Why the ‘High School Sweetheart’ Stereotype is Dangerous for Teenage Girls

For quite a lot of people, your first love really hits the hardest – yes, I am speaking from experience. During your teenage years, a influx of hormones and a sense of excitement from the unknown can create intense feelings. As you gaze into the eyes of your significant other as you walk towards the bus stop where you will part ways until tomorrow morning, you feel like nothing could ever ever break you apart.

And then life happens. For the most of us it is inevitable. Although when my mum told me at sixteen that I was ‘very unlikely’ to end up with the boy I was dating for the rest of my life, I remember feeling utterly devastated. I mean how could she know, right? Jack (a pseudonym in case, just on the off chance he happens to be reading this), was my one true love, my everything, my ‘high school sweetheart’.

High School Sweetheart (noun.) boyfriend or girlfriend from high school; first love.

Roles of young love were present in many famous films of the late 70s and 80s such Grease and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to the 90s classic, 10 Things I Hate About You. As much as we love watching these feel-good films, the presence of idolising teenage romances can create a somewhat dangerous stereotype, especially for teen girls. The unrealistic expectation of the ‘perfect’ love and the ‘perfect’ partner can create false beliefs as well as a pressure into conforming to these ideals. Subsequently, what happens if I don’t meet the one at high school?

I was probably the last of my friendship group to have ever been kissed, to ever have a boyfriend, or to even go on a date with a boy. During my school years, this really affected me. I was worried I was going to be left behind over fears that I was not good enough. The portrayal within these films can become dangerous and definitely made worse the beliefs I was already feeling.

But the vast majority of us won’t experience this. Life can throw curveballs (good and bad) which can aid to both form and finish relationships. It is normal to end up wanting different things to your sixteen-year-old boyfriend, and these stereotypes tend to ignore these factors.

Of course, there are examples where young love does work out and couples grow old together, despite whether they remained an item since day dot or rekindled their romance later down the line. However, it is important to remember do what you want to do in life. The people who are meant to be in it will follow.

Image courtesy of Annie Spratt.

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