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The Dangers of Dating: High School Edition


To say that a high schooler doesn't know a thing about love is to say that you don’t remember being in high school. Even 14 to 18-year-olds can experience the enriching experience of being so enthralled by someone who feels that passion back. Almost every high schooler you know has had a relationship before, if they aren't currently in one, and you always hear about high school sweethearts growing old together. Part of the ever-so-desired “high school experience” is to find that one person you can walk to class with, sneak out to, and take to every school dance. Some people see couples giggling in the hallways and gag, others wish it were them. However, one thing high schoolers tend not to know about, is how to avoid the warning signs of an abusive relationship.


Warning: This article may be triggering to those who have been in or around abusive relationships.


With the rush of having your first love and the urge to hold onto that bond forever, comes the power to hold on even after the love has faded away. It’s tempting to want that first relationship to stay forever but the best (and safest) option is to let it go before your mental health is temporarily—or even permanently—damaged. There isn’t much that can break a teenager down like the weight of a toxic relationship, whether it’s constant arguing, one-sided belittling, or even sexual pressure when one party isn’t ready. 

According to the American Psychological Association, up to 19% of teens experience sexual or physical dating violence, about half face stalking or harassment, and as many as 65% report being psychologically abused

You never know who around you in class stayed up late the night before because their romantic partner tried convincing them that their life isn’t worth anything. You never know if the nicest person in your class is violent behind closed doors with “the person they love most.” As smart as you may think or you are, even the strongest can be blinded by their need to be loved and hold on to the person who hates them most. With the words “I love you” filling your thoughts, there isn’t much room for “do you really think I care about you” and "no one else could stand being with you." These situations seem uncommon and avoidable but they are around you every day. A current college student went through a sexually abusive relationship in high school where for four months, their partner forced and pressured them into intimate activities, a current high school student dated a person for ten months while being told to end their life for seven of them, and a former high school student dated their high school girlfriend for two years due to emotional manipulation to stay even after the love was gone.


If by now you realize that you may be at risk of falling into one of these relationships, here are a few signs for you to look out for, some provided by New Hope Inc.


Controlling Behavior

If you find yourself in a new relationship and your partner seems to expect control, do not take this as a compliment. Trying to control the life of a person is a common trait in abusers and should be a warning sign that this person does not value your privacy or freedom.


Unrealistic Expectations

Starting out a relationship with the expectation that your partner will be perfect and will never do wrong is a slippery slope to being disappointed and taking it out on your partner. If you feel like you’re always making your partner mad and disappointing them, your significant other may have unrealistic expectations for you and the relationship.


Isolation

One of the most obvious signs of abuse is when someone isolates their partner, cutting off their support system. If you catch a new boyfriend or girlfriend telling you to not have friends or not to talk with classmates, if they tell you that your family is bad and you need to ditch them, then you need to ditch them. Cutting off the support system of a victim is an easy way to get away with abuse by either not having them know they are being abused or not having anyone tell them to leave.


Hypersensitivity 

Your partner has every right to be hurt by hurtful things that you may say, arguments can be common at the start of a relationship. However, if everything you say or do, normal or not, makes your partner snap, that’s a warning sign. Abusers tend to take everything to heart as a personal attack and will blow things out of proportion to make you feel bad for them and think of yourself as the abuser. Abusers will also take the problems you come to them with and turn them around on you, forcing an apology for something they did.


Sexual Pressure

No one should ever feel pressured into sexual relations with anyone, even if it is a partner. Sexual abuse and pressure are very big signs of abuse because it shows that either your partner does not care about your feelings and comfort, or they only want the relationship for one thing.


Low Priority

If you start hearing your partner talk about friends or even exes above you, this is a red flag. You may devalue yourself and say “they’re friends, they should be put first” then really think about how your partner is “putting them first”. Are they canceling plans to be with them? Are they telling you that they care about them more? Are they listening when their friends make up lies about you? Would they leave you if their friends just said the word?


Constant Fighting

Arguing is a normal part of any new relationship since you’re not fully adjusted to each other yet and don’t know what does and doesn’t make each other comfortable. However, if your partner is screaming at you daily about things you didn’t know were wrong, or if they are starting fights over the little things, this can show how they’ll act towards you the entirety of the relationship and can lead to physical abuse. 


Quick Involvement or “Love Bombing”

Lastly, is the popular term, Love Bombing. If you don’t know what love bombing is, it is when a new relationship moves too fast and throws an excessive amount of love onto you to get you hooked on the attention before they can begin the abuse process. Many abusers start with this “love at first sight” and “let’s be together forever” act in order to make someone fall in love faster and depend on this constant affection. This leads to it being taken away but the victim stays because they will forever miss and crave the person they were dating in the beginning.


If you are already in one of these relationships, remember you are not alone. Not only will many people around you do anything to help if your situation is made clear, but there are more people than you know who are survivors of this and can also help. Reach out to counselors, friends, teachers, family, and even classmates if you are in a relationship like this, and more often than not someone will be there to pick you up and help you through this. If you’re not sure if your relationship is abusive or not, reach out and get the help and information you need to know if this is the person you want to trust.

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