Dating 101: A Teacher’s Guide to Dating
Let’s be honest here. When was the last time you discussed dating with your teacher? Wait, have you ever spoken with Packer faculty about anything of the sort? Probably not. Discussing dating with teachers is taboo—and for a pretty good reason. Things can get weird, awkward, and just uncomfortable; you don’t want to be chatting with your history teacher about their dating life, or, even worse, your own. While I understand the hesitation, I do not think we should ignore the fact that teachers are also humans, which means they date, too! In fact, they have been dating for much longer than we have and are probably more experienced in the field. So, since it is February, the month of Valentine’s Day, I talked to a handful of teachers about, you guessed it, dating!
I first spoke with Ms. Whitehouse, who, if you don’t already know, teaches various (amazing) English electives. She has not actually had much experience with dating. In fact, she has only dated one man her whole life. The first boy she dated in high school became her long-term boyfriend, and then her husband, and now her co-parent. Despite her limited dating experience, we talked about being in a serious relationship during one’s high school and college years and how long distance complicates that. She said that, even if you are in a relationship, you need to “[make] sure to do your own thing and have your own, individual college experience.” She felt like she “let [her] relationship affect many of the social choices [she] made in college.”
Similarly, Ms. Londay, Health Department Head, touched on making sure not to lose yourself in a relationship. She noted that “as much as someone can love you, they can hate you that much, too. Strong feelings can go both ways. So, there needs to be a balance of where you are in their life. They should have a friend group and other interests. I wish that somebody would’ve let me know that, because it can be intense.”
Mr. Lemley, Upper School Math Teacher, spoke about dating more generally. We talked about everything from college dating life to the instant messaging app that was popular during his time in Middle School. His first piece of advice was to “seek out people or hold on to people who share the same value system as you. I thought about long-term goals and what I found important in life when I was dating. My least successful relationships were when those goals didn’t match up.”
Moving into more humorous subjects, we got to the slightly controversial subject of dating apps. While dating apps are more prominent for older students who are generally in college, if you’re an 18-year-old high schooler, you too can technically join a dating app. I chatted first with Mr. Lemley on the subject, and he said, “When I was in college, dating apps were definitely prominent. And they worked for me because I really like first dates. They feel like a job interview to me and I love job interviews, and I’m good at them. They’re like a little moment to show off. First dates never freak me out; it’s the follow-up that I need a little help on.”
He also noted that “as soon as you’re 18 and on a dating app, there is no filter. You’re just out there in the world. It definitely makes me nervous that people who are still in high school can be on dating apps.” Attuned to the potential pitfalls of only seeing people through a screen, he recalled a funny catfishing story on a dating app.
Middle and Upper School English Teacher Todd Johnson focused on his younger years, telling me a little bit about the first crush he ever had in high school. Imagine a 14-year-old Mr. Johnson retrieving his books when, suddenly, butterflies invade his stomach. “There was a girl whose locker was adjacent to mine,” he recalled. “I was crushing on her pretty hard. She wanted nothing to do with me. I was pretty much put in the friend zone, though she turned out to become one of my closest friends.” Mr. Johnson mentioned that they are still friends to this day.
“A takeaway from that could be that being friend-zoned might actually turn out for the better,” said Mr. Johnson. And I believe him! I mean, if his crush’s feelings were reciprocated, the two might never have become the best friends that they are today. So maybe don’t get too pessimistic the next time you are put in that position.
Now, having read little snippets about some of your teachers’ tips and experiences, aren’t you intrigued to learn more? Who knew that Ms. Londay, Mr. Lemley, Ms. Whitehouse, and Mr. Johnson all had such insightful dating advice? We may not want to think about our teachers going on dates or being in relationships, but for us high schoolers who are making hearts, breaking hearts, and hooking up practically every other day, their knowledge and experiences could be both helpful and amusing. At least for me, who has never actually been on a date speaking to my teachers about their experiences was not only interesting, but also hilarious and fun. Next time you see your teacher, ask them to share a story, either funny or embarrassing or sweet. Who knows, maybe they will teach you something important.