When we think of high school dating, many things come to mind. The butterflies in the stomach, nervous hand-holding, or even perhaps a first kiss. Many of these things are subjective, but on those lines, we have to determine what teen dating actually means–at least in a general sense. One might say that the idea of dating lends into the concept of a stable relationship that provides teens with comfort and security during their adolescent years. However, is that really the case nowadays?
Throughout the years, dating has come to be defined in many different ways, so much so that the concept a ‘date’ has been altered. In previous decades, dating would usually start with one kid formally asking the parent of another for their permission. Today, the idea of dating has become much more laid-back. For example, the arrangement of a date can start with just a simple shoot of a text message.
Because of this phenomenon, what used to be a ‘formal date’ has been replaced with hanging out in groups or pairs. Since 1991, the percentage of children who have reported not officially dating anyone has more than doubled – increasing from 14% to 38%.
A huge contributor to the decrease in teen dating is due to the fast paced nature of our world today. Teens in this era are always busy, whether it entails doing homework, getting together with friends, or engaging in after school activities. Thus, the concept of having an actual date has become virtually impractical and unattainable.
Additionally, more and more teens have become more attracted to the idea of independence. With feminism on the rise, an increasing number of teenage girls find that they are not in need of a relationship. Especially in Ridgewood, young women tend to focus more on academics than romantic engagement during this pivotal time in their lives. Trisha Kant, a freshman at RHS, says that “academics [are more important than romantic relationships] because if you have a relationship, it might steer you off course of getting the future that you want.” Many other girls seem to share Trisha’s mentality, choosing to focus on schoolwork and save dating for later.
Another factor that contributes to the decline of formal dates is the idea of friendships. High school students tend to value their friendships very highly, even in comparison to romantic relationships. A majority of high school students also feel that friendships with their peers are more lasting and stable than romantic relationships. Kant says, “[I prefer] a friendship, because [in] romantic relationships, I don’t think I have as much fun as I do with my friends.” John Mondi, another student at RHS, agrees with the claim that friendships are more important than romantic relationships. He believes that bonds with friends tend to last longer, and are an important part in the development of a high schooler’s life. “With friendships… there are ups and downs, but they will always be there for you” he says. Across the board, it is evident that students believe dating isn’t needed as long as they have strong bonds with their friends and family.
So, yes, this concept of going out on a formal ‘date’ appears to be pretty old-fashioned. Then again, the concept of dating as a whole has been completely reshaped from what it was even a decade ago. Despite the fact that the media almost encourages dating by exhibiting Hollywood’s favorite romantic relationships, most millennials believe that any other type of relationship – whether it be friendships, parent-child bonds, or student-teacher bonds – is just as valid. People living in this era seem to be content with strong friendships; just hanging out with someone in a relaxed manner is enough to make them feel secure and happy throughout their years as a high school student.
Amelia Chen and Ellie Tsapatsaris
Graphics: Justine Umali