Are High School Relationships Worth Pursuing?
March 2, 2020
High School Students Should Wait Before Pursuing Relationships
It is common to see couples hugging or walking hand in hand throughout the school year. The opportunity to care for someone in a romantic way may seem fulfilling to young adults, and many do enter relationships in their teenage years, but having a relationship in high school is just not worth it.
High school students often have overly unrealistic expectations about relationships and the stages they will progress through, and when these expectations are not met, it can result in poor mental health.
In the study, Caught in a Bad Romance: Adolescent Romantic Relationships and Mental Health, author Brian Soller found that depression in adolescents increases when their relationship progresses in a different way than they expected.
It is also worthy to note the effect a high school relationship can have on an adolescent’s life even outside of dating. High school is a time to develop one’s identity and prepare for the future, when they are faced with the realities of adulthood.
“Any unhealthy relationship can negatively impact multiple areas of your life, including future relationships,” school psychologist Nicole Jackson said. “It’s important that you feel safe in your relationship and can trust that both you and your partner are looking out for each other’s best interests.”
When students prioritize their relationships over themselves, they start viewing themselves through the lens of their relationship. Instead of focusing on their likes and dislikes, they place excessive importance on their partner’s opinions and often align their life goals to fit with a relationship that has a very low chance of surviving after high school.
Soller states that, “research on adolescent relationships suggests, romantic relationships are particularly important for girls’ identities, and thus relationship inauthenticity may have especially strong effects on girls’ mental health.”
High school relationships can put huge amounts of stress on students on top of all the tests, clubs, sports, and other activities students engage in, as making time for their partner becomes more of a priority. If couples do not have a balance in their lives, it often leads to miscommunication, and then breaking up.
“High schoolers probably should not date because we’re still pretending to be adults at this point,” junior Mia Jerphagnon said. “I just don’t think many of us are ready to date.”
High school Relationships Positively Benefit Teens
Though many may classify high school relationships as a waste of time, there are many positive outcomes of dating in high school that are unrecognized.
As teenagers, it seems that we live in a digital age that is comprised of only sending Snapchats or playing iMessage games, and both lack a meaningful conversation. By being involved in romantic relationships in high school, students will get face-to-face time with another person, rather than being glued to a cell phone.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “[High school] relationships also can play a role in supporting youth’s ability to develop positive relationships in other areas including: in school, with employers, and with partners during adulthood.”
By replacing cell phone use with quality face-to-face time, relationships give students time to figure out their identities and a closer answer to the question, ‘Who am I as a person?’
“High school relationships can be a positive part of high school experience and is developmentally typical. Any relationship will have its ups and downs, and they help us to learn more about ourselves and one another,” Portola’s school psychologist, Nicole Jackson said. “A healthy relationship will help you grow as a person, learn more about yourself, how to think of others, and how to balance your needs with someone else’s. These are traits that will carry you into adulthood with a variety of relationships.”
Additionally, being in a high school relationship can further encourage positive habits and reinforce morals that may have been lacking. By encouraging good habits and possibly adjusting others, people may be able to improve themselves for the better. They can provide insight to teenagers on what they want out of future relationships.
According to a study shown at UCLA by Howard Debnam, among other benefits, high school relationships can provide emotional support and enhance interpersonal skills.
“I think dating [in high school] can help teens form positive habits because it would teach them social skills in which they learn to become more caring and empathetic which is essential in maintaining a relationship,” freshman Celine Lee said. “It can also teach them about time management because, in a relationship, you have to be responsible [in how you spread out time with your significant other and your schoolwork.]”
When high school relationships have maturity and balance, they can provide students with valuable life experiences that can be held on to for the rest of one’s life.
As Geoffrey Chaucer once said, “All good things must come to an end.”
Relationships build character, strength and other crucial life habits that may lack without a high school relationship.
“I think it’s primarily because of experience. In anything you really go into there’s gonna be trials, and relationships aren’t exempt from this,” sophomore Madeleine Young said. “I think to go through relationships and the whole breakup process helps us gain a lot out of it in terms of becoming a better person and knowing what we like in people as well as being able to balance and maintain a healthy relationship on top of sports school etc. And it’s spreading love too, so who [wouldn’t] want that?”