Hi, I’m Emily, and I didn’t have a date to my prom. And you know what? I can tell you from personal experience (albeit 10 years after the fact) that going dateless to prom was not the end of the world. In fact, there are many reasons why you should go to prom without a date — not because no one asked you or because you didn’t ask anyone, but because you’ll probably have a better time doing it all solo... seriously.
Real talk here: most of the rituals of high school, prom included, will not (or at least, should not) matter to you in your future adult life. I know it’s hard to believe right now — it's possible you even dream of being on the receiving end of the most viral-worthy promposal the world has ever seen. But believe me, you have your whole life ahead of you, and your future as a well-adjusted, successful adult will have nothing to do with whether or not you had a prom date. Not to undermine the importance of your big day, but just know that you’re probably going to look back on your prom as a fun night, not the end-all-be-all of your life’s accomplishments.
Obviously, if you’re in a relationship, you already have a built-in date. But if you’re single, you’re probably trying to consider who to ask or what you should do. And while I’m not totally on the up-and-up with today’s youth culture, I’m going to assume that going to prom alone is still sort of considered to be either a let down, or a last resort. But let me assure you that your prom will still be a fun, memorable night date or no date. And if you do end up going stag? Well it's going to be an amazing time. Here's why.
1. There's less pressure if you're by yourself
If I thought there was a lot of pressure surrounding prom 10 years ago, I can’t imagine the level of stress teenagers feel today with the over-sharing culture we live in. Even after the dress has been picked out, the promposal popped, and pictures taken, there are still tiny details to worry about, and when you're with another person, that pressure doubles. Deciding to go to prom without a date can help alleviate some of this pressure. You won’t have to worry about getting asked, or what your date expects from you, or how you’ll match your dress to their tie. Believe me, you’ll have a much better time if you’re relaxed!
2. You won’t feel tethered
Having a date is great for pictures, but not so great if you want to do your own thing. Committing to going to prom with a date effectively tethers you to that person for the whole night. You’ll probably go to dinner together, sit together in the limo, dance together, wait outside the bathrooms for each other, and leave together. Even if this person is your boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend, this can feel a bit restrictive. Your friends and fellow classmates will also be at prom (remember?), and I'm guessing you’ll want to hang out with them, too. Going dateless allows you to see, dance, and leave with whomever you want. And in case the night doesn’t go as planned (there is bound to be drama), you won’t feel obligated to be by your date’s side the whole time.
3. There's less drama
When you put a bunch of hyped-up, hormonal teenagers in a room together, drama inevitably springs up. And let’s face it: drama can ruin a night. Whether you feel jealousy watching your date dance with someone else, someone sneaks in a substance you’re not comfortable with, or you or your date each have expectations the other isn’t ready to match, having a prom date is setting yourself up for potential turmoil. I’m not saying going dateless will make you immune to drama, but it will probably give you a better chance of avoiding it.
4. You can focus on the relationships that matter most
There is still that fairy tale quality surrounding your high school relationship. It might seem like your high school boyfriend or girlfriend will be the love of your life — who knows, perhaps they are — but most likely they’re not. My parents were high school sweethearts who (like 50 percent of couples who met as teenagers) ended their marriage in divorce. It’s more likely that your best friends will be the relationships that last a lifetime. Go to prom with your friends instead of a date, and use it as an opportunity to form lasting memories with them instead of someone you might never talk to again after high school. It will matter more to you in the years after high school, when you and your friends are at different colleges, that you had that time together.
5. Going solo will probably be less expensive
Prom has always been an expensive endeavor for both guys and girls. From the outfit to the dinner to the ride to whatever after-party you plan on going to, the cash can add up. Yeah, your parents might be paying for some of it (or all of it), but be fair to their wallets, too. Going dateless and opting to go with friends or a relative can help take some of the pressure off of doing all the prom-related things. Instead of a fancy dinner with a date or a group of dates, maybe you and your friends just want to have a potluck at home before taking pictures. It’ll cost much less to split the cost of a limo among a group of friends. I spent my after-prom at a Denny’s with my best guy friend instead of some ticketed hotel party, and it was the best $10 I spent.
6. Dancing is way more fun
My favorite part of prom was the dancing. I love to dance (and I’ve always been pretty good at it), but it can be a little awkward trying to dance with a date. Let’s be real — unless your date is literally Zac Efron or Harry Shum Jr. from Glee, they’re probably not a good dancer. Not feeling obligated to dance with a date allows you to dance with whomever you want, however you want, and it allows you to be silly. Let yourself go a little!
7. You'll have more time to focus on other things
At the risk of sounding lame, college is really hard to get into, y'all, and prom should probably be the least of your worries. Deciding to go to prom without a date will allow you to put all that time and effort you would have spent coordinating with your date or planning a promposal toward acing your classes, passing your AP tests, getting that violin solo, or qualifying for the state championships in your chosen sport. My senior year, I was the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, a peer counselor, on varsity track, taking two AP classes, and I cannot imagine trying to fit prom planning into my schedule back then. And yeah, I didn't have a date, but I did get into a decent college, and I have a career that I love. You'll all be OK going dateless.
Images: Giphy (8)