nervous about my prospects, I mentioned to a friend that I felt anxious about seeming interesting and likable. “I'm too normal," I said. “I won't seem exciting enough.” My friend laughed and said I was, in fact, preternaturally down-to-earth and that that would make me shine. I say this not to boast about my own sparkle, but to remind you gently that everyone feels nervous about being well-received, and also that the only truly uninteresting people are the ones who talk of nothing but how interesting they are.

May I ask, O Interesting Person (I, for one, am interested in how you find time to work two jobs, write, and go out six nights a week, and I'd be willing to bet money on the fact that many of the people you see socially are also fascinated by your energy and how thoughtful you are in spite of all the things you have going on), how much time you spend hanging out with just yourself? It sounds like you're spread awfully thin, and while I'm not judging your choice to do as much in a week as I do in a month, I wonder if all this activity keeps you so engaged with the world outside your head that you don't get much of a chance to appreciate how fascinating you really are.

3. I met this girl through a friend of a friend and we exchanged numbers and started talking a little. We eventually went on a date, and she told me that she wasn't really ready for a relationship, just looking for someone to hang out with. It let me down a little, but since I'm new to the area it was nice to meet a friend. Anyway, we go out to dinner a few times/meet up for happy hour, just kind of shoot the shit. Sometimes she'd seem really into me, other times not so much. After one night at a bar, I walked her to her car and went in for the awkward hug. I didn't want to push the whole "LET'S MAKE OUT CUZ WE'VE BEEN DRINKING" card since she said that wasn't what she was looking for, but I could immediately tell she wasn't looking for a hug. As I sulked back to the bar, I couldn't really figure this out. Was she being serious about the whole "no relationship yet" thing, or was she just trying to play it cool? Should I have kissed her? A Lady, you're my only hope.

(If it helps, I'm 24 and she is 28.)

My first thought was to ask you if, when she said she was looking for someone to “hang out with,” she meant “hang out at the bar and watch the game” or “hang out in bed,” but upon further reflection, I don't know that it matters.

You did the right thing in not kissing her — if nothing else, it says you're the kind of person who takes others at their word, which is an admirable quality. What's up with this girl, though? Twenty-eight is old enough to know that telling someone you don't want to date them and then angling for a drunken parking-lot kiss isn't particularly mature or respectful or nice. If she's genuinely changed her mind and wants to try dating you, it's on her to come out and say that and not play coy and seek your romantic affection when it's convenient for her.

Do you even want to be friends with a person like that?

4. I lost my virginity to my boyfriend of over three and a half years, and I'm craving having sex with someone else. BADLY, as in if I'm hanging out with another guy I start throbbing and I almost want to cry from holding back. The thing is, I will probably never break up with my guy to feed this terrible, terrible craving, because he was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, and we have both been emotionally/physically shattered from it. He is cancer-free now, which is amazing, but we are both depressed, anxiety-ridden, and are constantly bickering, because that awful experience cannot stop replaying in our heads.

Here's where my stupid brain and loins make matters worse: I have a couple of best dude friends that I can't stop thinking about sleeping with. Back in high school, we'd essentially done everything but the deed, so there is indeed history with these gentlemen, and it's driving me mad being alone with them because I remember what it was like to hook up with them years ago. I'm scared because I do love my boyfriend, or else I wouldn't even still be with him, but I almost just want to drag my dudes into bed to get this feeling over with. Yet, I'm also worried of giving in, sleeping with them, and then never having the same relationship with my b/f AND my friends ever again. Or, it could go perfectly well. I don't know. I would just bring up these weird cravings with my b/f, but I am very confident he would turn, aggressive because he's had waves of that throughout this whole getting-over-illness period. I don't want to stress him out any more than he is now.  

I'm writing for advice because I would never confide any of this to my family or friends, and I need an outsider's view on my situation. What would you do if you were me?

As a regular reader of advice columns, I sometimes feel like it's a cop-out when a columnist advises someone to see a counselor, because yeah, we should all be in therapy anyway!

AND YET, dear reader, this question is out of my depth. You and your boyfriend have issues you need to work out on your own and (should you choose to stay together) together, and I think those issues would be best worked out under the guidance of a professional — ideally I'd suggest couples counseling, but it would probably also be useful for you to see someone on your own, especially since you say you would never feel comfortable talking to anyone in your life about this. Sex, depression, anger, cancer! It's too much for one person to navigate alone, Person!

I will say this, though. Do not drag your friends into this mess by trying to have sex with them while you have a boyfriend, no matter how much you may want them. That's unfair and you know it.

5. The other day I was having sex with my boyfriend when he texted someone. While he was still inside me. Idk who it was I just heard the clickclickclick on his iPhone. What exactly does this mean? Was he just not that into it or was he just putting on a tough guy act to seem cool. Please help!

Does your boyfriend have a parent in the ICU? No? He has no manners and you should dump him immediately, preferably by text message.


Previously: Sensual Shampoos and "A Mutual Love of M*A*S*H."

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies. Do you have any questions for A Lady?

Photo by Elzbieta Sekowska, via Shutterstock

276 Comments / Post A Comment

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Um, LW5? How does texting during sex make you look cool? I don't even...what?


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose seriously .. LW5 ... DTMFA! And I agree, it should be by text. Mwahahaha.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
ew, I don't even what to picture this situation. How icky of him -- reason to leave him immediately, and you don't even really need to explain particularly, given his own flagrant disregard for human interaction.
There will be others who be MUCH better at sex, because they will actually be paying attention to you and your reactions, and their own reactions. The disregard for your presence is also... consternating.


I will make one allowance for texting in bed and that is if you're trying to squeeze in a quickie before mom/grandma/friends come over. And you get a text message and it is mutually agreed upon that you better check that shit to figure out if they are standing outside your front door or five minutes away or what.

(eta: or, you know, previously discussed parent/person in ICU situation)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@redheaded&crazie Yeah, but, like, not while someone is inside someone else and the recipient only knows because they hear "Click, click, click" because WTF.

Also, LW5: he might have been taking a picture of what he was doing and sending that shit out. I'd take a gander at that text, pronto.

Reginal T. Squirge

She was fucking Tom Haverford, right?


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose So MANY questions. Did he keep just like, thrusting away? How did she hear, but not see, the phone? (OK, obviously there are sexual positions where this would be the case, but what sexual positions in which you could not turn your head and be like WTF?)


@harebell He has to be absolute crap in bed. Dudefriend would never in a million years be able to text during sex because, well, he's good at it. What a juicebox this guy.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
Text message breakup while she's fucking him.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Yep I would definitely also question whether it was a text or a photo.

Although I think the camera function on most phones makes a shutter noise even in silent mode does it not? I know mine does. (not that I'm saying you would necessarily be able to hear that or whatever. I'm actually asking more out of curiosity to people who have different phones than me, ie most of this site because I have a blackberry)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@redheaded&crazie iPhone doesn't make a noise when it's on silent mode. Helpful when in a courtroom or an office.


@redheaded&crazie You're Canadian, right? I heard somewhere (reliable reference, I know) that the shutter sound is legally mandatory in phones sold in Canada, but not the States. I always wondered how people got those creepshots when I can't even take a photo of a sweater in a store without people several rows away turning around at the noise.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose On top of the rudeness, I cannot really imagine a scenario where I'm having sex that is mutually pleasurable with someone who is capable of texting at the same time.


@MilesofMountains REALLY?! Interesting I wonder if it's true. I know that there was a lot of that creepshots shit being done in Toronto so I don't know.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@paddlepickle Excellent point. Might as well just get some new toys - at least they won't text while not moving or giving a shit about your experience.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose promise me i'll never have to be out there again.


@MilesofMountains It is also legally required in a Japan, because their creepshot problem is that bad.
Also the only response to this was clearly texting this dude while he was texting while still inside you and telling him it's over. And then kicking him in the nards.

oh! valencia

@MilesofMountains Nope, here in Canada, my iPhone camera is silent.


#5 had to be a troll, right? I don't want to believe that anyone would ever actually do that. Or if someone did, no one would stay with that person.


@oh! valencia Yeah, my Samsung Galaxy camera is silent when in silent mode too.


@MilesofMountains I don't believe this is true, because I have a Samsung Galaxy and the shutter sound is silent, BUT - I had a Nokia awhile back and couldn't turn off the shutter, and found out that it was because Japanese phones are legally required to have a shutter sound because of the creeper problem.


What about answering the phone though? And it's the woman doing it? Asking for a friend!


@cosmia Yeah, I looked it up and I guess "International" versions of phones are usually can't be turned off, and "Domestic" can, so maybe my old Motorola was an International version?


@cosmia Yes, I have a Canadian phone, and the shutter is silent. But none of the phones I had in Japan had that option, because of pervs.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Why would you even do that?


@SarahP nope people really do do that (see: the first juicebox i ever slept with)


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Um, more importantly, why did she not ask at the time WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TEXTING WHILE WE ARE HAVING SEX? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

I fail to understand how anyone could let this episode occur without questioning it at the time.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose This confused me too! And while it's not cool for anyone to do this, IMO, outside of extenuation circumstances, it's even weirder to me that it was a boyfriend and not a fling or a one-night stand (though I admit that I might have a different definition of "boyfriend" than some people might).


loosing self control...@a


I've been in a happy relationship for three years with a former professor.

The Lady of Shalott

@Weasley That's nice, but it's REALLY REALLY a minority. And as A Lady said, "For every happy ending, though, there are five messes. Probably more."



But it should be noted that we ran into each other several months after the class had finished and just started hanging out.


@Weasley We can do a Hairpin census to check A Lady's numbers!
I knew 2 people in college who got involved with their professors (at least, that I know of. There may have been more that I didn't hear about). For both of them, it ended really badly for the students but not the profs. There is a type of professor who finds it not too difficult to be seduced by students, and in my experience, honesty or respect were not high on their list of priorities.
As a grad student, I know one professor who got involved with a student, and it ended absolutely horrifically for both of them. Like, newspaper articles-written-about-it-level bad.


