Engaged and Underage: Love in High School

Junior Alyssa Guzman on love in high school.

In the past few months, Facebook has slowly died out amongst high school students. Instead, other social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest have filled the voids in our hearts.

Although Facebook may have died out, everyone knows that if you’re in the mood to spark controversy, that’s the place to do it. Just ask junior Marcel Matuszek, who posted a status saying “having a relationship in high school is a joke…….” just a few days before school started. Not only did the status get 138 “likes” (138… really? I can barely get 38 likes on a status) but it also gained 34 comments–some praising Matuszek for his wisdom, and others bashing him because, for some reason unknown to me, they feel as if their own relationships have been threatened.

“High school relationships aren’t going to get you anywhere,” he said.

Now, I know what you all must be thinking. What about all of those high school sweethearts? What about those cute couples in the movies?

Trust me, I’m with you guys–my parents are high school sweethearts. They met at Niles West their sophomore year, and now they’re married with three kids. Matuszek admits that it does happen; it’s just very rare.

“In high school, everyone is stupid and young and naive,” he said. “Which makes it hard to maintain a relationship.”

Some people think differently, though. Math teacher Ryan Geu has been teaching at Niles West for 12 years now, and in his early years of teaching, he remembers a student of his walking into class with an engagement ring. ” She was just glowing, so I asked her about it after class. She didn’t really tell me the full story, but she said that they were getting married. I asked her if she was sure that he was the one, and she seemed sure… Getting married is a huge decision.”

Since marriage is a decision that can potentially change your whole life, Mr. Geu believes that students who choose to get engaged at this age need to know what they are getting themselves into.

“I can’t say that I would be ready at that age,” he said, “but it’s not my place to judge. People can get married at [a young] age, but I would advise them to wait.”

Senior Jasmine Townsend has chosen to follow her own path in life, though. This past Friday, she got engaged to her boyfriend of two and a half years, junior Lavandric Kirkwood. The two plan on officially tying the knot about six years from now.

“When my mom first found out, she was in denial. She doesn’t want to admit it, but she understands… Honestly it’s my life. I feel that we are that one in a million couple. We’re true high school lovers,” she said.

Having known each other since they were 10 years old, Townsend is confident that she is making the right decision.

Kirkwood agrees.

“Just don’t listen to nay-sayers,” he said about negative comments from other people. “People will always have something to say about your relationship, but just don’t listen because at the end of the day, no one’s gonna be dating my girl but me. If you know what you want, be persistent.”

English teacher and Niles West News adviser Evelyn Lauer says that her gut reaction, as an adult, is to say that it’s too soon. “You’re young, you need to meet new people, and have fun in your twenties.”

Having had a high school sweetheart, Ms. Lauer believes that even when she was with him, she felt she was too young to be in love.

“When you’re in high school, you think there’s something better out there… looking back on my high school relationship, I think I probably could have stayed with him, married him, and been happy with him. Not that I’m not happy in my current marriage, but the love you feel at sixteen is stronger than any love you’ll ever feel for another romantic partner, because love changes. When you’re young, you have a powerful passion and life hasn’t sucked that out of you yet. Passion at sixteen is true and real.”

I think the question that we all need to ask ourselves is this: what is a high school relationship? It seems as though everyone wants one because they want cute pictures to post on Instagram, or someone to tweet about, but in reality, a relationship isn’t all about being cute and holding hands in the hallways. A high school relationship is hard. No matter what, someone will inevitably get attached, and soon after the attachment comes the L – word. Suddenly, you don’t see yourself with anyone else but this person, but what no one sees is that we are kids. 

“Sometimes, the person that you’re the most in love with can drive you the most crazy,” said Lauer.

In every relationship comes something that I like to call “The Change.” It can happen within months or maybe years of the relationship, but in the majority of cases, The Change is inevitable.

“My values and priorities are going to change,” Townsend admits, “but we’ve been through everything and it only makes our bond stronger… it’s a bond that we’ve had since we were kids.”

The harsh reality of The Change is that you may fall in love with someone your freshman year, but by the time junior or even sophomore year rolls around, the person who you shared everyone with suddenly Changes. They now have different morals, different goals, and different wants and needs, and there is no longer a guarantee that you are a want or need anymore.

