Whether we like it or not, high school is an experience that shapes almost every aspect of our lives. This raises questions about the importance of certain “sub-experiences” in high school.
One of the more controversial “sub-experiences” is involvement in romantic relationships. There is some speculation as to whether or not being in relationships at this age is beneficial or not, primarily because romantic relationships (unlike casual friendships) are capable of carrying a greater influence on us mentally and emotionally.
According to Linda Thrasybule of the Huffington Post, “romantic love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can have.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially to those who’ve claimed to be “in love.” It’s truly a strong and overpowering feeling, especially when it’s experienced for the first time as a teenager.
Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, actually discovered that being in love affects the brain similarly to drug use. “Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs,” said Aron.
Since being in love affects the brain similarly to drug use, are romantic relationships really something teens need to occupy themselves with right now?
Lauren Nann, junior, thinks high school relationships are definitely beneficial. Nann, who’s been a relationship for almost three and a half years, wouldn’t want it any other way.
“[My boyfriend] is my best friend and just having that support system and knowing that he’s not going anywhere is the best part…Right now, [high school] is the hardest thing going on for me and having him is awesome,” said Nann.
Relationships aren’t always perfect. Nann admits that at times, the relationship can be challenging to maintain on top of everything else.
“We don’t see each other as much as people think we do,” said Nann. ”It’s just kind of hard to maintain everything that we do, like [looking at] colleges and getting good grades, and work. Also, having other friends and [our] relationship. Maintaining it can be kind of hard sometimes.”
Jon Cockerham, senior, also adds that high school relationships have a potential to be “an emotional rollercoaster,” but nonetheless agrees that the experience is beneficial.
“You need to know what type of people you like…This is a time to kind of discover yourself, so it’s better to get that out of the way now in high school before you go to college,” said Cockerham.
But if students think high school relationships are positive experiences, why are only 2% of married couples composed of high school sweethearts?
For Nann, high school relationships break down into two major components: trust and communication. Having an abundance of the two is why her current relationship has lasted so long, even in a high school setting. She believes that most high school relationships lack proper communication and trust, which is why they usually fail.
“I think [in high school], we’re all kind of too immature to realize some things need work. I don’t think some people are strong enough to do that, or [have] the patience,” said Nann.
Similarly, Cockerham thinks the emotional immaturity of teens is the primary cause for breakups.
“We get emotional too much. I also think that we look into things too much too…it can [all] play with your emotions,” said Cockerham.
Although the odds aren’t in favor of long lasting high school relationships, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t worth the lessons learned and experience gained. Just like with friendships, dating in high school can help students discover more about themselves and what qualities they want in future relationships.