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The pressure to be in a relationship

genna danial, bear facts features writer

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 Everyone else is doing it, and maybe you are feeling the pressure to do it, too.  No, this is not about drinking or doing drugs.  This is about dating.

High school is all about new experiences and new information, and students may think high school is also about having a girlfriend or boyfriend.  In fact, many people feel pressure from friends, and even media, to find a significant other.

“There’s a lot of pressure because a lot of my friends are in a relationship, so it pressures you to be in a relationship,” Michael Lai, sophomore, said.  “It’s sort of like you’re being left out or you’re a third wheel.  It’s friends that pressure you because it’s like, ‘Hey, Mike, ‘we all have girlfriends. You need to get one.’”

Lai said he felt pressure to date since his freshman year, but it was not until three weeks ago that he actually started dating Katie Harbeck.

“I’m pretty happy.  I just happened to find her and started to like her a lot. That’s how it happened. It wasn’t because of pressure,” Lai said.  “I randomly went into her group at the bus stop, and I just started talking to her from there.”

But it was not always so easy to choose to be single.  Only weeks before, Lai still felt different than his dating peers. Because Lai took his time, he is happy with his choice to date someone and does not think he actually succumbed to peer pressure. 

 “For example, when we have group hang outs, all my friends bring their girlfriends along and I’m the only guy with no girlfriend,” Lai said before he entered his relationship.  “They’re usually talking with their girlfriends or their girlfriends usually talk with other people, and I’m just out there sitting alone, having no girlfriend to talk to while holding hands.”

            Not having a hand to hold is not holding back senior Hayley Banas, who does not feel a need to date in high school.

“I mean I have friends who are in a relationship, but I also have a lot that aren’t,” Banas said.  “So knowing that I have them, plus all my other friends, I don’t need that to be happy as a high schooler, so I don’t really think I need [a boyfriend].”

            But for Genna Nigro, sophomore, the pressure from social networking and media to think dating is important seems inescapable.

 “When you go on Facebook you see a lot of people who are dating, and they’re your age, and you kind of wonder why you’re not dating anyone,” Nigro said.  “In lot of the shows kids our age watch, a lot of people are always hooking up, or they’re in a serious relationship, and it kind of makes you think that’s the norm.”

Banas also thinks media can seem like pressure, but it is not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think it’s fine because people need to deal with being themselves, so they don’t need to follow a TV show,” Banas said.  “If they don’t understand that, they’re just dumb. They don’t need to follow a TV show to have the high school experience.”

Unfortunately for some, part of the “high school experience” means “having” to find dates in order to fit in, Lai said.

 “When it was my freshman year and I needed a homecoming date,  I didn’t know any girls, so I sort of just asked random girls,” Lai said.  “So you get to know this girl for like a week, and then you ask her to homecoming and the girl’s like, ‘No. I don’t know you.’ So I just move on to the next girl. That’s what happens. People try to find random people just so they can have a date and they won’t feel left out.”

Banas admits she feels pressure to have a date for dances, and other events, such as Valentine’s Day, but she says she tries not to let that stress her out.

 “I do think dances like Turnabout [add pressure],” Banas said. But she has another strategy for holidays. “I get chocolates for myself. But I mean some people do. A lot of people do. For Turnabout…it’s always like, ‘Oh, who am I going to ask?’ The pressure’s on. Then for Valentine’s Day I don’t really care. I’ll just buy myself some chocolates.”

Like Banas, Nigro does not plan on trying to find a date for Valentine’s Day, but she thinks she is in good company.

“I don’t know if anybody will find somebody to spend Valentine’s Day with,” says Nigro, “so a lot of girls are going to be hanging out with their friends, eating chocolate, and watching Nicholas Sparks movies and crying. That’s what I’m going to do.”

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Lake Zurich High School Student Media
The pressure to be in a relationship