Many ambitious young women face the allure of having older, successful men who want to invest in their future. Women out to be entrepreneurs or to pursue creative endeavors — from screenplays to start-ups to clothing companies — are eager to have someone to bounce their ideas off of.
Or, potentially, to get involved financially. It’s no wonder, with the burden of student loans or limited savings, that those women with business ideas and no means to execute them are eager to find someone who can help.
You can’t know from the start if someone is ill-willed or seeking more than a working relationship. My own experience with this has been a rocky one, and I’ve been in numerous situations where I’ve had to pull the plug because I didn’t feel comfortable. There was one point when I was completely broke, barely scraping by between paychecks, but I was rich with lofty goals and aspirations. I’m the first to admit that being presented with someone wanting to help out, even if it was just verbal guidance over dinner, was appealing. But I’ve also seen how quickly this can escalate, leaving you questioning your morals or feeling compromised and unsure of ulterior motives.
Young, broke, and ambitious women shouldn’t have to wonder where the lines are between being mentored or being played. Don’t be fooled by false motives. Before a bad situation gets worse, it’s helpful to have guidelines. Here are 6 ways to identify if your mentor is just a sugar daddy in disguise.
A mentor doesn’t send selfies.
Someone you are looking to for advice regarding business endeavors shouldn’t be sending you selfies. Also, you shouldn’t send them pictures of yourself. If you wouldn’t selfie-swap with your boss, you shouldn’t with your mentor.
A mentor doesn’t let others mistake you as a couple in public.
The waiter brings a bill, and says you are a cute couple. Your mentor shouldn’t play along, nor should he be offended when you correct the waiter. It’s not a funny joke. It’s easy to feel like you should just go with the flow, but don’t let misrepresentations slide if you want to be taken seriously.
A mentor doesn’t talk about a future together that doesn’t include business.
If your mentor playfully alludes to a future with babies and a diamond ring, or throws in “we” and “us” talk, it’s time to reconsider the working relationship.
A mentor doesn’t advise you to dump your boyfriend.
Mentors who involve themselves with your personal life, including unsolicited relationship or dating advice, have other intentions.
A mentor doesn’t tell you how beautiful you are.
It’s one thing for a mentor to say, “You were blessed with good looks.” But it’s an entirely different story to text you in the middle of the night to tell you that you were in his dream, and your eyes are the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
A mentor doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable for rejecting his physical advances.
If he goes in for a kiss, you can kiss your partnership goodbye.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
This post was originally featured on Rinse Daily.