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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm married and in college and am takin a course from a married professor. He has a big family and everything and he's probably 10 or 15 years older than me. This would give me reason to think that he's "safe" for me to approach and ask questions. He's a "big wig" in that particular department and just like any serious student would do, I've been trying to establish a professional relationship with him. I've taken two classes with him already. However, I get a strong sense that he's attracted to me. And it's really confusing me and throwing me for a loop.

See, when I took my first class with him 2 semesters ago I think he was coming onto me then, but I was too distracted to notice or care. Looking back though I recall some things he did that was probably inappropriate. Also I wasn't married then, so when men made advances it wasn't a big deal to me. However, now that I am married I'm a lot more aware of how I come across to men and how men come across to me.

Last time I checked married men kept their distance from women they weren't married too. They don't touch for longer than needed, stare, etc. But this guy..

-I've caught him staring at me several times during class at times he shouldn't be looking at me (not during lectures). If it was during lectures I wouldn't think twice about it, but he stares at me when he thinks no one's paying attention.

-I've caught him checking me out, I can swear he stares at my butt when I walk away from him. I just have that sixth sense.

-He has made attempts to touch me for longer than necessary. It comes across as casual, but not accidental. He's touched my hands, he's come up and touched arms/shoulders with me while his body is turned in towards me (I just stepped away), he stands really close to me too.

-I walked passed him once and he placed his hand near the small of my back and guided me towards the door. He didn't touch, but he was very close and I could feel him wanting to touch my waist. It made me uncomfortable and I dodged him.

One time He told me I was advancing faster than the other students (which I think is an odd statement).

-Oh and he smiles at me a lot and really big and genuine. When I'm looking at him during class he'll stare into my eyes and smile for longer than usual. He'll smile at me in the hall affectionately and will keep his eyes onto me for longer than a normal greeting.

-One time while we were crossing paths he smiled at me really big and blushed and kept his eyes on me until he couldn't anymore.

- I visited his office the other day to ask for help on my final project and everything felt really intimate. And for the first time he started asking me about my major and stuff. But the WAY he asked the questions felt personal even though it was disguised by academics. He kept drawing closer to me as if I was a magnet and got really close. Maybe only a foot was between us by the end of it. Sometimes he would smile at me wierd and ugh it just felt intimate. It's hard to explain. Office visits may not be the best choice.

-He's extra gentlemen around me. I've watched the way he is with other female students.

-When we run into each other unexpectantly his eyebrows raise and he smiles at me, then will look at me up and down and say something like, "Welcome back". This makes me uncomfortable.

Anyways, there's more but you get the idea.

It's confusing because this is all body language and vibes. I'm not sure he wants to have an affair with me, because sometimes he get's nervous around me and sometimes ignores me during class. He keeps the conversations professional and hasn't asked me about my personal life. He's a really nice guy and I can tell he really loves his kids because he talks about them in class a lot. He's even mentioned his wife a couple of times. So, then I start to think that he's safe and maybe I am crazy and there's no reason to read into things. And sometimes when he sees me unexpectantly he acts scared, confused, or sad around me. And I don't know what his problem is. Maybe he feels quilty for having feelings for me.

But I can't get passed the feeling that there's something going on between us and we feel closer than we actually are. And I feel like I'm going crazy worrying about this. I enjoy his company and he's really talented at what he does and what he does is exactly what I want to do. He's living my dream and he's very successful at it. By all accounts, he should be a great mentor and I should take advantage of his openess towards me.

But I feel strong emotional currents being passed between us and I don't know what to make of it. I haven't told my husband because I'm afraid that maybe I reading the signs wrong. And I don't want him to worry. And what if I am misinterpreting everything?

ADVICE PLEASE! He's going to be in my life for a while. I'll probably be required to take a couple more of his courses.
 

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ariadne12 said:
I haven't told my husband because I'm afraid that maybe I reading the signs wrong.

ADVICE PLEASE! He's going to be in my life for a while. I'll probably be required to take a couple more of his courses.
Tell your husband. I'll have to think about the next step- you really do need to make it clear to the prof that you WILL keep professional distance. You have a right to feel safe in an academic environment.

His age, family size, etc. are actually irrelevant when it comes to evaluating whether or not he'll cross marital boundaries.
 

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Hard to tell how much if it is you and how much of it is him. But indeed the answer is the same. Take these gut feelings as a warning.

