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Students, teacher weigh positives, negatives of high school relationships

Hibba Mahmood
A couple holds hands in the CHS hallway. Junior Will Strines said that it is important to manage your own personal time along with your dating time well.

Junior Will Strines sat in his honors chemistry class last year taking notes until a girl caught his eye. He said she seemed cool, so he started getting to know her over Snapchat. Little did Strines know, taking notes wouldn’t be the only chemistry he would be having in that class.

He said, “It’s not like one day I just said to myself, ‘I’m going to put myself on the market.’ I feel like some people do that, saying they need a girlfriend or boyfriend and go and chase whoever. I didn’t just set out thinking, ‘I need a girlfriend’ and find who was the best candidate. I just thought she was cool and started talking to her.”

Strines, who had recently celebrated his eight-month anniversary with his girlfriend, said many benefits could come from high school dating.

“You get closer to the person so you have somebody to talk to,” he said. “You can make inside jokes and stuff, which could be fun. Generally, if you’re in a relationship, you should enjoy spending time with this person, so you’ll usually have fun doing whatever. She helps me with my homework too if I need it because she’s good at math.”

Strines, according to a 2017 study in the journal Child Development, is just one of the 63% of high school students in the United States who have been on at least one date before reaching 12th grade. Additionally, in “Gender: Sociological Perspectives” by Linda Lindsey, it was found that 57% of teenagers between 12 and 17 years old have regularly dated at some point in their high school careers. With Valentines Day on Feb. 14, students currently in a relationship share their experiences with high school dating.


practice for the future

In the case of history teacher Allison Hargrove, she said she has known her husband, Michael Hargrove, since middle school.

“We met at a 4-H Fair in the summer of 1996,” she said. “I was showing pigs at the fair and he was there to support his cousin. His cousin was my best friend and is one of my dearest friends to this day. So he came to watch her show sheep and we met that way. That was the summer of seventh grade.”

Hargrove said high school dating teaches students appropriate social interactions with people that are love interests. 

“(Dating) is becoming a normalized process,” she said. “Think back to when you were in middle school and (remember) how awkward it was and how uncomfortable it was. By the time you get to high school, you start to learn how to be a good partner, be somebody that can be depended upon and also someone who is respectful. I think a lot of times, people that don’t have that socialization process in place don’t know how to be a good partner. And sometimes in high school, you can learn those lessons so that even if you don’t stay with the person, someday when you are married you are a better version of yourself.”

In the case of senior Sophie Wilcox, she said she met her boyfriend during freshman year in marching band. She said they became friends first and eventually started dating. Wilcox said she agreed with Strines and said dating in high school comes with its benefits. 

“It’s easy to be vulnerable in a relationship,” she said. “It’s nice to know you have a person who you can talk to when you have problems or issues, so I think that’s a really big positive of dating.” 


the obstacles

However, Wilcox also said high school dating could pose some potential problems.

“I’ve been lucky enough that the person I’m dating has a lot of the same extracurriculars as me,” she said. “But I feel like it’s really hard to date if you aren’t in the same (extracurriculars). Especially if one of you is giving all your time to one thing and the other one is giving all their time to another, it’s hard to find time for each other. This could make your commitment to something like a club or your grades fall a bit and I also think your commitment to the other person can fall a bit, too.”

Strines said he agreed with Wilcox and said it could be hard to commit to a relationship during high school. 

“If you don’t know how to manage your time, you can definitely end up putting more and more time into the person than your own work,” he said. “You can fall behind on things. You can get too caught up in the relationship.”

Strines said he and his girlfriend try to plan dates after all of their schoolwork is done.

“I make sure that I have all my work done before we ever hang out or do anything together,” he said. “If the plans and the homework start conflicting, then you are more inclined to choose the plans because you don’t want to let the person down. That’s why you need to finish what you need to do before you even make the plans, so there’s nothing drawing you away from the work.” 

