Illustration by Emily Perkins

Dear Shrink-In-Violet,

I’m having a slight issue with my tute partner… the issue being that I massively fancy him! Something about listening to him talk about Old English just melts my heart (and my brain – he makes it very hard to concentrate, leading to more than a few awkward ‘er, sorry, could you repeat that’s over the past few weeks). The thing is, I don’t know if I should act on my feelings; I know the rule of 3 (don’t date someone who is in your year, college, AND your subject) but I can’t help it, he’s not like anyone else that I’ve met in Oxford!! I don’t want to make our tutes really awkward if he doesn’t like me, and I don’t want to make them like a strange date chaperoned by our tutor if he does… What should I do?!


My dearest reader, 

It appears you are on the verge of committing the cardinal sin of dating at Oxford. Forget Romeo and Juliet, Elio and Oliver, Aria and Mr Fitz: falling for your tute partner is the most forbidden love of all. But, to quote Emily Dickinson: ‘The heart wants what it wants’.  

Needless to say, this is a very problematic crush. My first course of treatment would be a thorough evaluation of whether you actually like this boy, or whether you are blinded by his intellect and knowledge of Old English (whatever ‘tis that gets thy going, I suppose). 

For your particular ailment, I would prescribe binge watching season 3 of Gilmore Girls. If this boy falls anything short of Jess Mariano-level-dreamy, I highly advise that you reconsider. If by some miraculous chance he meets these standards or – God forbid – exceeds them, then I’m afraid more serious treatment will be needed. I recommend picturing this boy doing the following:

  1. Riding down the High Street on one of those disgusting electric scooters
  2. Jumping up and down and singing to Let It Go on the ‘Cheese Floor’ (if anyone from Atik is reading this, sort out your playlist.)
  3. Tripping whilst stepping off the Tescalator(™) 

If these thoughts are not violently ick-inducing then I fear you are in too deep, your condition may be terminal. If your adoration is steadfast, then we must move to plan B: acting on your feelings. The stuff of nightmares, I know.

The cop-out, risk-free way of doing this is indirectly, perhaps asking a mutual friend whether he’s ever mentioned having a soft spot for you. But even if he hasn’t, it doesn’t mean he will never develop amorous feelings. After all, the Rad Cam wasn’t built in a day. 

Or if you’re feeling brave, perhaps wait until the next mass college-cest event (i.e. a bop) and shoot your shot. What’s the worst that can happen? If you are rudely rejected by this man, then he is clearly not worth your time. If he politely declines your advances, blame it on the ridiculously strong college drink, and then (attempt to) move on. If he reciprocates, great! Or maybe not so great if you have feelings and he thinks it was a one-time thing… But cross that bridge when you come to it (preferably not at Bridge). If word gets out, you’ll be the focus of college gossip for a week maximum, and who doesn’t like to be a bit of a BNOC every once in a while? 

I say shoot your shot and worry about the consequences later (‘YOLO’, if you will). If you really think he could be the one, it’s better to have no regrets.

P.S. I cannot endorse doing this drunk. Trust me. Side effects of drunk rejection may lead to crying on the floor of the Bridge toilets, singing the ten-minute version of All Too Well, and never wanting to show your face at college again. Shoot your shot at your own risk. Consult your dignity for more information.

Yours with sympathy,

Your Shrink-In-Violet


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Elyse Airey

Elyse (she/her) is a Biology student. When not dissecting plant tissue, she can be found anatomising Taylor Swift's discography, experimenting with acrylic paint, or sampling the vegetarian food scene in Oxford. She also enjoys reading, and reorganising her 117 (and counting) Spotify playlists.