Having an age gap between you and your significant other can pose issues on its own. When this factor is combined with your significant other being your professor, the relationship may be destined to fail from the beginning.
I personally have never been in a relationship with anyone older than me by more than three months. I may not be very qualified to speak on this topic, however, I have personally seen healthy and long-lasting relationships between two people in an unequal power dynamic that are successful to this day.
I don’t want to encourage making a move on the professor you’ve always thought was cute by any means. However, whether or not someone wants to romantically pursue an authoritative figure like their professor is their prerogative. It’s not really my business to judge.
I want to stress that this type of relationship will inevitably come with criticism and judgment if the relationship is not kept under wraps.
If two people somehow find love together in an odd situation, such as this example of an unbalanced power dynamic, then who’s to stop them. As long as the relationship is consensual and is not breaking up a marriage, there shouldn’t be anyone getting in the way.
The issues that may come with navigating such an unequal power dynamic in a romantic relationship will stem from whether or not boundaries and parameters are acknowledged from the beginning.
When specifically discussing a student-professor relationship, if the student remains in the class that their partner teaches, ethical concerns can run rampant and cause many relationship problems.
I believe the only way to successfully navigate being in a class that your romantic partner teaches is if there is a teacher’s assistant or graduate student grading all of your work in the class and no preferential treatment is given above other students.
Otherwise, it is extremely unethical to have the person you share a bed with be the same person who decides your grades. Of course, this doesn’t mean there isn’t any room left for other ethical questions, and the relationship may fail regardless. I would advise that the alternative — switching classes to a section that your love interest isn’t teaching — is by far the best option.
If a professor and student want to prove to the world that a mature relationship together is their priority, then the student should take every step to remove themselves from the class.
An unequal power dynamic is never ideal in a romantic relationship. It isn’t automatically destined to fail, but if neither parties commit to removing their authority from getting in the way of a successful partnership, there’s no way for the relationship to be healthy.