Hargrove said she has witnessed many high school relationships in her career as a teacher. She said high school dating experiences vary depending on the student. 

“It depends on who you’re dating,” she said. “Sometimes, you have a positive outcome where both people have similar work ethics and therefore encourage each other, are supportive of one another or study together. Other times I think it can be a distraction. Especially if the relationship is more of a dramatic relationship with tension and turmoil. I have had, on a weekly basis my entire career, someone coming in sad about something that’s happened. And that’s normal. Sometimes they need adults to help them navigate that. So yeah, (dating) can be a distraction but life isn’t all about academics.”


waiting to date?

Strines said students should not be pressured to date in high school. He said dating comes naturally and it is fine if a student chooses not to date.

“I don’t think students should be pressured (to date),” he said. “If you don’t want to date then you shouldn’t have to or you shouldn’t be pushed to. If you want to spend more time on your own with your hobbies or school work, you shouldn’t be pressured into it.”

He also said waiting to date until college can be a positive thing.

“There could definitely be some advantages depending on what kind of person you are,” he said. “If you are somebody who is super, super absorbed and wanting to go to an Ivy League school or you want to go to a top school and you need to dedicate 100% of your time to school and extracurriculars and making sure everything is perfect, then I think it benefits you to wait ‘till college to date because you might have a lot more time.”

Hargrove said students should not be pressured or rushed to date in high school. She said there is nothing wrong with waiting to date until college.

“I think that it’s awesome,” she said. “Many kids are waiting because that’s their personal choice and they’re not giving into peer pressure or they’re not giving into something that they think others deem as a ‘cool’ route. Kids develop at their own pace. If they’re willing to wait and want to wait until college to find a love interest and they don’t feel pressured to do something else, I think that’s cool.”

According to Wilcox, it could actually be harmful to students to date if they are not ready. 

CHS Student looks at valentines day gifts through Tik Tok. Senior Sophie Wilcox said she thinks people should get into relationships when they are ready to, not due to peer pressure.

“I think when you get into a relationship because you feel like you should be in a relationship, then there present problems where you’re not on the same wavelength a lot of the time,” she said. “I think it’s hard to be a good partner in that situation especially if people want different things at different times. And I think that could be mentally exhausting. I think the big thing is, if you’re not emotionally equipped to handle someone else’s emotions along with your own, then it’s going to be hard to maintain the relationship.”



For Hargrove, she said maintaining her relationship with her husband was hard directly after graduating high school.

“In my scenario, I went to college and my husband was going into the military (after high school),” she said. “And so, I think that is one of the most testing or trying times in a relationship. My husband and I broke up in that window of time and quickly got back together but it was one of those things of the unknown. So I used that time period to remember or remind myself who I was as an individual. It was one of the most difficult times of my life, but it was also one of the most defining parts of my life because I did learn that I’m not Michael’s girlfriend, I’m Allison.” 

She also said many students express concerns about breaking up as they graduate from high school. However, Hargrove said students should not stress too much about splitting.

“Obviously, it’s overwhelming sometimes to think about breaking up, but also a lot of times kids do break up and then they get back together,” she said. “And if you don’t, you weren’t meant to be together and you’ll find some other path that is just as fruitful or meaningful.”

Wilcox said high school relationships, regardless of the outcome, can be highly beneficial later in life. 

“I think no matter what, you can gain something from the experience,” she said. “Whether it’s maturity, whether it’s someone else helping you become a better person because you’re around them so much and they notice your flaws the most.”

Hargrove said dating in high school could be a life-changing experience.

“Dating in high school could be really wonderful,” she said. “I know that my situation is unusual, but my husband is still my favorite person in the entire world. Every day I cannot believe that I married him and that I get to be his wife. So it’s not to say that high school relationships are never meaningful or never important. They can work and they can be something that can set the trajectory of your life. But also at the same time, you should not ever lose your own identity in a relationship. You need to make sure that you are your own person and not just someone else’s significant other. That would be my advice.”

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