Dating 101: What I Learned In High School

High school was an absolute blast. I grew up in a 300-year-old community situated at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains and an hour outside of Manhattan.

Ridgefield, Conn., a town of roughly 25,000, was a fantastic place to grow up and an interesting place to learn about love.

Since online dating wasn't as prevelant back then as it is today, there isn’t much to report on that front until my freshman year. Here's a year-by-year rundown of what high school taught me about dating.

Ninth grade.

I fell for one of my older sister’s guy friends. She told me it would never happen, but I could feel the chemistry and kept my hopes up.

It turned out he liked me and we dated for months. A lowly freshman, I was dating a guy with a car.

We ended up breaking up because I always assumed he was cheating on me with his best friend who happened to be a girl. I couldn’t understand that guys and girls could just be friends.

Ninth grade taught me that, yes, members of the opposite sex can be friends and to trust my boyfriend unless he gives me cause not to.

10th grade.

I fell for every guy who looked in my direction. I was a complete dating mess — possibly a hussy — and would decide on my day’s outfit based on the guy I had a crush on.

Who was I going to be that day? A hippie, grungy, sporty, a Plain Jane?

Needless to say, I didn’t have one boyfriend during my sophomore year. I had absolutely no idea who I was, so how was I supposed to be in a relationship?

That doesn’t mean 10th grade was a bore. I had plenty of good times, but it taught me to be self-confident and own the person I am today.

11th grade.

The classic tale of looking for the pot of gold and not seeing the rainbow in front of you. While I was still fawning over all of the guys who had graduated and gone off to college, I didn’t pay attention to all of the great guys in my own grade.

I know without a doubt I missed out on some great opportunities to get to know the male counterpart of my fellow juniors.

Eleventh grade taught me to stop assuming the grass is always greener and keep my eyes open for what’s right in front of me.

12th grade.

Ah, senior year. This is the year I started dating bad boys. The first was a British boy three years older than me who went to the same high school but moved back to England.

We continued to date while he lived across the pond. When I went to visit for a week (my mom was cool enough to let me skip school), he broke up with me, saying our relationship would never be like the way it was.

I returned to the States five days earlier than expected — battered and bruised — and started dating bad boys, guys who liked to drink and smoke and remain uncommitted to one girl.

I eventually grew out of it and settled down with a nice man, but 12th grade taught me that just because someone’s a wanker doesn’t mean you become self-destructive.

So there you have it, a year-by-year account of my high school dating experiences and what I learned from them.

If I could go back and tell 14-year-old Kara something, it would be to stay true to who you are and you’ll grow up to be more successful than most of the guys you dated in high school.