Couples in high school may be premature and excessively dramatic, but they have one thing figured out- how to appreciate the little things. Guys in high school didn’t have to spend outrageous amounts of money on girls, have their careers figured out, or even know what frat they wanted to join. A typical couple would “talk” for a while until the guy mustered up enough courage to ask the girl out on a date. If all went well, they would become Facebook official and start spending more and more time together, in school, at the movies, and on dates to less-expensive restaurants. Unfortunately, sometime between high school graduation and August of freshman year, all these cute guys with sweetheart potential go into douche training and forget all about how to treat girls. They learn instead how to get excessively drunk, hook up with multiple girls, act careless and “fratty,” and throw away their emotions, resulting in a college culture of no hand-holding, note-passing, or kiss-blowing. Luckily there are a few exceptions, like my boyfriend, who realizes the significance of subtle gestures. I’ve compiled a list for you collegiettes of practices that seem to have disappeared since high school, and why we should bring them back:
1. Holding hands. Back in the day, holding hands was a prelude to kissing. However, steady hookups in college are more likely to start with casual sex than this small, precious gesture. We do everything backwards. On the Vanderbilt campus in particular, it is so rare to see people holding hands, which I think is simply a testament to our terrible dating culture. Holding hands is a sign of unity, of being on the same page, of having the same intentions. None of these characteristics are welcome in our hookup culture, so hand-holding becomes a thing of the past. I personally think it’s about time we bring it back. Collegiettes, if a guy refuses to hold your hand in public, don’t walk, run – he’s not worth the time, and he will never reach sweetheart status.
2. Going on dates (not date parties). Regardless of his (and your) financial situation, there is always a fun date to be had. All it takes is a touch of commitment and some planning. Sure, going to the frats together is fun, but you deserve more than him drunkenly messing around with his friends. Get to know each other by grabbing dinner, going for a walk to the Parthenon, or catching a concert in Nashville. Here are the criteria: 1) Whatever the date, make it into an adventure. Be spontaneous, and explore things together. Anyone can go to a candlelit dinner, but not everyone can play tag by the river downtown, or eat a fancy meal using fake foreign accents! Have fun together. 2) Don’t follow traditional money rules after the first couple dates. We’re in college and money is tight. Make dating easier for him by pitching in every now and then. 3) Sober up! Sure, it’s fun to get crazy sometimes, but a drunken state of mind is probably not the best foundation for a relationship.
3. Hanging out on weekdays. In high school, many couples do homework together after class. In college, people are much more likely to get drunk on a weekday with their hookup. My boyfriend and I will often sit in the library together and just work, occasionally playing footsie. You don’t have to get dressed up and go on lavish dates, but running errands (or just running, or doing work, or whatever) together during the week shows that you are more than just some weekend hookup – you’re a part of his life.
4. Being best friends. In high school, who you dated was often closely related to the group you hung out with. Thus, longer-lasting relationships usually sprouted from close, flirty friendships. My favorite thing about my boyfriend is that he is my best friend. We don’t treat our relationship as this strictly constructed institution with defined roles. We can make fun of each other, because we are completely equal in our relationship. We go to parties together and are a total comedy act. The guy you date should be someone you can and want to share every aspect of your life with, not just someone you see on weekend nights.
5. Enjoying the little things! Another image that comes to mind when I think of high school sweethearts is passing notes or chalking each others’ cars. In college, there are so many more ways that you can show affection throughout the day. Sometimes, when I have stressful days, my boyfriend brings me coffee. When I know that he has a busy day, I get my car out of the garage and drive him wherever he needs to be. We both surprise each other with cute emails and texts throughout the day. Although we are both extremely busy and stressed, we make time to appreciate each other, something we probably had more time to do in high school.
Of course, I would never want to go back to high school, but I do think we can learn some things from the concept of high school sweethearts. A relationship should be based on mutual respect, which is hard to find in a world of casual sex and alcohol. Take a step back, and think about how much simpler things were just a few years ago. Realize how you can get the best of both worlds by implementing the best high school dating techniques into your college life, and I promise you will be much happier as a person. Your guy should be proud to have you: proud enough to hold your hand, take you on dates, and show you how much you are appreciated. If you aren’t being treated the way you should, then go back a couple grades and take a lesson in how to date the right way.