He probaby does like you. he is a man and that is natural. Should he be acting less flirty and more professional? Certainly. But you can only control you. Do not be alone with this guy. Keep things professional. If he does something out of line, immediately tell him so. Depending on what it is report him. And tell your husband.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How do I keep things MORE professional? What specifically? Because I already am keeping it professional. And what if I am misinterpreting things?

I want him to think I'm a good student because I am, and I don't want him to think that I don't care because I don't approach him with questions or take advantage of office visits like the other students do. He is one of the few people who holds the key to my academic future. I'm going for my masters. Trust me, his opinion of me matters.
 

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But I can't get passed the feeling that there's something going on between us and we feel closer than we actually are. And I feel like I'm going crazy worrying about this. I enjoy his company and he's really talented at what he does and what he does is exactly what I want to do. He's living my dream and he's very successful at it. By all accounts, he should be a great mentor and I should take advantage of his openess towards me.
Wow :scratchhead:

Last time I checked married men kept their distance from women they weren't married too. They don't touch for longer than needed, stare, etc.
Just like you said, it works vice versa with married women too.

btw, think twice before you do something stupid..
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
WOW, NO A++, I'm not coming onto him. That's offensive. If you read the post I made it clear I wasn't responding to his flirting.

"I could feel him wanting to touch my waist. It made me uncomfortable and I dodged him."

"He's touched my hands, he's come up and touched arms/shoulders with me while his body is turned in towards me (I just stepped away)"


You know, my husband went for his masters and had mentors in college who were older married women.

It's perfectly normal to admire and want somebody's career. Just because i think he's talented doesn't mean I want to cheat on my husband.

Lots of other students feel the same way about him.

I'd apprecieate if you'd reply with something more useful. I need help deciding if I'm misinterpreting the signs, and if I'm not, how do I move forward? I already KNOW I need to maintain appropriate boundaries and not flirt back.

HEELP.
 

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It's not uncommon for people to sniff each other out sexually in the course of their day. You can't do anything about what he thinks, or how it comes across in his facial expressions. The fact that he touches you gives you the opportunity to set boundaries. You can simply state, hey, hands off, Professor so and so. You can also keep your distance and use body language to take control of the situation, despite him being the prof and you being the student. For instance, don't sit down in his office, and keep yourself between him and the door. Look at your watch or phone to obviously keep track of the time you spend interacting with him. These are all power moves. As he is attracted to you, and not vice versa, you have the power in this situation. All he can do is give you a bad grade. If you don't deserve a bad grade, he can't even do that. Now you probably need to find someone else to take classes from, because you can't really rely on his feedback to fuel your professional/academic progress.

I suppose I'm lucky, I have a relationship with my client/boss. So anyone I work with on any project team isn't going to waste my time and energy at work trying to even think about getting into my pants, not that they know, but people just instinctively *know*, they figure this stuff out. My mentor is my client's business partner, and will be supervising my work. I know I can count on him separately to support my professional and academic achievement, since he's the one who introduced me to my boss/client in the first place, on a professional level (he overshot his target...)

Anyway, as a woman you need to pay attention to the dynamics of power. You have to accept that people are going to be sexually attracted to you in your place of work or studies...I mean, you're sexually attractive, and don't go censoring yourself in order to try to solve the problem that way. Just acknowledge it and make sure you use the knowledge of that to stay in charge of your own career and life. Don't become confused by thinking you have to 'allow' anything to happen in the way he interacts with you because of your status. Remember, you're the one who can file a harassment charge if he touches you after you tell him it's hands off. You can follow-up with the hands-off statement by pointing to your head and shaking some papers in front of him, like, this is what I want you to be concerned about...how to get this (head) to here (papers...) results. If he's the sort to place the blame on you, saying you dressed a certain way or whatever, tell him to get over it, or to go teach in a seminary.

I wanted to add, too, that I'm an adult student in an academic setting where people's feelings and beliefs are discussed, so there is a lot of thought exchange going on...whereas in my other work, there is a lot of data, but it's about thoughts, just other people's...hence the underlying power dynamics of your situation, are more common than you think...it's just that you're not framing the situation in the right paradigm in order to give yourself an edge. Anyway, I have a couple profs who are really fond of me, one I have no clue if he's married or not. Maybe he fantasizes about me, and I get that it's not just about me physically, it's because periodically I spit out some essay that he's particularly impressed with, and really, grammar gets him going...a student like me doesn't come along every day. To my credit, once I take care of my business concerns this afternoon I'm taking my Shakespeare stuff over to the library and probably going to spend three hours giving this guy the full attention he deserves...on my last paper. :) He'll be nowhere near me. lol. I just want him to live in a world where a student really cares about a paper and doesn't fake it. Faking an academic paper is to me the same as faking an orgasm, and as I told my boss last night, I can't fake anything. Let's face it, academic study is focused on the mind, and the mind is a beautiful thing. The same mind that churns out papers and essays and projects is the same mind that allows you to have a full blown orgasm and enjoy the pretty Christmas lights in a quaint historic New England seacoast town. I'm just saying, don't expect a prof to look at you, to know your mind so thoroughly, and to not have fantasies. Your job is to keep him fully occupied in reality with producing work so that his fantasies cannot deviate too far from reality.

