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Is Dating Worth It? | High School Column

Editor’s Note: We’ve just added Katie Holley to our beautiful team, as Director of High School Community! While our Monday-Friday posts will continue to be directed towards our beloved 18-28 crowd, we realize that so many of you are high school girls – so we want to do something special for you. Every Saturday, we will be answering your questions right here. If you want to submit a question, you can do so on this page! Please join me in welcoming Katie, and reading this week’s question & answer. – Lauren

Question: When it comes to being in a relationship, is it even possible to actually know what love is at this age? How do I know if I’m making the right decisions or if its even worth it?

Katie’s Answer: While I don’t have a formula to give you to tell you if what you’re experiencing is love or not, I think we could take a crack at the second part of your question; how do I know if I’m making the right decisions or is it even worth it?

Is it worth it to pursue relationships in high school? Absolutely. This means different things to different people though, so make sure you’re the one making decision on what you’re comfortable with – not your friends. High school can be an awesome time in life to discover how to have healthy relationships outside of the incredible stresses of ‘adulthood’, and I think we could all agree that learning how to live in healthy relationships early on in life is so worth it.

How do you know if you’re making the right dating decisions in high school? First things first; how well do you know yourself? The key to knowing whether or not you’re making wise choices, dating the right guys, doing the right things, lies within you. A healthy relationship is one where intimacy follows commitment [meaning if you're writing your first name with his last name and he doesn't even know who you are yet, you are becoming more emotionally involved than the level of commitment in the relationship would allow]. If there is a large sense of desperation in your heart, any relationship you enter into lies in danger of letting intimacy lead commitment, instead of the other way around. Do not enter a relationship because you want to take, but because you have something to give. These kinds of questions are only answered inside your own heart, not by another person.

I asked my friend and GWP supporter Kelly for her thoughts on the subject:

Relationships in high school are interesting to deal with because the emotions you are feeling are so real and so strong. I have countless journal pages from high school filled with “I love ______ so much” and at the time, I believe I legitimately felt strong feelings for that person. I only had a few relationships in high school, but each of them were intense and brought on every emotion on the spectrum. They felt so real and important to me that to say I didn’t know love was an insult. However, looking back on those same journal pages now, I see myself as silly and immature. I made a lot of definitive statements, like “I will always love him” or “I know we’ll be together forever,” when I had no idea who I really was yet.

My advice would be to slow down, take your time and know who you are. Even now, I’m 23 years old and have been married for over a year. I run a business with my husband and consider myself an adult, but I still don’t fully know who I am. It’s a long process that takes time. Ask yourself questions. What do you like? Why do you like it? What do you believe? Is it because your friends believe it or because you thought through your options and chose what fits you best? Expand your circle of influence. Read and write a lot! Know exactly who you are so that when you do make a decision about love and relationships, you know it’s the right decision for you.

As you’re figuring out the relationship thing in high school, here are some questions to ask that might help you decide if it’s healthy or not: Are you a better person because of them? Is your sense of purpose stronger because of the other individual contributing to your world? Is your relationship with your parents better or worse because of this guy? Does he respect your boundaries? Are you able to limit your alone time without fearing losing his attention or affection?

Do you have a question for our High School Column? You can submit it through this form. We post here every Saturday & we’d love to answer your questions! Any questions about the High School Column for the Good Women Project can be sent to katie [at] goodwomenproject.com

8 Responses

  1. I didn't date at all through high school. I was brought up with the mindset to date someone who I could potentially see myself marrying. I know it may seem hard to get to know someone to that level without dating them, but it did at least help weed out a LOT of guys that I definitely would never marry. I remained in friend mode with anyone I was unsure about until I knew enough about them to potentially date them.

    I did date briefly at age 22 and when a couple situations didn't work out, I became more clear with myself about my "non-negoatioables" in a man I would date. I don't think a guy has to have everything on your "dream guy" list but he does at least need to have the qualities that are most important to you if you're thinking about spending your life with that person. I know some people who find their spouse during high school and others that don't until they are older. I really enjoyed being single until the right guy came into my life (and he did at 23!). If you don't find the right person for you in high school, don't freak out. It will come when the time is right…embrace your singleness and continue to grow and learn about life in the meantime. :)

    April 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

  2. B...

    "A healthy relationship is one where intimacy follows commitment. If there is a large sense of desperation in your heart, any relationship you enter into lies in danger of letting intimacy lead commitment, instead of the other way around."

    LOVE this! Very applicable for everybody, even those of us have been out of high school for a few years.

    April 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

  3. Kat

    I am 18 years old and about to graduate high school. I’ve been in a couple of relationships over the last four years, none lasting much longer than three or four months, and they’ve really taught me more about myself rather than how to have a successful relationship. I still feel like an amateur when it comes to dating, especially because I think the guys I chose to go out with weren’t taking me seriously and had some maturing to do….I don’t necessarily have any regrets because of what I’ve learned, I just wish I had done some things differently.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

  4. Genevieve Simpson

    I love me some Katie. :) You will do wonderfully, doll!

    April 24, 2012 at 1:16 am

  5. Megan

    My experiences in middle school actually saved me a lot of heartache on the dating scene in high school. In middle school, I was…shall I say…awkward looking. Puberty was not kind to me. Consequently, even though I had an overwhelming desire to date, I was teased and ridiculed by many boys. I can still feel the scars of their hatefulness to this day. Once I grew out of my awkward stage in high school, I was much more particular about my dating partner. Why would I waste my time on a boy who would not commit to me? I also saw my friends get repeatedly hurt through the on-and-off-again relationships, and I knew my soft heart could not survive so many break-ups. I made a promise to myself not to date a boy without seeing a long-term commitment in our future. It is also important to ask yourself this question: am I using this relationship to validate who I am to myself or other people? If so, you should may need to rethink what you are doing.

    April 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

  6. christin.

    If there's one thing I keep telling my brother (who is 17 and 10 years younger than me) it's that high school should be FUN. High school is a time to try new things and build friendships and enjoy not having all the responsibilities of adulthood. So if your relationship constantly brings you down, takes opportunities away from you, and feels like more work than fun – it's probably not the right relationship to be in during high school.

    I was definitely a kid who took myself too seriously. But I look back at my intense relationships that lasted years from middle school through high school and think "How much did I miss out on because I was stressing over a boy?" It's hard to have that perspective when you're in it and all of the emotions feel so strong, but I think it's worth trying to balance being true to the commitments you've made and how it affects what you really want out of life at that age.

    April 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

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