It's time for the Best Post Contest! Vote by Fantastic flag! Create a category, make a post, join the fun! Dating a former professor - bad for his reputation? May 8, Almost two years ago, I took a class with a fantastic professor during my undergraduate time, in my primary major. I was a bit of an older student thought he's still older than I, but not old enough to be my father - the age difference doesn't bother me.
I'd hang out in his office sometimes or elsewhere on campus and we'd talk, he'd help me clarify my plans, and also get to know one another. Fast forward to know - I've since graduated, and will be going to grad school in the fall at a completely different university. He's a good friend, where conversation for hours on end is effortless, with a nice blend of serious discussion, pure silliness, and getting to consistently know more about each other personally.
I'm very, very much interested in him. He has a live-in girlfriend of several years. While I've met her a few times and she's nice as can be, there are plenty of things he's said, and I've noticed, that boggle my mind why they're together other than the inconvenience of change from different opinions about marriage, kids, religion, interests, and much more. Nothing between the former prof and I has ever moved past friendship, nor has there been any discussion of "more.
I am thinking of saying something, but not sure how. I'd hate to be thought of as "the other woman" but I would like to communicate a bit of how I'm feeling. While all of our discussions, e-mails, lunches and walks have been purely platonic as of now, I'm well aware of the politics and gossip of academia. Several of his colleagues were also my former professors, and from time to time I might have contact with them in a purely professional manner.
I'm worred that, should things with his girlfriend officially end, it might look bad for him to date a former student of his.
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For those of you who are university faculty or affiliated, what would you think of a respected colleague who got involved with a student for not just a fling? Would you look down on him or the former student for getting involved? Would it look horrible if he broke up with his girlfriend to explore this new path? For a variety of reasons, the least of all being his reputation, this is not a good idea. I think this totally depends on the maturity, and the rank, of the particular professor you are dealing with.
Professor-student relationship are more common than many of us probably think. The rumor mill is definitely there. One of my professors went through a similar situation in marrying one of his former students. Many other members of faculty, shall we say, hinted their disapproval, but by virtue of his seniority within the department, and the fact that he was one of the most liked professors on campus, the issue was a non-starter.
Methinks you are "the other woman. Except that you are the other woman. If he breaks up with his girlfriend on his own, fine, but don't go planting ideas in his head. If you really do love him, trust him to notice if his current relationship is making him unhappy. Poaching is never, ever a good idea. Were he single, this would be a totally different matter, but all issues of reputation pale when the question is actually, "should I try to break up someone else's relationship based on a chemistry I perceive? There's not a very nice way for me to say this, but: And if you've hung out and chatted and emailed as much as you apparently have, and he hasn't indicated that he'd like to make mad, passionate love to you, etc etc That aside, I would be leery of getting involved with a man who lives with his girlfriend.
Aside from the ethics involved - but, frankly, how can you leave the ethics of this aside? If he were single, I see no particular problem with someone dating a former mature student. If you were 19 when you were in his class, I think it's a little murkier, but if you were anywhere in your 20s, I wouldn't find it bothersome.
However, I know someone who married her professor, and I do have the impression that people talked about it a lot , and that it wasn't and isn't always pleasant, particularly for him. PS, can I tell you something, one girl to another? Don't fall into the trap of thinking that his girlfriend is an evil witch and bad for him and treats him terribly. That's not sisterly of you, man. I'm not one to categorically argue that everyone who feels "simple, easy chemistry" for anyone else needs to take it to the bedroom and wait for the dust to settle, but come on.
Am I supposed to bow to the altar of the live-in relationship? Pack your bags, don't let the door hit you on the way out. And to call it poaching? If anything, the professor would be the poacher. In any case, I think the OP was just trying to be clear about the details, not to hear your harp on hurting the other girl's feelings. I don't think it matters so much that you were his student, it matters that you essentially want to pursue a man who was in a committeed relationship. People do this all the time, so I'll be the last person to say "this is always and in all circumstances against the rules!
