Valentine's Raises Questions About the Nature of Teenage Romance
Valentine’s Day is one of the few instances in which high school students act individually to make a collective difference. Of all the 180 days of the school year, this is the only day in which the normally monochromatic hallways explode in shades of red, pink and white. Yes, a simple change of clothes can change the atmosphere. Couples embrace at every corner and chocolate is eaten in class. I get trampled weaving my way through a mess of helium balloons, rose bouquets, and giant teddy bears. Oh yes, Valentine’s Day is an elaborate event.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this holiday is one of the most favored by high school students. This year, there was an entire school dance based on the concept of the “King of Hearts,” and everything from radio to department stores remind couples to do something memorable for that “special someone.” One teacher went so far as to instruct his male students of the absolute necessity to give their girlfriends something, lest it be the end of their relationship. One girl described the holiday as better than Christmas.
The hype leading up to Valentine’s Day and my peers’ extravagant displays of affection only adds to my general enthusiasm. At the same time adults cry, “Our youth have fallen prey to consumerism!” they instruct the boys that they “must” do something special for their sweethearts. Hypocrisy and material gifts can’t equal true love.
Love. It’s such an abstract term, thrown around in high school with hardly a thought. People date for two weeks and begin publicly declaring their love for each other. Is that normal? It is in high school. Is that really love? I doubt it. While it is cute to watch my friends dance with happiness at the change of their relationship status, I wonder about the source of their joy – and even why people date in high school at all.
It’s known that high school relationships seldom blossom into anything worthwhile. Whether it’s college, friends, or different goals, there are tons of reasons why couples split up. As I’ve traveled through the years, I have watched more and more of my friends become involved in romantic relationships. I listen to girls squirm over whether to stay together after graduation. Why do we torture ourselves so?
So far, I’ve decided that our behavior is due to the very nature of high school social life. The social aspect is, at minimum, 75 percent of the total high school experience. People’s interests change over four years, as do friendships, and having a support group through these changes is vital. The single source of support that comes with a romantic relationship can add more than even a best friend can.
I once had an English teacher who argued teenagers did not know what love is. She spoke of a married couple in which the husband worked out of town during the week and only returned home on the weekends. His wife said that this situation actually made their relationship stronger. My teacher compared this to high school romance, where students can hardly stand spending a few days apart. I hate to admit that her last point is true, but I have to disagree with her. I think relationships are based on something more than hormones. However, since adolescent emotions are so intense, they are often misinterpreted. Does this qualify as love?
I would never rule out the option.
While I dodge giant balloons and stuffed bears this Valentine’s Day, I like to think that there’s something like love in the show.