‘Tis the Season: how relationships work at STA

The term coupling season exemplifies the association between this time of year and beginning relationships. The Dart explored what this season looks like for STA students.

Juniors+Mady+Mudd+and+Maggie+Dodderidge+hold+hands+and+look+inside+a+shop+on+the+Country+Club+Plaza+Dec.+8.+Couples+can+shop+for+festive+items+and+food+during+the+season.+photo+by+Lilly+Frisch

Juniors Mady Mudd and Maggie Dodderidge hold hands and look inside a shop on the Country Club Plaza Dec. 8. Couples can shop for festive items and food during the season. photo by Lilly Frisch

by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Opinion Editor

Sophomore Sofia Stockwood has been dating her boyfriend Tommy for more than a year. In late fall and early winter, they spend time together making popcorn and watching movies. For some, this time of year means either sharing these moments, or aspiring to find a romantic partner. The time between late fall and early winter, is often associated with the beginning of the holidays. However, in recent history, it has been associated with relationships; the joys of being in one or the pressure to enter into one.

For Stockwood, this season is romantically connoted with presents. She and her boyfriend exchange Christmas gifts, and it is one aspect of this season that Stockwood enjoys.

“You can really see if someone knows you like depending on what they get you,” Stockwood said. “I think it’s fun picking gifts for people.”

For Stockwood, this reason is a time for bonding with her boyfriend. It also involves balancing friends, sports (as it’s currently swim season), school and quality time with her boyfriend over at his house.

“If I have a swim at 5:45 [pm] to 7:30  [pm] I’ll go over there right after school until swim, go to swim then do my homework,” Stockwood said. “Then I normally just leave the weekends open for my friends.”

STA’s single-sex environment creates a unique high school experience that differs from other schools that house both boys and girls. However, when it comes to relationships, personal counselor Amanda Whitcomb believes that for most students the interest is equivalent to our coeducational peers.

“Whether you were in a single-sex [or] coed school, you would enter into a relationship regardless,” Whitcomb said. “That’s typical adolescent behavior: to start being curious and interested in dating and being with romantic partners.”

Late fall to early winter is associated with relationships for many. When asked about what this “season” implies about relationships, Whitcomb’s preconceived notions centered around the giving and receiving of presents.

“I’ve heard it described as a season where people connect to get presents, like, let’s be in a relationship so I can get a Christmas present and a Valentine’s present,” Whitcomb said.

According to Whitcomb, the desire to join in a relationship is tied to people’s want for real-life human connection, especially when idyllic displays of affection are shown throughout social media. She believes it is important to ensure that connection is authentic in reality as well.

“That relationship is displayed and splashed all over social media,” Whitcomb said. “We find deep connections with people in person. Really, making sure that the friendships and the people that you’re connected to, you’re connecting with on a personal level, rather than just on social media.”

For sophomore Francis Hodes, going to an all-girls school makes that connection more challenging offline. 

“I can’t really do anything on school days,” Hodes said. “That makes everything more on text and not a lot of face to face contact”

Hodes does not associate this time of year with relationships, moreso the summer months. However, Hodes notes that she sees relationships more frequently as she spends time around family members during the holidays.

“All my family members have girlfriends, boyfriends,” Hodes said. “They make it look so easy. So I’m like why don’t I just go for it?”

Although seeing couples may urge people into relationships, that is not the case for all. According to ChildTrends.org, over the past 40 years, the share of students in the 12th grade who report dating frequently — more than once a week — has declined, from 33% in 1976 to 14% in 2017. For junior Micah-Mishal Quinn, being single means a chance for independence and self-discovery.

“A lot of times in your relationship you share difficult things with each other, so you’re also helping to carry whatever they have to carry,” Quinn said. “When you’re in a relationship with yourself, you have time to work through your own situation.”

Without the time spent with a  partner, Quinn spends her time doing what she loves, and pursuing passions that interest her outside of being in a relationship.

“I love to dance,” Quinn said. “That’s where I put a lot of my energy, in building myself and being the person I want to be.”

Quinn believes that before she enters a relationship, her time as a single person will help her achieve emotional independence.

“I won’t say depend on myself, because everybody needs someone to depend on,” Quinn said. “Hopefully, my self esteem will be even better than it is now, and I’ll be even more confident in my skin and in myself.”