@Weasley That's not the same as staring wide-eyed up at your professor two or three days a week as he drops pearls of wisdom straight into your open brain, not that that's not sofa king hot. You met (or hooked up) on more of an equal footing, which might be why it's such a happy relationship.



Ha "as he drops pearls of wisdom straight into you your open brain" is a perfect description of how I think a lot of teacher crushes start. The only thing having him as a former teacher did for our relationship is when we did run into each other we already knew we had a lot of common interests and hobbies.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Weasley Is it Snape? Because I have bad news, Weasley...real bad news. (Sorry.)


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

How did you guess? And what do you know that I don't?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose





@redheaded&crazie oh right and he dies. THAT bad news!


@Weasley yeah, I have a friend who is in a stable marriage with 2 kids with his former student, but I don't know the circumstances of the match and they're really uber practical non nonsense types, so I suspect that all was handled with utmost caution propriety and care in some way or another.


@Weasley Lucky you then. There are a few professors I wouldn't mind being in that situation with (because pearls of wisdom are my favorite pearls to have a dude drop on me) but the only ones who are remotely interesting are married, so no.


@Fflora "Sofa king hot" may be the best thing I've read lately. Thank you, and I will be using this!


@LW1 If you end up in @Weasley's situation, that's one thing, and I hope things go well if you do. But until you haven't seen their professorly face for several months after class is over, don't even.

If your prof is a person of wise judgment, s/he will never ever get into it with you while you are in a teacher/prof relationship. It might be hot, but it is UNETHICAL to fuck date your students if they are ever likely to be your student again much less while teaching them.

It is bad for you-- the power dynamics do not roll in your favor, and if things go awry it sucks so, so bad. It is bad for them-- some universities do not look kindly on these kinds of relationships, and may have policies that can really do a number on their career if they do engage in relationships with students.

There are lots of grad dudes who ended up with undergrad lady students in my dept (none in the other direction, or in same-sex partnerships that I know of). When a dude who is 24/5/6/7/8/9 keeps showing up to parties with 20/20/20/20/20/20yo students, it is often not about their shared love of Derrida, is what I am saying. And those guys were... I dunno. I dunno how much you trust/care for opinions of other women. But it was just not a good dynamic to be around that.

Be careful. And follow Weasley's dating an ex prof path, if you are going to follow a date a prof path.


@RationalHatter My college friend was a product of a former student/professor relationship, and they're still together probably for about 30 years or so.


@RationalHatter Hairpin census! I knew a girl in college who was in a relationship with a professor. It ended [badly?]. Actually not privy to the details, but I know it ended, and I'm going to assume it was [bad}.

the roughest toughest frail

@RationalHatter Not college, but a girl in my class hooked up with a (married) teacher during our senior year of high school. It ended badly.


@Weasley Even the prof-student relationships that seem strong/equal can end badly. A 40-something Spanish prof at my college married a former student. She'd would walk around campus with their 4 young children. A few years after I graduated I heard that he'd ditched her and taken up with another (and younger) former student. Bleah.


@Weasley Me too. 7 years, married, one kid and one on the way. We are both pretty boring, practical, and non-dramatic types, and took things slowly.

But, con: dating an academic of any kind can suuuuuck with regard to the probability that you'll be long distance at some point. Especially with the job market being what it is. We basically dated by phone for two years, bleh.

cecil hungry

@RationalHatter For Ye Olde Hairpin Census:
My grandmother was my grandfather's engineering professor (I KNOW). He was there on the GI Bill, so they were roughly the same age. They didn't start dating until after the class was over, though. Partially because she didn't like him much. He was a solid C- student and she had rashly promised that anyone who got 100% on the final would get an A in the class. Guess how that ended...

fondue with cheddar

@Fflora "pearls of wisdom are my favorite pearls to have a dude drop on me"

I have to know...are the other kind of pearls you're referring to jewelry or necklaces? Because my mind went immediately to the gutter.

Briony Fields

@RationalHatter Woo, hairpin census!

My boyfriend of 1.5 years was once upon a time my teacher, but not my professor. And when I say teacher, I don't mean high school or anything like that, but rather he taught a 3 month course I took that was um, not that important? I mean it was, but not like 'Professor in charge of my GPA' important. It has worked well for us, but partly because there wasn't really a big power imbalance there. There isn't a big age difference, and we didn't start dating until the course was over.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@fondue with cheddar Yeah. Ew.


@RationalHatter I had a multiyear relationship with a former prof of mine. It began after I was out of his class, and it was happy, healthy, and my friends & parents loved him. The age difference was subject to mocking for about six weeks, then everyone was like "Eh, let's make fun of other stuff." He asked me to marry him but we split because I moved overseas.


@PistolPackinMama Even if the university doesn't do anything punitive, that shit doesn't stay a secret. Especially if it's at a small college. I went to one for a year and a half, and jeez, all the students in the department knew that Dr so-and-so slept with some ex students and Dr so-and-so drank before his morning classes.


@Weasley RIGHT? I mean, of course profs shouldn't fuck their students, but why did this option ("wait three months, flirt with him when he isn't teaching you any more, see what happens") get left out of the response?


@nate@twitter Yep. I AM a teacher and I teach short term non degree programs to hot smart sohpsticated adult students who are around my age range I have gone on to become Platonic friends with many of them. If/ when I make pals with these students I follow the rules- no social hanging at all until class is over, otherwise people feel bad. If I dated an ex student it would be the same , but also it's really clear the he fantasy crush students get on me because of the pearls of wisdom/ fun of being in class/ fantasy thing will melt away in the face of my very ordinary person- ness. When I so make pals with ex students I make very sure to be very ordinary very fast. Since that's what friendshipis are.... On a related note, after years of teaching I dress super FRUMPY now, partly to deflect said crushes, since people seem to get them and I dont like dealing with the extra crush energy in the room when I teach I get embarassed. Somehow I feel like being in cute outfits on top of somewhat inevitable ( somewhat inevitable because of hat I teach and how I teach it, its a fun creative subject) brain crushes is somehow unfair to my students and this is not good, and I don't like dealing with the extra crush energy in the room I get embarrassed. When I have a B.f. I dont care as much. I guess I am on the other end of the unscrupulous profs! That said if I had an amazing smart student who was close to my age and we wanted to date after the class was over, I would, but they would have to be out of my program. I did date some profs in college, it went OK, not great, not better or worse than any of my others...


@mistything AND Advice to LW1: DO NOT FLIRT., You do not need to. The prof already knows. Flirting disempowers both of you. Just be smart and enjoy, ask yourselfif this is a fantasy , if so use it for fun in your mind and to learn. then after class, if it is not a fantasy, if they are single, and you KNOW it, if you have asked around and they have not dated many other students, if the age difference is within 10 years, you are allowed to go to office hours once and mention you would like to get to a movie or coffee. They know what this means.
Most likely if you are in a traditional college, they will not be into you, sorry, AND THIS IS FOR THE BEST. Trust me, the fantasy is better than the reality 99% of the time.


@PistolPackinMama I know of a PhD supervisor who *advises* a grad-student friend to sleep with his students 'while he's still young.' Friend is too honourable to pursue anyone in such a calculating way, but those guys do exist. Students with crushes is definitely a thing he's had to deal with though. There were a couple of hookups, but only after he'd stopped teaching said students; they were the ones doing the chasing. None of these interactions ended in True Love. The interaction between grad-student/undergrad isn't such a big leap; they were more on an even footing, but it was still problematic in some ways (one girl ended up stalking him). If you really want to try to get together with your professor, make sure he is no longer teaching you, and make sure you are interacting *as equals* rather than in this strange teacher-student dynamic. These interactions can end really badly if they are with a current teacher, sometimes to the detriment of the student's degree. If you really think there's a spark you could try interacting with him on a more informal, friendly basis once your class finishes; if you can't feel comfortable with him as a friend, then your attraction to him probably only stems from his position of power, which is a fleeting, deceptive thing.

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@cecil hungry My grandfather was teaching a community class for building happier marriages (he was single and had never been married ...who hired him?) and my grandmother heard that he was cute and seemingly in possession of many pearls of wisdom on happy marriages so she signed up for the couples' class (while single) with the expressed purpose of marrying the teacher. Part of me thinks this is complete ridiculousness and part of me thinks it's kind of adorable romcom material. Either way I'm here today, so I'm not opposed.


Great responses! From a very healthy person, I think.

You'll be sorry Jo March

What about TA's? I have a major crush on an amazing TA right now, and I'm planning on asking her out after grades are in. Is this a good or bad idea? Also, I'm about three years older than the average senior in college, so there's that. PLEASE SAY THIS IS OKAY

The Lady of Shalott

@You'll be sorry Jo March How old is your TA? How well do you know her? Do you have anything in common with her besides being in her class? All these things are way more relevant than age and having a crush.

You'll be sorry Jo March

@The Lady of Shalott I would guess between 23-27, we've had a couple good conversations, we have the same lit emphasis, she is funny and I am funny. I am reading a book she recommended to me. She offered to discuss it together after I've finished.


@You'll be sorry Jo March
Maaaaybe if you are getting signals of interest from her as a person, but probably it is a bad idea. It can put the TA in a really uncomfortable situation.

Daisy Razor

@You'll be sorry Jo March Is there a chance you might have her as a TA again? If not, I think you're good.


@You'll be sorry Jo March That is okay.


@You'll be sorry Jo March I TA'd a class once and a student ran up to me after class one day and blurted out that she was attracted to me and asked if we could go on a date sometime. I said sure, after the semester was over. I think technically our first date came with one week left to go, but frankly, it was fine. The professor I TA'd for even gave us his blessing when he eventually found out a few weeks later. It lasted a few months, it was fun, no regrets.

But I still agree with everyone urging caution.


