Roses in Rose Hall: Dating culture in MD


Ava Lipsky, Staff Writer

* All interviewees requested anonymity because they were embarrassed and didn’t want to expose themselves or their friends.

They might not know about trigonometry or “The Odyssey’s” “wine-dark sea,” but Middle Division (MD) students are already living the dating experience. “There are about five or six couples in my grade,” Timothee* (6) said. These “couples” have been spotted holding hands, waiting outside each other’s classes, and occasionally hanging out after school, he said.

There are too many couples to count, Jerrald* (6) said. “Who can keep track of that?” Jerrald planned to ask a girl out on Valentine’s Day and was feeling confident. “She will say yes.” 

Jerrald ended up breaking up with his girlfriend a day after asking her out, he said. “I am a free man.”

Most couples ask each other out via apps like iMessage or Snapchat, Minkus* (8) said. Middle schoolers fear getting rejected in-person because it is embarrassing, and therefore make their moves virtually, he said. “It’s better through the phone because then, if you get rejected, at least it’s over text and not in front of a bunch of people.”

Usually, sixth graders do not discuss dating until the end of the year when there may be a few couples, Health Teacher Amy Mojica said. “They’re just putting their foot in the water. But I would say the seventh and eighth graders talk about the experience of dating.”

By the time students reach eighth grade, “hook-up culture” becomes common, Simone* (8) said. “There are a lot of couples in my grade, but everyone goes to somebody’s house to hook-up with each other.”

Other middle schoolers said they don’t have the time to keep up with the dating drama. “I don’t even know my own sexuality,” Mavin* (7) said.

Only some couples are serious enough to go on dates, and most do not last very long, Minkus said. “One person was dating the other and then the next second they were dating someone else.”

Through the MD health curriculum, students learn about healthy relationships, Mojica said. It covers both friendships and partnerships because some students are not at a place where they’re interested in dating, while others have romances going on, she said. “We talk about care for the other person, respect, boundaries, and consent.” For example, students watch clips from Disney movies and decide whether or not they display examples of consensual relationships. “They also watch videos about navigating the first kiss with consent and care as well as have discussions about different scenarios,” Mojica said.

However, the Health curriculum does not cover how to handle Valentine’s Day. Many couples are struggling with what to gift their partner for Valentine’s Day. “I’m not sure what to get my girlfriend,” Gonzo* (8) said. “I wanted to buy her a necklace, but I would rather spend that on a new dog tag. Most likely, I’ll just pick her up a chocolate bar or something.”

For the single middle schoolers, Valentine’s Day was more like a second Halloween. “I don’t have a girlfriend so I will not do anything,” Stuart* (6) said. “I will be eating candy.”

Minkus looked forward to getting chocolate from his mom since he does not have a girlfriend, he said. “I will be sitting at home alone because I have negative rizz.”