Où sont les femmes?
January 9, 2011 8:30 PM   Subscribe

In the dating world of 2011, is being a male teacher a curse?

Why do so many of the women I’ve dated seem turned-off by male teachers?

I’m 27 and I teach French at a large public high school in a rustbelt city in the Great Lakes area. I think of myself as successful, stable, and happy. I am tall, in shape and not (yet!) balding, etc. I dress well and can talk about anything from sports to TV to lit. I’m comfortable talking with strangers and in front of crowds—-I exude confidence and am extroverted. I speak six languages, but I keep this little fact to myself usually.

Over the past four months, I have gone on dozens of dates with women ranging in ages from 23-32 whom I’ve met on OKCupid, Match, and through friends/colleagues. I usually get a second date, but then I hear the same lines about how teaching “must be so stressful and time-consuming” (it isn’t) and how they are looking for “someone with more potential” in life.

These kinds of comments usually come up when trying to plan the third date--their schedule tends to be hectic, unplanned, and always last minute, whereas mine is as predictable as the sunrise tomorrow. I will have been at the gym for a while before the local Happy Hour starts for the office-dwellers, for example.

Having a predictable schedule of 7AM-3PM, working out, and doing consulting on the side just doesn’t seem to make up for the fact that I am not in finance or business and making payments on a 300-series.

Many of my single (male) teacher friends (straight and gay I would add) have also experienced this apparent problem where their chosen careers don’t stack up to their date’s or that of their date’s idealized partner. Some even go so far as to lie or misrepresent their occupation in their profiles and online interactions.

Have any of you single male teachers out there encountered this mentality in the dating world? Do you keep your occupation to yourself until directly asked about it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Say what? Teacher is an incredibly sexy profession. Most of my female friends would be happy to date a teacher, but would need some convincing to go on a date with someone in finance.

How have you been finding dates online? Are you filtering by common interests? That might help you find dates more inline with your own values.

And it never hurts to get out there in the world and meet people based on shared interests. You mention that you speak multiple languages: are there cultural organizations you could get involved with where you can speak some of these languages and meet other polyglots?
posted by ladypants at 8:43 PM on January 9, 2011 [14 favorites]

You might be conflating your job with your identity. Compare and contrast the following:
"I'm anonymous, I'm 27 and I teach French at a large public high school."

"I'm anonymous, I'm 27 and like long walks on the beach, and tennis, and I also teach French."

"I'm anonymous, tell me about yourself."
I suspect that some of these women may also be using your job as an excuse not to see you again. It's probably not you. Dating sucks. Some people just don't click. &c.
posted by doublehappy at 8:43 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

agreeing with ladypants. in my circle of friends, teacher would top the list of desirable professions for a mate.
posted by gursky at 8:44 PM on January 9, 2011

Also, IANAT, but I have teacher friends in their mid to late 20s that do well with women.
posted by doublehappy at 8:44 PM on January 9, 2011

You are wrong.

The list goes Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher. Almost everyone I know sees it as a positive. I even know people who use it to pick up woman.

Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place? Try higher or lower in the online dating world, aka if using ok cupid switch to Craigslist (about 9 steps down) or up to match.com (about a half step up).
posted by Felex at 8:51 PM on January 9, 2011

What kind of women are you dating? If you're consciously or unconsciously choosing women who are prestige-driven, money-driven, or just plain shallow, then, yes, it's not surprising they're hanging out after a business/finance/300-series type. But I know so few women, in the dating pool or out of it, for whom those were key factors ... that makes me think you're somehow selecting women who are shallow and then being shocked they're shallow.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:55 PM on January 9, 2011 [35 favorites]

I'm pretty surprised this had been your experience. There will always be a contingent looking to marry rich, but really that's a small percentage. Most women I know are looking to date someone with something resembling a career and some sort of education, which a high school teacher more than qualifies as.

