Friendship is Magic
December 7, 2012 10:31 PM   Subscribe

How do I tell my instructor that I would like to see him socially after the class is over without sounding like a stalker? You would think being direct would be the simple answer, but I am feeling socially awkward about the whole thing and need some advice.

I am currently taking a college class from an instructor with whom I have a great deal in common personally and would be a great fit in my social circle. I would very much like to see him socially after I am no longer his student, but I can't figure out a way of approaching the subject without sounding as if I am asking him out on a "date". I am a female in my early 40s, he is male in his early 50s. I am happily married and he has a girlfriend. I will no longer be attending the college after I am done with his class (it's a foreign language for personal enrichment, not a degree).

I have written a thank you card to him 8 times, and each time it comes out sounding like I am either coming on to him or I am a crazed stalker. I contemplated saying something in person, but that never sounded right in my head either. I guess it never occurred to me before I was married that the simple act of asking a guy to coffee or over for dinner has the potential to be misconstrued. How would you word it?
posted by evilcupcakes to Human Relations (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What about finding some activity you could participate in together or a local event you could easily attend together without it seeming awkward? Something that plays into your shared interests, and ideally related to the context you know each other in.

Or what about inviting him around for dinner and stressing that your husband will be there. Like "we'd like to have you over to the house for dinner sometime." That should make it obvious that you're not pursuing him and want to be friends in an aboveboard type of way that your husband would be comfortable with. Maybe invite him to bring his girlfriend along.
posted by Sara C. at 10:35 PM on December 7, 2012 [17 favorites]

After the final class, approach him, thank him and say something along the lines of, "Thank you so much for this class. I really enjoyed it and think I got a lot out of it. My husband and I are having a few couples over to our house/apartment for a very informal dinner and movie night in two weeks and we think you would really fit in well and really enjoy it. We would love it if you and your girlfriend could attend. Honestly, being a non traditional college student at my age can be difficult and you made it easy. On top of that, from what you said in class, we seem to have a lot in common. Let me know if you can make it. Remember it is a totally relaxed evening. Easy dinner, book discussion or a movie."

Or, more along the lines of Sara C., assuming let's say you share an interest in Jazz music, say, "Hey, my husband and I and maybe another couple are going to the John Smith Jazz Quartet show at the strand next Friday. I know you are into Jazz. Would you and your girlfriend like to join us at the show?"

You're right though, it is a little awkward to be trying to arrange a play date with your professor even though it makes perfect sense.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:58 PM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: YES! That's the term I was looking for, "play date" lol! The only reason I have been reluctant to include the girlfriend is I haven't quite gotten the grasp of the relationship with her. They never seem to do anything together (some couples are like that), and I wasn't sure if inviting her would make him feel obligated to bring her.

I think asking him over to a group function is really the way to go. Thank you. I know that sees obvious, but I somehow missed the boat on that one.
posted by evilcupcakes at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2012

You can always add, "If your gf cannot make it, we would love to have you join us anyway."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:08 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mentioning the husband so specifically is not such a good idea.

This idea you have in your mind does not always translate to the same "great idea" for the other person. You've built up an image of this professor joining your social circle, and that's why it sounds so appealing. He, on the other hand, has done no such thing, and will not have the same "warm and fuzzy" right away (or ever).
posted by Kruger5 at 11:58 PM on December 7, 2012

Just ask your husband to pick you up from the last day of class, and introduce him to this person. If there's a good social fit, then he and your husband should hit it off conversationally, and if not, then it probably wasn't worth trying to force it.
posted by davejay at 12:03 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I think you have missed my point. My objective is to take the opportunity to get to know him in a social context, not OMG WE R BESTIES 4 EVER!! He and I have had many conversations after class about subjects and hobbies unrelated to the class that are both interested in, and I see no reason to not attempt to get to know him, and he has even sought me out to share news or information on these topics. I would consider not trying to befriend him to be a missed opportunity. If I decided NOT to pursue a friendship with someone based on the possibility of rejection I would be a very lonely person indeed.
posted by evilcupcakes at 12:07 AM on December 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

