I am doing a PhD in the US. I am 25 and will graduate next spring. My advisor was very good and nice to me. He invited me to have dinner at his home many times and then I met his daughter. I did not realize at the beginning but she told me she had a crush on me. I have known her for four years now. She is 19 years old now.
I went to a party last week and had an extra couple of beers and I could not resist her. I am here alone and had not been with a woman in two years until then.
Now she wants to start a relationship with me and is threatening to tell her father, who is my PhD advisor, that I seduced her if I do not agree.
This is a very difficult situation for me because I do not want my advisor to think I took advantage of his daughter and the trust he has in me.
Also, I do not have time for a relationship. I just want to finish writing my thesis and then graduate.
Aside from those issues, I would love to date that girl: she is cute and hot. In normal circumstances, for me it is extremely difficult to get a girl. I am like Leonard from the Big Bang Theory TV show.
I do not know what to do. I just want to graduate and go home. But she is threatening me.
What should I do? What should I tell my advisor? I do not want him to feel betrayed and that I took advantage of his daughter. She is the one that came to me because under normal circumstances I cannot get a girl. But also I do not want her reputation to be damaged.
I tried explaining that to her but she told me I got sex and I want to get away with it. I am afraid and worried.
Some additional information: I am from Spain. I am doing a physics PhD. There is no way I could have seduced her. I am not good with women.
I do not know what happened. As I can remember, I had very few interactions with her. Never shared anything but a few encounters in social meetings. That is all. And then she tells me she has feelings for me. I did nothing to get into that situation. I was invited to a party and then she appeared. I had a couple of extra beers and she offered to take me home and there she jumped over me and kissed me and I could not resist. I had been a very long time without sex.
I AM VERY WORRIED AND SCARED. Thanks for replying but your answers seem confusing.
16Voting to reopen. To say this is dependent on personal factors means everything involving one's PhD supervisor depends on personal factors. As for being off topic, this involves the advisor's daughter, i.e. there's an academic angle to it. I don't see it as outside the scope of Academia.SE. – Allure yesterday
6@Allure I haven't cast a vote either way, but I'm hesitant to re-open. I initially felt the question is on-topic. However, the answers it has attracted have nothing to do with academia, which makes me think the question is best considered off-topic. – Thomas yesterday
3I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about an interpersonal/romantic relationship that could happen in any workplace, and has effectively no academic-specific content. – Daniel R. Collins 17 hours ago
5Don't compare yourself to a BBT character! Basically all of them are examples of toxic masculinity and mysoginism (within some sort of nerd culture). – Jasper 7 hours ago
First off, you haven’t committed a crime (assuming she was above the age of consent) and you haven’t engaged in academic misconduct (since there is only an indirect academic relationship between you). However, the fact that she is threatening/blackmailing you is very concerning. The fact that she is your advisor’s daughter makes things more complicated, but being threatened or blackmailed by a sexual partner would be deeply concerning in any circumstance.
I do not know the exact nature of the threats or blackmail, but I would not engage in a relationship with someone who is threatening or blackmailing me. Only you know the exact situation, but your choice of words rings alarm bells. My primary concern in your situation would be worrying about whether she will make worse threats — e.g., false rape accusations. That would be much worse than a spat with your advisor.
If I were in your situation, I would try to record my conversations with her so that I have some evidence to protect myself if she does carry out her threats. Save text messages and get a voice recorder app on your phone. (Check the laws on recording conversations in your state first.) The only thing other than “he said, she said” you have to defend yourself is such evidence.
Maybe I’m misreading the situation from your question, but your choice of words “threatening” and “blackmail” is concerning. And there is no harm in trying to protect yourself from possible future accusations. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
This is not a complete answer, but I think you should worry about being threatened/blackmailed before you worry about dealing with your advisor.
In terms of dealing with your advisor, two (conflicting) points: Generally, honesty is the best policy (as Buffy’s answer emphasizes), but she is an adult and her father has no automatic “right” to know about her sex life, and there is a good chance both of you would prefer him not to know (as Nicole’s answer suggests).
