It can be difficult in today’s climate to parse out that age-old distinction – whether you actually have feelings for a man, or you’re just responding to ingrained socialization that encouraged you to develop inexplicably powerful attractions to old dudes whose opinions and respect you are forced to value. It’s cliché, it’s Oedipal, and boy would it be awkward if it ever became a reality! So let’s get into it: Is it love, or just authority?
First: Determine if you’re peers.
The first step in answering this age-old query is to figure out if you two are experiencing similar phases in your development as people. So ask yourself, is this man you’re crazy about around your age and going through a complementary stage in life? Or is he 65, wearing a tweed blazer, and currently grading your midterm? If it’s the former: This could be love! But if it’s the latter… this man is your professor, and we’re detecting a major imbalance alert! It’s the authority (just do your chem homework!).
Second: Think of the reciprocity.
If you still can’t decide whether you have real feelings or just want to be told what to do like a good wittle gurl, then consider what you could provide to one another. Do you think you could have a reciprocal partnership with mutual support, understanding, and free-flowing trust? Or do you suspect you don’t have much to give him besides your W-2s and receipts for the past fiscal year because he’s literally your dad’s accountant? This is a tricky one, but even though it may seem like he’s interested in you (and your tax return), this is his job and this relationship isn’t truly reciprocal. It’s the authority, babe :(
Third: Okay, level with me here. Is he literally your improv 101 teacher?
Girl. Come on.
Okay! We hope we’ve shed some light on that classic question: Are my feelings genuine, or is this just an unconscious response to the hegemony of heteropatriarchal psychosexual politics I was forced to develop under? Truly a head-scratcher, lol!