High School Students Experiment With New Relationships


“Every day, I wake up and I’m really happy.” said Sadie Steiger, junior. Photo courtesy of Michal Rzepecki

Hand-holding, Valentine’s Day and date nights; all of these are associated with relationships and high school students are surrounded by them. Some high school students feel the pressure of needing to be in a relationship because of their peers around them being in one. Mehlville is no exception to teen dating.

In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 35% of teens ages 13 to 17 reported having some kind of romantic experience. The percent of teens who have never been in a romantic relationship of any kind was 64%.

This generation is dating less than previous generations. The percentage of seniors who haven’t dated went from 14% in 1991 to 38% in 2013. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, high school students who have had sex decreased from 54% in 1992 to 40% in 2017.

Being in a healthy relationship is a desire for every teen, whether you’re in your teen years or not. Knowing how to treat your partner is key to a healthy relationship.

Honesty and trust strengthen relationships, especially ones still in their infancies. Being honest with your partner and their boundaries builds trust. It is important to give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

Communicating is the foundation of connections with others. Talking to your partner about what makes you comfortable or if you have doubts about anything strengthens your bond and makes it feel like you are able to talk to your partner about anything.

Compromise and problem-solving is key when your partner and you are having a disagreement. Identifying solutions and talking through situations helps resolve arguments and prevents a breakup by building the bond and trust.

Teens need to value respect and boundaries in order to have a healthy connection. The most obvious sign of a toxic relationship is physical or sexual abuse. Hitting, slapping or shoving to get one’s way is a sign of abuse. Forcing one into sexual activity without consent is also abuse.
There are also subtle signs that some fail to recognize. Control is one of them. If a partner is controlling what you wear, who your friends are or even isolates you from your family and friends, this is toxic and unhealthy.

A partner that lies to you about where they’ve been or in general is dishonest shows the lack of trust in the relationship. If your partner makes fun of you for your opinions or interests, they don’t have respect for you.

Partners shouldn’t be dependent on one another. If one feels like they “can’t live without” the other, they might do something drastic when the relationship ends. Another aspect of control is intimidation. For example, your partner threatens violence or a break-up if you want to go out of town or be with your family.

The presence of couples is not lacking at Mehlville. Many say that young relationships won’t last longer than two weeks. One example of a couple that broke that misconception is Micheal Robinson, junior and Sadie Steiger, junior, who just recently celebrated their one year anniversary. Despite the odds, they tell me how they made it to this milestone together.

“You definitely take it day to day, [be]cause you can’t really predict what’s going to happen tomorrow… you just make the best of it,” said Micheal Robinson.

While these two seemed to luck out, not all feel the same way.

There are many mixed feelings surrounding high school relationships. Young people are just starting to get a hold of all new sorts of feelings, making their actions and judgment quite questionable, thus making young relationships worrisome. Even so, everyone is different. What one wants and is ready for will always vary from one person to the next.

For some, a young relationship could be a goal. This can invoke a positive change; a self-discovery about what relationships mean to them and how to maintain a healthy one. Whether it’s worth it or not, that is completely up to an individual. Only you can decide if a relationship is the right thing for you, but keep in mind, maintaining a healthy one is important. If you have questions, concerns or need support with a relationship, the counseling center is available to help.