Elaborate posters, themed days and after school competitions between grades all point to one conclusion: it’s Homecoming week at CCHS. It’s the time of the year to show off costumes, display school spirit and coordinate colors with your date for Saturday night. For those Cowboys that consider themselves single, it’s also a blatant reminder of their lack of a significant other.
In movies, TV shows and books about high school, romance is often a driving theme. Though there are overwhelming pressures to date in high school, students should not make relationships a priority during such formative years.
Many teenagers begin relationships with skewed intentions, such as satisfying societal expectations placed upon them, rather than genuinely desiring to be with someone. Although distorted sentiments are expected from adolescents, they can lead to unhappy relationships.
Research conducted by University of Illinois professor Dr. Reed Larson found a correlation between the negative emotions of teenagers in relationships and the superficiality of their attachments. Frivolous feelings can make relationships less rewarding, resulting in dissatisfaction.
“It takes time for a teenager to realize that a relationship isn’t just an infatuation based on haphazard attraction, but an entity on which two people with compatible personalities work together,” Dr. Larson said.
In other words, relationships between teenagers often fail because they are not based on a healthy conception of what a relationship ought to be.
Making relationships a priority may also cause high school students to neglect other aspects of their lives such as academics and involvement in extracurriculars. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend takes time that can detract from educational and social opportunities. But academic achievement and extracurriculars are imperative to future success and should take precedence over starting a relationship.
A common rationale for a focus on relationships in high school is that dating as a teenager is useful experience for finding a companion as an adult. However, experience as a teen usually does not apply to adulthood. As many parents may be relieved to hear, teenagers do not act as they will later in life. A scientific explanation for the often impulsive behavior of adolescents is that the frontal lobe is not fully developed until age 25. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, this is why teenagers have a reputation for poor judgment and a lack of regard for potential consequences. Futile flings in teen years could serve as a distraction, but teenagers do not have the neurological capacity to recognize the implications of the interference of relationships with other areas of their lives.
In high school, students are already in the arduous process of discovering their true identities. From the ages of 14 to 18 years old, students are faced with a wealth of new opportunities and responsibilities, including the stressful task of choosing an education or career path. Homecoming week should remind students that the experiences unique to high school are fleeting, while there is ample time to have relationships after graduation.
It is admirable to achieve a balance between college applications and dating, but finding footing in the real world does not need to be done while holding someone else’s hand.
Photo courtesy of Lariat photography