@You'll be sorry Jo March In other words, you'll be sorry You'll be sorry Jo March

cecil hungry

@You'll be sorry Jo March My sister (I'm telling a lot of anecdotal family stories today, huh?) dated an ex-TA. He hit on her when she was in his class and it weirded her out. They got together about a year later. It ended when she went to grad school across the country. No real fallout or anything

hahahaha, ja.

@You'll be sorry Jo March: I think TAs are fine, so long as the semester is over AND grades have been submitted. If you get them again you can always ask to be transferred to another section (so long as another section exists, I mean). A couple of my friends are dating their ex students, and as far as I know all of them are still happy together a few years down the road.


@You'll be sorry Jo March ...D:

ohhhh, God, one of my former students asked me out and it was the MOST AWKWARD THING EVER.

I liked them, but...not like that!

If you're never going to have her as a TA again, go ahead, but be aware that there's a good chance that department politics will mean that she can't/won't date you.


@You'll be sorry Jo March A friend started dating her TA several months after the class ended. They seem pretty happy and moved in together after she graduated. Give it a shot, but maybe wait until after the holidays.

The Lady of Shalott

Jesus God, don't seduce your prof. Profs who date students are dirtbags 99% of the time. It's frequently against the rules for them, and if not, it's usually SEVERELY frowned upon. Also, if you are an undergrad, your prof probably has less than zero interest in dating you. I'm sorry, but it is the truth.

Have a crush from afar. Don't try to make it into anything. Enjoy your crush and date a dude your age.


@The Lady of Shalott see: Schwyzer.


@The Lady of Shalott Agreed x 1000.

My immediate response was pretty much: "Don't. No. No no no no no no no no no NO. NO. And don't."

"And if you do, and you succeed, he is an ASSHOLE."


See also: Animal House.


@antipretty OH G-D Schwyzer. Yes. Paging "Dr." Creepity-Deepity ...


@The Lady of Shalott I have to agree. I've been in situations where I wouldn't mind starting something with a professor, but if I succeed then that makes him a douche, so no. It's a love that carries the seeds of its own destruction, or something.

cecil hungry

@melis Or Ross from Friends!

fondue with cheddar

@The Lady of Shalott I've never dated my own professor but I did date my friend's (at a different school). It wasn't creepy but definitely pretty weird.


@Fflora This exactly, I had a crush on my 8 years older & married TA once and while I really wished that something would happen I also know that it would mean that he was a douche. So nothing happened.


@The Lady of Shalott

AMEN. I am an academic, my father's an academic, I've dated academics, and I have seen tons of profs dating students (as an undergrad, and now a grad student.) Honestly, most profs (or TAs) who hit on their traditionally-aged students are either creeps or just pathetic. (Seriously.) I can cite numerous relationships of the student-teacher kind. Only one of which has gone well, and that's because the woman (student) was 35 and the prof 40. And the woman went on to become an academic, so there was a certain equality in their relationship as it developed.

For the most part, these relationships either do not last or are deeply problematic, and have fucked-up power dynamics, typically in which a younger woman is in thrall to an older male prof. (I have only seen the reverse once and I have not seen any same-sex student-prof relationships.)

Ask yourself, lw, why a man who's 28/30/35/40 (or whatever) can't find a woman his own age and education level. You're intelligent, you're kind, you've got your own virtues, but an emotionally healthy person many years your senior (and in a position of power) would hesitate to seek out someone considerably younger and especially, someone who's been their student and thus, who's relied on them for marks/recommendation/knowledge/whatever. It would give them serious pause.

Also, I should add that research has shown that male profs surrounded by young women whom they lust after often have more marital issues. I am guessing that once you see a student as a potential lover/partner, it's hard to turn away from that way of thinking, even once you're partenered and not available.


@cecil hungry "It is frowned upon ..."

Briony Fields

@antipretty What is Schwyzer? *nosy*




@Briony Fields I had to look this up too! APPARENTLY he was (is! actually still is!) a gender studies prof who is kind of famous for being a MAN who studies FEMINISM and being really ~edgy about it but is more famous now for having been an addict in the nineties and attempting a murder-suicide by gas, and ALSO having (apparently consensual but skeevy nonetheless) sex with multiple students around the same time. Googling "Hugo Schwyzer" gets you a lot of info!


@VDRE I should add that I'm an older, returning type of student, so the age imbalance isn't there so much. Power, yes, but age, less so. For the record, I know some Peter Pan types my own age who consistently date much younger women, and it makes me glad in hindsight that everyone I've dated has been in my age bracket. I've noticed perpetual-child tendencies in older men who've wanted to be with me, and again, no. But everybody's different.


@The Lady of Shalott Aaaaaaaand he's a regular columnist at Jezebel. Where he once excelled himself by mansplaining how to deal with mansplainers.

Rhode Island Red

@antipretty I'm signing in under a different account from my usual name just to say, I know Schwyzer personally, and have for quite a while. I don't think he's terrible in quite the same way I used to, but man, yes, he's (was and no longer 'is'? I hope!?) the perfect example of a professorial power-abuser. I think he's actually grown up a lot in the past several years, but I knew him more when he was actually being a creep and using his position of power to seduce young women. If other professors who hook up with their students are as batshit-crazy-deluded as he was about his position and the women involved (and I'm assuming the majority of professors who get involved with their current/just barely of-age students are), then for the love of god, steer clear. It's all awesome and funny and grown up and sexy when you're 17 or 18, but that's why these profs are so disgusting: they're knowingly using the naivete of their students for sex and ego stroking. And it almost never ends well. I'm not trying to just rag on Hugo- there's plenty of that already in the comments of sections of Jezebel and xoJane. I am saying, use Hugo as a cautionary tale and DON'T DO IT LW 1!!!


@geek_tragedy That is such a good point. Ladies: if a much-older man is interested in dating you, that /usually/ means that women his own age are wise enough to steer clear!


I like this A Lady!

And I've never wanted sex so badly I wanted to cry. Is this a normal thing that I'm just missing out on from lowish libido? Because now I kind of want to experience it, just the once (although not in LW#4's circumstances).


@MilesofMountains Word. Sometimes I can go days without even thinking about masturbating. It just doesn't occur to me. I *want* to be a lady who likes getting it on, I just don't feel the urge. I'm not even on any medication or anything, this is all natural. Meh.


@MilesofMountains Not particularly enjoyable. My bf has a significantly lower libido than I do (mine might be a little higher than average, but possibly not excessively so) and sometimes just is not that into it. Every once in a while I am UGH SO frustrated and am like "Ok, seriously, would you please just fuck me NOW?" and he's like "uh, gotta go work on the basement and do some overtime and take a nap maybe tonight maybe?" Also if I can't orgasm (stupid meds) I have totally been known to cry, which is a total mood killer but happens unwillingly out of annoyance and frustration.


@MilesofMountains It's sort of fun and sort of not, at the same time, like everything unrequited that you think about a lot.


@AmandathePanda Oh yeah, I've definitely been frustrated when I want sex and my guy is not into it at that time, but I've always just you know, not had sex and got over it? I've never needed it so bad I burst into tears from too much lust.


@MilesofMountains - Part of me thinks it's more being frustrated with her life/relationship, and the fact that she's standing next to a guy she can't have sex with because of that life/relationship increases the frustration. Like, the thing she's going to cry about isn't really lustfulness, it's unhappiness with life.

fondue with cheddar

@MilesofMountains I've wanted ladysex so badly I wanted to cry. While I was married to a dude. I was also depressed, though.


@KeLynn I absolutely think part of this is psychological. She wants to be with anyone other than her boyfriend... so she should not be with her boyfriend.

Ragged But Right

@MilesofMountains Personally I reckon when you feel like that (and one does sometimes!) it's not so much the sex one wants so badly, but the freedom to have it.


@MilesofMountains I'm with you on this one.


@Ragged But Right WISE


@Ragged But Right YES "freedom to have it"!! Like in a situation in which the relationship with whatever person is on ambiguous/confusing footing. It's like how you want things more when you feel them slipping away.

Litebrite Idea

@MilesofMountains I don't have an everyday high sex drive, but when I'm really into someone, there are times when it's in constant overdrive, and it's painful, and I definitely want to cry when it can't be quenched. Masturbation or sex with someone else only briefly relieves some tension but can make me want to cry more. For me it's wanting that emotional + unrepressed sexual + oxytocin bond. I've been in relationships where the guy is either sexually repressed or can't be in the emotional intimacy afterwards. And I've had flirtations where they appear ready for some intense unrepressed action but they see me as a person they would get attached to and aren't ready for that so won't actually sleep with me or keep emotionally distant if we do hook up. I've had what I'm looking for in a relationship once and close in a couple of guys I dated, so I know what I'm missing!!


"What exactly does this mean?"

It BETTER mean an intern at the ER is about to have a fun new "weirdest thing I've ever extracted" story to tell at parties.

Anchovy Cake

About two years out of college, I had a brief fling with a professor I'd had a crush on in college. It was one of those conundrums where you have to decide if it is worth living out the fantasy or not. It lasted about two months and we parted amicably. We both knew that it was not going to go anywhere....but it was a good experience overall.

fondue with cheddar

@Anchovy Cake A girl I went to school with did the same thing, I don't think she dated him until after she graduated. Last I heard they were married, so that worked out pretty well.


LW#4, you say you love your boyfriend but what stood out to me was how awful you feel right now. You say you guys fight, and bicker, and his cancer hangs over your relationship.

And cancer is an awful thing! It screws people up and makes them different in ways neither of you expected when you got together all that time ago. But the person you fell in love with doesn't seem to be quite the same person today; you mention him getting "aggressive" and your concern is not stressing HIM out--this isn't something you should be afraid to talk to your partner about. It's hard to talk about, but fear shouldn't enter into it.

I think your pantsfeelings might be a way of your body telling you that this isn't the right relationship for you anymore. You can still love your boyfriend but not be able to be in a relationship with him.

I know, you're probably feeling survivors guilt--he had cancer! you'd be a terrible person to leave him! he needs you!--but wanting to leave is enough. It doesn't make you a terrible person. It doesn't make you weak. Secure your own emotional stability before assisting others.

