Summer Fling


| 6/25/2014 10:01:00 AM


Tags: Advice column, Relationship advice, Parenting advice, Ethical advice, Etiquette,

rain on the beach

Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website

Hi Tim,
I am a 26 year old woman, and I just finished my junior year in college. Just last year I had a very painful breakup from a relationship of 4 years. I have been volunteering this year on a research project headed by a much older and tenured member of faculty who is single and oh so hot. It is very unlikely he would teach any of my classes in my last year, but very likely I would be taking his classes in graduate school when I start in Fall 2015, if I am even accepted here at the same school, and I also applied elsewhere. He does not know I am applying here, and we have been going out for drinks, getting personal and carrying on a flirtation for weeks now that is making me crazy. This is summer, I’m single and I want to have this fling! Am I wrong or unethical? 

- Carnal College

Hi Carnal,
So you are hot for not-your-teacher-but-may-be-someday? My first concern was the rebound relationship factor, and if the symptoms sound familiar I recommend a visit to the counseling center. But, maybe you have moved on and you would just like to have some fun. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Dating is also nothing illegal between two consenting adults, even if they happen to be student and teacher at the same college or university, and even in the same class. You should check your particular school’s policies, though, as this may violate a code of professional conduct for him. 

Now here comes the bad news. The proposed relationship, however brief, is unethical. The student body is not a dating pool for the faculty. This fellow, having accepted and maintained a mentoring role with you is already behaving unethically by letting this flirtation escalate. If this relationship were to be brief or even blossom into more, would you really want to have to watch and listen to him lecture for a whole semester? Hot or not, he is behaving unethically and taking advantage of the power differential between you. You can do better. 

Aloner