For junior Kelly Sadikun, her parents’ expectations when it comes to a significant other for her have to do with both the cultural and academic expectations. According to Sadikun, her parents would prefer that she date, and eventually marry, someone with an East Asian background, not only because she wants them to share similarities in cultural background. To some extent, Sadikun would also like her future partner to come from a similar East Asian background.
“It would be nice if me and my partner could speak the same language that isn’t English so our children could learn the language as well,” Sadikun said.
Sadikun says she wouldn’t want a significant other who is younger or shorter than her, and looking towards the future, she says someone with a stable job would be ideal, preferably someone with a STEM background as compared to an art, music or cooking background. She also believes that both her and her parents would want someone for her that is as “smart” as she is.
“My parents don’t want the person I’m dating to bring my academics down and want to make sure I’m not being taken advantage of I guess,” Sadikun said.
Mother Lydia Moore, however, doesn’t have a specific ideal type for her son, junior Justin Moore. As long as his partner makes him happy, Lydia is open to anyone, regardless of factors like ethnicity and appearance. Despite this, she explained that there are a few qualities that she would prefer his partner have. Due to her Catholic background, she would like her son’s partner to have some sort of faith.
“He doesn’t have to be Catholic, it can be any religion as long as it’s not some demon Satanist,” Lydia said with a laugh.
Justin is on the same page as his mother when it comes to religious background for the most part, as he believes that sharing the same religious values will help him to connect better with his partner.
“I sort of want someone who is some sort of Christian because that’s how I grew up,” Justin said. “I would [also] want a similar background as someone else, but it won’t be a deal breaker.”
For senior Ananya Saxena’s mother, Mary Joseph, religion has never been a factor when considering a potential significant other for her daughter. As Joseph’s husband is Hindu and she is Christian, they have made sure their children have been brought up with both cultures by celebrating holidays like Christmas and Diwali. In terms of race, Joseph believes it would be easier for Saxena to have an Indian partner, as they would share the same cultural background. However, she recognizes that growing up in the U.S. has made that less likely for Saxena.
“She’s going to meet a lot of people, a lot of different people,” Joseph said. “If that person were Indian that would just be an additional comfort level, but I’m not going to insist on that.”
When it comes to personality, Joseph believes that her daughter’s significant other would have to be able to keep up with Saxena’s “dry” sense of humor and her lightheartedness.
“She can be serious, but she’s also very ... you know, she works hard and she plays hard so she’d probably want someone like that,” Joseph said.
Similarly, Saxena listed humor as one of the most important traits she looks for in a partner. She believes it’s important to observe how a potential significant other interacts with other people, since this is a better clue into their true personality, and would look for someone with a sense of humor that matches her own.
“I like to laugh,” Saxena said. “I know a lot of people generally like to laugh but if I don’t find someone funny then it’s like harder for me to put up with them for long periods of time.”
As a sociable and light-hearted person himself, Justin also believes that it is important to find someone he can joke around with and would prefer to date someone who is not too shy or reserved. Lydia agrees with Justin on this because more than anything, she wants her son to be with someone that can make him laugh. Humor is a trait that she especially values, because she has been able to overcome many hardships by sharing jokes with her husband and children.
“I always tell him sense of humor [is important],” Lydia said. “As long as the person can make you laugh and can get you through the hard times and the good times, that’s all that matters.”
In terms of appearance, Lydia doesn’t have many specific preferences for her son’s significant other, other than wanting someone who is clean and tidy. Saxena agrees, saying that while it’s important for her to find someone who puts effort into taking care of themselves, to her, personality takes precedence over appearance.
“I feel like if people care about their appearance then it’s just like in general … if you exercise once in a while and kind of take care of yourself to a basic level that’s important,” Saxena said. “But it’s not like ‘Oh well I’m not gonna date a guy if he doesn’t have a six pack because [personally] I think that’s shallow.”
Both Saxena and Justin place a high level of importance in their parents’ opinions on their significant others. To Saxena, if her parents were to dislike someone she dated, it would be a big cue that there might be something off about their personality that she hasn’t caught on to as she trusts her parents’ judgment. Justin also places importance in how well a partner will be able to interact with his parents.
“As long as they do me well and make me happy and they’re funny,” Justin said. “Also if they work well with my parents. If I bring them over, it wouldn’t be like awkward and just sitting there like, ‘How was your day?’ I want an actual good flow of vibes between the two.”
While she does have a few personal preferences for her son’s significant other, Lydia explains that ultimately, her goal as a parent is to make sure that her son is content with his relationship.