He didn't leave my Mom for her. She is super nice. She's been my stepmom for almost a decade. I have no idea if any of this applies to you and I don't know you from Eve, but if you make the moves on a guy with a live-in and start having a committed non-fling relationship with him, you may ultimately find happiness, but you can't escape being "the other woman" and it's not unlikely that you may find yourself on the reverse side of the occasion at some future possible point where you are the long term live-in girlfriend and someone else is the hot younger student.
I don't understand the out-of-hand "yeses" here. You're no longer his student; you're not even at his institution. There's no ethical issue with you two dating. I've known people in similar situations, and while there will always be gossip, it's certainly not perceived as "horrible".
That said, I think there might be other, bigger, problems with your plans here, as other answers have pointed out. I think the OP was just trying to be clear about the details, not to hear your harp on hurting the other girl's feelings. I think that's a good point, but I also think those circumstances of the relationship and its inception are going to have a big impact on how the rumor mill responds to this. If it's something that a lot of people here think is a questionable move, then there's a pretty good chance of colleagues being less than charitable Hello, cart; you're waaaay ahead of the horse.
Look, he already has a serious, live-in relationship regardless of your presumptions about the quality of that relationship, and regardless of the chemisty the two of you may very well share -- worrying about the damage or lack thereof to his reputation if the two of you start dating is pretty low on the list of main issues right now. If they break up -- and that would be their choice, not yours -- and if you and your former professor seem to then be in a place where you would mutually like to start a relationship, then you deal with the issue of his reputation.
And I personally think dating a former student shouldn't do much than briefly raise a few eyebrows. Sorry, you can't have it both ways believe me, I speak from experience: I once faux-innocently "said something" to a male friend who I had a crush on about his obviously failing long-term relationship, and it became infinitely more complicated and painful for everyone involved than I could have ever imagined.
Either you insert yourself into their relationship as the other woman even if "just" emotionally and potentially reap the whirlwind, or you don't. Again, if your former prof breaks up with his girlfriend, and if things start moving along from there, great. But don't actively stir the pot!
I know you're hoping that by just "saying something," you'll set in motion the course of action by which he breaks up with his girlfriend and starts dating you instead, right? But even putting aside A the ethics of being the other woman, B his reputation due to dating a former student, and C the complex situation that you may unleash that's not going to be fully within your control, that's rarely good footing for any relationship to start on.
Another thing to consider: I've seen several profs who have dated former students I don't recall if any ended up marrying said students , as it happens all male profs with female students. In some cases, they got together when she was still a student, in other cases, no one knows, but in every case a lot of people really suspected , given what happened later, that he had been sleeping with his students. So realize that even if you're not doing anything wrong like that, many people will assume you did.
That's just the way it works. On the other hand, nobody I'm thinking of got fired over their relationships, even the one who did date a student.
College and university dating - Wikipedia
It's good to have tenure, I guess. I can't get over how selfish you sound. Just because you're attracted to him does not mean that he's attracted to you, even if you have the chemistry to make great friends. And by the way, it is really awful of you to think about ruining someone else's relationship. Would you want someone to that to you? Have you ever been cheated on or had another woman very obviously try to steal your man? I bet you haven't. If he was single, then it would be a completely different story, and no it wouldn't be much of an issue for him to date a former student this happened while I was in graduate school between a prof and former student - they're married now, actually posted by echo at It's not that big a deal if you're no longer a student and you're somewhat close in age.
I don't think his colleagues will give much of a shit. I know it from both sides.
Some profs even like the reputation, especially if they have tenure and are careful not to cross any technical lines. Sometimes just being a flirt which your man may well be does the trick. But that isn't the real question, as everyone is saying here. He could be a lumberjack, but he's still off limits unless you want the non-career-specific hell you'd be buying for all concerned. And you don't need anyone to tell you so if you have any experience in life. Does your former professor have tenure? Then stay the hell away. In that case whatever rumor mill there is might not be as harmful to him professionally.
College and university dating
But I still would not go around presuming anything about his current relationship. I mean, how much do you really know about the nature of their relationship? How much of your perception of their relationship owes to your own interest in the professor? I teach at a community college, and am currently a graduate student, so I may not be precisely your target respondent.
