High School Dating in 2018

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High school students today all struggle with one major thing: dating while in high school. Most of 2018’s high school students were born in the year 2000 or later and only have the abstract millennial experience of dating someone. We cannot completely discredit dating in 2018 as a bad way of doing things, though, because in the last 15 years dating has become extremely accepting of all people. Yes, 15 years ago was only 2003, but high school dating culture has positively and negatively developed over the last decade and a half. Interracial couples are no longer frowned upon, and gay couples are now free to hold hands in public without experiencing as much backlash. Gay marriage is now legal in all U.S. states and territories (except American Samoa), whereas in 2003, Lawrence v. Texas had just removed all anti-sodomy laws for the first time.

When people think of high schoolers dating, many different ideas come to mind, so we sent out an anonymous survey to find out opinions on dating in 2018.  Students have said that they think dating is more accepted in 2018 as opposed to 15 years ago, while others feel that dating is more complicated now and harder to figure out. High school relationships meet uncharted territory when it comes to social media. There has never been a guide for relationships and social media and 2003-2018 have been filled with so much new technology and social media platforms. This has left the current high school generation to figure these types of things out on their own.  Aside from social media being a heavy influencer in the way high schoolers date, times have changed, as students point out. Women are more respected in relationships, and with this growth, it seems that many relationships are now healthier because both partners are able to fulfill different roles in the relationship. “Today it’s much more acceptable for women to be strong and independent and for guys to be more loving and cute. It’s a lot more equal,” said one student. This speaks to where we are as a society in the realm of equality.

Although dating in high school is notably different in 2018, there is still work to be done on changing the dating culture. Relationship abuse has come out into the light and is not such a taboo topic anymore, but if we started teaching high school students more about abusive relationships, we could work to eliminate some of the violence and abuse in adult relationships. Some high school students wish dating would take on more traditional forms, “Honestly, I would just go back to the 50s. I wish people still wrote love letters and still met up at the diner to share a milkshake on Friday night and listen to Elvis.” Since social media has so much influence in high school relationships, other students wish that social media would be left out of their relationship. “We have phones now. No one talks face to face much anymore, but you are able to do long distance. [You] have to take the good with the bad.”

Each generation of high school students in relationships has been different with various challenges to face. Students feel strongly about dating violence in 2018, which is a positive thing to see. “If I could change the way people view unhealthy relationships, I definitely would. Many people mistake abusive behaviors for love, which can have a very negative impact on their life. People see obsessive control over an s/o as “protectiveness” and romanticize abuse. I see posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat of people being disrespectful to their partners and disguising it as affection.” High school dating is not a concept that will ever become perfect, and it is important that each person takes aspects that they enjoy about dating someone and incorporate them into their relationships to remain happy and healthy.

* In addition to February being a month of love, it is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you love is in an unhappy, abusive relationship reach out to help them and visit loveisrespect.org or call 1-866-331-9474  for more tips on addressing unhealthy dating environments.