In any old movie or in many people’s stories, much of a high school student’s time is often spent going on dates with various people. People would go on upwards of three dates before deciding to make the relationship “official”, or they would realize it wasn’t going to work out and stop dating.
However, this is not the case at my school. People simply don’t date. There’s “talking” and there’s being in a relationship. It seems that people only go to the movies or out to eat together when they are officially “together.” There is no trial period and no such thing as being casual. It’s simply relationship or single. People created the idea of dating as a test to deem whether or not two people are compatible. To completely disregard the dating step isn’t a very smart thing to do, especially if an entire school adopts that mentality.
The worst thing about it, however, is not that that mindset exists, but that if anyone doesn’t follow it and chooses to casually go on dates, they’re called anything from a cheater to a slut, particularly if it is a girl in question.
Personally, I think dating is a fantastic idea. Even if you’ve known someone for a long time, being in a situation where you can have one on one time in a more-than-friends setting can tell you a lot. You may find out that you do have feelings for the other person, or you may find out remaining friends is the better option. Even if you two do decide the second option is better, dating first is much less awkward than rushing into a relationship, involving your friends, alerting the entire school, and then finding out that you two aren’t as compatible as you originally thought.
Dating is also great when you’re in that “I’m interested, but I don’t know him that well” stage. Going on a date helps you get to know a person better and helps you figure out exactly what you’re feeling towards that person. Unfortunately, just like dating, the “maybe interested” mindset is frowned upon at my school. Either you like a person romantically or you don’t, there’s no middle ground. Asking a person to immediately and concretely know exactly what they’re feeling at all times is way to much to ask of a person. Feelings aren’t always clear, and you shouldn’t have to either wait them out or jump into something before you’re ready.
Now, if everyone just happened not to date, and they were okay with that, then it wouldn’t be such a big problem. The main issue, however, is the name-calling that occurs in this situation. If people go on a date, it is assumed that
they are in a relationship. Then, someone sees one of the pair flirting with someone else or on another date and the rumor mill starts spinning. “So-and-so is a cheater.” “What a slut.” “He was just leading her on.” It never ends and it’s completely unnecessary. So what if a person is interested in more than one person? So what if he or she is trying to figure out their feelings? People should be allowed to do so in any manner they wish.
Another major problem comes from people who actually do go on dates before they start a relationship. The problem? Often one party assumes that because they are on a date, they are in a relationship. No conversation about it. I have seen this lack of communication tear apart potential relationships because one person goes on a date with a different person and suddenly they’ve apparently cheated. The rest of the school brands them as a cheater and then no one will even consider going on a date with them.
Despite my school’s mentality, I am all for dating white men, even though it is stigmatized in the PC culture. Dating is a way to explore, and I firmly believe that high school is about exploration. Do what you want romantically. See who you want to see. Date with whatever level of seriousness you wish. The only person who gets to decide those sort of things is you, not your school, and not your friends. Relationships and dating are very personal things, and they are all up to you and the person with whom you are dating or in a relationship with.