That being said, one of the major pieces of gossip amongst the undergrads at my BS institution was the relationship between two of the professors, which had begun while one was a student. Today, it isn't an issue for faculty or staff, but the male professor was the type that really couldn't care less what his colleagues think of his personal choices. I think that it won't matter in the slightest once you're not an undergrad in the eyes of the community e. More relevant might be the fact that he's dating someone already. There's lots of reasons why pursuing a relationship with him is a bad idea.
However, the fact that you were previously his student is NOT one of them. That is now irrelevant. Most of the long term, happy relationships that I'm privy to are between people who, on the surface of it, seem to have nothing in common. It doesn't really matter if you confess your feelings to him but trying to initiate an affair is Not Good. Bad for his career. This is how affairs happen between women and men who do not intend to leave their partner. This is how it starts.
This is an old, old story. Dating a former student, accent on the former, will probably not be a big deal in and of itself. However, you should be prepared for those in your department to find out that you are dating a former student, which could create a certain amount of push back. The one year gap between the student being in your course and your romantic relationship will not be apparent to all who know about the relationship. Even if you tell them, they may not believe it. Even if neither of you expressed an interest in dating until recently, people may still suspect that you had romantic feelings for one of your students while they were your student.
There is presumably some age differential. If it is small enough, people will probably ignore it. If you date more than one former student, people may view you as using your classroom as a hunting ground for future romance. If this sentiment is held widely, it could make your future students uncomfortable.
I hasten to add that none of these point to any clear ethical lapse or mistake on your part. In fact, I am very sorry to say that if your relationship is not inter-racial or same sex, any push back you get will probably be mild compared to that, and if it is, that will increase the push back considerably. I recommend weighing the possible costs of such a relationship against the possible benefits.
The professor-student relationship does not end when the course ends, and indeed might not end a year later. Professors are asked to write letters of recommendation for former students. Sometimes they publish papers with their former students as coauthors, based on work they previously did together. Further, if "student" means that this student completed a thesis under OP's direction and not just took a class from OP , then this relationship is a lifelong one. So long as the professor-student relationship continues to exist, a potential power imbalance exists, and an ethical problem arises.
Whether your colleagues consider this a serious ethical problem is addressed by Pete Clark's answer. If I am single, I reserve the right to pick off a member of society to be my mate. The very notion that I must temporarily restrain myself from choosing such a relationship with the people whom I actively have direct authority over The idea that anyone is permanently blacklisted from being a potential candidate, just because I have ever encountered that person in a class which I taught, is way too unfairly exclusionary. Such a requirement would be unethical.
I remember a college class which was required for all students in the college. Would it be a sensible expectation that a college professor should be required to seek a mate from among the less educated, or from a remote town? When I signed up to be a college professor, I never agreed to limit my long-term life options in such a way. Assuming you are on the receiving end it's also possible to read 3 as "despite my prior attempts" I think this may be unethical only if you are accepting the relation knowing or having reasons to suspect that the datee has other than romantic motivations for it or that the datee mistakes student-teacher bonds for romantic bonds, which I guess 3 is supposed to rule out.
Otherwise you may consider social implications as other answers suggest, but behaving in accordance with social conventions has nothing to do with ethics. I guess it shouldn't be a problem, a famous example can be found here and here: Both are highly respected in their field. Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site the association bonus does not count.
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead? Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Any ethical problems with dating a former student? Assume the student recently graduated but works nearby; has not been my student for over 1 year; has never expressed any interest in dating until very recently; has a father who is a coworker at my institution different department. Enthusiastic Engineer 5, 9 38 Jamal Wilson Jamal Wilson 1 3 6. I fail to see how 4 is relevant to the ethics of the titular question. If they've met at a birthday party, etc I don't see a moral issue IF the power unbalance is now gone - vadim's answer below is good , but thought I'd relate this: A female teacher had a relationship with a male ex-student after he graduated , and she was immediately fired.
Actual ethics often take a back-seat to any often biased and unfair cultural standards as defined by parents, other faculty, or outside pressure. My bachelor advisor was in a similar situation.