Will you still love me after high school?
April 10, 2018
They met in 2nd period―sophomores. Gazing at her during the lessons punctuated his day throughout the semester.
Today she noticed him: a surreal concept to the boy. He struggled with words and pretty girls, but math posed no challenge. At the end of class, the day before the final, the girl returned to her seat for the third time after asking the teacher for more explanations. With slight stuttering, he scheduled to meet her at Starbucks that night for a study date.
After almost three years of commitment, loyalty, and a few fights, the graduating couple held each other in one hand, and flung their cap with the other. With so much time invested in a relationship, how did it affect their high school experience? What happens next?
Something more than stress and bad acne may come out of this high school experience. Long term, romantic relationships impact students’ four year education and occasionally continue beyond senior year. Commitment, loyalty, and other values reinforce certain pillars that maintain the stability of a healthy relationship.
Though high school sweethearts used to abundantly see an adult future, only 14% of relationships after high school make it to marriage today. Despite the decreasing chances of seeing your high school girlfriend or boyfriend walking towards you down the aisle, these relationships still offer lessons that apply to the rest of one’s life.
“Communication, loyalty, and trust—without these things you just won’t last,” senior Kallie Chablas said.
Relationships require an equal amount of maturity from both love birds to provoke cooperation, and similar thinking. Social cliques comprise the typical high school. A freshman dating a senior will struggle, and vice versa, because of the polar differences in experience, peers, and maturity.
“It is key to find someone whose maturity is on the same level as yours,” senior Chris Enloe said in a Huffington Post article.
Responsibility comes with a long term relationship. Both parties must tend to the problems and solutions that serve in their best interests. Maturity comes only with a clear flow of communication, the prioritization of loyalty, and the uninfluenced judgement in each dilemma presented in a relationship. An immature mindset, whether stemming from one person or both partners, will result in the relationship’s downfall; therefore, a true relationship depends on true maturity.
Deciding between the two hour, late night cell phone call and the essay due tomorrow inevitably confronts high schoolers in relationships. Despite the importance of a relationship’s maintenances, sacrificing academic stability does not fall under these responsibilities.
Often seen as the integral component to a healthy relationship, communication calms the waters, soothes misunderstandings, jealousy, and any other problems posed by this long term commitment.
For teenagers, verbalizing issues, whether stemming from a personal flaw or external conflict, poses a challenge. Shyness, hesitation, and insecurity all inhibit clear communication with one’s partner, but ironically enough, clear communication eliminates debilitating shyness, hesitation, and insecurity.
“Communication is key. Without that, I think [my boyfriend and I] would have sunk a long time ago,” Chablas said.
Even when pillars such as communication, loyalty, and prioritization support a relationship, problems inevitably come about. High school couples occasionally struggle with a gap between ages, and sometimes a gap in distance.
As a sophomore, Kallie Chabla met Gerald Mitchell, a senior at the time. Through high school, Chabla and Mitchell enjoyed their relationship, filled with the typical ups and downs that eventually impacted her as a person and as a NC student.
Nearly three years later, Mitchell attends the University of Alabama and continues to pursue a healthy relationship with Chabla. She describes her journey and what maintains the stability, despite the long distance.
“It got really serious when we realized that he was going off to college. What do we do now? Are we going to focus on out relationship, or are we going to take on new experiences?” Chabla asked herself. “I wasn’t sure if I was holding him back or not, considering that he was going to be a college freshman.”
In Chabla’s situation, loyalty and communication become more important than ever. The training wheels of a high school relationship come off as the two students move closer and closer to adult life.
“I do think that high school relationships are premature and limited. But after high school, we have more freedom, so we have more responsibility, and have to be more mature,” Chabla said.
The challenge of a long distance relationship faced the two students but they persisted and powered through. With her boyfriend in a neighboring state, Chabla implements integral values that keep her relationship in place.
As for other students like juniors Maggie Huff and Hank Nolan, a moderate 35 minute distance still limits their frequent visits but allows them to balance their romantic, social, and academic lives.
“If you see someone everyday, it sometimes starts to get unhealthy,” said Huff. “It really helps keeping a balance in between us,” added Nolan.
Outside influences play a role in high school relationships, despite any distance. Friends and romantic partners come together and heavily affect the way someone lives as a student. Yet, long term, healthy relationships themselves create an influential model for the rest of society to follow.
“Our peers look up to our relationship. I would say that it kind of shows them what it should be like, how they should be treated, and how they should treat people” Nolan said.
When asked what describes a relationship, Nolan comments on the dependence on each person, and that “you need to be comfortable being yourself around [your partner] at all times.”
When looking inside NC’s long term relationships, true learning experiences and responsibilities come into the light. Students learn more than a class could teach them when they invest time and energy into growing a profound relationship with another person, preparing them for the heart breaks and bittersweet love that life has to offer.