I agree with The Lady: time to talk to a counsellor and avoid your guyfriends (especially with alcohol) until you get a better handle on what's going on.


#3: Several years ago, I lost a good 8 months of my life to exactly such a type of relationship—frankly, because she was incredibly attractive and it was intoxicating to receive even mixed signals from someone like her.

After months of will-we-or-won't-we semi-dates and one-off make-outs, I eventually realized that while I was addicted to her, she was addicted to the melodrama of the whole thing. I stopped hanging out with her, found other people to date who were actually into me, and became much happier, even though to this day I still now and again get a "hey I miss you" text message from her.

My advice is, shut that shit down this instant and find someone less equivocal.


@Emby Yes, I too have had those. It is not good. It was horrible. Don't do it. Find someone else. I mean, LW3, not you, Emby.


@Emby To take a line from How I Met Your Mother, the LW is "on her hook."


@Emby Can I just say, though, is there any slack at all for the drunk person who might not have THOUGHT she was be looking for something and then have developed a crush on the letter writer and then wants to kiss that person but is too shy/ worried about sending mixed signals. afraid of rejection/ getting hurt to make a real move? So they get drunk for dutch courage to like override, in hopes that it will burst over the wall of inner resistance?My advice tot he letter writer would be to ask the drunk possible kisser if that's what they were going for , because maybe the drunk person is just shy - and afraid - and if they talked about it, there might be something there - I'm just saying, If I were hanging out with someone a few times a week, and I got drunk and tried to kiss them, it would mean I had a crush on them that I was afraid to be open about for whatever reason and I had worked up my courage to make the moment happen. A couple times a week of seeing someone ,is a lot, esp if they are new to town, its like almost fake dating... so Id be less harsh and more gentle and investigatory. Now if it tuns out the ambivalent drinker is an asshat you can find that out, maybe they are just vulnerable and socially not perfect, know what I mean?


@Emby Maybe I misread the letter, but it seemed to me that the love interest in question didn't say anything to suggest she wanted a hook-up. I thought the Lady's accusation of "angling" was really slut-shaming. It's only a few steps away from throwing out "she was asking for it".


@hollysh yeah, read it this way too. nothing in the letter suggests the lady in question wanted anything more than "just to hang out" - what, she let him walk her to her car? she probably likes him as a person and values him as a friend but for whatever reason does not want a relationship with him! and that should be fine! it's kind of crushing, honestly, when your "i want to be friends" is somehow seen as disingenuous/illegitimate, and actually, the other person has NO interest in being friends without sexual benefits with you! and then hates you for "leading them on." because you are friendly with friends. gah.


While obviously it is heinous and should not be done, I have to say, I am kind of astonished by the ability of a dude to send a coherent text message while in mid act. I feel like that is not a thing I would be able to do? I dunno.

I can't even send a text message while walking without doing one of those Wile E. Coyote things where I walk straight off the edge of a cliff, finish my text, and realize I'm standing hundreds of feet above the ground of a ravine, try to run but my legs just spin in the open air, pull out a wooden sign that says "Uh-Oh" and then my body neck down begins to plummet, a second after which my head yoyos down to my body and I squish into the ground, standing up puffing in and out as accordion noises come out of me.


@leon s Yeah, I kind of feel like in addition to it being horribly rude, there was just no chance that this was happening during good sex. Another reason to DTMFA.


@leon s Video or it didn't happen.

fondue with cheddar

@leon s Seriously. I tried cybersex back in the AOL chatroom days, and always ended up just typing things to other people help them out but not really helping myself out, ifyouknowwhatimean.


LW #4, this is way out of my depth too, but this dinged for me:

"... I am very confident he would turn, aggressive because he's had waves of that throughout this whole getting-over-illness period. I don't want to stress him out any more than he is now."

If this is grinding-teeth-maybe-slamming-doors aggressive, this is counselor-worthy; if it's AT ALL violent or even heading in that direction then I urge you to seek counseling but also think about finding another safe place to stay. I think "I don't want to stress him out..." could be coming from a thoughtful place, or it could be the beginnings of "It's my fault, I shouldn't make him so angry."

Cancer is excruciatingly hard and a very legitimate reason to be stressed and angry -- but girl, it's not a legitimate reason to be 'aggressive' if 'aggressive' means, say, hitting you.

I hope I'm overreacting and reading too much into that -- in any case, I think this Lady is right on.


@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails That's raised a red flag for me too. Not saying it's not totally normal with all of the body/emotional trauma that he's been through, but this is not the sign of a mentally healthy person/capable partner. I think this relationship is on it's way out and there's probably so much guilt surrounding the cancer.


LW2-be my friend. I can't help but feel boring too and I don't do half the amount of things you do! I've always sort of felt like my interests were not inside the realm of my peers and now that I'm at a job I don't like, the pressure to seem exciting to outsiders in order to gain friends only increases.

I agree with a Lady in that you should definitely try to be more introspective and give yourself more credit but I 100% understand that's easier to say than do.


@HeyMatilda Likewise! But don't get too introspective, I think that can be dangerous too. I think you just need to meet the right people. I made a new friend recently because the conversation flowed really well and this person took the initiative to talk to me back. Really affirming, since I fail in a lot of conversations with a lot of people.


@HeyMatilda I agree she needs to give herself more credit. I feel like I am always saying the wrong/boring/awkward thing in social situations but then if you ask a good pal if they noticed you being wrong/boring/awkward they are like "What are you talking about?" Like guaranteed no one is listening to you talk and thinking, "God, how boring." That is the sort of overthinking that is probably part of what enables you to do three million things and still have the energy to go out, but can lead to this kind of negative self-perception.


@HeyMatilda Plus you both sound really lovely and self-aware, which automatically makes anyone (in my mind) super interesting because we can actually have conversations that are meaningful.


@HeyMatilda I am that person at parties who can't tell a story. I love hearing friends relay a funny thing that happened to them that day, but when I try to do the same thing it always ends with crickets chirping. And also I write for a living so it's not like I don't know how stories work.

My solution is to be likeable by listening well and asking leading questions. It might be that I'm boring, but at least I can have positive social interactions!

fondue with cheddar

@blueblazes I always feel boring too! My solution is trying to be funny whenever possible.

A Lady is totally right about people who only talk about how interesting they are. I'd much rather hang out with a "boring" person than someone like that.

Better to Eat You With

@HeyMatilda I once told my shrink that I always say the wrong/awkward/boring thing, and she asked me why I thought people wanted me to be interesting all the time, and said that people who are constantly "interesting" can actually be pretty grating when you think about it.


I've worried about being boring before, but I think you're good, LW2. I'm trying to think of how to draw the line between Doing Interesting Things and Being an Interesting Person, and I'm pretty sure they're the same. Maybe some people can ratchet down the boring factor by having really good storytelling skills but otherwise if you do interesting stuff and have interesting opinions, you are interesting.


@OhMarie Yeah storytelling skills! I have found that listening to podcasts (mostly Roderick on the Line) helps me pay more attention to how I talk and tell stories.


I'm married to a teacher and every time I read one of these sorts of "I'm in love with my teacher" letters, I want to claw someone's eyes out. I've had students facebook stalk me to "size up the competition" and then tell my husband about it later. It's kind of a crummy thing to deal with--young girls coming onto your husband all the time. I trust my husband and I don't think he'd cheat, but it's a crummy thing to deal with regardless.

"For every happy ending, though, there are five messes. Probably more." Yeah...you're in college. There's a million, bazillion other dudes. Maybe he's single, maybe he's not. You're young, maybe just try having fun and being a college kid while you can?


@parallel-lines I used to teach undergrads in a dude heavy field and I'd get hit on all the time. No temptation what so ever.


@garli I know, I know. Most of the time, it doesn't bother me. Every now and then a former student pops up and does things like post a picture of her boobs on his facebook wall w/ the message "hay sexxxii" and yeah...I don't really appreciate that.

I feel like Julie Taylor on Friday Night Lights is the ultimate cautionary tale on this subject.


@parallel-lines Facebook stalk YOU? Eesh. It weirded me out enough when my prof-husband was getting friend requests from female students with those sexy-pose-in-bathroom-mirror-type profile pictures. And sometimes he would come home and ask me if I thought a student was flirting with him when she said or did this or that and we'd chuckle about it and then get on with our lives.

I'm sorry, college students, your profs are not thinking about you like that. They're thinking how they wish you would pay attention in class and study for your tests.


@parallel-lines Oh yeah if they ever tried to friend me I'd just put them on super limited profile so they never could post on my page or read most statuses. I think a lot of them just don't know how young they seem?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@parallel-lines Sizing up the "competition"? That's insane. Just insane. Not even living in the same reality.


@parallel-lines whyyyyyyyyyy is he friends with them on Facebook!!! (the ones who are sending boobshots, natch; presumably he is friends with plenty of pleasant, non-hitting-on students too)


@melis He's only friends with former students, never current ones (and his profile is very bare--no personal information, I think he has to have a profile for school so kids can get a hold of him). Sadly, the ones who are the least appropriate are the ones who are old enough to know better.


@parallel-lines WOOF sorry sister!


@parallel-lines Jeeeeeez, that is ridiculous. Props to you for dealing with that as well as you are. That is just...cracked-out crazy.

Vera Knoop

I'm sorry, college students, your profs are not thinking about you like that. They're thinking how they wish you would pay attention in class and study for your tests.
I'm reading this thread on a break in grading papers, and just... YES. This.

I'm Not Rufus

@Amphora Oh my God, completely true.

Better to Eat You With

@parallel-lines My husband and I are both profs. My first response to this letter was that the colleagues who actually get together with students are not people I respect. The second was a vague dread that comes over me from time to time and is nicely described by your comment.