In terms of dealing with her: It sounds like you are still on speaking terms with her and you should absolutely try to talk things through with her. Treat her with respect and acknowledge her feelings. (See Geoffrey’s answer.)
7This. Get it recorded. Especially since the worst case is as this answer says – a claim that you coerced or forced it and she didn't really want to. – Stilez yesterday
7Excellent answer. This is, to me, the wisest and sanest possible advice on this subject. This situation is NOT all okay, contrary to some highly-upthumbed comments just below the original question. And it doesn't need an outright rape claim even – just one serious false accusation of any type that gets into public view could wreck a reputation badly especially for an academic career where integrity is at a premium. THIS. IS. SERIOUS. I want to also point out that even if you can disprove the accusation, if you don't do so before it goes public the damage will be already be done. – The_Sympathizer yesterday
4It's a very common pattern in media viewership that headlines retracting earlier, saucier headlines as erroneous do not get as much viewership. For example, for my prime area of expertise there are people out there who still think that CERN discovered faster-than-light neutrinos even though that result was roundly refuted less than 30 megs (a year) after it came out. People just naturally tend to ignore less exciting information and that's all it takes to have a lingering reputational scar even if you are genuinely innocent . – The_Sympathizer yesterday
3@NicoleHamilton No. The message is to take threats and blackmail very seriously. This is not a complete answer, of course, but it needed to be said, given that some of the other answers are, basically, "don't worry about it". – Thomas yesterday
2Considering the fact that she is 19 years old and this is most likely to be her first relationship, I would say that she didn't have an odd reaction to being rejected. i.e. she is not mature enough to be expected to move on easily. – polfosol 13 hours ago
It may be worth thinking about the contrast between this:
I could not resist her. I am here alone and had not been with a woman in two years until then.
Now she wants to start a relationship with me and is threatening me to tell his father, which is my PhD advisor, that I seduced her
Perhaps she sincerely believes you did seduce her. If you felt unable to say no to this encounter, which you now regret, is it possible that she also felt unable to resist?
Here is one possible scenario (I don’t claim it’s the only one) that might explain her reactions:
You’re six years older than her. She’s known you since she was a child, and you’re part of her father’s social circle. (The power gap between you and her father probably isn’t as visible to her as it is to you; when I was a kid and my father had his PhD students over for dinner, I tended to think of them as “Papa’s friends”, not as his juniors.)
She probably doesn’t see that you’re lonely and haven’t been with a woman in two years, nor that you view yourself as somebody who’s awkward with women. She probably also isn’t factoring in how alcohol might have affected your judgement, especially since she’s not even old enough to buy alcohol herself.
What she sees is a guy six years older than herself, almost a PhD. From a 19-year-old’s perspective, 25 seems very old and mature. She probably had more faith in your maturity and judgement than you do yourself.
Then she slept with you, and things didn’t end up the way she had hoped, and that hurts. So how does she interpret that hurt?
From her perspective: you are a very old and mature person, so presumably you knew how this was going to turn out. Therefore, the fact that she got hurt is perceived as being due to callousness on your part – you took advantage of her, “seduced” her. She may find it hard to comprehend that you felt “unable to resist”.
IMHO, the best course of action here is to acknowledge that things didn’t go the way they should have, take ownership of the fact that you did choose to sleep with her, and express sympathy for the hurt she is feeling. Were I in your situation, I might say something along the following lines:
I want to apologise to you for what happened. I like you and I find you attractive, but I didn’t think enough about what us sleeping together might mean to you and I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you about that first. You’re an adult and I think of you as an equal; I didn’t think that you might be counting on me to look out for both of us.
(I’m struggling a bit with that wording, suggestions for improvement welcome.)
Attempting to blackmail you is unacceptable behaviour. But if you acknowledge the hurt and if you can shift her perception of why it happened, you might find that the blackmail issue resolves itself.
If you can’t resolve things with her, then you may need to talk to your professor and explain the situation, which is going to be an uncomfortable discussion. But I’d recommend doing all you can to make things right with her first.
One of the problems with conversations about sex-gone-wrong is that the emphasis almost always ends up on “whose fault is it?” rather than “somebody is hurt, what can we do to heal that?” Often the latter is actually more tractable, especially in situations that break down to poor communication and mismatched expectations.
