Do Relationships in High School Have Value?

Haladar Wright  The Charter Features 1/28/20

In popular culture, high school is painted as a landscape full of turmoil. Saturated with battling cliques, rampant emotions, and constant drama, Hollywood high school has many stressors. While typical “teenage” movies can be wholly inaccurate, a mainstay in fictional and real high schools is romance and young love. Romantic relationships are a common part of high school life. Do these relationships have value? What are the positives and negatives? There are differing opinions.

Students don’t see many problems with having a relationship in high school, saying they are “fine.” Winston Small, a freshman at ACA, feels a relationship can be beneficial due to having “someone that’s super close to you that can give you support.” Allison Jackson, a Sophomore at ACA, agreed. Both Small and Jackson expressed that a relationship can also act as a distraction from homework or other important relationships, such as “your parents or with other friends,” said Small. In the end, Jackson feels that relationships are “totally fine,” but feels that “you still need to make sure you’re balancing school and relationships, and know your boundaries.” 

However, students aren’t the only ones with opinions. Parents are also part of this discussion.

Shamron Cook, a mother of three, met her husband when they were in the eighth grade. She isn’t sure how her husband and her have stayed together for so long, other than the fact that they love each other. Cook feels that relationships “can sometimes be a little too intense emotionally and make it hard for teenagers to concentrate.” She says that relationships could be beneficial because having someone to be really close to is a good thing. Cook is not against dating in high school, because “it is a natural desire for teenagers to want to explore relationships.” In the end, Cook’s advice to teenagers is “to not get too serious too young. Set healthy boundaries and make sure to keep focused on their educational goals and to keep up their relationships with their other friends, as those relationships are very important too.” 

William Poindexter, a Senior at ACA, was recently in a relationship, and said that a major challenge in conducting a healthy relationship is that people involve themselves too much. “Given that it’s high school, and everyone is in such close proximity all the time, word gets around about stuff that really isn’t anyone’s business.” he said. Because of ACA’s tight knit community, Poindexter said that the problem is made worse here than other schools, from what he’s heard. An advantage of having a relationship in high school, according to Poindexter, is that “being in a relationship in high school gives you experience and can help prepare you for more relationships down the line.” Poindexter spoke to the fact that in high school, everyone is still a kid. “We’re so immature at this point still, it just ends up being easy to make mistakes and do things that you’re gonna regret later,” he said. 

In ACA’s student handbook, there is no mention of dating or public displays of affection (PDA) at all. Julie Swanson, Head Teacher, said that the “line” for PDA is how it makes one feel. “There’s PDA, then there’s PDA that makes you uncomfortable.” She said. “I would guess that the expectation across the board would be no PDA… so that way we avoid pieces that may make someone uncomfortable.” Swanson also said that there isn’t a change of how two students are treated once they begin dating, other than “we may get the gossip and say ‘that’s cute.’” She mentioned that awareness of couples is based more on trends, so “If I am finding two people in the same space, doing the same thing over and over, then my awareness around those two people is going to increase as far as PDA.” However, Swanson loves that some students are growing up and continuing dating each other, and thinks that’s a good thing. She feels that dating in high school is an opportunity to see what personality traits match with your own. “I really think it’s important that people really get to know each other.”  Swanson believes that “Life, and learning, is about paying attention. So if you don’t pay attention, you keep on making the same mistakes.” Dating in high school is an opportunity for students to pay attention and see what they need from a relationship. Swanson feels, in general, that ACA students are “healthy about dating each other.”

One challenge of dating in an environment such as ACA is breakups, according to Swanson. “[ACA] is such a small group, and people have so many connections.” ACA is small, so the fallout could be bigger than just one relationship due to the interconnected nature of friendships. If admin are aware of a breakup, they’ll probably reach out and offer support to “make sure the kids are okay.”

ACA’s Counselor, Alicia Heinsoo, says that the best way to deal with a breakup is to lean on friends. She advises to “go back to the people who have been there from day one. Do some fun things, self care.”  To have a healthy, long lasting relationship, Heinsoo advises to find something to do together, like a hobby. Heinsoo also says that knowing your “love language” is super important. Love Languages are a concept created by Doctor Gary Chapman, and are different ways of expressing your love for your romantic partner. There are a total of five different Love Languages, consisting of Physical Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time. More information about the Five Love Languages and a quiz to figure out what yours is can be found at the website. Heinsoo recommends that every student know their own love language, and if they intend to be in a relationship, the love language of their partner, because “that’s super important.” Heinsoo feels that a relationship in high school is a good opportunity “to practice balance in how much time you give your partner, in how much time you give your responsibilities like your school or job, and then how much time you give your friendships. Because all those circles are really important.”

Relationships in high school have potential to have worth, as long as they are healthy and balanced. If two students can keep up on their schoolwork and stay responsible, there should be no deterrent from dating. 

Sources:

Poindexter, Will. Personal Interview. 12 December 2019

Heinsoo, Alicia. 12 December 2019

Cook, Shamron. Personal Interview. 10 December 2019

Small, Winston. Personal Interview. 10 December 2019

Jackson, Allison. Personal Interview. 9 December 2019

Swanson, Julie. Personal Interview. 9 December 2019

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