Originally Published in the December 2013 Issue 3 of "The Mainsheet"
It’s Friday night. You have finished primping, you smell great, and you feel fabulous. You are ready to hit the town. If you are part of the 95% of the Upper School student body, you aren’t heading out to meet a significant other, or a “thing.” You are probably heading to the movies or dinner with some close friends.
This is a common Chadwick occurrence. Who has time to date? Who has the time and effort to be in a relationship? Who even is there to date?
There are a ton of advantages to going to a small school. Namely the one-on-one attention with teachers, the close relationships you have with your peers, more opportunity for leadership positions, and to try new things.
But there are also some definite negatives. With so few people in the student body, you run out of people to like, to date, and to get to know pretty quickly. Or at least that’s what a majority of students think.
After casually interviewing a sample of Chadwick students about the Chadwick dating scene, one anonymous student stated, “There are literally no guys here [to date].”
This is part of the problem. There are guys at Chadwick to date just like there are girls to date. Going into the dating scene telling yourself that there is no one out there for you is already inhibiting yourself from dating.
Another student commented: “I just am not anyone’s type here. I am not cute enough.” Not dating in high school doesn’t mean that you aren’t pretty enough or good enough. Talking yourself down also makes it hard for people to want to date you. If you don’t love yourself, if you are not confident in who you are, how can you expect someone else to love you? That’s harsh, but self-love should come before someone else’s love.
I have narrowed down my top five reasons why more Chadwick students don’t date.
Fear of rejection
It’s super-hard to ask someone out. It requires an enormous amount of confidence (at a time in our lives when we have very little) and vulnerability. You are laying your heart on the line...to be crushed with a no or opened up with a yes. You have to be able to get past “how could someone ever love me?” You have to love yourself and understand that you aren’t experiencing life’s full spectrum of wonderful emotion if you don’t experience the highs with the lows.
A fear of rejection is part of what harbors the high-school hookup culture scene. If you just hookup with someone, you “aren’t expecting anything emotional.” You can brush off a one-time hookup as your intention. You, of course, didn’t like them at all. Nothing emotional. Purely physical (yeah, right).
When you ask someone out or when you go on a date with someone, it is implied that you do want something deeper and that you care more than an impassive “like.”
Chadwick students are also extremely busy. We are under an enormous amount of stress and pressure. Relationships just add more complication to our lives.
It often doesn’t feel worth it to hassle with romantic entanglement and again, hurt feelings and heartbreak. We could be practicing for the SAT, reading our assigned English book, or doing things with friends instead.
Recently, I have been alerted to the underground prejudgment culture in the Upper School. The idea that “there could be absolutely no one here for me” means you have probably prejudged most of the school and put people in boxes.
We don’t know people as well as we think we do. People surprise us, and our opinions of people change.
We need to let down our guards and stop judging people before we can really get to know them. In order to make new friends, in order to find a romantic interest, you have to let go of preconceived notions. Appraising someone’s datability before you get to know them is not healthy.
Being in a relationship also requires maturity that I don’t think most high-school students possess. You have to love yourself, know what you need and what you deserve, and be responsible with yourself and your decisions.
The last part of why more Chadwick students don’t date is a little bit of fate and destiny. Not all students are ready or meant to date in high school. There might be no one here that you want to date. That’s OK, too.
Let’s dispel some common social constructs here. Dating is not something you have to do. You are not less attractive and less great if you don’t date. You do not have to be a guy to ask someone out.
Not dating, hooking up or just being friends are all fine. The most important part of all these different relationships is taking care of yourself and your well-being. I believe that above all, you need to make connections that feel safe for you.
Putting yourself out there is brave and noble. If you like someone, go to dinner, go on a date, make it happen! Too often I see my friends not act because they are afraid of the outcome.
You really never know until you try. Don’t wait until the coupling-up of senior year to realize that you never made a move on that special someone.
Photo Courtesy of http://cinefilles.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/2010_flipped_019.jpg