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You’ve got problems, I’ve got advice. This advice isn’t sugar-coated—in fact, it’s sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.
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This week we have a college student who is wondering if her professor is flirting with her—and she doesn’t like it.
Keep in mind, I’m not a therapist or any other kind of health professional—just a guy who’s willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don’t like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now then, let’s get on with it.
I’m in college. My professor never really bothered me before, but now I’m starting to question him. I changed my hair to red one day and he complimented how nice it was even though I hated it. I have never seen him comment on anyone else’s appearance. A few days later I dressed up pretty fashionable and changed my hair back to black ‘cause I was going out that night with my boyfriend and he said, “Wow another look, Nice!” I brushed it off.
Then, another time in class, I was talking to my friend and asked her to call me by my nickname. He overheard, asking me why I didn’t ask him to do that. I just told him I found no reason to, but ever since then he calls me by my nickname anyway. He also gave us a quiz and one of the questions asked what we thought he could do to make the class better. I said “one day out the week for tutoring would be nice.” Here’s where things get a little weird...
When he handed back our quizzes, he made sure to let me know I was the only one he responded back to on the quiz. When I read his little response it said, “Okay, let’s try to do that, [my nickname]. It’s a pleasure having you in class.” Is he flirting????
Not Hot for Teacher
Hey Not Hot for Teacher:
Here’s the deal: if you think he’s flirting, he’s flirting. So, if you’re getting that creeper vibe, that’s enough to say he is. I think he’s flirting and I can’t even see his body language or anything. He calls you by your nickname when you didn’t ask him to, he takes care to notice your appearance—and keep track of it—and he makes comments on said appearence, directly to your face. Plus, the weird note on your quiz. That’s a little inappropriate there, Professor Horndog. But here’s the nail in the coffin: he’s not doing these things to anyone else (or so you say). I mean, if he was, it would still be inappropriate, but it’s obvious he’s shown a specific interest in you, lady. And it sounds like you’re not interested in his version of extra credit.
So, the real question is what do you do about it? For one, I wouldn’t attend his romantic solo tutoring session created specifically for you. If he’s saying those things in front of people imagine what he might say—or do—when it’s just you two in a room alone. Ew. He may not actually be a total creep, but you’re probably better off getting tutoring from a classmate if he makes you uncomfortable. Think about it—you won’t be able to focus and learn when you’re on your guard the whole time.
Beyond that, you have two options. The first, which isn’t ideal, is to ignore him until this class is over. If you won’t see him again after this semester, just keep your head down, do your classwork, and move on. But if he’s an adviser or a regular professor of yours, that’s not really an option. And I think you’re better off doing something about it, so...
The second option, Not Hot for Teacher, is to tell him that what he’s doing makes you uncomfortable. Don’t make a display out of it. Do it in private during office hours and say, “Mr. Horndog (but actually use his name), it makes me uncomfortable when you use my nickname and make comments about my appearance. I’d appreciate it if you’d stop.” Now, he’ll probably get defensive and say that he didn’t mean anything by what he said, but it doesn’t matter what he meant. Say, “It’s fine, you don’t have to explain. I’d just like you to stop. Thanks.” Remember, you’re not debating his intentions with him, you’re telling him how you feel about it, and as your teacher he needs to respect that—period. He may not be aware that he’s making uncomfortable. While you feel a little harassed, he may think you’re cool with it in his creeper brain. Until you say something, he’ll probably continue.
Whatever you choose to do, keep a record of everything he says to you, and when. If you choose to ask him to stop, keep a record of that as well. That way you’ll have plenty of evidence in case this situation escalates and it needs to be taken to a higher power. You never know...
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That’s it for this week, but I still have plenty of blunt, honest advice bottled up inside. Tell me, what’s troubling you? Is work getting you down? Are you having problems with a friend or a coworker? Is your love life going through a rough patch? Do you just feel lost in life, like you have no direction? Tell me, and maybe I can help. I probably won’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. Ask away in the comments below, or email me at the address you see at the bottom of the page (please include “ADVICE” in the subject line). Or tweet at me with #ToughLove! Also, DO NOT EMAIL ME IF YOU DON’T WANT YOUR REQUEST FEATURED. I do not have time to respond to everyone just for funsies. ‘Til next time, figure things out for yourself.
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