Best of (College Dating): The Do’s and Dont’s of Dating Your T.A. or College Professor


Many attractive college guys are fun-loving jokesters, athletic jocks, or ambitious future CEOs. Others are goofballs, former-best-friend crushes or maybe closet nerds. However, most have one fatal flaw: Immaturity. It’s been proven that girls mature much faster than their male counterparts. While you may learn to tolerate the difference in maturity in middle school (the issue of towering over many of the boys at dances is certainly not fun but usually is amended by high school), once you get to college it’s understandably a bit harder to deal with.

Just when you can’t take another spilled drink, rowdy shirtless dance, or marathon video game session, another attractive option might presents itself. Perhaps you have a cute young(ish) teaching assistant who played lacrosse in college and brings his athletic gait to Intro to Molecular Biology or your Earth Science discussion section? Or maybe iit’s the artsy assistant professor in your Shakespeare seminar with an English accent has caught your eye. Into older guys? Fantasizing about your Comparative Politics professor (you know, the one with a dashing sprinkle of gray hair, a dusty blazer, and the wire-rimmed glasses?) may prove to be more than just daydream…

While it is best to take advantage of ALL aspects of academia while at your college of choice, some important factors should be considered when dating figures of authority (besides being sure to coordinate your break up with the end of final grading period):

Don’t date a professor or teaching assistant who teaches your class. It would be unprofessional for the teacher to be instructing you in a class while being romantically involved. It could also cause tension if your relationship ends before the semester does.This can get even trickier if you’re feeling sparks but are only a frosh. How are you going to avoid him for four years? What if he teaches a class that’s essential to your program? Tread carefully, and consider the repercussions before you let him know that you’re interested.

Do keep it quiet. Don’t show up at campus parties together or have dates at the campus pub or restaurant. If you are together on campus, keep PDA to a minimum and be discreet. You don’t want anyone questioning the source of your success in school! Also, some schools have a very strict “no dating students” policy, so it’s best to do your research first before you get wrapped up in a relationship that may be doomed from the start.

Do question his motivation if he’s the one pursuing you. He’s handsome, established, and has his life all mapped out — exactly WHAT does he see in an underclassman that carries a fake I.D. and still has to hit up mom and dad up for money on a weekly basis? Don’t let the fantasy blur the facts. There’s a big difference between a T.A. expressing interest in you (after all, he’s only a few years older) and a MAN in his 30’s or 40’s making you his one-and-only. Stop and ask yourself is this a mid-life crisis? Does he like being the one running the show? Is this a pattern for him? Don’t give your heart away too quickly. It’s better to be cautious than to be a notch on his bed post.

Don’t let people judge. While it is often a joke among friends to hook up with or date professors and teaching assistants, if you have a genuine connection with a teacher you should seriously consider the pros and cons of the relationship. Don’t worry about what people will say; some scandalous college boy antic will soon divert their attention!

By Kylie Thompson, Harvard University

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