Should You Go To Prom With A Date? I Did, And I Spent The Night Regretting It

Ah, is there anything that rivals the magic of having a date on prom night, or prom in general? That one perfect evening where your dream dress, your dream limo ride and your dream date — who's gorgeous, charming, and chivalrous, even at 17 — all come together to create an untouchably perfect moment in time, a memory that will shimmer in the distant past as the light of your consciousness strikes it, even when you're 92 years old. You'll be lying in a hospital bed, recalling the moment your date didn't completely stick you with the corsage pin, thinking to yourself, "Oh, Brandon, that was the night you made me the happiest post-pubescent school dance attendee to ever have been offhandedly asked out."

Cue the record scratch, because anyone who's ever been to the most infamous of junior-senior formals knows prom means virtually nothing in the grand scheme of life, and that the amount of emphasis placed on it when you're in high school is silly. I won't even say I hate to break it to you, because I love dropping this little reality check to anyone who mentions the importance of the "big night" for teens, but prom is pretty much one of those milestones that's great for some, forgettable for most, and utterly pointless if it isn't a night that you enjoy with friends.

Why do I say this? Because while I know many people who loved their prom experiences, I didn't have a particularly great prom night — but I attribute that to a few specific choices I made that I will forever advise any prom-goer against until the day I die. Although, it always makes me laugh when I tell the story, so it was totally worth it in the end.

My tale goes like this: I accepted a date with a guy I had a mini, baby crush on, but didn't really know at all, who was one year younger than me and who planned to go to the dance with a group of friends that I'd never hung out with before. But, being the accommodating person I was, I agreed to ride in the limo with him and his group of friends, pre-game and post-game with them, and essentially spend the entire night feeling out of place and insecure about who I was supposed to spend most of my time with at the dance. I didn't spend much time with anyone, and the dance itself was pretty underwhelming. Sadly, while I do have some positive memories of the evening (I did get paired up to walk with my elementary school crush for prom court), none of them are with my best friends, and they all arouse an indelible feeling of regret that I didn't just go to prom as a single girl. A single girl who wouldn't spend the majority of the evening stressing over whether my date was, like, into me, or into me into me, or, wait, was he into me?

Going to prom without a date means you can be silly in the limo, make new inside jokes, and not have to impress anyone, period.

Going to prom without a date means you are free to dance when you want, to whichever songs you want, or maybe you just want to sit in silence as you enjoy an overpriced chicken breast entree and chocolate lava cake dessert with a drama-free brain. When it's just you and a few friends, you can do that! Going to prom without a date means you can be silly in the limo, make new inside jokes, and not have to impress anyone, period.

Of course, that's not to discourage everyone from hitting up prom with a date. For some, going with another person can be a wonderful experience, but know that it doesn't have to be the only experience. If your prom date is set in stone because it's your boyfriend or girlfriend, by all means, get dolled up and have a great time with your sweetheart. My biggest point of contention with prom is the pressure we all put on ourselves to have a date. If you don't have a date, who cares? At least you know you won't have some kind of dramatic blow up in front of the entire senior class when you catch them hitting on your best friend as you come back from adjusting your weird, criss-cross bra in the bathroom. (You were gone for five minutes, and this is what transpires? Unbelievable.)

I know plenty of people who do look back on prom fondly, but you know what the difference is between me and those people, besides a lot of obvious issues that only someone with a Ph.D. in forensic psychology is qualified to point out? Those people went to prom with their friends and not a random date-quaintance.

Resist being tied down on prom night, and who knows? You might connect with a classmate who you never realized looked so good in a tux, or you'll simply have a blast with the usual suspects. Prom, like most things in life, is what you make of it.

Images: Nathan Walker/Unsplash; Giphy