From a Teen’s Perspective: Dating advice from a happy high school single

by Dylan Lanier on October 31, 2023

High school is often the first time people consider real romantic relationships (sorry everybody, that date in sixth grade doesn’t count). However, the path through high school romance can often be a rocky one, so today, despite my lacking love life, I thought I would share my advice for navigating it.

1. You don’t have to find your soulmate: I hate to be cynical, but the likelihood that anyone at your school will be endgame material is pretty slim. We’re still developing as people —figuring out what we want, gaining maturity, and working through our own individual journeys to adulthood.

I think that plenty of high school relationships end prematurely because one or more partners have unrealistic expectations. You won’t find the “perfect” match, because it doesn’t exist, but with genuine connection and effort, you can build a lasting, strong bond.

Ask yourself: am I happy in this relationship? If you are, then it’s important to remember that there will still be flaws but that it’s worth working through them. After all, high school relationships are the best place to learn what you do and don’t want in a relationship, so don’t take away your chance to learn by ending things at the first sign of imperfection.

2. Ignore the pressure: That being said, no one should feel like they have to be in a relationship. Many of us misinterpret platonic emotions for romantic ones because we think that we’re supposed to have a crush. But it’s okay not to have a romantic interest. Everyone is going at their own pace, whether by their choosing or circumstances outside their control.

Remember that the right journey for you is the one you’re taking, not an idealized version of someone else’s. Stay in tune with your feelings so you can recognize when you’re ready for a relationship.

3. Set your priorities: Whether you have a significant other or not, it’s important to determine what matters most to you in life. Many high schoolers tend to choose time with their partners instead of time for homework, friends, family, and hobbies. While relationships are valuable sources of happiness and learning, you need to make sure that you’re putting your long-term well-being first, and that you’re setting yourself up for success down the road by cultivating growth in numerous areas of your life.

4. Have fun: Relationships are supposed to be exciting. The first date, the first kiss — all of these are exciting milestones that should bring joy into your life. If your significant other is bringing more negativity than positivity to your life, it might be time to reconsider whether your energy is best spent in that relationship. Of course, every couple has ups and downs, but at its core, relationships are supposed to give us energy instead of drain it.

In my opinion, when evaluating a romantic relationship, it’s always helpful to think of it like a friendship. For example, if a friend kept putting you down, would you remain just as close? On the contrary, if you love spending time with a new friend, wouldn’t you want to share more memories with them? Questions like these can help you see your partner more clearly and make better decisions about your relationship with them.

The moral of the story is simple: romantic high school relationships are unique opportunities to grow as a partner and a person, and they can look different for everyone. Stay in tune with your emotions, continue to develop the many other important aspects of your life, and remember that everyone has their own unique path through love. At the end of the day, before you can commit to others, you must commit to yourself.

Got any topics you want me to cover? Email with your requests!

Dylan Lanier is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School; his column appears weekly.

Stock photo image by Freepik

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