“It all just comes down to [the fact that] I just want my kids to be happy,” Lydia said. “That’s it. Justin is kind of a jokester, so someone who makes him laugh and can understand his sense of humor. Justin’s my only son, so he’s really important to me. He’s not going to get anybody by me too easily.”
The days passed in a blur. One day, they would watch a movie together; the next, they’d try a new coffee shop. It was easy to find time in the summer, and she was filled with excitement at the prospect of being in a relationship with him.
Before they knew it, August had arrived, and school was lurking around the corner. The next year would be difficult for both of them, as they would both be juniors. Finding time to study, hang out with friends and participate in extracurriculars was already a difficult task — and now, on top of that, she had a new element in her life: her relationship.
Now a senior, Jasmine Tsai has gained insight on her nearly two-year-long relationship. Because of her now less hectic schedule, she has more time to balance her relationship and academic life. Because Tsai and her boyfriend were already in the same friend group before they began dating, the transition into the relationship itself was fairly easy. Although she tried to be secretive about her feelings, her friends were all aware and were not very surprised when she first told them.
“I think he was the only person who didn’t know that I liked him,” Tsai said. “[My friends] were encouraging but also like ‘You sure?’ But they weren’t against it or anything. They’re pretty supportive, so I was lucky that they weren’t appalled by it.”
Despite having many mutual friends, Tsai went through what she calls “the honeymoon phase” at the beginning of their relationship, when she wanted to spend the majority of her time with her boyfriend. She is now able to divide her time well, but she remembers her past self being impulsive when it came to her boyfriend.
“At first it was definitely like the two of us wanted to spend all our time together, you know,” Tsai said. “But now we kind of do our own thing and hang out with our own guy friends or girl friends so that we can have other friends besides each other.”
Due to their busy schedules, the couple is only able to go on planned dates every couple of weeks. However, they still see each other often because they have some classes together and hang out during school when they can.
On the other hand, junior Heather Bassman has been in a relationship for the past four months; however, her girlfriend doesn’t go to MVHS. Bassman and her girlfriend both agreed to keep their relationship private early on and didn’t tell their mutual friends they were dating until they felt they were ready.
“Our [relationship] is not too hard, because our schools are pretty close to each other, just in this district alone,” Bassman said. “We do have a lot of mutual friends, but they don’t really get into our business a lot, mainly because that was one of the things we talked about going into the relationship.”
Bassman will typically see her girlfriend on weekends rather than during the week because she does not want to intrude on either of their after school practices in the band room. She doesn’t find a relationship hard to balance with the rest of her social life because she attends a different school, making the relationship easier to manage. Bassman believes only in some situations can a romantic relationship intrude on a friendship.
“Maybe in one instance I felt [left out] because [a friend] had chose
[their] relationship over their friendships,” Bassman said. “For the most part, there is enough time in the day or the week or the month or the year for people to balance their time between their friends and their relationships. If they don’t, it’s just a little concerning.”
Enneagram educator and relationship coach Ronna Phifer-Ritchie, who has 30 years of experience working with couples, says creating a community with your romantic partner and friends, as well solving conflicts with each other, is essential to maintaining healthy relationships. Phifer-Ritchie has had married couples of 30 years come to her for counseling as they haven’t developed regular friendship circles to go to and get a “reality check-in.”
“The interesting thing about those ‘real’ friends is they will, as you move in that [romance] phase, respect the lines that you are drawing around your life as a couple,” Phifer-Ritchie said. “They get that you are becoming a couple and that you need some privacy, but also if you stay in relationship with them, they’ll give you some objectivity, which is critical during the romance stage.”
For both married and high school couples, Phifer-Ritchie says friendships should be a support system to go to when your significant other isn’t available. If there is a downfall in a friendship when a couple starts dating, it’s most likely a situation where jealousy and insecurity take over.
“There are those situations where it’s a toxic friendship, and they simply get jealous [that] the person is moving ahead in their life and actually adding romance to their life,” Phifer-Ritchie said. “They’re beginning that process as all late teens and young adults do, where they begin to bond and they begin to form a couple. There are some people who are so unhealthy they can’t handle that as a friend.”
Bassman believes intertwining relationships with your close group of friends makes it much more likely for conflicts to develop, and suggests more distanced relationships are preferable. She feels though that her significant other will inevitably shift her friend group in some way, as her girlfriend continues to introduce her to new people from her high school, along with their culture.
