Image via akronchildrens.org
Sometimes, I’m a cynic. My belief in the inevitable failure of 95% of high school relationships to last until marriage exemplifies this.
The majority of high school students want to fit in. It’s human nature – at this adolescent stage of life, fitting in is as important as getting good grades or scoring high on the SAT. Even more important, to some. I don’t believe in the stereotypical groups presented in television shows: the jocks, the preps, the goths, loners, nerds, etc. However, I do think that there are variances to those archetypes that accumulate in what I like to call the “high school caste system”. More about that in a future post.
So what does fitting in have to do with relationships? It’s simple – if you’re in a relationship, you fit in, but you don’t try to fit in. It’s killing two birds with one stone. The typical teen will assume that their boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t care about looks, or what other people think, and my personal favorite – loves them for who they are. So the individual in the relationship will assume that they’re free from their peers’ expectations, but they’re actually falling right into them. Just look at television shows like Degrassi or Glee or Smallville. All of these feature teens in unrealistically happy relationships – but then again, it’s reality television: where reality is equal to exorbitant drama and partying on the beaches of Jersey Shore.
Another reason high school relationships fail is due to the fact that to the people who are in them: teenagers. This is probably going to earn me criticism from my peers, but honestly, we are not the most mature bunch. Some of us, anyway. I’ve separated the people in high school relationships into three categories (inspired by my brilliant Latin teacher):
Those who care about themselves intentionally: These are the people who date because they want the relationship, not the other person in the relationship. I see this more than I would like to, but in a myriad of cases the feeling is mutual among the participants of the “relationship”. 0% of these relationships survive, because essentially, they aren’t relationships to begin with.
Those who care about themselves unintentionally: This is a difficult category. Here’s how my Latin teacher explained it: imagine two people dating. They’re going to be Joe and Janice.
Joe: Oh Janice, I love the way you make me feel! You make me so happy!
Janice: Oh Joe, all those sweet things you say to me and the gifts you buy me make me just want to die! (of happiness, I guess)
Notice how prominent “me” is. I obviously exaggerated this to prove my point, but in a lot of relationships – not just those found in high school – person A will claim to care about person B, but in fact person A only cares about person B because they’re trying to satisfy themselves. Think about it.
Those who care about the other person: This is where I make myself doubt that even 5% of high school relationships truly succeed, because getting to this level of trust with another person is impossible until one possesses significant maturity and independence. This group is reserved for the love between parent and child, sibling and sibling, and other rare circumstances – imagine how much time you would have to spend with a person until you could achieve that with them. Certainly more than four years. To love someone to the point where you would sacrifice your own well-being, truly sacrifice it, not just “I would catch a grenade for ya” sacrifice, but promising eternal faithfulness and unconditional understanding – that is the zenith of a relationship.
Thinking about that hurt my head a little, so I’ll move on to other more simple reasons why these relationships don’t last:
Image via Cynaide and Happiness
Sex. Violence. Drinking. All of those detract from the depth of a relationship, and because those things are so prevalent in high school, they decrease the amount of successful relationships. Not to mention college – I might write a post later on about why long distance relationships fail, if I have time. Basically, you can promise your significant other that you’ll love them even when you’re miles, countries, or worlds apart – but it’s easier said than done.
Teenagers also tend to think that their boyfriends and girlfriends are better than they actually are, or over analyze the emotions involved in the relationship, instead of actually, well, dating. This quote explains what I’m trying to say:
“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyze your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.” – Leo F. Buscaglia.
Well, that was fun. Maybe I should start a series called “Sunday Morning Cynicism.”
I want to end this delightful post by saying that I do not intend to offend anyone – I have several friends in relationships and wish them the best. This is just my personal opinion, and others are free to argue. I hope they argue, actually, because if not the world would be depressing. I consider myself a romantic person, and yet here I go writing this…
what a two-faced freak.