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Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

High School Reunion:
Dating Former Classmates

When I flip through channels on a boring Saturday afternoon, I’ll sometimes check out the show High School Reunion on TV Land (check your local listings!)   In the show, a group of former real-life high school classmates are set up in a beautiful beach house in Hawaii for a 20 year reunion, and the sparks fly where they may, so to speak. 

This season’s cast includes the Class Clown, the Wannabe, the Player, the Jock, the Preacher’s Daughter, the Snob, the Homecoming Queen, the Band Geek, the Outcast, the Ugly Duckling, and the Troublemaker, among others.  This is a “reality” show, don’t forget.   The storylines are a bit heightened and the labels each classmate comes in with are no doubt exaggerated.  In a very eye-rolling “Of course we saw this coming!” twist, the former Ugly Duckling is now a super-hot pinup model.  But in any case, the cast are actually former high school classmates, and all of those old dramas and hurt feelings resurface two decades later.


The most coveted part of the show is the Hall Pass.  Once a classmate gets one, they can ask another classmate to go on a date.  This is where things get interesting.  This is the chance for the (formerly) scrawny band nerd to ask out the (former) homecoming queen, or the outcast to get a second chance with the jock.   I know it’s only a TV show, but these dates are sometimes awkward and uncomfortable to watch.    

One recent episode I saw showed the Band Geek, who is still a bit shy and self-conscious around women, get a Hall Pass and ask the Snob for a date.  The Band Geek has come a long way in the past 20 years—bulked up physically, for one thing—and he seemed pretty confident about the evening.  I actually felt sorry for him when the Snob gave him the brush off and said she just likes him “as a friend”.   (I think we all know what she really meant—“No way in hell!”)  I can’t speak for the poor guy, but it seemed like it was 20 years ago and he was getting rejected for the very first time.  Ouch.   Some wounds never heal, I suppose. 

I think most of us can name at least one crush from high school.  There’s always that one special person who somehow got away, yet you can probably still remember them by name and at least one trait that you thought was adorable back then.  Then there are those of us who didn’t date much in high school, but seemed to be crushing on someone every few months.   But that’s another story. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a “Hall Pass” in real life, and get the chance to see what might happen with a former high school flame?  Oddly enough, it’s not hard to do.  Sites like and of course Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn have made it incredibly easy to reconnect with people from the past.   In fact, attendance at face-to-face reunions has reportedly been dropping because of these social networking sites.  It’s much easier and cost effective to “reunite” in cyberspace.  I know that I’ve caught up with people that I thought I’d never hear from again, and most of my friends who belong to these sites say the same thing.  So what can that mean for your love life?  There is always an up side to everything. 

There are a lot of advantages to dating a classmate, or at least someone from the same high school.  It’s great to have a common history.   Whether it’s some of the same teachers, hangout spots (the library and nurse’s office were popular ones in my school), or traditions, once you connect, you can laugh about old times or dig out the yearbooks and groan at the bad perms and clothes from the time.  The guy I am currently seeing graduated in the ‘80’s, so we’ve had a lot of fun taking trips down memory lane and talking about the similarities and differences in our high school experiences.  He is currently teaching at our alma mater, actually, which makes it even more surreal. 

We all have ghosts from the past that make us wonder what might have been.  The show High School Reunion, no matter what you might think of “reality” TV, just reinforces the fact that we never really leave high school—it’s a specific time in our lives that we usually spend the rest of our lives trying to overcome. 

Ideally, once we leave high school, our true selves emerge.  We shed the labels our classmates may have slapped onto us, and we begin the long, long process of self-discovery.  But it’s funny to run into those classmates a few years after graduating—it’s so easy to slip into those old personas.  So it’s rare and special to find the person who can look past your high school self and fall for the person you are now.   My advice?  If you have reconnected with former classmates and it seems like something may develop with someone in particular, go with it.  Finding a common ground is very important, and not everyone gets a second chance with someone from the past. 


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon.

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