The Pressure to Date

Ethan Qin, Social Media Editor, Culture Editor

Valentine’s Day is always a difficult holiday for me and my fellow singles. Whether you cope through blocking every person on Instagram who posts a story about their partner or by listening to “Marvins Room” on repeat for the 100th time like me, Feb. 14 will always remain a painful date for those without one. Especially this year, it seemed like everyone decided to reveal relationships you had no idea were even a thing. It is difficult to not feel a pressure to date when all the media we consume tells us otherwise. From the endless photos and videos of couples in love on social media to TV shows and movies in a high school setting like Glee and Euphoria, they all have something in common: they perpetuate the teenage romance expectation.

These expectations caused by pop culture and the high school romance stereotype bolster the idea that if you are not in a romantic relationship in high school, you are not normal or cool. This stigma can be extremely detrimental to high school students’ mental health, leading to unwanted insecurities and emotions.

However, the opposite is true. According to a study conducted by the University of Georgia, teenagers who do not date are less depressed and have better social skills. Traditionally, dating during high school is believed to be important for adolescents to gain positive experience and practice with relationships. Yet, this study found that not dating can be just as beneficial for teenagers; non-dating teenagers are merely following a different and equally as healthy development trajectory than their dating peers. Most importantly, this study recognizes the importance of affirming that teenagers have the choice to choose whether or not they want to date, and that either choice is healthy and acceptable.

High school is a period of time for people to work towards their personal and academic goals, discovering a sense of self, as well as building passions and interests. Many students find that outside of the many hours spent doing homework, playing sports, and doing extracurriculars, there simply is just not enough time and energy for a relationship.

“I think the mixture of being in a romantic relationship and school is just overbearing sometimes to some people,” Junior Castillo-Hernandez (’25) said. “Doing both of these things can make people stressed out too much. Especially if both people in the relationship are being overwhelmed with work as well as trying to be as committed as possible.”

For those who are in a relationship or are considering one for the future, dating in high school can be greatly valuable. Not only is being in a loving and supporting relationship benign towards a student’s academic success and happiness, dating in high school is great practice and experience for later relationships down the line. And, while the probability is an incredibly low 2%, there is still a slim chance your high school relationship can end in marriage.

“For me this is kind of the time to just feel out how relationships should work and what you’re doing when things go wrong so you can learn from your mistakes,” Allison Schumer (’24) said. “And if I don’t experience it, I won’t know how relationships will work in the future.”

Whether you decide to date in high school or not, both options are just as perfectly normal and healthy as the other. Dating in high school is not for everyone, and it is important that if you commit to a relationship, it is for the right reasons. Regardless of your choice, it is important to remember that your romantic status does not determine your self-worth or happiness. That is up to you.