In love with supervisor ..



I have seen some old stories about being in love with the supervisor. Nothing more to say.
I can not control my feeling. Don't know what to do. There is no possibility to change my supervisor, for sure.
It happened gradually while last 17 months.. We spent time together going around, restaurants and cinema with some colleagues and one or two times alone. Nothing special, but at least we were so kind to each other..
I am so shy. He is nice, smart, not really handsome and shy as well..
I have thought it is a 2-way... tried to make some small connections..
and now he's changed and started only focusing on work.... It is so embarrassing!
I don't know whether I must forget him. If so, how? Give me your advises..


I think that it's natural to feel attracted to your supervisor - it's the nature of the beast. They talk to you, listen to you, talk about your work. But really get over it or wait until you get your Phd. It would not be worth screwing things up for yourself! Really it will distract you from your work. So stop thinking about getting under it and get over it already. (up)


Is it love, or infatuation? It sounds heavily like infatuation.

For a start, by coming on to your supervisor you are putting him in a position where he could lose his job or be disciplined for severe academic misconduct. Many male supervisors try to be kind to their students, and this can be frequently misinterpreted. I am always aghast at the number of female students who seem utterly besotted with their supervisors. Quite frankly it is painful to watch.

There is a power relationship to the PhD process. Your supervisor is in a position of dominance and control, however shy and sweet he may appear. Many academics went through terrible times on their PhDs, with very bad supervision and no support. I think there is a great deal of younger, male (and female) academics who want to connect with their students, be open on a personal level and spend time together outside of a strictly work relationship. Conversely, being a PhD student is vulnerable and lonely, and for some reason it is easy for us to want to be rescued. It is so impossibly easy for so many female students to misinterpret the signals being given by their supervisors.

Even if he did like you in that way, most people would see it as exploitation and would take a very dim view of it. It could lead to a very serious situation with him and his peers -- academia is gossipy and bitchy and rumours spread quickly. It wouldn't be surprising that he would change rapidly and put up strong boundaries.

Please be professional and think about your own, but also your supervisor's career and reputation. You have both worked hard to get to where you are.

I would recommend seeing a counsellor and looking up a lot of articles about sex in the workplace and power dynamics. Being shy is terrible but perhaps you can find other PhD groups near you, to allow you to socialise with other students in the same situation as you.


Quote From francescawolfe:

I think that it's natural to feel attracted to your supervisor.

I mean no offence to my supervisor whatsoever but if they were the last person on earth I still don't think I could feel attracted to them. Nice enough person they are but I don't find them interesting to talk to or physically attractive. I feel quite sick now...

Avatar for Pjlu

Forget him as a romantic interest. You have no choice-and stop making connections; however small. Be really business like and friendly, keep a sense of humour but put up those boundaries right now! You must, for your own sake and for his. It will feel awkward for a while but then it will be okay again...

You might need to 'sign post' to let him know that you are not interested (even if you do like him). You know it is possible to really like and be attracted to someone, to even fall a bit for them and to make a decision (for whatever reasons) that this is not to be. So have a bit of compassion for yourself and for him (but keep this to yourself) and publically follow your supervision rules and procedures to the letter.

Finally, do some things outside of the Phd and interactions with your supervisor. This will help you with a sense of perspective and will mean that you don't focus so much on the relationship aspect of things but only on the business side of the PhD. Sounds harsh, but you (and he) will be happier for this in the end, and you will very likely get your PhD as well.:-)


A relationship with your supervisor is a dangerous situation for both of you and you should do all you can to avoid it.

I may be wrong but it sounds like you are spending too much time together outside of work, I think you need to find other people to hang out with, so as to stop your supervisor and your research group being the only people you spend time with. Try taking up new activities or joining a club or a society to meet new people.


Hi there!

I have found that in these situations it can be more of a "pattern", falling in love with people who are in a powerful position. Have you liked teachers/ bosses in the past? Is this a real feeling or just a game? And why does this happen? Of course you don't need to reply to me or anyone but yourself. Would you have the same feelings for him if you have met him independently in a group of friends?

In case something happens both of you will be exposed. And to be honest, it will damage your reputation far more than his. It is very easy for people to think that you didn't deserve your PhD, and very hard to defend yourself. Or that he puts your name on his publications, not because you worked hard, but because you are his gf. So you need to think if it is really worth it. You can wait for a couple of more years until you graduate, get a post-doc in another uni, before you make a move.

Good luck with your PhD, and try to give chances to other people who might want to relate to you. 17 months over a guy that doesn't respond back is already a long time.


======= Date Modified 09 Nov 2011 21:57:49 =======
Hello everyone,

There are different views mostly suggesting the same: trying to forget. Some of you asked question which I would answer them even to myself with a big doubt. In fact, I am sure that if I have met him in another place, he could attract me as much as he does now. But honestly, I don't know if it is a love or infatuation. How can I know? It's not the matter of being in a good or powerful position.. it's his personality. He is calm and peaceful, kind and polite, so patient and never blaming me (which I hate and almost all men do),
he does not need me or someone esle to be happy.. he is smart and can guess and understand people around.. he has his own ideas, tastes and decisions..
When I am nervous he can quickly calm me down with his reasonable words..
If I knew that he was also somehow attracted to me, surely I would wait..
I just wanted to have a small confirmation to see whether I shall wait.. do not want to start anything now..
Maybe you are right, I should give other people chances to know me.. but it's more like lying to them .... while I can not stop thinking to the other man. It sounds so unmoral. I don't want misuse anyone else to overcome my problem. I agree that I have to stop going out with him. I am trying to not start any conversation..
Tell me what to do more... help me.

Avatar for Pjlu

======= Date Modified 02 Nov 2011 20:13:03 =======
No no no Mooni! He isn't that smart, he isn't the only person who can be calm and never blame you (which you say other men do) and he isn't your father! He is a teacher/supervisor who is supposed to be calm, patient, and to guide you through this process (not that they all are -it does sound as if you have a good one). But professionally, that is what they are supposed to do and it sounds simply as if that is what he is doing.

He will have his faults, he will do all of the usual awful things all people do, and if you did 'get together' and you had lost your PhD but 'gained love -or him- in the process' boy will you resent what you gave up for this ordinary flawed human when he is off his pedestal. And don't wait around either until the end-think of all of the really nice guys out there you will be saying 'no' to over the next few years, simply on a day dream of a possible future together once the PhD is done.


======= Date Modified 03 Nov 2011 09:55:23 =======
I remember reading a thread here before of a similar issue and people were saying it made them work harder when they fancied their supervisors as they wanted to impress them ;-)

Good point, Pjlu. Imagine him with all his disgusting habits, Mooni, like leaving his smelly socks on the floor etc. Actually knowing the real person behind the supervisor professional image could be very different. Pjlu has put it very well by saying it's his job to be calm and patient. Often the supervisor is the only person who will listen to us yap about our projects and so we might come to like them for that but it's their job to listen and take an interest however feigned or genuine it may be. They're getting paid to listen to us. I don't mean to dismiss how you're feeling or anything because it must be difficult to focus on the work if you're feeling like that but I'd caution against acting on any of it.

There has been a case of a PhD student and a lecturer having an affair in my uni. The aftermath is not pretty. Messes up things for both parties concerned but especially for the student. You can't help how you feel about someone but I would advise keeping it professional, getting involved in other things where you might meet other people outside of your dept, fill your time with other things and immerse yourself in your work. If you care about him and yourself I think it's best to keep it completely professional. Good luck


hey, it has been four years since you posted this. May I know your recent situation with your supervisor? many thanks