I would have to guess these women aren't being honest with you. I assume they knew your profession before agreeing to go on a first or second date right? If you being a teacher wasn't a deal breaker then, I don't see why it would be for the third date. I don't know what the real issue is (really you present no red flags in your question) but either you've just had a run of bad luck, live in an area where the women are bizarrely biased against teachers, or there is something else going on.
posted by whoaali at 9:02 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If being a teacher doesn't prevent dates 1 and 2, it's probably not preventing date 3. At least not all by itself--yeah, you're not going to make the money that some other people will make, and that could be an issue for some women, but do you want to date them? And if you're enthusiastic about what you do, I doubt there's a "no ambition, yuck" reaction going on.

But again, if they'll go on initial dates with you, they're at least open to the possibility of dating a teacher. It's more likely that they're just not that into you, and they use that as an excuse. Dating sucks, and people aren't always honest.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:03 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I like dating teachers. You're dating the wrong women.
posted by patheral at 9:04 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was dating, I would decline second dates with, like, self-professed binge drinkers who told me all about their recent DUI experience by saying geeze, my schedule is super-full right now! -- so, like a lot of the others in the thread I find these rejections to be surprising. But when I re-read your question, I see that you say "their schedule tends to be hectic, unplanned, and always last minute" which makes me think they are kind of basically doing what I did, and probably simply because they just didn't feel a spark with you. (Or you're a compulsive binge drinker who won't shut up and LETS ME PICK UP THE CHECK.) I think the teacher thing is probably a red herring. Go on more dates and you'll eventually meet someone you really hit it off with.
posted by kate blank at 9:08 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only part about this question that stands out as at all unusual from standard excuse-making is that they're actually telling you, "I'd rather date someone with more potential." Is that something they're actually saying? Or are you just assuming it? If they're legitimately saying this, yeah, try to figure out what you're doing to attract shallow women. Then stop doing it.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:25 PM on January 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

they are looking for “someone with more potential” in life.

The way you phrased it makes it sound like they don't think you have potential, but could it be that they are saying they don't feel much potential in a relationship with you? That's a completely different thing.

When you're having a hard time in the dating world, it can be really easy to fixate on one thing and assume that, if that were different, you would have no trouble getting people interested. But plenty of male teachers meet women and fall in love. The truth is, dating just kinda sucks that way.

However, if you really do think it's the money/ambition thing is holding you back, I'd take the advice of the above posters and look at the kind of women you're approaching. Are you going after, say, women who invest a lot in the "conventional trappings of hotness" and frequent the downtown douche watering holes? Do they tend to be in high-earning/ambitious career tracks themselves? If so, you might want to go after different types of women.
posted by lunasol at 9:33 PM on January 9, 2011

Nthing the different type of women argument - but I'd like to mention that you are not your job. You are not your career. They may shape in some way, but your uniqueness should be what should shine through...

Plenty of fish in the sea :)
posted by chrisinseoul at 9:36 PM on January 9, 2011

I just have to add to it: you're dating the wrong women. Your profession is immensely appealing.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:37 PM on January 9, 2011

I've never used the exact phrase, "someone with more potential," but I've used similar phrasing to explain why I wouldn't be interested in a second or third date. It didn't mean that I was looking for someone who made more money, it meant that I was looking for someone I had more of a spark with. Are you sure you're correctly interpreting what they're saying to you? Either way, I'll echo what others have said: either you are selecting the wrong women for you, or they're not interested for other reasons and the teaching thing is a red herring.
posted by Fuego at 9:38 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's not you, it's them.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:39 PM on January 9, 2011

Having a predictable schedule of 7AM-3PM, working out, and doing consulting on the side just doesn’t seem to make up for the fact that I am not in finance or business and making payments on a 300-series.

You are dating the wrong women.

Assuming these are mostly internet dates, and that you are the one searching out women and initiating contact, why not choose women whose profiles make them seem less materialistic, or maybe women who do something for a living that is similar in scope to your career?

