Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?
I agree with the point made above that it is only natural and healthy for people with common interests to meet and get involved. Any problems that develop out of that were there in those people beforehand, and are most likely there afterwards too.
Given the extensive legal framework in place (in America) to potentially punish against almost any sort of infraction real or imagined, not to mention the possible damage that even frivolous, vindictive accusations can cause, there is ample room for people to fight abuse if it becomes a problem.
Also.. from the whole power relationship perspective, have you have seen a relationship between two people who were equal in all things? There is always some sort of inequality, and it is in fact that inequality that provides the dynamic of a relationship. Two individuals balanced in each and every particular would most likely bore each other.
I think that the give and take in terms of power in a relationship is analagous to the shifting of weight between feet that must happen for someone to move. If one insists on spreading one's weight equally between both feet continuously, than one can't walk.
One can argue that two people should be in a relationship balanced overall, but that is a different thing than saying that they should have equal power in all areas of their respective lives.
That said, I think that there should be a grace period with respect to people new to the art being approached - at least if you expect to see them stay. I have seen plenty of successful relationships between senior aikidoka, and some even between seniors and juniors. I have also seen some new students scared off, presumably by an amorous senior. I think it is better to let people acclimate to the art and the dojo culture for 3 - 6 months or so before trying to complicate things with other types of involvement.
Past a certain point, adults need to be responsible for assessing the risks to themselves and others as well as the potential gains and acting on that assessment. Other people need to leave them alone until it affects them, or until the person is no longer capable of protecting themselves.
Here's a question: anyone in a dojo with any explicit relationship prohibitions of any nature? How are they enforced, and what happens when people break the rules?