UK Relationships/second best?


Dear Steve,

A friend of mine, and I, have been enrolled in a language proficiency program at a major Canadian university for the past year (continuing education - we are both professional women in our thirties - although I don't feel very grown up asking this question right now!).
Anyway, we have had the same wonderful professor for the past four courses - he is gay by the way - so there aren't any romantic undertones here.
He seems to genuinely like both of us, but I have been the only one who has struck up conversations with him, emailed him, sent him Christmas cards, and gone to visit him.  I am also the class protege meaning my marks are consistently at the 95% range - hers aren't - not that it matters.  He is leaving town for another position, and our last course just finished.  My friend and I had  back to back oral exams - me being last.  My exam went well, he was gracious and kind and we walked out together.  My colleague, was waiting for me.  She walked up to us and just stood there, at that point almost as if she prompted his memory, he said Oh, by the way, we're doing drinks, so we can all go out...  We'll email each other by the end of the month.  I said o.k.  As she and I walked out of the building, I asked her, if she mentioned having drinks first, and she said no, that he said to her Since I'm no longer your professor, we should have drinks  I felt terrible, since during my private examination time, I wasn't offered the same invite - yet I'm the one who has had the supposed rapport with him - in over one year she hasn't even said goodbye to him after class - let alone speak to him on a personal level - she just laughs at all his jokes - and seems like a confident woman that has it together.
My closest friend says under no circumstance do I go, if I am emailed.  She says a proper invite would have been the way he asked her - privately and directly - not as an afterthought on the way out because he happened to see her standing there as we exited.  Was this a pity invite? And do you think he just felt pressured at that moment to ask me, as to not hurt my feelings since the three of us have been a unit for so long.  I feel terribly rejected, because I too, like her,  really, really like him  and would have loved to hear those words- properly.

What do I do, and what on earth do you make of this invite - should I decline if they even get around to asking me - can't believe I'm saying they....

Thank you so much in advance.

Hi Victoria,

The first thing you have to do, before anything else is get this in context. I don't generally like to provide "pull yourself together" style responses but in this case I think I have to.
Everything about your mail suggests that I am talking to a woman of substantial intelligence, articulation and intellect so you need to apply that to this situation.
Its okay to be disappointed, I completely understand why you would be but it would be entirely off base, and wildly immature to read anything into this that its not.

This guy teaches hundreds of students every year and sees classes and individuals come and go, he cant possibly personally invite everyone with whom he has a reasonable rapport. With your friend it was clearly place and time , she was there, he was of a mind to extend an invite - (which I have no doubt is an open invitation) ,and so he mentioned it.
I cant see at all that this indicates any form of preference or favouritism.
And as for declining the invitation if you were emailed , why on earth would you do that !?
You have a great professor , a good friend and a year worth of exceptional performance to celebrate . And you would forsake that for the sake of a minor, perceived slight?
Not only should you not decline , you should finish reading this response, get on email , contact them both, plus a bundle of you're old classmates and organise these drinks yourself !

Life is not a rehearsal Victoria. A celebration of academic achievement is a wonderful thing. Do not think for a moment that sitting of an evening brooding over not being the teachers pet is a reasonable substitute for celebrating a job well done with people you enjoy.

You are simply too bright and too open minded to do that yourself.

It's off because you say he is gay and there are no romantic overtones or indeed undertones, and I'm sure you're right but what is clearly there is one titanic crush. And of course a crush doesn't have to be romantic or sexual, but its apparent that albeit in a platonic way you're pretty smitten by this guy and so ultra sensitive to any form of possible snub. You need to try and switch that off because you're better than that and its doing you no service. You've put 2 and 2 together and come up with 300. Just relax and enjoy and evening out.

And please do not go expecting a confidential moment with prof where he sits you down, tells you your his favorite student and how fantastic it has been to teach you . Maybe he thinks that, maybe he doesn't but you don't need that external validation.

So please Victoria, go out , be open , be fun and enjoy these people. There is no conspiracy, there is no treachery here, these people are your friends and you deserve to have fun with them.

Good luck


UK Relationships

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Steve Wilson


Any questions on families or relationships are welcome. As are any issues or problems that you have with communicating or simply being understood by those around you. I have voluntarily worked as a counselor in the past, both with individuals and families. I cant promise to have an answer to everything but will help as and where I can, without making judgements.


Both a former telephone counselor with a well known international support organisation and a former police officer within a major UK city. I've helped with numerous issues and worked with individuals and family towards conflict resolution.

Bachelor of Arts (Honours). I've received training in family and teenage counselling.

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