College students are generally more concerned about hooking up with each another than with their instructors. After all, movies and TV shows commonly portray professors as stodgy old men with monotonous voices, nerdy clothes and horn-rimmed glasses. But real professors are real people, not characters— and some of them have great looks and style in addition to great teaching skills.
Professor rating websites, which can come in handy while planning your course schedule, have started to include categories for looks or level of “hotness.” If a teacher that’s easy on the eyes helps you develop a sudden interest in subjects that usually bore you, that’s great. But if you find yourself flirting with Dr. Hottie, the feeling is mutual, and you actually wind up dating, take a moment to realize how ugly the situation could become.
In addition to the “normal” potential relationship outcomes that face any couple, like ugly breakups and the possibility of unwanted pregnancy or STDs, dating your professor is a whole new ballgame.
If you’re under the age of eighteen—and a handful of college students are—the relationship could technically be against the law. It would depend on the age of consent in your area, but if you get involved sexually and someone finds out (or you change your mind about the situation and decide to turn your instructor in to the authorities) there’s a chance that Dr. Sexy could wind up being charged with statutory rape.
You might have the attitude that if you are legally old enough, then you’re also wise enough to make your own decisions regarding who to date and who to sleep with. That’s true, but student-faculty relationships are prohibited at many colleges and universities. And even though romances between students and professors aren’t necessarily against policy at other schools, they are still considered inappropriate and could possibly cause problems for you as well as Dr. Dreamy.
How would you feel if your “significant other” lost his job because of your illicit affair? Chances are, he’d have trouble landing a new one due to the reason for dismissal. Or how would you feel if the dean accused you of receiving higher grades out of favoritism and questioned your abilities as a student?
If you’re truly able to keep your affair with Dr. Sexy under lock and key, you won’t be able to gossip or complain about the relationship with friends. You won’t be able to go out together publicly, at least not near campus—especially if you’re the girlfriend and there’s also a wife in the picture. Sneaking around can feel thrilling at first, but eventually you’ll probably get sick of it.
Do you already have a boyfriend? Cheating is cheating, whether you hide a relationship with someone your own age or start to sleep with your professor because it seems so exciting. The same is true for the prof—do you want to break up a marriage or other long-term relationship? A jilted spouse or girlfriend could come after you both, seeking revenge.
Romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that could suffer. Some of your friends might think the whole thing is hot and even be envious of you, but others will think you’re insane. And what if your parents found out? There’s a good chance they wouldn’t include the incident in their annual Christmas newsletter about the family.
Tired of going out with Dr. Hottie and decide to cool things down? The situation could wind up pretty awkward if he or she doesn’t feel the same. You might find yourself publicly humiliated in class if your prof decides to act like a jerk and pick on you for non-relationship reasons because he’s in a position of authority. For example, “Did you even bother to study? No one else gave such a stupid answer!” You could even be told that your grades will suffer or you’ll fail the class if you don’t continue the relationship.
When you look back at past relationships, the first few weeks or months were probably when you had the most fun together. After you started to feel settled and used to one another, that initial excitement had worn off a bit.
That will most likely happen in this case, too. After the semester ends, you might even realize that you only wanted to date your professor because it seemed forbidden or bad.
Best case scenario? Your love is meant to be, authority figures at the college never catch on, and your relationship lasts past your graduation. But eventually, the age gap might be enough to cause relationship problems—even if your professor is hot. You could want children, but Dr. Dreamy might be too old for that. You might want to go out after work and on weekends while Dr. Dreamy wants to putter around the house and catch up on the evening news.
They say that love is blind, and there’s no denying that some people do meet their long-term spouses under strange circumstances. Just remind yourself that you’re going to college to get an education and earn a degree. Is your prof looking out for your best interests, too?
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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