In effect, take your head out of the gutter, and his will follow!

I talk to my mentor about Argentine Tango...fencing, literature...he's 67 but honestly, in some respects I am like an office pet. Nothing wrong with that. If you can handle it, it allows you to have a cozy office life where you don't have to have your guard up. Accepting affection and admiration where it's due is an art form. You don't have to put out, there's no obligation. But protesting that it shouldn't exist is just not realistic at all, and to whose benefit?
 

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Sounds like you're flattered or something.

Just shut it down and leave it at that, simple.

Turning a small problem into an elephant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Of course I'm flattered. You would be too.

And no, I'm not turning a small problem into an elephant. Asking for advice on forums is my way of keeping the problem small. In fact, I'm asking for advice so it doesn't turn into a elephant.

You only think I'm making a big deal out of it because I wrote a long question.
 

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Of course I'm flattered. You would be too.

And no, I'm not turning a small problem into an elephant. Asking for advice on forums is my way of keeping the problem small. In fact, I'm asking for advice so it doesn't turn into a elephant.
Actually I wouldn't be, as its happened in the past. I don't care for validation from other women.

Its simple, and obvious really.

Tell him you feel uncomfortable about his actions towards you.

Done and done. One of my managers would sometimes lean real close while looking at my screen with her breasts sometimes rubbed against my shoulder.

Told her I didn't like it and she was a bit put off, but no problems since.

Also tell husband
 

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Of course I'm flattered. You would be too.

And no, I'm not turning a small problem into an elephant. Asking for advice on forums is my way of keeping the problem small. In fact, I'm asking for advice so it doesn't turn into a elephant.

You only think I'm making a big deal out of it because I wrote a long question.
Telling your husband right now would be a good place to start.
 
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In fact, I'm asking for advice so it doesn't turn into a elephant.
Every school has a human resources person, and quite often a department. They're the people that show the sexual harassment videos, and are aware of all the current laws, and how a breach of them affects accreditation and funding. I'm a college instructor and we get reminded of this every year.

Since it is clearly bothering you I strongly suggest to approach an HR person, and without naming names if you're concerned, ask how to proceed. You're right, you may be in a tight spot if you want to keep this guy's favor for career advancement and endorsement, without starting a scandal.

If you wrote truthfully, he's coming on to you and it's straight up NOT appropriate for him to do that.

Tell your husband ASAP, there's no need to wait for anything there, whether or not you're reading the signs wrong doesn't matter. Tell him. Now is not the time to hold secrets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If you wrote truthfully, he's coming on to you and it's straight up NOT appropriate for him to do that.

Of course I'm telling truthfully. I really don't like that people are suspicious of me. Thank you for validating my feelings that this is worth being concerned about.

And I will tell my husband. However, he may be peeved I didn't tell him sooner. This has been going on all semester...I just wasn't sure if I was imagining it or not.
 

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I'm assuming that you have to take his classes for the degree you are earning. If he is not the only person who can be your advisor, make sure that you don't ever declare him as such or accept him as a mentor.

The professor-student thing is stupidly common & what I want to ask you to do is to consciously think of his wife when you consider anything personally with him. She is a real, breathing person who would be crushed just to read your post.

If you have no choice but to have him as a professor, stop being flattered. It's mind over matter & allowing yourself to feel flattered opens up possibilties even if you don't think so now.

Always keep the door open during office hours. If he closes it, tell him that you promised your husband that you would always meet one-on-one with professors only with an open door. Back off a bit when he invades your personal space. Again, do not let the flattery sway you in any way. Act dumb regarding the signals he's sending. If they get too strong, tell him you are married, that you love your husband, that you would never betray him & that you need that to be clear.

Tell your husband what you are sensing. I don't believe it is all in your head, so tell him and become a united front in whatever you do about it.

