Should teens date in high school?

Abby Ng, Online Editor

I am 18 years old and I have never been in a romantic relationship. I’ve never had a boyfriend, even a crush, nor do I foresee one in my future anytime soon. But I’m perfectly fine with that. Although most would consider me single, I am actually in one of the most important relationships of my life: a relationship with myself.

For the past four years, I have ignored common practices and have been dating myself. At first, like many dateless teenagers in high school, I envied those who had someone to call their bae. But then I realized something riveting: you have to love yourself before you can truly love someone else.

The first time I felt relationship envy was in sixth grade. Sixth grade! I remember listening to my friend tell me about the gifts she’d received and the movies she’d went to with her middle school “boyfriend.” While I was still shopping at the mall with my mom, she was already going out on dates! And I know my friend was not the only girl eager to start “going out.”

Why do we rush to start dating? Why do we look up to those in relationships and pity those who are single? The idea of dating at an early age is ingrained in American culture. Many of the romantic comedies of the ‘80s featured teens. Only recently has it become acceptable to go to homecoming or prom without a date.

With social media, the revered “in a relationship” status is even more apparent. Browse the Instagram feed of any girl in a relationship, and you’ll notice that a photo of her and her BF will earn double the likes of any other post and dozens of comments stating “#goals.”

While we love to see a good romance, self discovery and self expression should be held with the same esteem. More often than not, high school relationships do not last past graduation. That’s why they’re called flings, right? But the relationship you have with yourself is anything but a fling. High school should be a time for discovering who you are and what you like. Being in a relationship can consume time you could be using to learn more about yourself. And a universally attractive quality that goes hand in hand with loving yourself: confidence.

High school can be transformative, but sometimes the transformation comes after high school.  Take Olivia Munn, future X-men movie star and possibly the future Mrs. Aaron Rodgers, for example. On Instagram she said, “Sometimes people come up to me and say we went to high school together in Oklahoma, but I know they don’t remember me from back then because no one talked to me in high school. At 16, I was the new girl and ate lunch by myself in the library every day.” No one knew her in high school, but now she is a celebrity. People change, making high school relationships futile.

After high school, there are plenty of opportunities to date, especially in college. Using high school for personal growth can prepare you for the complicated real world, not to mention the dating world. As cliché as it sounds, you “accept the love you think you deserve,” and knowing who you are and what you want will help you detect BS from your BF.

But while I’d recommend dating yourself in high school, sometimes Cupid strikes and people can find true love as teenagers. Some get lucky, like Emma Shibilski and Daniel Owen, seniors.

“I’m dating my best friend,” Emma assured me despite my skepticism. Daniel backed her up: “It helps with all the stress of high school.”

If you are truly drawn to someone, don’t let my advice get in your way. High school relationships can be memorable and magical. But if they start interfering with who you are, take a step back and push aside any fear of the single life. Being single doesn’t mean being alone. It means focusing on becoming your best self so that one day you can be with your best partner.