The Change makes it extremely difficult to be wholeheartedly devoted to another person when we are all still undergoing changes ourselves. How can we commit to being with someone in the long term, when we’re still trying to figure our own lives out?

The constant waiting and wishing and hoping to find love in high school is what makes it so complicated. We’re forced to see that person every day, which makes it that much harder to get over them, or stop thinking about them, and the fact of the matter is that no matter how perfect your relationship may seem, it will always cause stress, and to be honest, we’re too young to deal with that right now.

Being adolescents, every little thing that goes wrong in our lives seems like the end of the world. Of course, it’s not actually the end of the world, but what matters is that when a relationship goes south, it seems like the end of the world, which affects our day to day lives. I have a friend who came to school in tears for a straight week because she was having boyfriend problems, and as soon as things got better between them, she was a ball of sunshine again.

It seems insane that one person can have such total control over our emotions, but that’s what happens once you get attached. I’m sure most of you have heard Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” and if not, you’ve probably seen the quote that she says before the music video starts floating around somewhere on your newsfeed.

“It’s like screaming and no one can hear. You almost feel ashamed that someone can be that important, that without them, you feel like nothing. No one will ever understand how much it hurts. You feel hopeless, like nothing can save you, and when it’s over, and it’s gone, you almost wish that you could have all that bad stuff back, so that you could have the good.”

As dramatic as it may seem, for anyone who has ever experienced heartbreak, Rihanna summed it up perfectly. Not only does it hurt, but social media and music makes it even harder to deal with. For some reason, teens like to torture themselves and listen to the saddest, most depressing songs possible when they’re already down. On top of that, there’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to constantly keep tabs on that person and wish that you were with them.

It’s all extremely unhealthy. For all of you going through heartbreak, my advice is this: even though it may seem immature, delete them off of all and any social networking sites. Not being tempted to stalk them every two minutes could really help the healing process.

As high school students, we need to learn to stand on our own.

In the words of junior Besjana Mehmeti’s twitter, “life as a teenager and younger isn’t necessarily devoted to having a partner to spend it with. Enjoy your life and let it be.”

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  1. avatar

    I got in a relationship with someone the second week of my Freshman year in Niles West. It lasted all four years of high school, and I was even engaged. But in my heart, I knew that I was sticking around for the wrong reason. I was more afraid of starting all over again, becoming that vulnerable to a whole new person and if I couldn’t do that – being alone. I finally got the guts to break it off about a month after I graduated from NW. It wasn’t a harmful relationship, and he loved me very much, but I just couldn’t say the same. I never strayed, cheating has never even crossed my mind (it shouldn’t if you are sane and have compassion). Relationships aren’t a joke, each one effects people seriously and you can really hurt someone for a long time just by not thinking about your actions. Lucky for me, I reconnected with someone after I graduated and actually ended up marrying him. I’m 20 now and I can honestly say that I have never laughed so much and felt so loved in my entire life. Maturity is important in a relationship, but moreso is the fact that you need to be marrying your best friend.

  2. avatar
    Name Witheld

    This is a fantastic article, but I feel we need to look at this on a case-by-case basis.

    I have one friend who has been with his girlfriend for years, and they’ve supported each other’s decisions and barely ever argued. While I do feel an HS relationship rarely lasts, I know their relationship is fine as it is, and they are respectful and don’t throw it in people’s faces, so who am I to go telling them they can’t be together? On the opposite hand, I’ve known girls who feel as if their entire life focuses on a boyfriend, who change their Facebook names based on who they’re dating, and seem to just go through them one-by-one, so it’s not like I can’t see your point, either.

    I mean look, I’ve never had a girlfriend or anything. I’m a total loser with this stuff. But I think I know as much as any bystander can on love – Look, the thing is, if you really are going to be all I’M GOING TO BE WITH YOU FOREVER all the time, that’s kind of stupid, but obviously, running around saying I find you super hot but we’re never seeing each other after we graduate isn’t a turn-on for people and… I mean, honestly, relationships are a part of the High School experience. Sure, we won’t be dating the same people, but these are still some of the most important relationships of our lives, because they build the foundations and expectations for the serious ones of the future. How do you know what you want from a serious relationship if you’ve never had a casual one?

