PHOTO: Juniors Riley Liu and Sean Seo embrace dating in high school.
By Katrina Haws,
Students should not shy away from opportunities to date in high school. It is a normal teenage romantic impulse to want to be in a relationship.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services (HHS), “healthy relationships in adolescence can help shape a young person’s identity and prepare teens for more positive relationships during adulthood. Providing adolescents with tools to start and maintain healthy relationships may have a positive influence on young people’s overall development.”
Although dating increases significantly in high school, not all teens are involved in relationships.
Only 19 percent of teens aged 13-17 are in romantic relationships and approximately two-thirds of the teenage population have never been in a dating relationship, according to HHS. Yet finding a romantic relationship is on the forefront of many high school students’ minds.
Romantic relationship experience earlier in life allows teens to develop the skills necessary in forming positive bonds in other aspects of life, such as professional relationships, friendships and other future adult connections.
While high school relationships may be considered a large distraction to a teenager, dating gives teens experience being in a romantic relationship within a supportive environment.
“By being involved, parents can help set the family values for what is appropriate and important,” said Ana Homayoun, an educator, speaker and author of several books centered around healthy teen development.
High school provides a forgiving environment for teens beginning to explore romantic relationships. Adolescents have an established support system to fall back on if the relationship is unhealthy or they experience heartbreak.
Once a teen enters adulthood, they will likely leave home along with their established support and may not be prepared for relationships they will encounter in their adult lives.
In addition, a recent survey by the ed-tech company StudyMode suggests that while many students have a significant other, their romantic life doesn’t interfere with their grades. Therefore dating is not a significant distraction from academic work.
Some argue that the minds of adolescents are not fully developed and immature, and therefore are not capable of knowing what is or is not beneficial in terms of affection.
However, according to the Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA, although adolescent romantic relationships may be short lived, these early relationships play a pivotal role in the lives of adolescents and provide a foundation for developing committed relationships in adulthood. Additionally, teenagers in some dating relationships report higher levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.
When a relationship is healthy having a significant other can provide emotional support and enhance interpersonal skills. Even though high school relationships likely won’t last a lifetime, dating relationships are still valuable learning experiences.