I do this sort of thing a lot - usually it's someone that I meet through work that I think I'd like to hang out with as friends. I'll throw a party, or plan a group activity, and invite them along. Since I organize social functions with my friends all the time, it's totally natural to invite a new person. Sometimes the new person joins us and we become friends, sometimes it just doesn't click, but at least I've tried. I think that the very definition of a good party is getting together a group of people who enjoy each other's company, so your impulse to bring a new interesting person in your social circle is worth acting upon.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:41 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mentioning your partner in the opening sentence of this pitch is something I've seen done a lot over the years and done myself. It means "I am not coming on to you, but.." That is normal and hugely useful. Your partner can be part of the plan, or not.

I also suggest you not do this until grades are out if the class is graded. It'll be significantly less awkward for him, if he has any kind of professional ethics. If it is not graded, then after the final class is still probably the right time.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 12:43 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The next time you talk to him after class, invite him to something you and your folks are doing. If it doesn't line up, then get his number/email and then hit him up to participate. He's just a guy that teaches a class. No need to make this complicated.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:02 AM on December 8, 2012

Thanks for a great course - I'd like to keep in touch.

Then - keep in touch
posted by the noob at 1:29 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't freak out. If your instructor is enjoying your after-class conversations too (and you know that he is, right?) then he knows that the two of you have a great rapport and he's probably pretty happy about that. I know when I was teaching college classes, it was always a real pleasure when I clicked with a student like that.

Whether he'd be willing to pursue a friendship after class is dependent on a whole lot of factors that you have no way of knowing yet. Certainly there is nothing untoward or professionally questionable about having platonic relationships with former students. The advice here (follow up after grades are delivered, invite him and GF if he so chooses to a group activity) is good. I say, go for it--it's rare and wonderful to find kindred spirits in this world--but don't take it personally if he declines. Maybe his life is too full already, maybe he hates group activities, whatever.
posted by Sublimity at 1:48 AM on December 8, 2012

I think inviting him to a non-date-like social function is the way to go here.
posted by windykites at 5:17 AM on December 8, 2012

I'm a university instructor. Inviting him to a group event, or a regular group meeting, that coincides with his interests is a pretty low key way to get him into your circle. Just be forthright, saying you think he has a lot in common with these people.

Also, you can always friend him on facebook, if you and he have accounts. Some instructors accept those requests after the class is over.
posted by jackbishop at 6:48 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dear Instructor --

As I frequently tell Husband how much I've enjoyed getting to know you over the last three months, we wondered if you and Girlfriend would like to join us for a drink one evening, or perhaps at the new Turner exhibit opening at the end of term. Our number is 555-1212 and again, thank you for such an enjoyable Spanish class.

Evil Cupcakes

Would that work? It doesn't sound stalkery to me.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2012

I think you have missed my point. 

Not so.

Consider you've written 8 thank you notes to him, and thrown them all away. That's a lot of build up and anxious thinking. Keep it very light and no over thinking for this to succeed. Likely, he has no idea an invite is coming. You don't want the actual initve to reek of "construction," because that does come through, especially if you verbally extend the invite (which is why I think you're gravitating to a written invite).
posted by Kruger5 at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2012

Have a dinner party, or suggest him and a date go to dinner with you and your husband.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 AM on December 8, 2012

Invite him to an event that you know that the both of you would be into. This will be a billion times less awkward when you aren't taking a class with him.

This is coming from someone in a very friendly grad department, where sometimes profs hang out with students; it's only awkward to hang out when power is in the room.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:36 AM on December 8, 2012

If he doesn't know that you won't be a student at this school any more, it might make sense to try and mention that, preferably in an earlier, separate conversation.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2012

Also, you can always friend him on facebook, if you and he have accounts. Some instructors accept those requests after the class is over.

This is a good point. I have some friends in a smallish college town, and it seems like this is how their social circles evolve. Or at least, the facebook activity so clearly demonstrates the nature of friendships like this that it's obviously an important component.
posted by Sara C. at 12:40 PM on December 8, 2012

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