What happens when professional duties and life needs overlap?
So wonders a 32-year-old teacher, writing to Slate’s advice columnist Dear Prudence.
“I am a 32-year-old single gay man who will be starting a doctoral program in the fall, during which I will be teaching,” the professor writes. “The university is in a conservative state but near a progressive city. As a single gay man, I use a variety of apps to find dates and companionship. I use Tinder and Hinge for dating, and Grindr and Scruff for hookups. I am a fairly sex-positive person, so I have pictures of my face on all the apps that I use. Further, none of the pictures or profiles would be things I would be embarrassed of other people—professional or otherwise—finding. As a teacher, I don’t have a problem with a student finding me on Tinder or Hinge. I set my age range well above the average college student, and if they want to giggle at their single teacher using a dating app, that’s fine.”
“What I am wondering about are Grindr and Scruff,” He continues. “Both these apps use location software and both have a pretty deserved reputation for being hookup apps. The possibility of a student opening up their app in class and seeing me on there feels odd both for the student’s ability to feel safe and focus in my class, and the potential for a student trying to mess with me.”
“I don’t really want to spend the next four years of my life celibate,” he concludes, “but I am going to prioritize completing my program. Do I need to delete those apps? Or become a blank/headless profile?”
Prudence, for her part, empathizes and agrees that the teacher/grad student shouldn’t have to remain celibate. She also encourages other students/professors to share their own experiences for some context.
“You say your state’s conservative but your city’s relatively progressive, and I wonder if you have any sense of what your university administration’s outlook is—do they have any relevant policies or case studies you can use to guide your choices?” Prudence wonders. “I mention that merely as a strategic and protective move; I agree that a single 32-year-old grad student who wants to use dating and hookup apps to meet other adults who aren’t his students isn’t doing anything wrong, and don’t want to make you feel overly responsible for a hypothetical student opening Grindr in class and then judging your presence on Grindr too. But grad students are often precariously employed, and your nervousness makes sense in that context.”
“If you’re comfortable keeping your Tinder and Hinge profiles up, do; you can also mention that you’re interested in both dating and hookups on those apps, if you want to try to make up for the temporary or contingent loss of Grindr and Scruff,” she suggests. “Plenty of people are interested in casual sex on those apps, too, although the pool of possible hookups may be smaller there. You can also turn off location sharing in your general settings when you’re teaching or otherwise on campus, then only turn it back on when you’re back at home and actively looking for someone.”
“Going (temporarily) headless might relieve some of your anxiety, too,” she adds. “You can always mention in your profile that you’re happy to send face pics after you’ve matched with someone. Again, that may cut down on some responses if a lot of guys are just looking to maximize convenience, but it’s not an insurmountable barrier.”
Makes sense to us. Everybody keep it in mind the next time you see a headless profile: maybe the user has good reason for being discreet.