When a couple is young and just starting their relationship in their teenage years, every day that passes has a lot of weight to it. Time spent is time invested in a partner, so when some couples finish high school and begin to consider colleges, they can find themselves making decisions based on the good of the couple.
This can plant the seeds of resentment that can last beyond the eventual “I dos” and create conflict within the relationship later down the line. One side may eventually see it as limiting their options for education, but the other side may take it as limiting their life experiences, instead.
High school drama
In order to understand how high school sweethearts can find themselves facing a divorce down the road, one must remember what it takes to forge a teenage relationship in the emotionally fragile environment of high school. Hormones and social pressures reign supreme with academia sitting shotgun in a vehicle driven by your own feelings. Rationality and maturity may or may not have been fully developed at the time, but because of the swing in hormones and emotions, you may not actually understand long term consequences of your actions.
Finding yourself with a significant other of any kind in high school is an exciting accomplishment. You’re just happy someone noticed you and found you compelling enough on some level to consider dating. To actually spend extended time with that person is to get to know them more than just how they look on the outside, which can often be the only aspect that high schoolers care about. Some may take the years and outward appearances into account when they make their decision to divorce.
Numbers at a glance
Rarely do people look the same way they did when they were in high school. Human metabolisms and natural aging are simply not built that way, and so when a couple who dated in high school decides to marry in their 20s, they face a great deal of risk for future divorce.
Researchers at the Institute for Family Studies found that a couple that marries at age 25 is over 50 percent less likely to get divorced than a couple who marries at age 20. The economic stability of having an established job coincides with being in a long-term relationship, giving you solid ground as you enter into the union at an older age.
There is a perception that associates high school sweethearts getting married with an older generation, and there is data that supports that notion. According to Business Insider, there were a higher number of people in their 20s who saw their marriage end in 1960 and in 1980 than in 2013.
Divorce rates for those within the first ten years of marriage for a high school sweetheart were at 54 percent and were much higher than the average American couple at 32 percent, according to Brandon Gaille Marketing.
Marrying your high school sweetheart is not necessarily something that occurs with a lot of frequency anymore. According to Brandon Gaille Marketing, 25 percent of people are marrying their high school sweethearts today compared with those in the 1940s. Today, only 2 percent of marriages are from a high school relationship, with only 25 percent of women saying that they married their first love.
When it comes to high school sweethearts, residual feelings can find themselves creeping into your thoughts, long after you have ended the relationship. For some, they find themselves drifting toward the high school sweetheart. People who break up with their high school sweetheart and marry someone else are more likely to have an affair with said sweetheart, if they are able to reconnect.
Many find themselves in relationships gravitating toward the idea of marrying their first love, as opposed to their high school sweetheart, according to a research done at Penn State University. This is primarily due to the fact that your first love can be found at any age, whereas your high school sweetheart is exclusive to those four years.
Romantic notions and reality
Much of the trust placed in the romanticism of high school relationships is the innocence of them all. While more mature aspects like sex can find themselves present with couples, there is a sense of innocence in their inability to move forward in their relationship through the act of marriage.
Because of the inability to marry, many couples can find themselves sticking together, though all of the hardships and pitfalls of their relationship with the end goal being marriage. Once that goal is reached, they can find themselves asking themselves “Now what?”
It’s part of the reason why divorce becomes an option on the table when confronted with conflict. Because of the lack of experiences in life and the emotional maturity level when the relationship began, the uncertainty of what step comes next can cause so many relationships to sink.
A high school relationship that ends in divorce is not something that one should feel shame about. Given the statistics, there is a good chance it ended within the first ten years, and even if it did not, there still is plenty of time to move forward in one’s life and possibly meet someone new. While one still may feel loyalty or residual feelings toward their high school sweetheart, it is not necessarily feelings built on the notion of stability that most relationships need to survive.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.