To go in a totally different direction, I'm wondering if the problem isn't so much about your career but an initiative thing. I tend to jump at the chance to go on an OKCupid date with a teacher, librarian, social worker, etc - but I notice that for whatever reason those guys tend to be less likely to take things in a sexual direction right away, have to be asked out rather than taking the initiative to suggest something themselves, etc. I almost never get past the second date with dudes like that because they just don't seem to care. I often have trouble getting a read on whether they're into me at all. Which is sort of a turn-off. Could it maybe be something like that?
posted by Sara C. at 9:49 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am a 26-year-old woman who would totally dig dating a teacher. You are definitely getting the wrong dates somehow.
posted by naoko at 9:57 PM on January 9, 2011

I think this previous question is similar and has a lot of good answers. As noted for that guy posting before, if you're still basing your search for a mate exclusively on top model looks with some afterthought to how they describe themselves, then you are doing it wrong. Yes, you probably are a fine person with A Lot To Offer, but you're not going to win out if you do it purely based on looks. That method of searching is a bit off and shallow, and you ought to do more soul searching to figure out what you're doing wrong, and understand what the women are telling you when they say they aren't a match for you or don't want you.

After all, you want to be with someone who wants to be with you, right?
posted by anniecat at 10:08 PM on January 9, 2011

Just to chime in: I'm a teacher and fairly newly single. I went out with one woman last night and a different one tonight, and both seemed legitimately interested in my work (and especially in my interest in my work). The only people it's really stopped me from dating are women who only want doctors or lawyers.

And I don't want to date someone who is that particular.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 10:16 PM on January 9, 2011

Yeah, I don't know what kind of women you are dating. You seem like a great guy! However, teachers traditionally make very low salaries, and they don't have a lot of growth potential in that salary. Some people automatically equate teachers with broke-for-lifers, which is a dealbreaker for some women. It's not necessarily true, and obviously not a dealbreaker for a lot of women, but it's an unfortunate stereotype. I hope you find a lovely lady soon!
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:18 PM on January 9, 2011

Here are two other posts that might be helpful in figuring out what might be going on. There is a lot of good advice in both of them with regard to expectations and learning what you're looking for.
posted by anniecat at 10:19 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Having a predictable schedule of 7AM-3PM, working out, and doing consulting on the side just doesn’t seem to make up for the fact that I am not in finance or business and making payments on a 300-series.

I don't know a lot of women who are like that except the ones that can be super picky because they have a lot of men to choose from. A lot of women today are dating/marrying guys that are not as educated as they are and/or don't make as much money as they do. Women tend to care less about money and care more about how kind/loving/understanding a man is. If they say they want someone with more potential, it's probably because they don't like your vibe and don't want to hurt your feelings.

Are you sure that there isn't something about your personality or the way you carry yourself that isn't a turn off to them? Maybe if you think too highly of yourself and it's coming off as narcissistic and as though you've got a high opinion of yourself?
posted by anniecat at 10:26 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe if you're dating the kind of lady who has the goal of being a fancy stay-at-home wife one day, being a teacher is probably not appealing to them. You probably don't and never will make enough money unless you became an administrator for a family to live off of exclusively with the type of wife who wants fancy things.
However, as a mid-20s lady who does not have such aspirations (and has their own career), I would definitely be into dating a teacher. Dudes who are patient and good with kids and value education are pretty hawt in my book.
Bottom line: either a) these ladies are making excuses for the real reason they don't want to keep dating you, or b) you're dating the wrong kind of women. Actually, if if a) is true, b) probably is also. You aren't dating the kind of ladies who are into you, regardless of why.
posted by elpea at 10:31 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the teacher thing is likely a red herring unless you are dating women who care more about money than who they are dating. I also have to ask- are there single women at your school? Are they interested/interesting? I teach, and guys are rare enough that pretty much every reasonable man who has been single when he starts at my school has not stayed that way very long.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:18 PM on January 9, 2011

Huh. The only reason I've personally heard for not dating male teachers is because, well, they are constantly surrounded by younger women (or men, I guess, depending on sexual preference) and there is too much of a temptation there to compete with. Silly, I know, but there you are.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:01 AM on January 10, 2011

As a mid-20s, third year law student, if I were looking for people to date I'd be totally into dating a teacher. I think Eyebrows McGee has it here.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:09 AM on January 10, 2011

I'm not particularly keen on dating teachers as it means that holidays throughout the year are fixed and inflexible.