11This answer leaves out a vital piece of information in the quote regarding not being able to resist. Namely, that OP did this while he was drunk. Yes, believe it or not, alcohol does reduce your inhibition and can make you do things you otherwise would not do. In this case, it made OP enter a relationship with someone who is now blackmailing them, and you have the audacity to blame the victim, claiming that the victim took advantage of the abuser. I am absolutely at a loss for words after reading this. It should never be the victim who has to apologize to the abuser. – forest 10 hours ago
5"She's known you since she was a child" – No, since she was 15. – xehpuk 9 hours ago
3@forest Yup, this answer is good ol' 19th century thinking. Summary: "The woman is a 19 year old, but how could she be a responsible grownup? She's only a woman! You know women are too stupid to be real grownups. When a woman wants sex, it's up to the man to protect her virtue!" And academics in the double digits support this world view. GUYS! IT'S 2018! – R. Schmitz 9 hours ago
8@R.Schmitz: Where does this answer attribute any of this to the genders involved? The only thing to which it attributes anything is age, which I consider fair game in this situation, given that this is not generalised or depicted as the only possible scenario. Many people at this age are considerably immature in these matters – irrespective of gender. – Wrzlprmft♦ 8 hours ago
3@forest: claiming that the victim took advantage of the abuser. – This is not what the answer is claiming. The answer is claiming that the abuser may have perceived the situation as being taken advantage of. The closest thing to blame being attached to the asker is: “take ownership of the fact that you did choose to sleep with her”. – Wrzlprmft♦ 8 hours ago
Personally, I would tell her to go for it. There’s a pretty good chance she’s bluffing. Even if she’s not bluffing and does tell her dad, so what. You can’t change the past, it is indeed a fact that you had sex with her and I don’t see how your situation improves by preemptively “kissing and telling”.
You can’t control what she says but you can control what you say. If she tells her dad and he confronts you, I would point out that you consider one’s sex life to be a very private matter, not something adults discuss with others. I would express surprise and disappointment at his daughter’s behavior but otherwise refuse to discuss the matter except to deny any false accusations.
9+1 I think this is the way to go. She can't claim rape since it was consensual, and she was 19, so "he seduced me" hardly absolves her of responsibility. – Allure yesterday
6@Allure Actually, she can claim whatever she wants (and may, in fact, be correct in any claim – we only have one side here). I doubt there were witnesses. The only real issue I have with the answer, is that you give up control over timing. The situation could be revealed at any time and it could come at the worst possible time. Take responsibility yourself and tell the father. At least the timing is up to you rather than yielded to another. – Buffy yesterday
24@Buffy So what would say? "Hi, Prof! Guess what? I had sex with your daughter and now she's blackmailing me!" How's that going to go over? – Nicole Hamilton yesterday
27@Buffy Two reasons: I was a teenager once (long ago) and my two kids also passed through that stage! Kids do not tell their parents when they're having sex. – Nicole Hamilton yesterday
9@Buffy Free clue: He doesn't want a relationship with her, so why tell her father he's starting one with her? That makes no sense. I think your answer is very naive. – Nicole Hamilton yesterday
Assuming she is of legal age and you don’t have an issue with the law. And assuming you aren’t in a culture in which you can be killed for this, the only real way out is to talk to your advisor yourself. Painful, but true. You messed up and may have to pay the penalty. But every other option could wind up worse. There is no guarantee that your relationship will last – I assume marriage is not in the options here. There is no guarantee that she won’t tell her father whenever she is unhappy with you for any reason. As painful as it is, the best person to deliver the news is yourself.
And be aware that “he seduced me” is NOT the worst accusation she can make.
But be prepared for whatever consequences occur.
But, it is possible that you don’t need to mention the physical/sexual aspect and first present it as you are “seeing/dating” his daughter, assuming you want to continue. He may make the connection himself. He may tell you to stop. He may drop you as an advisee.
If you don’t want to continue the relationship you may need to be more explicit, or not. But the message is still better coming from you than from any other.
