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  • Writer's pictureDante

Dear Dante, Season 5

In which Dante plays Cupid.

Dear Dante,

This one’s good. I’m not totally sure about this, but I think my cute TA totally has a crush on a friend and classmate of mine. Should I tell them or anyone else? I can’t tell if they already know.

—SEAS ’24


Congratulations on being published! I can tell it means a lot to you. Otherwise, why would you have taken the time to fax me a three-sentence-long handwritten letter, begging for my advice about a problem that may very well exist only in your head? At the risk of going out on a limb, I’d guess that it’s because you’re jealous of your friend, you’re in love with your TA, and you’re ready to homewreck. I love it.

You’re probably questioning how I came to those conclusions. But don’t worry about it, I assure you that to the rest of us, it’s painfully obvious that you’ve been scheming on this “cute” TA for months. It’s even more clear that this “friend and classmate” is actually neither of those things to you: they’re an enemy. If they weren’t, you’d have gotten them laid by now.

Illustration by Aeja Rosette

What I prescribe is a healthy dose of actualization. Seduce your TA. Dump your friend. Ride off into the sunset. It’s a simple equation, all you need to do is input a little bit of social engineering to make this thing work.

When approaching situations like these—in which you’re hoping to simultaneously win over the affections of a much more intellectually capable individual than yourself and make a friend seem unappealing enough to ensure you’ll never compete for anything ever again—you should consider keeping things civil and private to avoid a public fuss. Have you considered that? Good. Now throw it out the fucking window.

This little lover’s quarrel is a mess and you should own it. At your next class, get ready to rumble. The first step is taking down that backstabbing “friend” of yours. If they’re anything like the person I’m imagining you to be, they’ll be incredibly easy to embarrass. A stray banana peel should do the trick. Lay the trap right in the middle of the lecture hall at the beginning of class, and make sure it’s in your friend’s path …

… They’ll see the banana peel, stop, and take it to the trash can, like the weak-willed individual you both are. While they do that, you’ll have a chance to get to the podium and tell the class about a time that your friend did something really embarrassing. Drunk texted their boss, wet the bed, submitted to a campus advice column, you get the idea. Your aim here is to completely destroy their reputation in the eyes of your TA and alienate them from the rest of your classmates. It’s a classic prank, and it’ll certainly take your buddy out of the running for any romantic competition in that classroom. Once that part’s done, all you have to do is close the deal.

Locking down the sexy academic—who I’m picturing as a mix of Elle Woods and Robin Williams from Good Will Hunting—will be simple. On the day of the big prank, it’ll all fall into place; It’s just a matter of wardrobe. I’d recommend wearing a sweater with a blazing red O embroidered on the upper right shoulder. The O stands for “On the market for casual sex with academics, but also maybe something more serious.” Your TA, having read the classics, will know that. They’ll see you in your new sweater and take note. And later that night, when they log onto Canvas, still wondering if they correctly interpreted your signal, you’ll be patiently waiting in their course inbox.

Your message doesn’t need to be so complex. A simple: “Hey, how are you doing, I saw you sweating in class at the sight of my sweater and wanted to let you know that I’m totally into it. Also, I see the way you look at [FRIEND’s NAME], and I just wanted to say that they’re the single least trustworthy person I know, and are apparently really bad at relationships. Anyway, let’s hang ;),” ought to do it.

Try not to make your DM’s too complicated, but you also want to seem simultaneously flirty, fun, and way above your classmates in beauty and maturity. Make sure to reiterate that you’re the hot one, that you deserve attention, and that your TA should not engage with any communication or vibe-floating from anyone else in class. It’s best to put some space between your dateability and that of your classmates, and to do so early. You never know what sort of tricks and gambits your classmates are being prescribed by other advice columnists on this campus. I heard Spec is telling people to take steroids in order to appear more conventionally attractive. Who knows what you’re up against, it’s a madhouse out there. But it’s your madhouse. Follow the steps above, and you can own it.

Let me know how this goes.

Best of Luck,



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