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Mutual attraction with professor, but I'm still not separated...


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Yeah, so, I'm an evil, horrible person. But, I'm still married (unhappily for many years) and this one professor's taken a liking to me, which, of course, made me notice him too. Now I am hopelessly crushing on him. It's ridiculous. He is single and only 4 years older than me. Nothing will happen before the end of the semester, I know for sure. But I'm just not sure what to do and even how to behave in class, etc. He is sometimes overly complimentary of me in class and it makes me blush because I don't want other people to know and because I like him A LOT. He's playing his cards close to the chest, I think he doesn't want to get in trouble. Should I just not ever say anything? Should I just forget him because I'm still not separated from my husband? Gawd, this is like a soap opera, so ridiculous.

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While you are his student, it is inappropriate for him to make himself open to or make advances in any way, shape, or form. And while it's also not appropriate for you, HE is the professor and HE needs to meet his ethical obligation to keep an appropriate working relationship with you. Your marriage, while something you will have to reconcile with your conscience, is a separate issue. Be careful.

Is it possible that you are perceiving him differently now that you have this crush? Are you sure he has taken a liking to you other than that of an encouraging professor to a promising student? An unhappy marriage can play tricks with your perception of close relationships.

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An unhappy marriage can play tricks with your perception of close relationships.

This.

Also, I should add: Some men flirt with any woman who's within 5 feet of them, and it doesn't mean anything to them. I have been friends with some of these guys, and having hung out with them for a while I can see that it's a habit more than anything--they don't stop to think, "Shall I flirt with this woman or not?", they just do it indiscriminately.

There's a single prof here like that. I thought he was paying me a lot of attention when I was in his class. But then I saw him interact with his research group (75% women) and he flirted with *all* of the women. It's just him, it has nothing to do with me.

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An unhappy marriage can play tricks with your perception of close relationships.

Chime. Triple Chime.

This sounds like a pickle. I must say though, and I'm just using this as an example: have you ever seen a case of sexual harrassment when the harrassee tried to bring charges to the harrasser? (I'm not saying that it's like harrassment for you -- talking about harrassment cases in general.) I've seen it in my workplace, and I saw how tough it was for the harrassee to prove the case without an email or anything in writing. What I'm trying to say is that attraction is a lot like harrassment cases -- almost impossible to prove beyond a gut feeling. In your case, how sure are you that he is attracted to you? How CAN you be sure?

Bottom line is, I wouldn't proceed until you are SURE, especially considering your as-yet dissolved marriage. If you go forward with this situation AFTER you have graduated, and it's not as you think it is... it's not going to be pretty, especially considering how small academia is and the fact is you sometimes need letters from former profs/colleagues.

That being said, if there is way to make absolutely certain he is attracted to you, it could end up well. Stranger things have happened, and you only live once.

Of course, I don't think there is a way to make absolutely certain that he is attracted to you. Men are confusing creatures. If you proceed, it will be a risk, and a large one. Coming from someone who has always crushed on professors, I wish you well. Is there a way just to use this crush to make you happy? I've always thought having crushes livened up my day!

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Also, if he is making advances to you right now, I think you should reconsider your relationship aspirations with him. While I agree with the above poster that stranger things have happened and there's nothing really wrong with having a (carefully considered) romantic relationship with a former prof or supervisor, if he is not respecting this boundary that exists in a very real and important way right now, that's a problem.

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Also, if he is making advances to you right now, I think you should reconsider your relationship aspirations with him. While I agree with the above poster that stranger things have happened and there's nothing really wrong with having a (carefully considered) romantic relationship with a former prof or supervisor, if he is not respecting this boundary that exists in a very real and important way right now, that's a problem.

This. I could not agree more.

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You need to extract yourself from this predicament soon! I dont see how this can end in a good way. There are too many things on top of each other. First, if you are not happy with your husband, why do you stay? Second, if you are having a problem with your husband, you should be tending to that matter rather than to your professor. Third, once you are single, then you can look for possible mates. In that case, if both of you are still single and you are done taking his class, then you can pursue possibilities with him

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There are just so many things that could go wrong here....

