Hookup leads to friendship, and lots of questions

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Dear Amy: At the beginning of the year, I hooked up with an amazing woman.

She is in her mid-40s — I am eight years her junior.

She is sweet, caring, gorgeous, sexy, strong, fun, intelligent — the whole package. However, after we hooked up, she turned things off pretty quickly. She said she’s sure that there is another person out there for me, but it isn’t her.

We are still friends and talk on a regular basis. Her family disowned her for reasons that I found to be petty and cruel, given how amazing she is.

I just have a hard time being around her lately. I don’t know if it’s just a desire to prove to her that I’m good for her, and that she is good enough for someone to love (she has problems with self-esteem and depression, like me). I wonder if I’m reacting to having someone easy to get along with after an eight-year hiatus from dating, or if my feelings for her are just lust over how good the sex was.

When she told me that people didn’t remember her birthday last week, I rushed out, bought flowers, a case of her favorite beer, and came over to her house and talked and laughed with her until midnight.

She’s commented on how big my heart is and how nice and kind I am, but I’m worried that the only reason I do these things is a secret desire to try to get into her pants again. I don’t want to lead her on under false pretenses, but I can’t continue thinking that the only reason I’m doing this is a juvenile lusting. Help!

— Worried Friend

Dear Friend: Don’t diminish the power of juvenile lusting. All lusting, on some level, feels juvenile — and that’s a good thing. But you may have to confront the idea that the sex was good for you, but maybe not for her.

You are obviously attempting to court this woman, and that’s also a good thing. The trick is to be honest about your intentions, and respectful of her hesitation. She has already stated that she doesn’t want to continue with a sexual relationship, and if that is her low self-esteem talking, your ongoing courtship and friendship might prove to her that you are an able and trustworthy partner.

Don’t make any sudden moves, and include and involve her by conveying your intentions. However, if she wants to keep you in the friend zone, it is important that you learn to take “no” as an answer. She is right — there is someone out there for you, and this experience should also give you the courage to get out there and keep trying.

Dear Amy: I am a professor at a small liberal arts college. I have been teaching here for 18 years.

I do not have a doctoral degree, but I suppose because of my age and academic rank, students always call me “doctor” when addressing me.

I feel uncomfortable and do not know how to correct them when they do this. I don’t want to make them feel put off, so I’ve just let it go.

It should be obvious not to address me with such an elevated title since on my faculty page I do not list any degrees above master’s (I do have more than 40 years of professional experience outside of my faculty appointment).

Do you have any advice on this topic?

— Professor

Dear Professor: Consider it part of your academic mentoring to offer a clear correction when students make a very understandable mistake. As they go through life — in and out of school — they will need to read cues and accept corrections without feeling put down or put off.

The first day of class, you should write your name on the white board and tell them how to address you: “My name is Bill Watson. You can call me Professor Watson. I understand that I am ancient and that you might be tempted to address me as Obi Wan Kenobi — or Doctor — but I don’t have a doctorate degree. In academia, this is an important distinction.”

Dear Amy: One more thought about elderly drivers: my father had macular degeneration and couldn’t see, but he refused to give up driving. My mother sat next to him, “Now slow down; now turn left,” etc. Really!

I finally called his insurance company. I didn’t want to do it, but he was going to kill an innocent person.

— S

Dear S: You did the right thing.

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