So how are teens dating nowadays? Are we naive or raunchy? Are our relationships serious or hook-ups? More importantly: is dating in high school worth it? In honor of Valentines Day, I’ll be talking (to myself) about these things from, I guess, a “worm’s eye view,” since I personally don’t have much experience. Obviously, the dating scene will differ between every school, but nevertheless, here are my observations so far:
Not a Majority
In highschool, people in relationships made up a pretty small group until we hit 11th grade. Freshman and sophomore year are spent building co-ed friend groups, becoming familiar with each other — in the advent of junior prom, these large groups suddenly fragmented into many pairs.
Still, even in the latter half of my senior year, I’d still estimate that single people in my class outnumber those who are dating. Contrary to how the public perceives us, adolescents are actually pretty busy people. Especially in a school (like mine) full of over-achievers, love life can be one of the last priorities for some. Being single is definitely not abnormal.
Not 100% Thirst
Believe it or not, most teens are genuinely interested in establishing emotionally-gratifying relationships. Physical action is usually an added plus or part of the motivation, but we’re not completely horny. Now, that’s not to say that chemistry doesn’t distort our judgment and our perception of a “good” relationship. I just firmly believe that our intentions are predominantly romantic, even if hormones end up doing the steering.
A lot of people do get it on, of course: as high school progresses, rumors spike about hook-ups or long-term couples doing it. Relentless, disgusting PDA plagues the halls. Fuckboys are rampant and must be avoided.
Is it Love or Just Lust?
The answer depends on your view of young love, or young “””love””” for some of you. Personally, I am firmly, 100% in the Young Love is real, no quotation marks camp. If you (condescendingly) think that teenagers are incapable of differentiating their love from lust, or that their perceived emotions are invalid due to their lack of experience, then no, teen relationships aren’t based on love. However, if you acknowledge that the definition of love changes as one ages, but is still valid at each stage of one’s life, then, yes, teens love each other based on what they think love is.
There seems to be a very particular process for getting a girl/boyfriend. First: become acquaintances. Then: friends. Then: a uselessly-long period of flirting and build-up. THEN: one asks out the other. Finally: after a date or two, they’re in a relationship!
This process is difficult for me because I struggle with befriending boys in the first place, and because I like acquaintances and strangers. I don’t fall for friends. For adults, asking someone out isn’t usually such a big deal, and it usually happens soon after making someone’s acquaintance. But this route contains a lot of risk for teenagers, probably too much to handle. The adult route, after all, requires a lot of trial-and-error. The “friend-first” way is safer. Until you break up, that is. Then things get awkward…
Going for the “Long”-Haul
This may just apply to my school, but even, so I am astonished by how valiantly many couples try to establish mature long-term relationships. Though hook-ups and quick break-ups happen, a lot of people seek a relationship that lasts until graduation — which I think is an overlooked and underrated aspect of high school!
Now here’s where I clarify what is considered a “short” and “long” relationship in the teen world. A fling usually lasts a few months or less; as a relationship approaches a year, it’s considered more serious.
Sometimes the dating scene looks more like a competition for who can stick with it the longest. There is nothing couples love more than flaunting their anniversaries. For as early as one-month anniversaries (I am guilty of this), you can expect a couple to post a picture of them hugging on social media, followed by a caption with a lot of gush and heart emojis. For YEARLY anniversary posts — that’s when they break out the INSTAGRAM COLLAGES.
It makes me smile that a lot of people with genuinely emotional, mutually beneficial relationships try to make it last. But it’s a half-sad smile, because of course high school is only four years and more often than not, couples are ripped apart for college and adulthood. Which brings us here:
Is it worth it?
Have you come to my blog for a logical, level-headed response about love? My blog?
Developing an uplifting relationship with a nice person in high school is absolutely worth it. We only have so much youth! Spend that time enjoying the fullest range of emotion that you can muster; connect with good people with all the recklessness that your age owes you.
We are too afraid to make ourselves vulnerable, to commit to temporary things, to hurt ourselves. If, say, you turned down a date just because you’re in high school, you could live many years in the future wondering what if, pining for a tangible outcome that you denied yourself. I’d much rather actually experience that connection and then get destroyed by a cruel split, messy break-up, whatever. We need more confidence in our ability to heal.
Dating and breaking up is part of growth. It’s gaining experience and learning from mistakes. Also, dating is just adorably fun. I’m all for being independent, but liking someone and having them like you back has to be one of the nicest feelings in the world. Right up there with kissing.
That being said, don’t stay in a high school relationship if it’s not fun. I’m always baffled by teen couples who fight constantly and seem to need relationship counseling. As if high school isn’t stressful enough! A young relationship should be a break from stress and drama. If it’s not fun, drop it.