Grade school was dating hell! It was those awkward years when my friends and I would spend our free time in class gossiping about the respective girls that we had crushes on. I remember making fun of my friends if they couldn’t muster up the courage to tell the girl how he felt or to just start talking to her in general. And of course they had no problem with returning the favor. Although I thought it was a big deal at the time, I realize now that none of the relationship antics I found myself caught up in never even mattered. Even though it was a big deal in middle school, no matter how bad the crush, how strong the feelings, I continued to enjoy everyday and participate in the innocence of being in grade school… Until I stumbled upon the ugly beast that is high school relationships. But are all high school relationships ugly? Is it possible to actually gain something from the drama, heartbreak, and anxiety?

Although high school relationships are usually looked at as not serious and doomed to fail, they absolutely provide an opportunity for kids to practice. My first relationship was a terrible one at best, filled with many stories of obsolete drama and immaturity. Both of us were entirely too young and we didn’t even have cell phones to communicate outside of school, but despite the shortcomings of the relationship I still gained something vital… The experience of a relationship.

Not many of us graduate high school a spouse, though relatively many of us do not want to be our spouses first relationship either. Relationships in high school gives us the skills we need for more serious partners down the road. Skills such as: handling emotions, com-compensation for your significant other, and learning the social skills it takes to have a successful relationship.

But this does not mean that if you’re in high school you should go out and jump into a relationship. The risks may just outweigh the benefits. Teens that are involved in dating are more likely to also be involved in criminal activity, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. Depression and substance abuse are epidemics plaguing our modern world. These risks should definitely be considered, but are not the only ones.

According to loveisrespect.org, nearly 1.5 million high school students will experience physical abuse from their significant other in a single year. These violent behaviors usually manifest between the ages of 12 and 18, and despite common misconceptions, violent behaviors are not gender specific. Both men and women could fall victim to abuse in a relationship.

So should I say no to a movie and dinner? Or should I sit on a cloud of companionship and lust hoping the fall isn’t crippling? Well, that is up to you, but whatever you choose just make sure to make the most of it.

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