As a result you're forced to pay significantly more for the price for your holiday (as it's peak) and have the added bonus of being surrounded by everyone else's children. Long weekends away and group holidays are out of the question too.

For example, I'm arranging a skiing holiday for a group of friends at the moment and there are a couple of teachers who can't go. If we move the date to when they can, then the price doubles and no-one else wants to go at that time.

Disclaimer: I'm not female and I'm not based in the US but I thought I'd throw it out as there are some disadvantages to dating teachers.
posted by mr_silver at 2:07 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

To get more specific about what kind of women you're looking for, I'm from and still living in northern Ohio. It kind of sounds like you are dating women who are basically well-educated professionals. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but I will say this: Right now, in this economy, in areas like you and I live in, there are a lot of smart and wonderful young women who are not well-educated professionals. It is relatively hard right now for even those with college degrees to get good jobs, and a lot of people in these cities still don't actually finish college. Those people who live white-collar lives are much more likely to be people who made money a high priority in their lives from the beginning, and those women are much less likely to be impressed with your income as a teacher.

My girlfriend has never so much as darkened the door of a community college, works in a service industry, is a single parent. She is just as smart as anybody I've ever known who was an educated professional, she's just not from that sort of background. She has worked hard to be where she is, but I suspect she would not have shown up on an OKCupid search that you did. (She wouldn't have shown up on one that I did, either.) The fact that she has not yet been to college does not mean she never will, but she might not. She's fantastic and that's what matters.

For someone from a working-class background, a teacher's stability, pension, health insurance are incredibly attractive things. For someone who is expecting to marry an educated professional with an educated professional's income, no, you might not measure up. The rust belt happens to have tons and tons more of those from working-class backgrounds, so you're really in luck, you just have to be open to dating that sort of person, and not yourself holding out for someone who is doing as well or better than you are in life. It took me awhile to learn this, so here's to passing on a lesson I'm glad I learned.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:35 AM on January 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

"Hot for Teacher" was sung by a male about a female teacher, but it definitely applies to the ladies gettin' all hot over male teachers, too. I think being male and a teacher would imply someone caring, patient, and who wants to help others, with a bit of (good!) humility thrown in the mix.

Dating can suck, and sometimes there's not really a reason why it doesn't work out between people, other than dating sucks.

And you teach French! Hott.
posted by shortyJBot at 4:20 AM on January 10, 2011

FYI, I know lots of high-achieving professional women who are interested in dating teachers, and most of the male teachers I know are either married to other teachers or to high-pressure doctor/lawyer types. Teachers are attractive to those women for the same reason they have historically been attractive to those men: It's a stable job for educated people with hours that coincide with children's school hours and summers off. You get a well-educated spouse who's in sort-of the "best of both worlds" between a working and stay-at-home parent, particularly once the kids are in school. At least that's the idea.

(Also, in my state, these are union jobs with enormous protections, extremely generous benefits, and fairly substantial salary advancement once you're tenured.)

So don't go after women seeking the trappings of success; women who already HAVE the trappings of success on their own are more likely to be interested.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:15 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I can't back this up with the source, and this was in the UK, but a while back there was a survey asking women which profession made the best marriage partners and teaching won - presumably for all the reasons everyone else has given. (Full disclosure - I married a male teacher. :o) )
posted by raspberry-ripple at 6:30 AM on January 10, 2011

Just to repeat what almost everyone has said above: You are dating the wrong people. You just have to wait until you find the right one.
posted by freakazoid at 7:26 AM on January 10, 2011

Without even glancing at the other answers, I would never rule out dating someone because he was a teacher.