LW1: I don't know of any professor-undergrad relationships, but I do know of many between professors and grad students, ranging from casual hookups to married-with-children, though not while a supervisory relationship was still active. So, wait till grad school I guess? Also, there was this whole to-do back in the day: http://www.jaydixit.com/writing/wellesley.htm

White Rabbit

@thiscallsforsoap Blergh. I briefly dated a Wellesley prof - I was an adult with no other connection to that college. I got major creeper vibes from him, so I ended it after a short while. I heard from him again recently: he messaged me on Facebook to suggest getting together soon - the same day he and his new wife posted news that they're expecting a little one. I still shudder when I think about that message. And I wasn't the least bit surprised by it. *retch*


LW5, read Bergdorf Blondes. Even when it's the heroine of a fluffy chick lit novel, texting while sexing is NOT ACCEPTABLE. If you're not going to dump him immediately, ask him about it. If his response doesn't make you dump him, ask him not to do it again. If he doesn't agree, dump him.


@PomoFrannyGlass I'm imagining a flowchart for this process and it features a very large bubble that says 'DUMP HIM.'


@BattyRabbit If I could have created a flow chart in the comment box, I totally would have.

cecil hungry

@PomoFrannyGlass Ha! Bergdorf Blondes. Read it in the airport, forgot everything but "tiramisu." An excellent chick lit/airport book.


Maybe I am The Worst, but I feel like it's pretty obvious that LW #4 just needs to dump no-longer-has-cancer-boyfriend. Therapy would probably be a good suggestion, too, but mostly it seems like she's stuck in a guilt-riden relationship where neither party is particularly happy.


@aeroaeroaero I feel the same way. I really didn't see it as much a complicated issue? They are bicker-y, depressed, fight all the time, & the dude has the tendency now to "get aggressive" (whatever the means)? Just break up with the guy & go fuck all those other dudes, LW#4. I know that throbby feeling you describe, & trust me, it is great when you finally soothe it.


@aeroaeroaero Me too. I thought this was going to like, 'he's terminally ill and I can't bring myself to leave him" territory, but he's not sick now and she's just not into it.


@aeroaeroaero Yeah, it sounds like cancer artificially extended their relationship because she didn't want to leave him when he was sick (no judgement from me on that!) But, LW#4, you can't stay with him the rest of your life just because he got sick before you realized the relationship wasn't going to work. An angry, bitter relationship won't help him, and it won't help you.


@aeroaeroaero I had the same thought. I get not wanting to leave the guy while he had cancer, but he's in remission, you're both allowed to get on with your lives.


@aeroaeroaero And it seems like there's a good chance that he may want to break up too (and maybe feels guilty because she stuck with him through cancer?)!




@melis Right? It's not that she's boring, it's that she's literally a robot that doesn't require sleep.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@melis Classic FOMO: fear of missing out

The Lady of Shalott

@melis I didn't even catch that until just now and HOLY GOD. How does she find the time to do anything else? Going out twice a week maxes me out and then I'm like wow, guys, this is really cutting into my "lying on the couch watching Law and Order rerun time."


Seriously. I went out TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW this week and now feel like a total champ who has earned an evening on the couch with tacos and 'Walking Dead.'

Daisy Razor

@melis Maybe she thinks she's boring because she's asleep every moment she's not working or socializing.


At one point I was talking with my therapist and I realized I was out of my house 20 nights a month. That was when I started dropping obligations - social, communal, you name it. I may have been single for too long but I need and love my alone evenings.


I was definitely a FOMO case up until about 3 years ago. It goes away with time/age, and I am now much more content with doing very little on a Friday night. In fact I plan on cleaning my bathroom, cooking dinner, and watching Parks & Rec tonight -- ALONE (with whiskey).


@whizz_dumb same. a new roommate moved in and i spent all last weekend going out and Doing Things with her and it completely wore me out. young people.

down the rabbit hole

@whizz_dumb You are never alone when you have whiskey.


@down the rabbit hole It really is amazing how fast it makes me feel like nothing else is going on that could possibly be better than what I'm doing while drinking it.


@whizz_dumb Did you steal my Friday night plans? Sub Parks & Rec for House Hunters and we are having the same night!


@melis six nights is insane. I also have fomo and like to go out but any more than 3 or 4 would be exhausting. Still need at least 1-2 nights a week for sweatpants, cooking, wine, an reruns by myself.


@eleven THIS. YES! American horror story and red wine!



UGH I'm such a FOMO/fearful of being boring person. I have no idea why, I don't think I'm actually boring? But I am dreadfully afraid of being boring AND of missing out. Please halp. So miserable!


LW2, I feel like a lot of the banal evils of our society come people trying too hard not to be boring. You seem like a clear case of still waters running deep. You're like Gary Cooper. Most people have something boring to say, and then say it anyway- I know I do. I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it.

PS- six nights a week, that is basically a super power.


Ah, boringness. There are definitely people in the world who WOULD think I'm boring. But there are also people in the world who think I'm awesome, so why worry about the opinions of people I probably don't spend much time around, and wouldn't like if I did?


@JanieS - This is very true! It is like dancing, like salsa or something. There are some people way better than me (most of them, I have taken a single class) and some who are somehow worse than me.

And yet, overall dancing ability doesn't matter as much as some ethereal chemistry thing - sometimes me and another shitty dancer end up dancing much better than me and some awesome dancer.

Conversation is like dancing or fucking. It's not really critical if somebody is "good" or "bad", interesting or boring. You just need to find people with whom you have that right rhythm.

Also, yeah, if you were boring, I feel like you would not have enough people to hang out with six nights each week.


@JanieS I like this.


@leon s Yes! It doesn't really matter what the wavelength is, so long as you find folks who are on a similar/complementary one ("the race that knows Joseph", as L.M. Montgomery put it.)


LW 5, I do not know what is going on in your life that has led you to not have DTMFA already (and by already, I mean "immediately, as soon as you heard the clicking, while he was still inside you"). You sound pretty young, so maybe you just haven't realized yet that this is not something people are allowed to do.

So please, DTMFA. He doesn't respect you, and he is a selfish bastard.


@gobblegirl To "by already, I mean immediately, as soon as you heard the clicking, while he was still inside you", might I add, "to be followed by kicking him right out the door without benefit of pants if he was at your place"?

I'm torn on this question. Not the answer, which is obvious, but whether it is even true or should have been answered. I almost prefer to think it came from a troll because that would mean it didn't really happen, and even if it did maybe we shouldn't give other potential trolls any ideas. If it happened, then LW 5, please know that there are dudes out there who will treat you better than that, and if not then you are better off with a battery-operated friend while you wait.


Someone checked his voice mail during sex with me (not physically during but conceptually during, like we had paused for a moment and were going to pick up again). At least he didn't pick up his phone when it rang? But if you're going to check the voice mail while I'm still in bed you MIGHT AS WELL have?!


one of the hottest moments i've had recently was visiting a marine man-friend who technically is supposed to always be by his phone. it went off during, and he tossed it over the side of the bed and said "nothing is more important than this."

let's just say it provided some excellent motivation.


@gobblegirl Right?! I can't even imagine that situation without it ending in shoving that dude out from "inside" you, and then out from "inside" your house, immediately.

cecil hungry

@Ellie I'm not going to lie. If I hear my phone ring/text during the act, I kind of dry right up and it takes a lot of concentration to finish. And I check it as soon as I feel is polite. That's why I turn my phone silent/leave it in the other room. I know my limits.


I don't know if LW3 *meant* to say "I sulked back to the bar" or "skulked bar into the bar," but I love the use of sulk in this context very much. I know precisely how it feels to sulk back into a location. Bravo!


Hey LW who worries you are boring: I think telling funny anecdotes and good jokes takes a little practice. I think you should think of it as a challenge - every once in a while just be like, "Ok, here goes, I'm going to try to relate an anecdote just as though I am a fascinating interesting person" and see how it goes. Some days maybe it will work and you'll be like "Whoa, look at that, I can tell a funny story." and other days you'll be like "Oh whoops, that didn't work at all!" and you'll just have to forgive yourself and try again another time, maybe wonder why (brevity? timing? wrong story for the wrong audience? just bad luck?). I think in reality most people are interesting sometimes and boring at other times, even the ones who we think of as super interesting, it just doesn't work 100% of the time. And, as you may have caught on already, a lot of people find that the most interesting people to be around are the ones who are good listeners and make THEM feel interesting.


@vunder Yeah, I came down here to say, "Just say the boring things!" Or rather, I guess, what the LW thinks is boring. Most of the time it won't be and everyone will laugh or nod in agreement or continue the conversation based on your anecdote. I sometimes think I'm boring, too, and hell, sometimes I am. But everyone's boring sometimes. But if you overthink and never say anything at all, then you're DEFINITELY boring.

oh! valencia

@meetapossum I say lots of funny (to me) things in my head, but it is rare that I will actually speak my mind around people I don't know well. I often have things going on upstairs that I could add to the conversation, and do, if an appropriate opening presents itself, but I'm not going to fight for attention, because I'm not actually all that comfortable with attention, so if others keep talking I will just keep listening.
I guess I could be perceived as boring, but I'm not worried about it - and there is the difference between me and the letter writer, I suppose.


@oh! valencia Yeah, but there's a difference right there on WHY you're not saying the things you're thinking. You don't want to fight for attention, but the LW is sort of in Perpetual Fear mode. And that's a sad place to be.

oh! valencia

@meetapossum That's true, I'm not keeping things to myself out of fear that no one wants to hear what I have to say. You're right, she's definitely overthinking it.
To me, keeping 75% of your thoughts to yourself is fine, wise even.


LW2: This is a potentially really harsh response, but honestly, you know what's boring? Worrying about being boring.

First of all, doing interesting things won't necessarily make you interesting, and doing boring stuff won't necessarily make you boring. I'm sure you know people who have boring jobs and spend their leisure time sitting around, but still have interesting opinions and are hilarious and are great storytellers, just like I'm sure you know people with crazy, diverse hobbies who never seem to do anything boring, but talking with them just leaves you...bored.

Second of all, I think you also may be confusing being interesting with being extroverted, being a social butterfly.

