students should not make relationships a priority

Sadie Putnam, Social Media Editor

In my family, meeting your soulmate in high school is an unspoken normality. My parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings; literally everyone found their significant other in high school. Then there’s me. I’m a senior and nowhere close to being in a relationship. I wish I could say it doesn’t bother me, but ninth wheeling at every family event is just a little degrading. However, my family is not truly considered average. According to the Huffington Post, only two percent of new marriages are between high school sweethearts. So basically, I just happened to be surrounded by all of them.

Looking back on my time in high school, I always expected to find someone. Entering my last semester, I’ve realized it was all a waste of time. I’m not saying all high school relationships are useless and unnecessary, just that relationships should not be an all-consuming priority. Students should be focusing on pursuing their passions, doing what makes them happy, exploring options for the future, and if a relationship falls into place, great. Worrying about their love life, or lack thereof, just causes students to miss out on the world around them.

Senior Grace Kim said she has been in relationships before, but not very serious ones. Kim said that high school relationships can be beneficial in regards to better self-understanding.

“I think you learn to grow a lot, for yourself, and you learn a lot of things about yourself that you couldn’t learn without a relationship,” Kim said.

Being in a relationship can help people learn who they are, but it is important to keep in mind what is being sacrificed to please a significant other. English teacher Storm Shaw said that although dating in high school can be a really good thing, it is important for students to maintain their independence.

“Kids tend to sacrifice a lot of individuality and a lot of opportunity because they don’t know better and high school relationships, even the best ones, tend to at times be overbearing,” Shaw said. “[There are] heightened expectations for both parties involved and there’s a pressure to sacrifice things for the other person, even if the other person isn’t communicating that. I feel like high school kids often feel that pressure because they think that a good partner makes sacrifices, and a good partner makes their significant other a priority and all this and so they sacrifice opportunities to be independent, individual and have really unique life experiences.”

Much like Shaw, junior Dom DeCicco said he understands the value relationships can have, but thinks that having too many can impede on self reflection.

“I definitely think you should not constantly be in a relationship because you need to have time to reflect on yourself,” DeCicco said.

Although the likelihood of high school relationships lasting is slim, I’ve seen them survive and thrive after high school. Senior Nolan Taggart and junior Annaliese Goldwasser have been together for over a year. Both Taggart and Goldwasser said that having someone who helps them grow and learn is helpful.

“If you have a relationship with somebody that has been built over that much time then I think that’s something really special,” Goldwasser said.

Taggart said he and Goldwasser, over the past year, have maintained a strong, trusting relationship, where they are best friends and can have fun together while staying true to their independence.

“She’s my best friend, so anytime I need help with anything, I just ask her,” Taggart said. “I always offer to help her with anything, so it’s really fun.”

Despite how it may seem, Shaw said in order to find a healthy relationship, one must focus on themselves first.

“If you maintain your independence and cultivate who you are as a person, it’s actually going to make you a better partner,” Shaw said.

Unfortunately, high school relationships can reach a roadblock as college nears — some couples who choose to follow each other could split up. Others attempt to manage a long distance relationship, which could cause them to miss out on exciting, new college experiences. This may not apply to Taggart and Goldwasser, since they both said they planned on attending Kansas State University before their relationship began, but it is still a dilemma many high school couples encounter. The choice for each couple is different, but nonetheless should not be made a priority over one’s future hopes and dreams or the development of each individual.

It is difficult to maintain a relationship in college because of how people change and what they learn about themselves. Kim said it varies from relationship to relationship, but each individual must be conscious about how they’re changing.

“[Following someone to college] is controversial, it just depends on what kind of relationship it is,” Kim said. “It’s hard because in college you learn more things about yourself. So you have to become a different person. You change a lot.”

While relationships can help people learn more about themselves and how they interact with other people, individuals need to be cautious about what they’re giving up to uphold a relationship. Personal happiness should be the most important thing in a student’s life.

“I think people in high school should be in relationships that make them happy,” Kim said. “But I don’t think that they should let it get too serious to where they have to depend on that person because in high school, you still need to be independent.”