I would rule out a drug dealer, sex worker, or journalist, but a teacher? Not a red flag. Carry on.
posted by tel3path at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2011

I am dating a male teacher. I think his job is awesome, for a start he has the best work stories out of anyone i know. I think they're probably just using it as an excuse
posted by stillnocturnal at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2011

Apart from all the possibilities that everyone has already mentioned, and which are pretty likely to be on the mark, here's a few others to consider...

1) It's not the job per se, it's you in particular that is somehow giving off the vibe of "not much potential". Maybe that's potential in terms of career ambition, maybe potential as someone ready to settle down, maybe something else.

2) You are somehow raising expectations that you don't match up to. Perhaps in your profile or the way you initially come over face to face you give an impression on being wealthier, more career minded or whatever than you actually are.

3) Is there a reason why you make so much of the difference in schedules? If that's something that comes up a lot, maybe it's about feeling that your lifestyles are too different to feel like a good fit.

Overall I'm surprised that a lot of women would actually come out and say anything as specific as that they're "looking for someone with more potential". People generally don't like to say anything outright critical or hurtful to their dates if they can avoid it.
posted by philipy at 8:19 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with the general advice above that you may be dating the wrong women. Every straight woman I know (late 20s, midwestern) would love to date a male teacher. But something in your post kind of struck me:

Having a predictable schedule of 7AM-3PM

I have a lot of friends who are teachers, male and female, elementary through high school, and none of them have this schedule. They go in early to prep, they stay late for meetings or conferences, they correct tests while we hang out to watch DVDs on a Saturday night. So first of all, I can see how some women might have trouble believing that your schedule is as stable as you make it out to be. But more importantly in my mind, if I went on a date with you and heard how little influence your job plays in your life, I might be put off by that very fact.

Teachers are attractive in part because their profession is noble: you're supposed to be educating and inspiring the future leaders of our country (gag, I know, but there it is). Like nursing or being a pastor, teaching (especially among men) is often seen as a profession that people are called to, rather than simply a job, and something about that is really attractive. It implies that you have deep-seated principles, that you're passionate about making a difference, etc. So if you're giving the impression like, "Yeah, I'm a teacher, but don't worry about my schedule -- I pretty much phone it in so I'll have plenty of time for you!" -- that's not a good thing. I don't know whether you come off this way or not, but if so you are completely undermining and even reversing all the attractiveness that comes with being a teacher.
posted by vytae at 10:42 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would rule out a drug dealer, sex worker, or journalist, but a teacher? Not a red flag. Carry on.

Haha . . . be careful then, I think a lot of former journalists are entering teaching.

OP, I agree that you're picking the wrong women. I'd date a teacher. Are you dating a lot of women who are younger than you, or inexperienced? Sometimes inexperienced women (including my younger self) have these ideals for their mate that have absolutely no basis in reality. And it takes a few terrible relationships before we realize what a gem a man is who 1) Has an education and 2) Does something that he loves/ cares about that contributes to society in some way. Well, these things matter to me anyway, and I know I can't be alone in this. (I'm going on 28 now.)

It's hard to speculate on what else might be going on, though. Because I think there's a good chance the teacher thing is just an excuse. You're welcome to send me a MeMail if you want to chat about it further on AIM or whatnot. Good luck!
posted by GastrocNemesis at 10:53 AM on January 10, 2011

The only time I ever heard of a guy getting rejected specifically because of his supposedly-insufficient income, the woman told him, directly, "You'll never make enough to make me happy." He's a mechanic. Turns out, she married someone else I know, who puts on quite the Ritchie Rich game face, and they're mired in debt in an overpriced suburban-hell house. So "not enough potential" probably means "no spark".
posted by notsnot at 12:10 PM on January 10, 2011