There are just so many things that could go are wrong here....

There. I fixed it.

To the OP - you're in a (long) bad patch in your marriage. That should be the first thing you should be trying to work out in terms of your relationships. If the marriage isn't good for you and you want to move on, then end it. If you think that it's salvageable then try to get counseling with your husband.

As for the attraction to the professor, as others have said, it's natural when you're lacking affection in a relationship to look elsewhere for it. And this desire for affection can color our perceptions of relationships. Your prof may or may not be showing interest in you romantically, but even if he were, that is an ethical lapse on his part - is that the kind of relationship that you would want to pursue?

My advice is deal with your marriage - if this means getting a divorce then do so. Focus on your course work and get a satisfactory grade in your course. And after you're separated from your husband, and you've completed this prof's course and will not be doing any more of his courses (i.e. after you've graduated), then you could possibly pursue the relationship. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for a fall.

PS. You're not an evil personwink.gif

Edited by newms
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Also, if he is making advances to you right now, I think you should reconsider your relationship aspirations with him. While I agree with the above poster that stranger things have happened and there's nothing really wrong with having a (carefully considered) romantic relationship with a former prof or supervisor, if he is not respecting this boundary that exists in a very real and important way right now, that's a problem.

I agree with this too. Boundaries.

Just wanted to share: when I was younger, I was doing a summer internship in my field and was incredibly attracted to my direct supervisor. It seemed that he returned the feelings, and many a fun time was had as we lightly flirted and talked. But I was in a relationship and never considered anything beyond flirting, even though he was incredibly attractive. Plus, he was ten years older than me, and while that wouldn't be a huge deterrent now, I was 19 at the time, so I was very technically a teenager.

About a week before my internship was over he asked me to dinner -- which, as far as I could tell, was a date. I turned him down the best way I knew how ("Dinner? I have dinner plans with my boyfriend, would you like to come along?" Not the best way in hindsight, but I was young.) Surprisingly, I was completely skeeved that he actually acted on it and couldn't look at him for the final week of my placement. The horrible thing was was that I wanted to return for another summer, but knew he was going to be there too, and couldn't bring myself to do so.... I still don't know why it was okay to crush on him in my mind, but not OK to actually date him. I think it was because of our difference in status, and of course my relationship, which he fully knew about -- even more questionable.

It turned out OK -- I got another internship the next summer and managed to turn that into gainful employment after my undergrad, but I wish that I had acted differently at the first internship, so it could have remained a possibility. Never forget that even though he may be a former professor, you could still have to cut ties/ give up a professional opportunity if one of you isn't completely mature about it. In my case, it was me. Oh well. Lesson learned. For me, it was: have crushes -- you can't help them anyway -- but there's a huge difference between reality and fantasy!

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Also, I should add: Some men flirt with any woman who's within 5 feet of them, and it doesn't mean anything to them. I have been friends with some of these guys, and having hung out with them for a while I can see that it's a habit more than anything--they don't stop to think, "Shall I flirt with this woman or not?", they just do it indiscriminately.

Totally. I'm female, but I act in a way that I seem flirtatious to lots of men. I've had to go back and explain myself sometimes. It's just that I'm happy and like everybody :)

Men are confusing creatures.

Ha. In a way, I disagree. I think women are more confusing. I've always thought that if you don't understand men, you are thinking too hard.

But in general, I agree with all that's been said in this thread.

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I've always thought that if you don't understand men, you are thinking too hard.

Hilarious!

There was something Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets... something about when he tries to think like a woman, he does what a man would do, but he takes away all reason and accountability.

I don't know if that's offensively funny because it's true or because it's so NOT true. But I like his delivery!

Anyway, I think this is a fascinating discussion. OP, can you check back in with us?

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