Love, dating, and high school relationships

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Love, dating, and high school relationships

Relationships and dating are often the topic of conversation for many high school students, but come Valentine's Day only 35 percent of students have been in some type of romantic relationship.

Relationships and dating are often the topic of conversation for many high school students, but come Valentine's Day only 35 percent of students have been in some type of romantic relationship. "I do think high school is too soon to start serious relationships and being emotionally and physically intimate because of the overall lack of emotional maturity and underdevelopment of the brain,” Marriage and Family Therapist Kimberly Gist Miller said.

Michael Martin

Relationships and dating are often the topic of conversation for many high school students, but come Valentine's Day only 35 percent of students have been in some type of romantic relationship. "I do think high school is too soon to start serious relationships and being emotionally and physically intimate because of the overall lack of emotional maturity and underdevelopment of the brain,” Marriage and Family Therapist Kimberly Gist Miller said.

Michael Martin

Michael Martin

Relationships and dating are often the topic of conversation for many high school students, but come Valentine's Day only 35 percent of students have been in some type of romantic relationship. "I do think high school is too soon to start serious relationships and being emotionally and physically intimate because of the overall lack of emotional maturity and underdevelopment of the brain,” Marriage and Family Therapist Kimberly Gist Miller said.

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Candy, roses, teddy bears, and countless other gifts in pink and red have been filling store shelves since the start of the new year, all in advance of Valentine’s Day on Friday. But for 65 percent of today’s teenagers, Feb. 14 isn’t going to be spent with a significant other. 

I think Valentine’s Day is over commercialized, it’s more of ‘buy this for someone’ instead of expressing real love, it just seems fake,”

— senior Julianna Brooks

“It’s good for people in a relationship,” senior Julianna Brooks said. “But I like Valentine’s Day because of the candy and the chocolate covered strawberries. I think Valentine’s Day is over commercialized, it’s more of ‘buy this for someone’ instead of expressing real love, it just seems fake.”

Although there are dozens upon dozens of students on campus in a relationship, Marriage and Family Therapist Kimberly Gist Miller believes young adults aren’t emotionally ready for a serious relationship.

“I believe high school relationships can be healthy if the two individuals are emotionally mature and take the time to really get to know each other and don’t enter into long term committed relationships,” Miller said. “Learning how to relate to others in a healthy way is important as an adolescent. I do think high school is too soon to start serious relationships and being emotionally and physically intimate because of the overall lack of emotional maturity and underdevelopment of the brain.”

Dating in high school can give teenagers relationship experience, but most of these don’t continue beyond graduation, as only two percent of new marriages in North America are composed of “high school sweethearts”. 

One of those few is English teacher Michelle Porter.

“I was not looking for a relationship because for the most part, boys are still very immature in high school,” Porter said. “It is not that I was against it, but I definitely wasn’t seeking a boyfriend to make me happy.”

I believe high school relationships can be healthy if the two individuals are emotionally mature and take the time to really get to know each other and don’t enter into long term committed relationships,

But young love isn’t easy, with 61 percent of teenagers saying they have been in love

“In a high school relationship I have had my ups and downs,” senior Dorothy Collier said. “It started problems but also made me happier. Overall my boyfriend and I have a great relationship, I just did not manage my time very well and did not hang out with my friends as much as I used to. Like I said before, you need to manage your time well. Now, after two years and four months, I have learned how to manage my time well and I have a good balance with friends, work, school, family and my boyfriend.”

Although many teens may be on the lookout for a relationship, Collier believes it needs to happen naturally. 

“I think students should definitely focus less on finding a partner,” Collier said. “First of all, it does not look good to be available to anyone, at any time. It’s not morally right in my opinion. Like I said before, things will come when you least expect it. Just be patient and confident in yourself then you will be surprised at the people that will come into your life. Always be yourself.”

In today’s era of technology first, the days of somebody saying “pick you up at 8:00” seem to be few and far between. Instead, it’s more of a Snap here and there which is referred to as “talking,” then straight into a relationship rather than dating.

“I don’t see that the current generation is developing relationship development skills that will help maintain long term relationships,” Miller said. “It undermines the development of the emotional skills to maintain healthy relationships, it creates an unhealthy picture or relationship and totally over-focuses on the physical and sexual aspects of relationships.”

Senior Emma Gallagher believes popular culture gives a false sense of what most high school relationships are really like. 

The media has a big influence on dating because it sets the standard and kids use it as an example when most of the time it’s not a realistic way of dating,” Gallagher said. “I think it’s a lot less formal today for most people and it can be more casual.”

The numbers seem to back up Gallagher’s claim as according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the percentage of high seniors who do not date went from 14 percent in 1991 to 38 percent in 2013

That doesn’t mean today’s teens stray away from relationships. Instead, some students prefer something more casual. 

“I believe it’s okay because it’s just a way to experiment,” senior Brooke Bledsoe said. “It’s a way to have fun without committing and being in a serious relationship, also many people are scared of commitment. If you have feelings toward each other then there are not too many feelings to where you want to date and just want to have interaction with that person, so it’s not something serious but also a way to have fun with someone you like, but don’t want to commit too.”