A Valentine’s Message From the Spectrum Archives

Annie Peterson '11, Molly Apple, Alumni, Editor

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching the Spectrum staff thought we’d give you a little blast from the past; here is an article from Blake alum Annie Peterson ’11 about the dating culture at blake.

Do you remember your first crush? For many, this question conjures images of chasing a classmate around the lower school playground, back when kissing and hand holding were absolutely scandalous. Fast-forward a few years to middle school: the beginning of “going out.” if you were part of the middle school dating scene, chances are that your first relationship was a product of mutual friends pushing you and your crush together. Once you sealed the deal, you and your new beau made awkward eye contact in the hallways while your friends giggled, and a promiscuous few even sent each other winky faces on AIM. We looked forward to dating in high school, when you shared more than a silent slow dance at a Bar Mitzvah with your significant other. now that this exciting age is finally upon us, is it really all we hoped for?

The dating culture at Blake divides students into two categories: in a committed relationship, or flying solo. As far as the first group goes, most relationships are long-term. “You’re either in a relationship with your freshman homecoming date or you never have a boyfriend,” a senior girl says of the longevity of most Blake relationships. Students who go down the relationship path take comfort in the reliability of having a significant other. “It’s always nice to have someone there for you,” explains a committed senior, “but it ges annoying when there is a lot of PDA throughout the school.” PDA at Blake, however, is usually watered down to a hug between classes.

Some students choose to date outside of Blake, either seeing someone from a nearby high school or sticking with a sweetheart who has jetted off to college. “I like dating out of school because you don’t have to see the person every day, so there are more boundaries and less pressure,” comments one student. “You’re less likely to get sick of them!” The majority, however, stay in familiar territory.

The single life at Blake is relatively unexciting within the wall of the school. “Either you’re dating for 90 years or you’re celibat,” one student remarks. While single peers at other high schools go out with someone new every weekend, Blake students tend to be less adventurous. This is most likely due to our relatively tiny student body. Since good news travels fast here, and bad news travels faster, the chances of your classmates hearing about your weekend romp ar high. Blake students worry that one such event will leave their reputation tarnished throughout high school. “Sophomore year is the deciding year,” several senior ladies agree of this reputation building. “You either become a slut or you’re normal.” In that case, for those sophomores feeling more audacious than the average Blake student, it may be best to keep casual flings outside of school if you want to remain in the “normal” box. This tends to be the rule. “Within Blake, there is no hookup culture,” says an upperclassman, “but with Blake students and kids from other schools, there is a hookup culture.”

This hookup culture is far more common outside of the “Blake bubble.” The norm for high school and college students has shifted from relationships to casual hookups. Some see Blake’s dating culture as passe, since this shift has been gradual for nearly a century. Sociologist Kathleen A Bogle, author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships On Campus, sums up the change: “In the first decade of the twentieth century, a young man could only see a woman of interest if she and her mother permitted him to “call” on them together. In other words, the woman controlled the event. Cut to a hundred years later: in today’s hook up culture, physical appearance, status and gender conformity determine who gets called on.” Other cultures experienced similar twentieth century rules with reversed gender roles, but the shift remains the same: relationships have become a lot more casual.

Why doesn’t Blake follow this casual trend? Granted, Blake students are seldom relaxed about anything, but the restrictions of dating don’t need to be so severe. In some respects, Blak’es dating culture has taken steps back from older generations. When our parents were our age, it was perfectly acceptable to “go out” with more than one person as long as they weren’t in a committed relationship. now, teens who go out on a date with one person Friday night and another person Saturday night are promptly labeled “sluts” or “players.” In this respect, casual dating is dead.

“I’m tired of everyone being so uptight about dating!” complains one student. Many others agree that they simply don’t like the dating culture at Blake. So how do we improve improve it? “Guys need to be more aggressive,” suggests one student. “Guys at Blake are more respectful of girls, but they don’t pursue girls,” explains another. Many teens feel that dating applies pressure and are apprehensive about it. Sadly, some of this pressure can be attributed to Facebook. The “relationship status” box on Facebook profiles creates a significant amount of stress. Its limited options reflect the confinements of our dating culture and forces students to label themselves and their relationships. Blake students prove that dating is still very much alive, but the face of the dating culture has altogether changed from what it once was.

 

Based off this evidence, it is up to our “relatively tiny student body” to define the terms of dating culture at Blake. So if you’ve been crushing on someone for a long time don’t be afraid to switch up the dating culture at Blake and just go on a date.