“The hope is when you start to date someone, they were [already] your best friend first,” Bassman said. “You get a different kind of person when you see someone from a different school. You go to one school, and they kind of have their own culture there and so you get a whole different experience.”
For Bassman, attending a different school from her girlfriend has many benefits, mainly because she prefers having a less public relationship. However, she still finds it necessary to open up to her close friends if she needs to discuss conflicts in her relationship.
“I know that if [my girlfriend] went to the same school it’d be a lot harder because I would have to deal with social pressure from all my peers,” Bassman said. “From having to manage how I act around her during the school day, how much time I spend with her, versus when we hang out now, it’s just whatever we want it to be basically. It’s our time.”
Bassman believes her friends are important for guidance, and Tsai shares the sentiment. For Tsai, having a close group of friends outside of her relationship is essential. Despite the fact that balancing all of her friendships wasn’t always easy, Tsai believes that she has been able to create new friendships through her relationship with her boyfriend.
“[A positive is] just knowing more people because he’s more outgoing than I am,” Tsai said. “He has a lot of friends that I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t date him and
if we were just friends. I think we depend on each other a lot because we were good friends before too, so [the difficulty] was mainly just balancing and finding more time for other people.”
Along with Tsai’s new friends, she still has her close group of friends who are willing to support and offer advice. When she feels as if she might do something irrational, she is able to check in with her friends to see if she is making the right decision.
“Obviously in relationships you have problems and sometimes you’ll be angry at each other,” Tsai said. “You just need your friends to filter your thoughts so you don’t say anything stupid. I think there’s stuff that my friends understand that he doesn’t necessarily, and sometimes, we just collide on ideas and you need to bounce ideas off of other people, so I’m glad I can talk to them.”
Depending on the person, the period that follows a breakup is handled according to their needs. Some recover quickly, whether it be alone or with friends. Others can take a longer period that may involve watching rom-coms or blasting Taylor Swift’s top songs like “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “Love Story.” Whatever it is, when breakups happen people try whatever it takes to cope with what has been lost or broken.
For this anonymous senior who will be referred to as Maxine, the aftermath of her breakup was relatively tough to deal with. Maxine found out that her boyfriend of six months was cheating on her. After months of talking both before and after the relationship ended, Maxine used the experience to grow as a person.
“I learned to not settle for a boy,” Maxine said. “When it was over, I spent a lot of time with my friends to distract me from the breakup. I would also post a lot on my social media to ‘show off’ how well I was doing without him.”
Unlike Maxine, junior Giovani Vurro had a different breakup based on a mutual understanding that their relationship simply wasn’t working.
“It was kind of falling apart and we both wanted to focus more on school,” Vurro said. “It was kind of inevitable, I guess. It was a pretty weird two weeks right before it happened.”
Because they dated for nearly two years, the early stages of the breakup were hard for Vurro. However, support from friends made the coping stages less painful.
Similarly, an anonymous sophomore who will be referred to as Scott, had a lengthy relationship. Although it wasn’t always easy, Scott, like many, didn’t see an end coming to his relationship as soon as it did.
“I was dating this person for 20 months, our situation was very difficult in the sense that there wasn’t a lot of freedom; this person’s parents didn’t allow me to see [her], so our relationship was really private,” Scott said. “It was hard to communicate with her daily because she also went to a different school, but I still didn’t really see this coming. We were usually able to make it work. So when she broke up with me it was hard... I expected the relationship to last longer, honestly.”
Maxine, Scott and Vurro all cite music as helpful to recovery, though Maxine listened to sad music, while Scott and Vurro prefer upbeat music.
“I would actually say not to listen to sad music when trying to get over someone,” Scott said. “You should listen to music that hypes you up, stay busy, hangout with your friends and try not to be alone until your ready.”
With that being said, not all relationships that end should be forgotten. According to Scott, there are still the memories to hold on to.
“I do not regret the relationship at all,” Scott said. “I actually do talk to her very often still, and I’ve [been able] to learn from it, which will help me grow in the future.”
As the end of the relationship starts to settle in, part of the recovery experience may be allowing for the opportunity to grow and reflect on what works and doesn’t work in a relationship.
“I learned that I deserve a lot better and shouldn’t have to deal with being taken advantage of in a relationship,” Maxine said. “I do not regret breaking up because the relationship itself was very toxic and there was much more bad times than good times.”
The recovery period was handled similarly by Maxine, Scott and Giovanni. Following the breakups, they all decided to surround themselves with things that they knew they could depend on – music, friends and time.