I once dated a teacher, but stopped dating him in part because he was a teacher... he was an ESL teacher who very clearly was only interested in the track and field coaching opportunity it provided, plus the long breaks. So it wasn't the teaching per se, it was that he was kind of a sleaze. If he'd actually been motivated to teach for good reasons, I would have been happy to date him for the long-term. In other words, I wholeheartedly agree with vytae's point.
posted by emkelley at 2:03 PM on January 10, 2011

The way you stress your availability/predictable schedule vs. your dates' busy/unpredictable schedules make me wonder if you're asking for too much time/commitment in the first few dates? Maybe you should try playing hard to get a little bit. Coming to Date 2 with a list of possible times to schedule Date 3 in might feel too aggressive to some women.
posted by equivocator at 3:22 PM on January 10, 2011

For some reason you are dating very materialistic women. Since, presumably, they aren't specifically seeking you out (if boatloads of money is so important to them), then you must be targeting/seeking/asking them out. Maybe you are especially interested in this sort of woman, for some reason?

As far as I can tell, the idea that women are only interested in money, flashy cars, and high-powered careers is apparently propagated by men who only pursue that sort of woman, because I live in a whole world of people who don't care about that stuff. I don't have a single friend who is like that, and never have. (I also have several good friends happily married to teachers.)
posted by taz at 9:34 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Unlike virtually every other commenter here, I can at least relate to the women you've been dating, although I don't know their motivations. It's odd, really, because I loved many of my teachers & professors, and even briefly debating a career in academia myself. And yet, since I was eighteen or so, the biggest turn-off profession for me has been...teachers.

Weird, right? So weird I've thought about this a lot, and come up with a general outline of why I instinctually don't want to date teachers:

(1) I'm a professionally ambitious designer, and I'd like to do a variety of things in my career, in terms of both work environments (studio, startup, big company), and role (UX, UI, branding, visual, cofounder, and creative). And...

(2) Teachers generally know their career ladder and know what they'll be doing, forever, till they retire, no matter how good they are, no matter where they teach, no matter where they go, the second they decide to become teachers.

And really, (2) is crazy to me, when I write it out like that. I can't imagine choosing a job where, be I twenty or fifty, successful or just crap, I'll know that I'll be grading the same set of tests ten, twenty, and thirty years from now. It's a job that requires a mindset and a view of the future completely different than my own. It's not that I don't understand the merits of the job; I'll remember my favorite teachers forever.

But personally, professionally, I simply can't relate. And so I'll never date a teacher.

(By the way, I really doubt this is a money issue, as so many other commenters mentioned. I'd happily date a poor painter or plumber or non-profiter. Even a military man seems more appealing; they can move up in the ranks, and be promoted; teachers, even professors, rarely have such autonomy. At best, they become famous, and usually stop being teachers.)
posted by timoni at 11:53 PM on January 11, 2011

"they can move up in the ranks, and be promoted; teachers, even professors, rarely have such autonomy."

Uh ... where do you think administrators come from? They don't spring full-formed from Zeus's head, you know. Teachers can become master teachers, get nationally certified, become team leaders, become building-level subject specialists, get gifted-certified, take on new subjects, teach new grade levels, serve on curriculum committees, union boards, etc. ... and they can also move into administration at the building level (principal, etc.) or at the district level (superintendent, etc.). They can move into educational HR (our HR director is a former teacher and principal), student discipline, data & testing management, educational finance, extracurricular and athletic management, curriculum development and management, special ed management & compliance, become a turnaround specialist, etc. They can also move into statewide union positions, regional office of education management, statewide board of education positions, statewide curriculum or testing positions, etc.

And even if you're in the classroom for 30 years, it's certainly not a static position if you're doing it right!

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:05 AM on January 12, 2011

Eyebrows McGee, most of the things you just mentioned involve the person no longer being a teacher. (I thought that was kind of obvious, so I didn't point it out.)
posted by timoni at 1:30 PM on January 12, 2011

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