The Evolution of Dating in High School


Tyler Quisenberry

Lake Ridge Hope Squad inspiration board on the cafeteria wall. Photo courtesy of Tyler Quisenberry (ENN Staff)

As teenagers go through their high school experience, many begin to explore the world of dating. Though many teenagers have a clear idea of what dating should look like, this concept has changed over time. With the addition of social media and technology, dating has become more complicated in some ways, with both positive and negative impacts.

Though the concept of dating has remained relatively constant throughout time, there are many differences in the views of some from different generations. While relationships in older generations were often more focused on marriage, as was expected, this idea has changed for many in the newer generations. Especially in high school today, relationships can mean many different things to different people. Teacher, Beth Simmonds, has seen how current high school relationships are generally more focused on personal growth, compared to previous generations.

“I think this generation is much more focused on their own personal, not just happiness, but fulfillment. I’d say my generation was more focused on our happiness, compared to our parents, who were focused on duty. I think that this generation takes more of a view of teamwork, growing together, adventuring together, and learning together. It’s a much healthier view,” said Simmonds.

Social media has become a contributing factor to the world of dating. The ability to connect with so many people has impacted many relationships and helped many people find their partner. Senior, Kendall Ricks, has seen how social media and technology have benefited the high school dating experience.

“Social media is definitely a way to get to know someone faster. When you go to such a large school, you can start talking to someone that you don’t interact with on a day-to-day basis, and find out that you really like them. The benefits are just that interconnectedness, and the ability to reach someone at any time of day,” said Ricks.

Although social media has its benefits, it also has many drawbacks. In the age of technology, it has become very easy to get constant reassurance, which can lead to the mindset of that being necessary in a relationship. Simmonds has recognized how social media has created the need for instant gratification, causing issues in some relationships.

“I think that all the negatives of social media include the desire for instant gratification and the constant feedback. It’s developed a need for people to have constant verbal and tangible positives. So the concept that your partner needs to constantly be filling you emotionally is definitely a drawback,” stated Simmonds.

There are many ways of getting to know a person in pursuit of a relationship, and one of these is the “talking stage.” This is a relatively new concept, referring to the stage of a relationship when the couple spends time with each other, and often seems like they are dating, without being exclusive. Senior, Isabella Cortez, finds this to be a ridiculous concept, with little to no productivity.

“I feel like it’s a window to have access to someone emotionally, without actually dating, and without commitment. I understand the idea of getting to know someone, but I think the label is stupid. It’s so immature, and it’s way too normalized,” said Cortez.

Many teenagers have an image in their heads of what the “perfect relationship” looks like, and these ideas often stem from their portrayal in the media. Although it is important to have standards, many teenagers create unrealistic ideas of what their partner or their relationship will look like. This perspective can lead to unreasonable or unhealthy expectations. Sophomore, Drew Dazey, has seen how these unrealistic standards can cause issues in a relationship.

“I think a lot of people will have certain standards for somebody, and if they don’t meet those exact standards they’re automatically ruled out, which isn’t really fair because they don’t get a chance to show you who they really are. It’s okay to have a type, but it’s not likely that you’ll find somebody who’s exactly perfect that will also be interested in you,” said Dazey.

The high school experience is often portrayed to be based heavily on dating and relationships. However, many teenagers never date in high school or end up in long-term relationships. Although dating can be an exciting thing in a teenager’s life, there is much more to experience in high school. Teacher and Coach, Ariel Bueno, has seen how his students have felt pressured to be in a relationship.

“Being a coach that deals with boys and girls, I feel like there’s sometimes a lot of pressure on being in a relationship. If their best friend has a boyfriend or girlfriend, then they’re naturally going to feel somewhat of an urge to find someone, so they’re not left alone, or the third wheel,” said Bueno.

Over time, dating in high school has become more complex in some ways. High school can be a difficult time in life, and dating can bring many fun experiences and relationships, along with many pressures and confusions. Perspectives from previous generations can help teenagers navigate the ever-changing path of dating in high school.