I think everyone eventually just needs to come to terms with the concept that some people will find you interesting and some people will not. You will seek out people you find interesting, and hopefully they will find you interesting back, and the best thing you can do is just try to be yourself in a way that strikes the balance between being comfortable and being open to growth.

Instead of focusing on being interesting and worrying about being boring, just focus on, y'know, doing you. Chances are, someone out there will find your ability to amuse yourself by sitting in your apartment for hours on end with nothing but a book and a cat to be, shockingly, interesting.


@yeah-elle Agree so hard. People who try too hard are worse than boring - they're obnoxious. Stop trying to be a manic pixie dream girl and just do things you like for your own reasons (not because you think they'll be perceived in a particular way).


@gobblegirl Maybe she needs to consider Living Internationally?


@Leanne I don't know what that means?


@gobblegirl If you'd been 'round these parts long enough you'd know it's the panacea for everything.


@gobblegirl @yeah-elle Oh, hi. I am the person who wrote the letter. I just wanted to clarify: I go out all the time because I like the events I am going to. I quite realize that doing these things does not make me interesting; I tried to get that across in my letter, sorry if I did not do so. I promise that I am not trying to be a manic pixie dream girl (and would make a terrible one), and I do not think that going out a lot makes me cool in any way.


@purefog No, you're thinking of white vinegar.

@apotentiallyboringperson I meant "you" in the abstract (ie, the people who try too hard), not necessarily you the actual person - because I don't know you.
Chances are, you're not boring. In my experience, there is a high correllation between being interested and interesting. People who engage with the world are, themselves, engaging. A good test is whether or not the people you find interesting generally seem to like hanging out with you. They probably do! So you're fine!


@apotentiallyboringperson I'm glad to hear that you aren't running yourself ragged in an attempt to go out all the time even when you don't want to! That would suck. I still think, however, that the things you listed in your self-description are telling. Those are the things you chose to share as the parts of yourself that you think are interesting. It's not a question of being "cool" or not, and if you like going out a lot, I'm not disparaging or praising it!

The more I think about your letter, the more it reminds me of someone asking themselves "am I pretty?"--the answer is, some people will think you're pretty, and some people won't, and some days you'll think you're pretty, and some days you won't. Different people will think that different parts of you are what make you pretty. You could spend a lot of time and effort trying to totally reshape yourself into whatever you think is socially upheld as "pretty," or emphasizing the aspects of yourself that you think best fit that standard, or you could just focus on doing what makes you feel good about yourself, knowing that it will appeal to some people and not to others, knowing that some of the things about you will fall into whatever "pretty" standards there are, and others won't.

The same goes for what you want to do with your personality. Do what feels right to you. Do your best to be a good person, whatever that means to you. Some people are going to find you interesting, and others won't, and a whole lot of people are going to fall somewhere in between, and you can bet that none of them are going to use the same criteria.

Oof that was an essay and a half. Also, like @gobblegirl said above, I'm mostly thinking about a "you" in the abstract--your letter was just the catalyst to my thinking!


@apotentiallyboringperson hi! I have struggled with this same issue in the past- always worrying that I am boring and everyone else is more interesting/funnier. A couple thoughts. One, who you hang round with makes a difference. I felt most insecure when i hung around a crowd whose conversations revolved around inside jokes, obscure references, and a lot of judging/mocking people not in the group. In those situations i didnt get the inside jokes and references, felt like I didn't have anything funny to add, was scared of being the subject of their mockery, and generally felt like I was boring. I eventually stopped hanging around them. I found newer, more interesting (to me) people whose conversations weren't all inside jokes but talked about news, books, internet stuff, things I care about - and i realized in those situations i thrive, i have lots to add, and i never have to worry that I'm boring. So, surrounding yourself with the right people helps!

Also you sound like you are a fascinating person (I would love to know your secret for having the energy to do so much and go out 6 nights a week!) so to some degree it's just working on expressing those opinions and silencing your inner critic - having opinions and passions, which you clearly have both of, already makes you the opposite of boring.

(Unrelated: someone i know recently was talking about a girl he described as 'blah' and he called me 'the opposite of blah' - which, after years of wondering if I was boring, I took as the highest form of compliment.)


For every happy ending, though, there are five messes. Probably more.

Not tryna front here but isn't this the case with any risky thing worth doing (indeed, of any romantic endeavour)? Granted everything else A Lady wrote is entirely correct - the professional implications of boning a pupil are p. severe.

Also a v. apropos question to answer now that Philip Roth has ragequit writing. Who, who will be the voice of virile (ie gross) older men in academia??


@Danzig! I disagree. It's not just messes, it's starting with bad judgment and expecting the one possible good outcome to outweigh the depth and breadth of the five messes trying to date a prof can create.

There's your usual live and learn tears and heartbreak mess. Then there is university disciplinary action for the prof and a major interference in your getting your degree done for the student and also the fact that profs who date students are a group not exclusively but frequently calibrated towards "scuzzbag."

Risk is one thing. Foolishly considered, highly dubious risk is another.

I think A Lady was underplaying not how many messes, but what quality of mess can happen.

If it's worth risking that much to boff a prof, it's worth waiting till they are never ever going to be your prof ever again. Like, a long time waiting.


Wait wait wait - I think I'm reading LW3 way differently than A Lady. I don't get the impression that the woman was angling for a kiss at all, just that LW3 went in for a hug, which the woman didn't seem to want, and because sometimes this woman is friendly and seems "into him", that he is second-guessing what this woman-friend has said.

I beg you, LW3, and all boys and girls in the world, please please please take people at their word about what they want in relationships! That's the simple truth. If they want something different from what they are saying to you, then that person is playing games or under some sort of pressure to say the opposite thing, and either situation is something you want to get involved in.

Be her friend, LW3. If you don't think you could be her friend without wanting to touch her, but you should probably walk away, for your own sanity.


@GooooGrapefruit! You're right, his interpretation of her response to the hug is ambiguous. And you're equally right about your advice: In every scenario, both he and she are on different pages and he should disengage for both of their sakes.


@GooooGrapefruit! --Yes, I read that letter twice because I was so bewildered by the response, and I saw nothing in it that suggested the other person was angling for a drunken parking-lot kiss. Maybe it was edited out before publication. What it sounds like as it stands is she said she didn't want a relationship, they hung out, the LW went in for a hug, it was awkward because she's not at heart interested, and now LW is confused even though it seems rather clear to me.


@GooooGrapefruit! @Lu2 That is exactly how I read it, and wondered at all the shade we were throwing in this girl's direction.


@GooooGrapefruit! Yeah, I didn't get this also. She said she didn't want a relationship then didn't seem to do anything to contradict this so why the weird reply? Oddddd


LW1, I managed to both seduce and marry my professor (both AFTER he was no longer officially my professor.......important fact!). We are very happy some seven years later. My recipe for success included loaning him interesting novels based on his area of expertise with little personal notes inside. He thought it was charming. But I also knew that a) he was single, b) close to my age, and c) just a very, very good and moral person. If you have doubts about your prof's character, stay away.

I also NEVER EXPECTED things to work out beyond my wildest dreams, but hey, they did. Good luck.


@falconet We're taking a date-yo-professors census upthread to test A Lady's numbers! Come join!


this A Lady has her shit together. all of it.


LW4, oof, I sympathize with loving your guy (who sounds like maybe he's your first serious relationship?) and not seeing how you could possibly break up, but also having intense feelings about all the other-guy sex you're missing out on. I resolved my issues by, er, marrying the guy, and they still resurface somewhat regularly (doesn't help that I'm also still friends with guys with whom I have high school history). In your case there's a HUGE extra hurdle with the cancer guilt, which must complicate everything by a hundredfold, so I really agree that you need to take a good look at the relationship and try to work out, both with him and by yourself (and yes, probably with a counselor if that's an option for you) what your current feelings about him and your partnership are, how much of that is guilt and obligation, etc. Breaking up with a guy mid-cancer would have been jerkish, but you're not required to stay with him for the rest of your lives now just because you weathered a trauma together.

It also sounds like his personality has changed since his illness. You're totally within your rights both to address that with him and also to decide that, if this is his new approach to life going forward, he's not the same person you fell in love with and you want to move on. I wouldn't say you should move on solely for the sake of sleeping with new people, but that combined with the real shift in your relationship, if it's a permanent change and not something you can live with, is not a bad reason for ending a relationship when you're young and still figuring stuff out.


@sophia_h Yeah, I think it's bad to jump on the "dump him immediately!" bandwagon. What feeling incredibly lustful towards other men suggests to me is that she and her boyfriend, having gone through this trauma that stripped all the romance and fun out of a first relationship, now can't find their way back, so her brain is like, "fantasies about your boyfriend are complicated now! Here! This is a man with whom you have no complications! Go!"

And I do agree with everyone who says LW4- YOU DO NOT OWE SOMEONE A RELATIONSHIP FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE BECAUSE OF CANCER! Please please, do not think that way. If you had a serious illness would it make you feel better to find out that your boyfriend only was pretending to love you because of the illness that tried to kill you? I seriously doubt it!

I think it's going to help you and maybe even him to heal if you can talk about YOUR issues for a change. Think about it, it's been about him for so long, and now, now that he's better, give him a chance to have the role of a well person, and tell him it's his turn to give YOU some caring. It's a gift to him as much as to you- saying that he's well enough to deal with the fact that you need something from him. For him to figure out how to not be aggressively angry, how to spend time thinking about you, that's important for his recovery too. So I think you need to put this all in his hands. Tell him you are unhappy, you miss being happy, you want to recover together and have a sex life again and all of that. Then see what he does. If he can't handle that, then you should go and have no guilt about it and sleep with anyone you desire. But if he isn't happy either, maybe this will give him a way to work back to you.


I still fantasize about running into a professor of mine on the street and then getting a drink and then SEXING HIM UP.

But, I mean... it's been a year and a half now, so it would be less weird, right? And he has full sleeve tattoos and slightly gauged ears and he wears french cuffed shirts and pocket watches and also is an actual anthropologist who works with drug users on creating harm reduction measures like needle exchanges. So, I think I am justified in my fantasies.

