The Definition of Dating: How has it Changed?


Jack Stenger

Literature teacher Deanna Hasty: “Romance seems to be dead.”

From movie nights to Netflix, home phone calls to FaceTime, and checking him out in the yearbook to scrolling through her Facebook profile, most modern high school students seem to have broken up with the traditional concept of dating.

Just over a decade ago, dating in high school appeared to have a relatively straightforward set of niceties. A boy would typically ask a girl, in person, out to a restaurant for dinner after a few weeks of consistently calling her on the phone. He would then arrive early to properly meet her parents and promise to return her home before curfew. A sweet goodnight kiss on the porch at the end of the date and an assurance to call the next day was the usual beginning of a new relationship.

Fast forward 10 years and the word “date” is hardly ordinary. “Talking” is a sort of pre-stage in a relationship before “hanging out” with someone is even mentioned, and 12 girls crowding around one iPhone constructing the perfectly detached but casually flirtatious text message asking a crush over to watch TV is normal. The act of dating has become so casual that it calls into question whether it still exists or not. “I just wonder if people actually talk to each other anymore,” English teacher Deanna Hasty questions. “Romance seems to be dead because the informality of texting takes away the class, chivalry and effort the guy used to have to make,” she said.

Hasty went on to describe one of her usual high school dates. “He would call on the phone, show up in his mom’s minivan, and awkwardly converse with my parents over the kitchen counter before we went to a movie,” she recalled.

With the advances of technology, it could be argued that meeting a potential high school sweetheart is much easier as all of a person’s likes, dislikes, and interests are public through social media. Junior Maddi Bolas contends that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram start prospective relationships off poorly. “Relationships are a lot more public now. It’s harder to discover what’s new about someone when you already know everything about them,” she said. “Dating is so much more casual now because you don’t have to put in the amount of work getting to know someone as you did.”

Junior Elijah Lewis believes dating has become increasingly relaxed. “My typical date is taking a girl to the movies or hanging out at my place and then maybe grabbing a bite to eat at either Bennihana’s or McDonald’s, depending on who she is. It’s no big deal,” he reported.

For better or for worse, going steady with someone in high school has morphed with the social attitudes of the time. An example of romance 20 years ago might have been a guy showing up with flowers for his girl. Today, a girlfriend sharing a 6-month anniversary post on Instagram is just as thoughtful. If one thing is for sure, however, it’s the tingling in your bones when he holds your hand in the hallway, the awkwardness of a first kiss, and the excitement of a slow dance at prom that will never change about dating in high school.