Since this answer and other of my comments here have been controversial, let me explain the assumptions I made and didn’t make.
First, I assume I’ve heard one side of this only and the person has a vested interest. I don’t assume I know all.
I don’t presume to know anything about the advisor or his relationship with his daughter.
I don’t presume to know the state of mind of the 19 year old, whether she is rational or emotional. People (men and women) of that age can act out emotionally.
I think that the probability that the young woman is bluffing is somewhere between 0% and 100%. I have no way to know where to put a marker and am curious that others think it quite low, not knowing any of these people. I can’t extrapolate from my kids to the situation here and wouldn’t care to try. I doubt, for example, that my daughter would blackmail anyone, but am pretty sure she doesn’t bluff.
I know that the charge of “seduction” may be a bit serious, but a charge of rape is devastating and can be made whether true or false. Refuting a false charge in such a case could be difficult to impossible.
I think that putting my head in the sand as the victim of blackmail would be very dangerous. I would rather be in front of the story than behind it while charges were being made.
No, I wouldn’t describe the details to my advisor unless pressed. I wouldn’t present it as the OP did in the question (I had sex with your daughter and she is blackmailing me). That would be stupid and I don’t know why it was suggested.
It might even be (no assumption here) that the dad knows his daughter well and would roll his eyes if told. But, of course, that isn’t highly likely.
The OP, of course, is in a better position to evaluate all of this and has knowledge that we, mere commenters, do not. It is up to him to make a rational decision about action. I still point out the extreme danger of letting someone else control the message and, hence, the future. Especially someone who is being accused here of blackmail.
Finally, I do assume that this has a high likelihood of ending badly. If the young woman is unhappy with the OP now, she will be more unhappy if he gives in to the blackmail for now but ends it later. Given that the situation may be bad, I would personally look for the least bad outcome.
Finally, the answer of Geoffrey Brent is clearly more refined.
6I don't agree with this answer at all. The OP's thesis advisor is his thesis advisor, not his priest or life coach or….There is no conflict of interest here whatsoever: of course the OP can work with his advisor and have personal relations of whatever kind with his advisor's adult daughter. The "blackmail" is based on the fallacy that there's some inherent connection here to be exploited. Telling your thesis advisor about your sexual encounter is buying into the fallacy. – Pete L. Clark yesterday
2Is it possible that if the advisor knew about what happened, he would take it badly and retaliate against the OP? Yes, of course it's possible. But having the conversation with the advisor trades in the possibility of the advisor's making an inappropriate connection for the certainty of the OP's making an inappropriate connection. Maybe the daughter will not actually tell her father at all — if the OP tells her straightforwardly, kindly and earnestly not to do so, there's a good chance she won't. Maybe she'll tell her father and he will not bring it up to the OP. – Pete L. Clark yesterday
4I also feel that aspects of your answer don't hold a firm enough distinction between the OP's personal and professional lives. You write: "You messed up and may have to pay the penalty." As a student the OP did nothing wrong. Nor did he commit an illegal act that could affect his professional life. His personal behavior was not beyond reproach, but it was his personal behavior. "He may drop you as an advisee." Dropping your advisee for sleeping with your adult daugher is the stupidest, worst, most actionable reason to drop a student I can think of. I find this very unlikely. – Pete L. Clark yesterday
@PeteL.Clark, While I think that Geoffrey Brent's answer (academia.stackexchange.com/a/116240/75368) is better than mine, I still suggest that just assuming all will be well is extremely dangerous for the OP. Note that we have only read one interpretation of events and it is from a participant so possibly biased. But blackmail can get very ugly and accusations can be very harmful. We don't know the nature of the accusations that can be made, fairly or not. Since the OP is the blackmail "hostage" here, I simply suggest that he take action rather than letting actions control him. – Buffy yesterday
3@Buffy Not orthogonal, really, because an answer prevents the closed question to be deleted and gives the message that we answer off-topic questions anyway. I understand the willingness to be helpful, but probably a comment would be better, helping the OP anyway. It would be helpful to write your point of view in an answer to the meta question. – Massimo Ortolano yesterday
I do not want him to feel betrayed and that I took advantage of his daughter.