This should only be difficult because of the power issue between the prof and you. The flattery must be taken out of the equation completely.
 

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ariadne12 said:
Of course I'm telling truthfully. I really don't like that people are suspicious of me.
That's fair, I don't want you to feel like you're on the stand and being evaluated. My sincere apologies.

I've seen too many cases here though where threads start like this and the OP leaves out some key details that they think might portray them in a less positive light (often unfounded). Heck, I think I've even done it.

The pertinent details seem to come out eventually though.

Coming from an academic perspective and still reeling from my own experiences from a school related infidelity on my wife's part, I really want you to feel safe- like you're not being hit on, and free to pursue your degree without having to worry about your primary advisor's motives. I mean that.
 

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First the useful stuff.

You are in a tricky situation because you are going for a Masters and the advisors/mentors can have a huge impact on your career. But your career is not worth your marriage. At least you don't sound like that is the case.

Your problem isn't that you don't know right from wrong. It's that you are uncertain of how to deal with this guy in a diplomatic way. At least this is how I read it.

The basics:

Tell your husband. My wife got a male supervisor in a formerly all female store. She told me before he arrived and it made a HUGE difference. He might be able to give you advice.

Understand that no matter what you do, at some point, your rejection of his advances, delicate or not, will get through to him. So 'hurting his feelings' is a given. No one likes to be rejected.

Dress down for his classes. Peasant skirts, sweatshirts which cover your butt. Bulky sweaters. You can change for your husband later. Drab colors. No make up.

Stop with the woman 'let's get along' thing. Stop smiling. Don't frown, but dont' smile. A smile by a woman at the wrong time sends a 'pick me pick me' vibe to men who want to translate it that way. Stop laughing at his attempts at humor. "I don't get it' may downgrade your intelligence in his estimation, but it's also unattractive. (It's amazing how bright and attractive a woman who thinks I'm funny is. Even more so when it's genuine)

Not sure how you carry your books. But clunky purses and holding books across your chest sends a subtle signal. A subtle twist of the hip or elbow means 'Professor Grabs' gets a fistful of elbow or purse.

He will try subtle 'come closer' techniques of his own, such as setting a paper on his desk so you can stand next to it together in close proximity. Just pick up the paper and read it, using it as a barrier between the two of you.

When you visit his office, bring a female colleague. Nothing says 'don't do anything actionable' like witnesses. And pick a female because chicks have that so called attraction detector (But yet somehow we have so many female posters who didn't detect a thing until discovered...and didn't sense the lies...etc) If you trust her, have her run interference. Pick someone blessed with a wealth of gravity as your linebacker.

Have your husband stop by to 'drop off your notes'. Put on a show of a hug and a kiss. Introduce him to the Professor.

While we are on the subject, if he is in danger of becoming your mentor, meet his wife. Have lunch ALONE with his wife. CHAT in a FRIENDLY WAY with is wife. BOND with his wife. Make him worry that you can and will tell his wife about anything inappropriate he says or does.

Of course, if you want to be a bit less subtle, mention the creep at the store that followed you around, asked you questions and kept touching your arm. A little historonic shudder adds a nice touch.

Okay, having said that, you are coming across as being pretty defensive. Believe it or not, advice or insights you don't like might a) not be wrong and b) aren't meant as an insult.

And with that level of sensitivity, one wonders if he's just being friendly flirty or crossing a line. Just as a guy can spin a smile into 'I want to have your baby', so too can a woman SOMETIMES take a touch or a glance as 'he wants to GIVE me a baby."

Wanting someone isn't a crime. Flirting with someone isn't a crime...except it is a bit icky in your power dynamic.

I hope some of this helped.
 
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Stop smiling at him. Start looking pissed off. If he approaches you on your demeanor, then tell him you feel uncomfortable around him. and when he asks why then tell him you feel like you are getting hit on, and when he say "what if I was" then you tell him that your happly married and he needs to find someone else tohit on.

Don't insult him or talk about his marriage that will just piss him off and scew with your grade.

In short figure out a way for him to make a move and then shut him down. You'll now if it worked when you started steering at some other chick.

Hell maybe just walk up to him and ask him if he realizes that he is steering at you, then if you says "well yes your an attractive women, is that a problem?" you can then tell him you are happly married and it makes you uncomfortable. When it comes to bussiness sometimes beating around the bush can cost you the deal. Being frank and direct shows how confident you are and your terms are nonegotiable.

Thats mt $0.02
 
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