If I had an advice column, it would turn into an anecdote column.


Um... did I somehow strikethrough ALL the comments on this post? Or is it just my computer?

If so... sorry everyone. I feel like an html jerk.


@PistolPackinMama i think it was you, but I don't know the tag to fix it...


@PistolPackinMama It's fixed now! Silly html!


@PistolPackinMama You're not a jerk! Most of us have been there, too.


Oh God LW2, if YOU are boring, then I am about as interesting as a vegetable. That is to say, YOU ARE NOT BORING.


@Megano! I'm sitting at home in the middle of the afternoon cooking French Onion Soup and drinking a beer and watching Colbert. BORING PARTY, EVERYONE IS INVITED.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I am still in my pjs, watching last night's CW offerings, and eating chocolate. I am actually going out tonight, but that is rare.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher That party sounds AMAZING. I'm cleaning my kitchen and watching Prime Suspect and drinking beer and wondering if it's ok to go to bed at 9:30 on a Friday night.


"I'd say that about 75% of the times I consider expressing an opinion, telling a story, or making a joke in a social setting, I realize 'This is boring and no one will care!' and keep it to myself instead."

You're good. The boring people are the ones who don't do this.


@thematt Yes! I try to do this, but hopefully can still get better at it.


@thematt Haha yeah I read that and immediately thought "If I had that kind of self control I'd seem/be 1000x more interesting."


It's true about indiscretions sticking. There is a 75 year old professor at my college, and students still talk about how she had affairs with students in the 70s.

And LW2, I think you just have to accept that sometimes you will be boring! People tell dumb stories all the time, or go on about things they're worried about, or make inane comments (God knows I do!), but we forgive them because we love them, and because everyone is entitled to be boring sometimes.


LW1: Ah, higher'ed love.

I've seen my share of these relationships (and hook-ups) happen. But I want to throw some counter-points at you.

1. Profs can be smart and loving people, yes. But, honestly, you are seeing this person maybe 2-4 hours a week, for one or two semesters/quarters a year. You are not getting to know this professor (or T.A.) really. Many profs and grad students are stressed out, overworked, and dealing with their own drama. So consider that what you see in lecture/discussion is more like a performance; the person at the podium is trying to lay some knowledge on you, so pay attention maybe?

2. Younger profs might be working on getting tenure, and dating an undergrad is not going to help them in their reviews. Grad students are also likely talking to other grad students, and dating a student would be one way for them to get a reputation amongst their peers, AND their advisors.

3. Would you feel comfortable telling your friends about this relationship, or even about dating this person? Would you feel comfortable if this person told other people in their department (staff, grads, faculty) about going on a date with you? Do you think they would talk about your relationship honestly with other people?

4. Finally, I would just like to say that yes, people find love on campuses everywhere and some of these really do work out. Those situations are often based on equal-footing, - NOT hierarchical differences (student/teacher) - where they have more in common than an email suffix. If you can carry on this fantasy of the professor after you've graduated college, and had some time to try your hand at other adult relationships, then go for it. Make an appointment during their office hours and ask them out for coffee to talk about your plans after school, and then see if there are any sparks going on. If so, good luck and have fun! If not, get a letter of recommendation out of them at least.



Yes, amen to the performance thing. My teaching persona is very similar to my actual personality (I think) but it's still me playing a particular role, with particular conventions. Altho. my behaviour and demeanour in class will give you a pretty good idea of what I'm like as a person, you still have no idea about my life, about my struggles, about my weaknesses (and that's good! You don't need to think about this stuff--you need to think critically about the material we're going over.)

dracula's ghost

I came straight down here all upset to say this, which I'm sure has already been said: I am a professor. I know a lot of professors. DON'T DATE YOUR PROFESSOR. And, perhaps more meanly, THE ODDS THAT YOUR PROFESSOR WANTS TO DATE YOU ARE VANISHINGLY SMALL.

I can not imagine having sincere date-worthy feelings for one of my students. Someone I am in the position of teaching. Someone I'm working on in order to shape their young mind. My students are amazing and I love them, but they don't know how to use verbs in sentences and our relationship is based on me asking them obvious rhetorical questions and then praising them when they say something sort of insightful. I love them, but I love them the way I love, you know, KIDS. They are sweetly unformed minds and there's just no way to imagine actually dating one of them, as fun and sweet (and, lets face it, attractive) as they may often be.

The only way I could possibly want to date an undergrad would be if one of the following conditions existed:

1. I was a creep who liked having authoritarian power over my partners and being smarter than them

2. I ran into one of them later, long after graduation, and we struck up some sort of normal relationship on equal non-classroom footing

3. The student was a nontraditional student and was like 32 years old.

Otherwise, STEER CLEAR. I think the odds of him wanting to date you are very small, and the odds of it being awesome even if he did want to date you are even smaller. Put this delightful energy into wowing him on your next paper!!

dracula's ghost

@dracula's ghost Boom, look, I said the same thing simultaneously as the person before me. Sorry!!!


@dracula's ghost Ha ha, jinx! Seriously though, don't date the professors. And watch the Five Year Engagement, cause that's funny and related to this conversation.

dracula's ghost

@Mabissa I JUST WATCHED IT! I loved it. Loved how unexpectedly dark it got!!!

My friend I was watching it with kept saying "do they really tell you you got a job by sending you something in the mail?" and "what kind of job IS this?" and I'd be like "I guess it's a postdoc, but no, they wouldn't tell you by mail" and he was like "BUT WHAT'S A POSTDOC"

For so long I've been waiting for a rom-com set in academia and I have to say it was just as satisfying as I'd always dreamed


@dracula's ghost My friend and I totally laughed about the job-offer-in-the-mail part too.
"Oh hey, remember when we flew you out here and you had to talk in front of, like, everyone? Well we think you'd be great here, whaddaya say? Write back if you're interested and we'll tell you more about it in another letter."

dracula's ghost

@Mabissa Ha ha ha! I guess they did it that way just so they could do the requisite "checking the mail and face falling in disappointment" scenes, because everyone understands what that means? So weird. "Dear applicant, thank you for spending 2 days at our institution. We would like to offer you the job. If you want it, check this box. See you next August."


@dracula's ghost or maybe they assume that job offers in academia are just like college acceptances?


@dracula's ghost
Would you ever consider a platonic friendship with your students? Because I have this one really awesome professor and we like a lot of the same authors and share some interests like feminism, but he is still my teacher, and I really wouldn't want to do something awkward/ inappropriate.


@dracula's ghost --I ... know someone (a therapist) who teaches grad school (a professional school, so it's all one subject) and started a relationship with a student. He was about 49, she was about 28, I think. They ended up living together while she got her PhD and stayed together for a few years after. I still don't understand how ethical or unethical that was. He was not her dissertation adviser, but he was the department head. When I asked him about it, he said they were very careful not to do anything unethical (um, OK) and he was never her direct supervisor, but I still feel it was weird and skeevy. What is your opinion? I know it's none of my business, probably, but it's a conundrum.


@dracula's ghost
yes, this! i've had several students with crushes on me (I'm a TA and sessional prof), and their blushing and stuttering is cute like a toddler with a crush on you is cute. i'm all "d'aw! now go home and practise using apostrophes."


@HitchedUpKids Yes I am a teacher and I make pals with my students sometimes- with rules- and they are nontraditional students See my other reply. May dad teaches college and he makes pals with students sometimes. It can be done- with rules.

Princess Slaya

LW4 - You need to get out of this relationship. Listen to your reason for not breaking up or being honest with your boyfriend: "The thing is, I will probably never break up with my guy... because he was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, and we have both been emotionally/physically shattered from it. He is cancer-free now... but we are both depressed, anxiety-ridden, and are constantly bickering, because that awful experience cannot stop replaying in our heads."

THIS IS RIDICULOUS. He doesn't have cancer anymore, and you don't have to take care of him! Just because he had cancer, doesn't mean that you have to tread water around him, nor should you be worried that he is going to "turn aggressive." You guys don't need therapy, you need to get out!

Appropriate reasons for NOT dumping him are as follows: "I love him very much." not "I'm afraid he's gonna get aggressive, and we're both so sad about the cancer even though it's in remission..." Get on with your life, gurl.


Aw, LW2, it makes me so sad to hear that you think you're boring. Does anyone make you feel that way? Those people are lame.

I have a friend who occasionally insists that he's boring because he's not especially extroverted and his interests are very tech-driven, which my other friends and I are not necessarily into. Sometimes he'll get going on a subject that interests him, takes my silent attention for boredom, and apologizes for being boring.

But I've never once thought he was boring, mostly because people with passions outside of, like, breathing, aren't boring. They know how to entertain themselves and they cultivate specific knowledge and that's fascinating to me. Plus he's a nice, funny, dependable guy who's easy to talk to, and who doesn't want to be friends to someone like that?

You sound like an interesting person who's hiding her light. It's easy to filter, but consider what you really have to lose by sharing your thoughts amongst friends -- nothing really, right? They're your friends for a reason (and, if you're going out six times a week, it seems like you probably have friends in some capacity).

Also, there are worse things to be than a little bit boring? Sometimes, fascinating people are exhausting and/or assholes because they're so wrapped up in BEING fascinating. Those people are rarely as interesting as they think they are.


@chnellociraptor Agreed! I think the best way to be interesting is to be interested? It's not some kind of fascination that springs from your unique-flower-like being. Be interested in other people, and be passionate about the things you like, and you are by default interesting. Not everyone's going to like you all the time, but you will be interesting to somebody. Nobody's going to have the chance to find out what you're like if you censor your every thought, though. Go for it LW2! (Also, even the most uber-fascinating people are boring sometimes. Everyone repeats themselves. Your best friends are just fond and tolerant of your repetitions).