I am a little bit concerned by the confusion and conflict in your question. You seem to be suggesting that you took advantage of her. Is this the case? Did you? Was it the case that she was half blind drunk and you just went in there at a party, or was it more of a kind of she got a bit tipsy and confessed some inner feelings she already had, which you shared at the time (at least). Why do you assume you took advantage of her and not the other way round?
Aside from those issues, I would love to date that girl she is cute and hot
Well, so what’s the problem? Honestly, you both like each other, unless you are leaving some important info out. What’s really going on here?
I don’t actually see what the problem is here. Again, unless you are not giving us the full picture, I would just go with her, enjoy it, but tell her you do like her, but your plan is to eventually go home after the degree and you are worried about breaking her heart at that point, or that maybe she could consider emigration too.
I think your advisor is nothing to worry about. If things progress, just both of you tell him that you are bf/gf at the moment.
Regarding the bit that in normal circumstance you would like to date her, the ultimate problem is, again, what do you want? Since you still want to date her even when (1) you want to prioritize your thesis first, and (2) she blackmails you, I guess that you just see this action as a desperation as describe in @Geoffrey Brent’s asnwer, and you want to give both another chance? If so, I suggest you to tell these before entering the relationship:
- “This thesis is really important to my life, and I have to prioritize it over you. It doesn’t mean that I will drop you, but I hope you understand this. Can you accept that?”
- “This is the last time you can do that to me. Can you promise?”
This will give both of you the best of both worlds. This will also not only forces her to have responsibility, but also forces you to have the responsibility too. Do you want that?
In all, in any situation, try finding a different perspective that you don’t aware of. When we see the problem in a different perspective, we can be (1) more empathy to others, and (2) more rational to make a decision.
Let me read your question again through my expertsexchanging glasses:
I am a 25 year old female in the US. I went to a party last week and had a couple beers. The 19 year old son of my boss followed me home. I never had much contact with him before, but he was suddenly all over me and due to being drunk I did not think enough to resist, and ended up sleeping with him. He is now blackmailing me, threatening to tell my boss about the night, if I do not follow his orders against my will.
Well, the agressor I was just reading about here seems like quite a jerk. Nowadays, some would even call what happened rape – as someone was too drunk to fully consent (personally, it is unclear to me).
I hope by this example it becomes more obvious that you are not at fault. Get rid of the mindset that you alone are responsible for the mess you both landed in.
With this in mind, I would try to disarm the situation and talk to her, as others advised. Be kind and understanding and try to find a workable solution for both of you. But also be firm in that you will not follow her orders for just her own sake. As you said, you have your own life to live first.
If she refuses, too bad for her. If she then presses the issue, go to the police.
Other than alcohol, this is not parallel to the situation here. Nothing in the original post says: "suddenly all over me and due to being drunk I did not think enough to resist" What OP says is that she told him that she had a crush on him, and that he slept with her because he was lonely and thought she was very attractive, but that he doesn't want a relationship. – Noah Snyder 3 hours ago
Tell her outright to piss off. It’s not ok behavior on her part. And frankly it’s not behavior her father should approve of either or back her for.
“He seduced me” is not a valid defense on her part either. Women who blackmail are the kind of women you should quickly skip over and discard.
Since no law was broken she has no place to complain. And if she files false rape charges, sue her into the ground and make her regret it.
You have to stand up for and protect yourself in this world, especially in our “women can’t lie, women never lie, protect even the bad ones at all costs” societal narrative.
Even if you have a hard time “getting a girl” your focus should be on building your life. A woman whose worth your time doesn’t treat you like that. Only someone with severe personality disorders does such a thing. And only bad people protect them.
11You don't "discard" people. – Azor Ahai yesterday
4"Since no law was broken she has no place to complain" – this doesn't follow. There are plenty of things which are legal but still hurtful and wrong to do. I'm also not sure where you're getting the idea of "false rape charges" since this isn't mentioned anywhere in the OP. – Geoffrey Brent yesterday
2I don't think saying 'piss off' helps much with blackmail. – henning yesterday
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