Dating in high school is a challenge no matter who you are. You might be the captain of the cheer team, and have more dating opportunities than you want. You might be the guy who is so shy you can’t talk to a girl even if it’s just to ask what the homework assignment was. You might be the serial dater who always has a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend. In every single situation there is heartache, struggle, excitement, hope, and everything in between.
Here’s some things I’ve heard from clients along the way that they wish someone would’ve told them about high school dating. First of all, it’s not as big of a deal as it seems like it is. We’ve all watched movies where there is this perfect high school love full of firsts. There’s a first kiss, first high school dance, first time in love, etc. It makes it all sound very romantic. What my clients who are older than you would want you to know though is that your firsts happen when they happen. There is no set timeline to life that really makes something more special if it happens earlier than later. In fact, oftentimes it is more special if it does happen later because you will be mature enough to handle and appreciate it.
Another thing they would want to make sure you know is not to invest too much into your high school crush. I have sat with many, many girls and boys who end up disgusted because they had sex with someone they thought they loved, but can no longer stand. I have sat with many others who chose to wait and ended up glad because the relationship didn’t last. I have sat with lots of other clients who wished desperately to have the opportunity to date that one person they’ve liked school year after school year, but then they met the right person later on and were totally content.
A third piece of wisdom I’ve heard from my clients who are now finished with high school is that “hooking up” without commitment is a sure way to end up upset. Despite what you might think, it cannot be done without emotional involvement. Maybe you’re not the one with the emotions, but the other person certainly will be. There is no such thing as casual intimacy. That causes jealously, self-loathing, anger and almost always ends a friendship. There is a high level of respect you gain from others and from yourself if you simply don’t engage in this behavior without some type of commitment.
Finally, for those of you who don’t seem to have a handle on how to talk to the opposite sex yet, please don’t be down on yourself about it. We all mature in different ways at different times. There are tons of people out there who only date once, because that person is their future spouse. Maybe that’s you. If it is, I envy you. From the perspective of someone who is happily married, if I could’ve avoided all the heartbreaks and mistakes along the way to meeting him, that would have been just fine by me.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT