Every now and then she looks up at him with a little smile playing on her lips. He meets her eye and cracks a grin, wrapping his arm around her. As her cheeks redden, she brushes a piece of her long, auburn hair behind her ear and looks down at her black converse all-stars. These subtle exchanges have been going on for about five minutes as Talbot Morris-Downing ‘14 and Emma Greenberg ‘14 sit next to each other, holding hands and talking about their relationship between outbursts of giddy laughter.
“We’ve been dating for three years now,” Greenberg said. “Before we actually dated, I kind of stalked him. We were stand partners in Orchestra in eighth grade which is where we got to know each other. I was obsessed with him. He finally got the hint that I had a crush on him after I stalked him for about year and he asked me out on a date.”
As his girlfriend speaks, Morris-Downing looks at her with adoration in his eyes and a smile on his face. It seems his attempts to hold back his grin are useless.
“I can’t look at her without smiling,” he said. “She’s really amazing. One time, before we started dating, we saw each other at this movie theater and It was really cute because she had such a huge crush on me.”
Not all high school relationships are like Greenberg and Morris-Downing’s. Alex Perez ‘13 crosses her legs after she sits down in the stiff, red chair and finds her boyfriend of seven months, Mitch Reuter ‘13, slumping in the identical one next to hers with his legs stretched out in front of him. Unlike the affection that Greenberg and Morris-Downing look at each other with, when Reuter glances at Perez, she narrows her eyes and frowns at him. Reuter lets out a little snicker and they both smile with amusement, ending their unconventional exchange.
“I mean, we like each other a lot,” Reuter said. “She’s pretty good looking and we have the same sense of humor so we’re always making each other laugh. I think we’re a pretty good pair. But, oh man, our first date was so awkward.”
Perez groans and shakes her head in agreement.
“Oh, God! It was terrible!” she said. “We were at Mitch’s house watching these stupid TV shows on Netflix that sucked. It was really bad. We didn’t really know each other so we didn’t know what to talk about. I remember that he asked me to play tennis with him… I was like uh, no. But other than those awkward first couple of dates and hanging out together, we started to get to know each other better and found out that we get along really well.”
As City High students pass through the school’s convoluted hallways between classes and the familiar din of teenage voices echoes off the stone walls, Tom McDowell ‘16 and Erin Cox ‘16 find themselves leaning up against the chipped gray paint of a locker, holding hands and enjoying a quick conversation with each other before the four minutes of passing time is up.
“A lot of people say freshman relationships don’t last,” Cox said. “Which, I think, is partly because nobody takes freshmen seriously in general and because a lot of them really don’t last very long. Me and Tom have been dating for five months and we still like each other a lot. I think you can be in a meaningful relationship at any age, you just have to be with the right person.”
This feeling is mutual among many couples at City High.
“I think some relationships don’t last as long as others because, in high school at least, dating can sometimes be forced,” Morris-Downing said. “Sometimes people just date each other for the heck of it. They might not be in it for the right reasons. A relationship lasts a long time if you truly want to be around the person and genuinely like them for who they are.”
This ‘genuine liking’ is what Morris-Downing and Greenberg accredit their lasting relationship to.
“Three years is a long time to be dating someone in high school,” Greenberg admits. “But in terms of how well you know the person, the amount of time you date someone is just a number. Lots of couples date after they’ve known each other for a long time and been friends for a while so they might not officially ‘date’ for very long but they’ve known each other really well for a long time. Dating someone is like having a bestfriend that you’re romantically involved with. I can always count on Tal no matter what and I know that he’ll be there for me. I can’t really imagine not dating him.”
Many people think dating in high school is somewhat pointless, as it doesn’t lead up to marriage. Reuter disagrees with that belief.
“I know I’m probably not going to marry Alex,” he said with a shrug. “But dating is more than just finding that one person to spend the rest of your life with, it’s about being around someone you like and someone that makes you happy, like Alex does to me. That’s the good thing about high school relationships; you don’t really know how long it will last so you make the most of every moment you have together.”