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Dating a Professor

  1. Mar 4, 2014 #1
    I have this professor who teaches literature who I find myself immensely attracted to. Now to put this into context, I'm 28. So its not as if there is a big age differential between us (I believe she is in her mid-30s). Anyways, I'm thinking of asking her out at the end of the semester, as she will no longer be my teacher. I won't have any future classes with her either. My question is: is it unethical for me to ask her out? I certainly wouldn't want to put her in a position to threaten a career she obviously loves. From my perspective we would not be in any student/teacher capacity anymore, but I'm not sure if that would be a perspective her fellow academics or university faculty may share. I really like her, but I don't want to be selfish.
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  3. Mar 4, 2014 #2


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    First, you should check if your university has an explicit policy on this.

    Is she a professor in your major, or in another department?
  4. Mar 4, 2014 #3


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    As long as you're still a student at the same university where she is a professor, there are issues of a power differential. Even though you may not have a class with her, she could still serve on committees that may affect you - scholarship committees, an academic disciplinary board, etc. For those reasons, a relationship with a student would not only be frowned upon, but could place her career in jeopardy (particularly if she's up for tenure).
  5. Mar 4, 2014 #4
    You can talk to her about it. 28 and mid 30s isn't a big difference at all. I'm 23 and I've ...been with women in their mid 30s. Don't look at it as if she couldn't think for herself. By that age, women definitely are capable of thinking (en masse, exceptions here and there). It's a win-win situation in my eyes. You can talk to her, ask her out some time, if you will, see how she takes it. Will she come out at all with you? You won't know any of it if you don't talk, will you now?

    Here's the problem - you are too selfless. You might think it's a good thing to endlessly think about others first and yadeyadeyade, but that most often won't get you anywhere. If she feels like this will be career-threatening, she will let you know, one way or the other.

    Well, go get her, tiger.
  6. Mar 4, 2014 #5
    She's in the English department, and I'm a physics/math double major. So that's about as far as two departments can be from each other I would think.
  7. Mar 4, 2014 #6
    Thanks for the responses, I have time to reflect on it.
  8. Mar 6, 2014 #7


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    Most universities in Canada and the US (outside of Yale) that I'm aware of do not explicitly forbid dating relationships between students and professors, but the professors are often required to disclose any conflict of interest that arise (e.g. professors potentially teaching, supervising or some other administrative responsibility affecting the student in question).

    To the OP: Personally, I don't think there is any harm in asking out the professor you are talking about (so long as there is no conflict of interest, which is unlikely given that you are in two different majors -- just make sure you don't take any classes taught by her). After all, you are both adults and are capable of making your own decisions with respect to personal matters.
  9. Mar 7, 2014 #8

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    This. And the policy might surprise you. I know of one university that absolutely forbids this. Bob is 40 and plays kettledrums in the local symphony. Mary is 38 and teaches 6th grade. They meet at the grocery store and begin dating. It turns out that Bob is an adjunct assistant professor of music and Mary is finishing her master's in elementary education at night. This university does not allow this.

    My point is not whether or not this university is being goofy, but that you can't guess. You need to check the policy.
  10. Mar 9, 2014 #9


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    During my first year of university, I was aware of one student who began dating her professor. I'm not sure how the unversity handled it, and I'm not aware that the student was academically dependent on the professor, although the student and professor were involved in athletic/sports and physical education.

    Some of the student body thought it was a bit strange/awkward.
  11. Mar 13, 2014 #10
    First age doesn't matter. My dad is 13 years older than my mom, and they are the greatest couple ever.

    Second, love is something that even scientists and mathematicians can't, and won't, figure out. You only live once. I think you should attempt to become friends with her after you're done this semester. Love conquers all. But be respectful and understanding if she is too scared due to her potentially losing her job.

    When do you graduate anyway?? Maybe you could be her friend in the mean time, and get romantic after you graduate. I mean, at that point, you're no longer a student at the university, and it is really no ones business who you or her date at that point. It's not like you'd be the only former teacher/former student relationship in the world. That probably happens far more than we can imagine. But communicate with her when it's logically safe.

    Also look up school policy. Good luck.
  12. Mar 28, 2014 #11
    you think scientist and mathematicians wont figure out love. you don't think love is a physical observable? couldn't I just define a wave function that has a probability of falling in love and not falling in love with a certain person. Just kidding . I agree with you comment you only live once and life is for living.
    Or you could take the extreme course and remain celibate your whole life like Paul Erdos.
    As Erdos would say Prove and conjecture and keep the SF's score low.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  13. Apr 12, 2014 #12
    As much as I appreciate people who spend their lives to learn new things that advance human knowledge and help current and future generations, I could never understand people who spend their life without love of a significant other (I think Isaac Newtown was another without an interest in finding a significant other....although there is that rumor of him with Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, though I doubt it is true).

    I am someone who loves math and knowledge in general, but I LOVE women. A woman with a beautiful figure and a fun personality...........I LIVE FOR THAT!!!! lol

    Everyone is different.

    So to put everything in a simple algorithm, as long as the person you are after is at or above whatever the legal age is where you live (it's different in every state within the US, so check), and as long as you are not blackmailing or forcing yourself on the person against his/her own will, then go for it.

    You only live once. In my opinion, life without love is empty. So to the original post, I say go for it in an intelligent way that doesn't hurt this woman's career. Love conquers all. Good luck!!!!
  14. Apr 27, 2014 #13

    This is the best I've read + heard so far..
  15. May 14, 2014 #14


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    It all depends on the University as each has their own polices. For example some might frown on dating any professor for the reasons Choppy mentioned. On the other hand my Wife Teaches in the English Department and I am taking my CS degree at the same school. not only does the University not frown upon the relationship but they have Tuition packages for spouses.
  16. May 17, 2014 #15


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    I think it just begs for trouble. No matter how innocent the attraction is, outsiders will view it as incestuous.
  17. May 22, 2014 #16
    Ask her out and let her decide how to handle her career. I am former faculty and I can tell you that had I been dating a 28 year old student who wasn't taking a class from me or otherwise under my supervision, nobody would have cared.
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  18. Oct 9, 2014 #17
    For as long as she is no longer your professor, I suppose there is nothing wrong with dating her because, there will be no more conflict of interest. Besides, you are two consenting adults. Enjoy. Life is too short!
  19. Oct 9, 2014 #18
    Uuu... hot! Just make sure she is not married :)
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