Written by Writers Corp member Rachel Murphy
You’ve spent all year anticipating this day, and finally, prom season is here. You’ve put so much thought into your genius promposal and planning every detail of the big night, so nothing could possibly go wrong. Or could it? Your prom nightmares may be fueled by anxieties around ripping your tux or (heaven forbid) someone showing up in the same dress. But, wardrobe malfunctions aside, people rarely have the foresight to anticipate the one thing that could truly stand between them and the prom of their dreams: healthy boundaries.
We get it, boundaries may seem like the last thing you want to talk about with your date or friend group. But being crystal clear about the things you’re okay with or not will ensure your prom is stress-free!
1. Prom Does Not Equal “Offical”
Remember when giving someone a blow pop ring was the equivalent to asking them to be your play husband or wife? Well, going to prom with someone you aren’t serious with can feel similar. It’s not that going to prom suddenly makes you official, but it could put unnecessary pressure on you to become so. If you’re feeling anxious about sending your date the wrong signals by agreeing to go with them, talk to them beforehand about what attending prom together means to you.
Most people teeter between guilt and fear when establishing new boundaries in a relationship. So before broaching this subject, give yourself a much-needed pep-talk. Reminding yourself that boundaries are essential for any healthy relationship, platonic or otherwise, will give you the confidence to address your needs and preferences head on, now and in the future.
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2. What Time Do You Need to Be Home?
This may not seem like a biggy but it can be for some people. If your parents have a strict “be home by midnight” curfew, you should speak with your date about this before heading out for the big night. And if they want to stay out past your curfew, arrange a way to get home with another friend or ask your parents if they can pick you up. Remember, you don’t have to go home at the same time as your date, especially if their curfew is later than yours, but you should reach a compromise that works for the both of you. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. Simply put, boundaries are the limits or guidelines you create to ensure you’re treated with respect and are able to definitively voice your needs, concerns or preferences in a relationship with a romantic partner or friend.
So if getting home to meet curfew is important to you, don’t feel guilty about speaking up about it. Establish healthy boundaries by explaining how you feel, followed by the boundary you wish to set, for example, “I get nervous every time I think about prom because of…And being late for my curfew doesn’t work for me.” Then set a resolution, “Let’s create a plan that works for both of us.” Compromising in this way will ensure your needs and theirs are accounted for.
3. What Kind of Dancer Are You?
Whether you’re a dancing queen, or rhythmically challenged, it’s safe to say you should feel comfortable dancing with your date. Dancing can be intimate and since different people have different levels of comfort when it comes to certain dance styles, you may want to discuss your comfort levels with your date. If bumping and grinding isn’t your thing, make it clear from the start by kindly explaining what your boundaries are and suggesting a compromise that works for both of you. This will not only help you have an amazing prom experience but it can help you avoid an awkward encounter on the dance floor.
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4. You Don’t Have to Lose Your Virginity on Prom Night
Most people believe everyone loses their virginity on prom night. Well, not everyone. In fact, a study surveying over 12,000 high school students found that 5% of girls and 3% of guys lost their virginity on prom night. That means a whopping 86% of the students did not lose their virginity. Having sex is a big step, and you’ll know when the time is right for you. Using prom as the catalyst for initiating sex is not necessarily healthy because it puts unnecessary pressure on a single night when there are so many more opportunities for mature sexual experiences in adult life. Ultimately, you determine the boundaries around your sexual experiences. Whether you choose to have sex on prom night is up to you, but communicating what you are comfortable with to your prom date is what’s important.
Is Your Partner Pressuring You to have Sex?
Does the thought of denying your partner make you tense, or afraid you’ll lose the relationship? Sometimes, the need for stronger boundaries shows up as stress in the body. If your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries and you’re experiencing stress as a result then that’s a huge indicator of an unhealthy relationship. Your partner should never manipulate or pressure you into having sex under any circumstance. If you’re feeling like you’re being guilted into sex than there are probably other emotional abuse tactics present within the relationship. So, reach out to someone you trust (a mentor, school counselor, therapist, family member or friend) to get help and exit the relationship safely.
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5. To After Party or Not, That is The Question
For some, the real party begins once prom is over. Wanting to have a memorable night with friends is normal, and some people will binge drink or feel pressured to drink for the first time during prom weekend. Despite underage drinking and driving being prohibited by law and universally discouraged by parents, according to Edgar Synder and Associates, 54% of teens will have four drinks or more during prom night. Even more startling? The AAA found that 87% of teens would rather drive while under the influence than call a parent for a ride. While there will probably be a ton of drinking happening around you, you shouldn’t feel pressured to overstep your personal boundaries to have a good time.
Prom weekend should feel memorable for all the magical moments you had on the dance floor, not because of the wreak you almost caused with your car. If your friends have a history of drinking and driving then it might be a good idea to put parameters around what you aren’t okay with, like being in a car while the driver is under the influence, or being expected to care for friends who have been drinking.
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When it comes to prom, everyone wants a fun-filled night they won’t forget and using these tips to set healthy boundaries will ensure you get the memories without the nightmares. One Love believes that everyone has a bar for the way they should be treated. When we learn more about healthy relationships skills, we gain the know-how to healthily communicate when that bar (or our needs) aren’t being met with the people we care about the most.
To learn more about asserting healthy boundaries in your relationship with a romantic partner or friend, check out One Love’s Couplets curriculum.