Happy Valentine’s Week!

This week – and Thursday in particular – is often either glorious or pure torture for high school students. (Or at least for the girls. I get the feeling there are plenty of high school boys who don’t really notice or care?)

Here’s what happened during my 4 years of High School Valentine’s Days:

Freshman year: A secret admirer gave me a stuffed Dopey doll (of the Seven Dwarfs fame). I hoped it was a different special someone than it turned out to be, but had a lovely time feeling admired nevertheless.

Sophomore year: Sat around grousing with a Senior friend about how horrible Valentine’s Day was when you’re alone. We decided to hang out that night, and ended up at an outdoors flower market and bought flowers for each other. There was a sense of innocence and ease between us. It was the start of a very sweet – if also very short – relationship.

Junior year: I was an exchange student in Germany, and was depressed in a general sense about my life. Looking back, I’m sure it was from a terrible lack of sun that I’m used to here in Texas.

Senior year: My boyfriend left a carpet of rose petals from my front door to my car door, where he had tucked in a calligraphy poem he wrote to me. Flowers were delivered to me at school, and he took me out for a romantic dinner that night. We probably made out afterwards, or maybe had sex. Romance at the highest level!

Looking back now, I think my sophomore year Valentine’s Day was my favorite. There was no stress, there was no judgment, there was no expectation about the night itself or about the good-bye kiss. My worst was hands-down my time in Germany.

What was your favorite Valentine’s Day during High School? What was the worst? What did you learn from those experiences?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. As I considered myself to be hopelessly unattractive in high school, my experience was different from yours. I have no memory of Valentine’s my freshman or sophomore years. My junior year I did have a boyfriend and I asked him to get me something, but he balked and said he had no intention of celebrating a failed saint. Then he did something stupid to get himself grounded so he couldn’t go out and get me anything, so he sent his brother to go and get me some little stuffed animals. I was delighted at the time, but after he broke up with me I decided it was stupid.

    My senior year, there was a school fundraiser where you could buy a flower for somebody and have it delivered. Someone bought me a flower. I really was delighted, and I never did find out who bought it for me. The interesting thing was that whoever it was spelled my last name correctly, which considerably narrowed the field of possible admirers.

  2. My freshman year I was homeschooled, so nothing happened then.

    My sophomore year I was in my current school but didn’t have anyone to celebrate it with.

    My junior year was by far the best as I had a both a girlfriend and the money to do something. I got her a really cool stuffed animal that I knew she liked. Then I got her favorite candies for her: Skittles and Starbursts…a big bulk bag of each.

    This year it was ok, I didn’t have as much money and it had to be celebrated last week due to our respective school’s schedule. Sucks that we won’t be able to be together, but at least we will be all next year!

  3. I’d like to hear more about why your senior year wasn’t the best, when it sounds so perfectly like what a teen girl would want, and you yourself say, “romance at the highest level.” What else was going on besides the beautiful expressions of your partner’s love?

    The Valentine’s Day I recall from high school was the one where I found a small, gold box next to my breakfast plate, with beautiful ruby earrings, a gift from my mom. We probably weren’t getting along so well; I think I had given up on expecting her to have anything useful to share with me. But, I still get a special feeling everytime I recall that particular gift. So unexpected. So perfectly beautiful. Such an expression of her love for me, despite the gulf between us. I cherish them, and her, still.

  4. That’s a great question, Margaret.

    And I think the answer is: My boyfriend was too much! He was lovely in many ways, and I think tried to deliver on what it might be assumed a teenage girl would want. He was very romantic!

    The problem was that the expectations were too high. Again – not that I felt I had to “put out” or anything of that nature. Because, again, he would never have put that expectation out there. He wanted to be the Perfect Boyfriend. So he studied the role of Perfect Boyfriend.

    But I have generally responded better to a bit more realism – and there was great, real, person-to-person contact my Sophomore year Valentine’s Day.

    That boyfriend I had my Senior year did not understand at all when I broke up with him more than a year later and after an engagement ring. I wasn’t able to articulate it well at the time. But I would say something like this to him now: “You had an image in your mind of how things should be. When the situation, or you, or I did not measure up to what you imagined it should be, you ignored the reality and paid more attention to the fantasy. And that’s not how I want to live my life.”

    I learned a good lesson through my relationship with him that romance is fabulous, but only if it’s balanced with reality.

  5. I don’t really remember any notable valentine’s days in high school, which probably says plenty right there.

    The highs (and lows) of high school romance centered more around prom, homecoming and birthdays. Especially birthdays. Those tended to be more romantic than valentines day.

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