More than just puppy love: High school relationships should not be written off
At the risk of sounding a hopeless romantic, high school relationships aren’t solely a medium for heartbreak and academic distraction, nor should they be looked down upon as such. Love is no less real within the cinderblock halls of an average high school than in what is considered the “real world.” Though adults and peers alike often write these relationships off as shallow simulations of the assumedly ‘more complex, deeper’ romances to be experienced later in life, to discount the romantic feelings of young adults is to disrespect the validity of their emotions as human beings. According to Stage of Life, 61 percent of teens consider themselves to have been in love at some point, and 94 percent believe in true love. Such enthusiasm for life and love should not be dampened by the doubt and discouragement it’s often met with.
While, according to Huffington Post, only two percent of new marriages in North America are comprised of high school sweethearts, this is more than zero percent. To scare the possibility, however slim, of domestic bliss away with a dismal statistic is the mission of a hardened cynic. The chance of winning the lottery on a single ticket is one in 175 million, and that doesn’t stop us from playing and hoping against the odds. Furthermore, there’s much more one can do to ensure their winning the relationship lottery than can be done with a random slip of paper.
Just as in more mature romantic relationships, and even in those with friends and family, both advantages and disadvantages can arise based on how the relationship is handled by both parties. Many fear that in such a crucial time for academic development, relationships may distract students from their studies and negatively impact their futures. However, balance is key in any high school experience, and an ideal romantic partner pushes you to learn, grow, and succeed–academically and otherwise.
Others decry teen’s motivation for dating as entirely superficial, whereas I decry the previous sentiment as entirely ridiculous. In a survey by Stage of Life, teens deemed Honesty/Trust, Friendship, and Similar Values/Morals as the most important factors in a lasting relationship; physical attraction didn’t even make the top three, even for males, who are often perceived as ‘only wanting one thing.’ The majority of teens also saw ages 24-26 as the ideal age for marriage, a view that aligns perfectly with successful marriage statistics. According to Brandon Gaille, if high school couples wait until at least 25 to tie the knot, their ten year success rate increases to 78 percent (as opposed to 54 percent should they marry while still teenagers).
The idea of heartbreak is hardly a pleasant one, especially at such a life-altering time. However, it is a risk we must face in the pursuit of happiness, and one most humans will experience. Life itself is about the ups and downs, and avoiding a positive experience in fear of its ending is to avoid living. The reality is that not all relationships are going to be great, and not all high school relationships are going to be great. Either way, if the parties involved are mature and stable enough to realize what they’ve learned from the experience, it’s worth it. Having a relationship in their teens can help people discover what they’re looking for in a partner earlier; figuring out how to maneuver a romantic relationship in high school makes that relationship or future ones stronger.
Sadly enough, 60 percent of the teens polled in the aforementioned survey planned to break up with their significant others before heading off to college. This may be due to the common perception that high school relationships can’t survive the transition to college, or simply the need for exploration. The leap into college is a difficult one in general, and that difficulty is expounded when maintaining a relationship. However, I’d argue that with communication, compromise, and empathy, it can be done. If you’re with someone you’d want to be with outside the petri dish of high school, don’t be afraid to try. There’s a reason people try despite the odds if they feel something is worth the effort– worth fighting for.
Though our brains aren’t fully developed and our dreams just beginning to form, a relationship can lend much needed mutual support to teenage lives, and it’s possible to grow together. If the relationship works, it’ll be built on a foundation of shared formative experiences and first love.
It’s not so surprising that people remember their first loves with a startling vividness and, more often than not, fondness. Such a potent feeling, experienced for the first time, is not easily forgotten. It isn’t entirely inconceivable to end up spending your life with someone sitting two desks away in first period english, and that great big ambiguous ‘reality’ society brandishes against the possibility shouldn’t be given so much power. The world needs more beautiful–if naive–dreamers willing to take risks on their way to happiness–hopeful romantics, if you will.
Stay tuned for the other side of the argument on https://glhsreflection.org/