“We’re a thing.” Students commonly use this phrase to describe one’s relationship status here at PHS.
While this phrase is commonly heard, it seems to encompass many different types of relationships.
Sophomore Maxine Miller, who has been in a three year relationship with sophomore Ben Williamson, said that many people fall back to this phrase to avoid the stress and pressure that comes from the label of “dating.”
Psychologist Karen Levine said that the tendency for teens to fall back on this idea of a “thing,” makes a lot of sense regarding where we are culturally.
“I think full-on committed relationships can be so hard for teens because of the involvement of technology in our lives,” Levine said. “This means that teens don’t have all the communication skills of letting their partner know what they want.”
“I think in any relationship there needs to be shared values, “ Levine said. “If both people in a relationship value a lack of commitment, then that’s fine, but often times those values are not always shared.”
Miller said that for many, commitment, or putting a label on a relationship can be seen as a major “game changer.”
“Having a label sort of establishes a set of rules,” Miller said. “Some people feel that those rules add too much pressure, or just feel confined in that.”
Miller said that when she and Williamson put a label on their relationship three years ago, nothing really changed.
“We both just became a lot more comfortable with each other,” Miller said.
Senior Halley Wolin agrees with Miller in that putting a label on her relationship didn’t actually change that much, it only brought her closer to her past partner, Gabe Crown.
“After we put a label on it, [our relationship] pretty much stayed the same. It allowed us to start talking more about how we felt and what we wanted in the relationship, where as before that was more of an unspoken subject,” Wolin said.
Wolin said that many people at Piedmont choose not to label or define the relationship and stay in the “in between stage” to avoid responsibilities and pressures that come with being in a relationship.
“While many people hide from labeling a relationship in fear of the pressure, I think there is also pressure to date someone when you’re labeled as a ‘thing’ at most high schools,” Wolin said.
Similarly, according to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), Facts and Statistics, one in four teens reported feeling a pressure to date in high school.
“I think in comparison to other schools, there is less pressure to actually date, due to how normal it is to be and stay in that in between stage of being friends and dating,” Wolin said.
Miller said the reason there is not such a strong dating scene at PHS is due to the party and hookup culture at Piedmont.
“Generally it seems relationships start from meaningless or friendly hookups at parties and often times those hookups don’t turn into anything,” Miller said.
Miller said she is glad to have avoided this scene as dating the same person for three years has been a good constant.
“A lot of people get really stressed out and put a lot of energy into relationships, but for me it’s almost just a comfort where I don’t need to try, I just know he’s always there,” said Miller about Williamson.
Senior Max Manalo-LeClair said that many people at Piedmont run from commitment in fear of the end result.
“I think some people are afraid of commitment because the more committed you become, the more painful the end will be,” Manalo-LeClair said. “People avoid getting wrapped up in someone else’s life because they think it will hurt more when the relationship ends.”
Manalo-LeClair, who has been in a committed relationship for a year, said that commitment is required for a relationship to be successful.
“Commitment requires both people to put work into making the relationship better,” Manalo Leclair said.
Junior Olivia Adams agrees with Manalo-LeClair in that commitment often allows a relationship to be meaningful for both people.
“There can be distractions in the way [of a relationship] and those distractions go away when commitment is involved,” Adams said.
Adams also said that relationships can be successful without commitment, it’s just a different type of relationship.
“If you can’t trust yourself to be there for them and if you can’t trust them to be there for you, then I don’t think a label is right for the relationship,” Adams said.