    The fact is, being in relationships is vital to a High School social experience. And if the social experience of High School is irrelevant, than you’re better off home-schooled, because then you are focused on your studies and don’t have to worry about learning how to deal with other children.

    I’m not sure why you note the social-networking sites, that’s a bit irrelevant to your overall point about relationships in my opinion.

    And Rihanna’s a crappy example. She got the heck beat out of her by Chris Brown and despite him completely deserving all the crap he gets for this, she DEFENDS HIM FOR IT.

  3. avatar

    Great article! Being in love in high school is a great experience, it may or may not last but you will never forget that feeling. When it doesn’t work out it hurts a lot but time heals everything! So enjoy every moment you have in high school good or bad, cuz before you know it, it will be nothing but memories.


    very good. i agree relationships are a joke but if you find someone special then hold on tight bc like jasmin said its one in a million

  5. avatar

    i agree with highschool love doesnt last forever

  6. avatar


  7. avatar

    High Schoolers are way too young to decide to marry. This is evident in couples who go to college together, thinking it will last. But when you live with someone, or are put in a very different situation with them, your feelings and values often change.

  8. avatar

    I agree that you can’t say love in highschool is a joke because for some it isn’t and their highschool love may be the person they will spend their lives with, so it really depends on everyone individually. Overall this is a very good article 😉

  9. avatar
    A & A

    We think that it is too soon to be engaged in high school. Teens have their whole lives in front of them, and an engagement shouldn’t stop them from enjoying their lives while they can.

  10. avatar
    Emily Butera

    This is a really good article. But you can not really judge that highschool relationships are a joke. I think that it is so cute that people are already getting engaged.

  11. avatar
    Former Student*

    Wow! Pretty much one of the best articles I have read so far.

    I agree completely that it is foolish to become engaged while in high school. First reason, there are too many temptations out there. Trust me, even the most faithful will and can break especially when they have not seen the “real world.” Second reason, I always thought that love in high school is not true love but puppy love. They engage in a relationship, they break up and then they move on kinda thing. It is truly rare for a high school student to become in love and have a long term relationship.

    When I was in high school, I always see my friends break up on a long-term relationship and it is like the whole world fell on them after. But after a week, they are fine and already flirting. As I said, I did not say that it is not possible to have a relationship in high school and continue long-term (until they tie the knot), what I am saying that it is truly RARE today but it can happen.

    Love is unpredictable! <3

  12. avatar
    What does it even matter?

    Not being committed in a relationship may be the better road to take, but honestly, its in human nature to take that road. I mean yeah, there are people who are “strong and don’t need no man” but lets face the fact that you’ll always WANT someone to need. Its a massive double standard and it sucks, but avoiding the hurt through not having relationships at all seems pretty far fetched. Thats like wearing a helmet at all times and never getting on a bike, just incase you know, you fall off an imaginary bike or something. I mean yeah it’ll hurt if it doesn’t work out, but if you never get hurt, then how are you going to know what its like to be completely happy? Maybe the high school relationships aren’t substantial to any high school experience, but it will be substantial to get hurt in order to be happy. Wether that happens in high school or not doesn’t matter, what matters is that you aren’t sitting there in a corner in fear of it because everybody whose ever been hurt by a relationship told you to.
    Pain is inevitable, but so is happiness.
    Dont bother running from either.

    P.S: The artical was amazingly well written.

  13. avatar

    Couldn’t have said it any better.

  14. avatar

    Well said….Highschoolers are too young for serious relationships…

  15. avatar
    People are stupid.

    People should realize that they won’t last forever and that eventually they will be over. Good luck to the lucky few.

  16. avatar
    Czarina Landicho

    Wow! This was well said! It goes the same as someone on Facebook saying “I need a boyfriend”. They don’t need a ‘boyfriend’, they wan’t one. They’re two different things. Anyways, job well done Alyssa! :)


In her free time, Alyssa loves to read and download music. She is always looking for a new concert to go to, and she hopes to one day become a journalist for a music magazine, so that she could combine the two things that she loves most: music and writing.


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