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It’s Not You, It’s Me: Navigating The Drama Of High School Breakups

It’s just after 11 P.M. on a Tuesday night and your significant other has sent you a text. Expecting a goodnight message, you open it quickly. But your heart drops as you realize what it actually is. Many have experienced it before. But no matter how many times it happens, breakups are still guaranteed to […]

It’s just after 11 P.M. on a Tuesday night and your significant other has sent you a text. Expecting a goodnight message, you open it quickly.

But your heart drops as you realize what it actually is.

Many have experienced it before. But no matter how many times it happens, breakups are still guaranteed to hurt.

In a generation of serial daters, many of our peers have become experts at ending relationships. But what does it take to really master the breakup? Weighing kindness versus honesty, it can be difficult to determine exactly what to say as well as how to approach ending a relationship. Do you rehearse a speech in your mirror? Or merely send a “we’re over” text and hope for the best? These struggles don’t even include the difficulty of navigating post-relationship drama.

The reasons for breakups tend to be similar, especially in high school. The “I think we’re better as friends” is a common statement used when relationships end, quickly followed by “It’s not you it’s me”, which lets you know that it is definitely you. A tough one, “I love you but I’m not in love with you” tends to be used in longer relationships, while the “I have to focus on my sport/school” is often expressed following a short-term relationship.

Social studies teacher Mr. Mike Hood emphasizes that in being straightforward and ripping the band aid off, “you actually demonstrate a lot of respect for the person”. Most people would likely agree that they’d rather know the truth than a made up reason to spare their feelings.

But in reality, does the reason truly matter? Either way, you’re being broken up with, and it is up to you to decide your next steps. Block their number and begin no contact? Or attempt to stay friends? (which never really works).

Throughout the school year, there are typically time periods in which it seems as though every couple has ended their relationship. Breakups can be contagious, and the epidemic tends to spread right before school dances. The gossip spreads even faster, with rumored breakups causing an upheaval in high school society. But what is it that causes couples to break up at this time specifically? Is it the pressures for couples to put on appearances at Homecoming and Prom? Or is it a time of realization for many, discovering that they may not truly want to continue that relationship? Or does the news of other couples breaking up set off a chain of events until there are few couples surviving? Are most couples really that unhappy in their relationships?

“Everyone secretly wants to break up. When they hear of another couple breaking up, they get inspired” Libby Dickenson (‘24) states.

In the world of high school dating, there are numerous unspoken rules that everyone must abide. Dating a friend’s ex and moving on too quickly are just two of the taboos governing high school relationships. But are these rules really as strict as they seem? What are the consequences of not following them? Will you be exiled from high school society, forced out of the friend group, or even worse, unfollowed on Instagram?

Depending on the length of your friend’s relationship, you may or may not be allowed to date their ex. But Jack Taylor (‘24) holds a strong opinion that if it was a serious relationship, it’s definitely not allowed.

“If they actually dated, no. Just no,” the senior says. “But if it was a two week free trial, it might be okay”.

It is commonly stated that you should be friends with someone before dating them. As much as your parents attempt to advise you of establishing this foundation of trust, the potential consequences could prevent you from even considering it. Forming a relationship with a friend means sacrificing your friendship. If you two end up breaking up, it can be difficult to remain friends. But what if you and your significant other are in the same friend group? Ending the relationship often threatens the peace of the entire group. Tough breakups force people to take sides, developing a divide between the whole group and creating unexpected drama. So maybe the relationship is worth the risk?

“If you like someone you like someone. There’s always consequences of breaking up, but you can still try and be friends with them,” Libby claims.

As much as high schoolers attempt to understand relationships, we are still young and immature. Perspectives change as we grow and experience more relationships, and your view on relationships may be altered completely in just a few years. The biggest change may happen after having children. Instead of viewing relationships in terms of yourself, you are now viewing them in terms of your children. Mr. Hood claims that having children allowed him to view relationships from an outside perspective.

“As a parent, you can see who’s right and who isn’t,” he says.

Although parenthood grants you a distanced view, it is ultimately up to your children to endure the trials and tribulations of relationships themselves.

And while relationships are experienced throughout a lifetime, it is easy to define high school relationships by the drama surrounding them. Difficult to maneuver and troubling to overcome, breakups can be a large obstacle in our lives. But with an understanding of high school society and the immaturity that comes with it, you may just be able to master the art of the breakup.

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