Random thoughts on the prof/student thing:

My (female) friend married a former (undergraduate) student. He asked her out the last day of class and she said no. Then he ran into her a few years later and asked her out again and now they're married with a little baby. So...maybe if you're still thinking about him after the semester's over you could go for it..but don't get your expectations too high. I suspect a lot of academics get off on the "older/wiser" ego trip and it's not really about the person.

I've had lots of female friends in grad school who had sexual relationships with professors, and they were all terribly messy situations. One very brilliant prof basically fled to another university b/c he had about 6 messy relationships with female grad students (one who went around telling people that she was ready to have his baby) and he had to get out before his reputation officially hit the fan.



Oooh! I know a similarly messed up grad student/prof story. The prof and his wife (also a prof) were in the same dept. They were having marital issues, partially because when they'd gotten together she was his student, and he was a prof (uh oh.) Then, by the time she'd finished her grad degree, the power dynamics of their marriage shifted dramatically--suddenly she was no longer the student who had followed him to grad school, but rather a rising academic in a supposedly hot field. He had lost his drive and ended up getting a contract job when she landed a more prestigious position on the TT.

What happened was that their marriage couldn't handle these shifts. She ended losing respect for her husband, since he was no longer the all-wise older professor (that could be you one day, LW! Bored of your suddenly not-that-intelligent-seeming older man) and she had an affair with a colleague. He got involved with a grad student. The relationship with the grad student went to hell, and devastated her. The two profs' marriage survived, and they still had all the perks of being well-paid academics. The grad student moved in with her parents and got really depressed. So....worst case scenario, but be careful.


@geek_tragedy Whoa...that's both predictable and totally messed up.

Another little tidbit about the brilliant prof who fled to another university: A mutual friend invited the prof out for a drink to...uh...inform him about all of the I-wanna-have-his-baby stuff being casually thrown around by this one grad student and he started openly weeping about the mess he had gotten himself into. Plus, the grad student followed him to the new university...but eventually she came back not knocked up.


Professor-crushes are one of those things that are to be cherished but not acted on! Like, it's kind of sweet and delightful to sigh and swoon and feel a little bit of heartache over this brilliant, charismatic person, but enjoy the crush for what it is and when the time is right, let it go.


@frigwiggin Not to mention, if you are the kind of person who enjoys the prof-student dynamic, your next crush is only as far away as the next semester. No need to get all heavy and ruin the fantasy by sharing actual mucous membranes.


@Fflora ha ha so true.


Um is anyone else seeing most of the comments with strike-through lines through them? :(


This Lady is such a nice lady! Rambling advice-givers can be entertaining, but I love this Lady's straightforward sensible attitude. She does not take any nonsense. More of this Lady please.


LW2: I think you already have the tool to not be boring- it's simply to be interested by life, by the things that interest you. You don't have to have all the best anecdotes or anything like that to be an interesting person. Sometimes quiet people are fascinating to other people because they are mysterious and talkative people are boring because they're predictable.

I do think that hiding from saying anything/excessive self monitoring of your fascination levels probably makes you feel pretty dull sometimes- because it's a comparison game and so you are sitting there thinking about what other people think of you- which is something you can't really know most of the time. I don't know HOW to help you do the thing I'd recommend, but I would recommend trying to let go of that way of seeing the world. If you assume that you are a fun person, and other people are fun people and generally expect that some of them are going to like you and vice versa, then you will stop feeling dull. One of the best ways to not be boring that I know of, is to ask other people genuine questions and respond genuinely when they ask you a question. And ask deeper questions. Instead of, just asking someone "what do you do?" ask, "do you like your job? What made you choose that job?" Then try sharing something that relates to that- "oh that's interesting you'd say x, because I have experienced Y when I worked for a big firm." If the person you are talking to is also not a boring person this will then spark more questions and ideas.

So! Short version! Be interested in yourself- make sure you find your life interesting to you and don't compare it negatively against other people. Also still be interested in other people, and ask them questions.


Maybe we should introduce the woman in letter 3 to the man in letter 5. Two birds, one stone.

#1 - Just to echo everyone else - do not try to seduce your professor. For no other reason than even a suspicion or rumor of wrongdoing on his/her part will follow him/her everywhere. After you graduate, if you are still cushin', go for it. But after you GRADUATE, not just after your class with this prof is over. You need to be well into former student territory for this to work, I think.

#2 - The only people who are truly, truly boring are the ones who have no idea they are boring. You are good.

#4 - Aw, honey. I feel like maybe you need someone to say that it's OK to break up with your boyfriend despite what he's been through, so I'm saying it. It's OK to break up with him. You're not a terrible person if you do.


Best way to make a professor fall in love with you: be the most brilliant student they've ever had. Remember, anyone with a doctorate, esp. in the humanities, is an outrageous nerd, so smart is sexy to them. Big boobs will not get you as far as (reading) big books.


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The president of my college met her husband as a student in one of his classes, so.......lol


Just this: "You passed Spanish because you gave Professor Montoya a lap dance after the final." "Yeah... LUCKILY..."

That is all. I'll see myself out.


Okay, so I've been thinking about LW_? (forgot the number) = girl-who-thinks-she's-boring, & I'm now thinking it might be a social anxiety issue? Like, a minor one? because the descriptions of "I could say x, but x might be perceived as..BORING" is indicative of some anxiety. I think she's just latching on to the wrong adjective.

I say this as in introvert with an inexplicable need to toss myself into social situations, which may explain the "6 nights a week" thing.


@fabel I thought the same thing. I just want to say to her: relax! But saying "relax" to someone with anxiety only makes them more anxious. I know, I've that anxious.
I'm getting better at relaxing though!


I dated a former student last year. It was weird, especially the part where he invited me back to his place to show me the notes from my class that he'd been keeping for 3+ years.
(in his defense, he was using them for his med school classes, but still. weird.)

Miss Sparrow

When my mother was a student at a very small all-women's Catholic college, one of her fellow students got into a relationship with the college president. Who was also a PRIEST. He resigned his position and left the priesthood so they could get married after she graduated. At the time my mother told me this story, they were still married. But can you imagine? I guess things were different then (this was the late 60s) because it doesn't seem to have been all that scandalous.


@Miss Sparrow WHAT WHOA
Also this is reminding me a whole whole lot of The Thorn Birds. Because SEDUCING THE PRIEST.


@Miss Sparrow AWESOME.

Miss Sparrow

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I KNOW! The way my mom told it, it sounded so charming and innocent. They just bonded over their shared love of music, tra la. But SURELY there had to be more to it than that.


Story that is relevant-ish: a few years ago when my friend was studying medecine - so she was about 21 i think - she went to her class's yearly ball. And her TA - about 27ish - who she had hugely fancied was there. He was no longer her TA, so she resolved to tell him. They had a big reception first which everyone went to - students and faculty, but also partners and families - and then afterwards all went on to the 'party' part, which was just for students and faculty. By the party part, my friend was VERY drunk and told her TA how much she liked him - and he kissed her. They kissed for ages and ages but then he pulled away and over the din of the music shouted something at her. What my friend heard was: "I can't, I'm gay!". Now, my friend is a pretty cool lady so she took this in her stride and when YMCA came on she dragged him on the dance floor and was like "let bygones be bygones!" and started doing the 'YMCA' dance with him.

The next week in class, her fellow pupils were like "Ahhhh did you see TA's gorgeous fiancee at the reception??? She was so beauuuuutiful!" and friend realised what he had said was "I'm enGAged".

So, anyway. JUST ANOTHER WAY kissing your Professor/TA can go wrong.

Sgt. Exposition

Oh man, LW1, I'm pretty sure you're convinced, but have another terrifying anecdote: A prof at the university where I got my MA was involved with a student after she was in his class. He was already skeevy (let's just say he had a more-than-academic interest in the population he studied), but then she left him at the altar and everything went to hell. He now has an outstanding harassment case, brought by a former advisee, against him that will die in HR. All the grad students who were around at the time have made it our mission to ruin him professionally since he'll likely get tenure.

Seriously, do not pass go. Any prof who seems to raring to go on that front is probably not someone you want to have relationship/sexytimes with.


I just want to add- if you are a student PLEASE do not hit on or flirt with your profs. We know you get crushes on us and we don't take it personally, we know it is situational. If we like you too, then we'll both know, otherwise, students trying to flirt with me skeeves me the fuck out.


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Just a quick-personal-experience-anecdote regarding the professor:

Everyone gets crushed on their professors. I think it's a mark of a good class, because it's very rare that you fall in love with a professor who's a terrible lecturer, or one who teaches a class you find super boring. But crushes in these scenarios are NOT meant to be acted upon. I had the biggest crush on a theology professor, one who I had for multiple classes, the last being a six person seminar. After graduation, we met to catch up, and long story short, my MARRIED THEOLOGY PROFESSOR propositioned me and I've never fully forgiven him for it. This guy who was supposed to be a paragon of moral certitude, who had been teaching me and helping me discover the way I wanted to approach the world, turned out to be just another creep who had apparently been fantasizing about me for two years.

I haven't been able to think of anything I learned in his classes without also thinking about him, and thus it feels like kind of a waste. Like I can't use anything I learned, because it's somehow tainted by him.

So I guess, moral is, while crushes are great, the reality is often just creepy.


Regarding Am I boring: You and I are two peas in a pod. I work, serve on a board, produce events, manage arts projects, play music, and go out just as often as you so. When I am spread thin I end up at the point where I'm catching up with people in all of those realms of my life, repeating the same stories over and over, talking about my projects... by the 5th time I've said it, even I think that something that genuinely is really cool is totally boring.


I am a young (like, 20-something young) female professor, and all I have to say is please, please, please do not try to seduce your professor. The only male professors I know who would even consider sleeping with a student are complete douchebags, and you do not want them in your life. If you were to succeed in sleeping with him, he might (very deservedly) lose his job because most universities have rules against relationships between faculty and students in their faculty guides.

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hmm that quite hard. Usually its really difficult to get along with your lecturer or professor, because they maybe think that you are too young for him. Thanks for sharing the story.
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