When the topic of prom comes up in any circle of friends, two points of discussion are inevitable: what to wear, and who to go with. For most bachelors and bachelorettes, finding the perfect partner can cause a particularly dreadful headache. Pop culture has long seeded the expectation that with prom comes a prom date. Yet this notion can instill an unnecessary sense of uncertainty and put pressure on potential prom-goers to be disingenuous with their intents. There is no need for the final celebration of high school to be convoluted by the expectation that you must arrive with a special someone in tow.

Most of the grievances surrounding the concept of a prom date have arisen because the original purpose of asking someone to prom has become lost in translation. Instances in pop culture like the scene in Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” music video, in which the male lead nonchalantly abandons his prom date for the newly-arrived, suddenly-attractive female lead, seem to imply that prom dates are trophy items meant to be waved around or acquired on a whim. This misses the whole point of asking someone to prom, which is to have a special someone for you to share the night’s experience with. If you’re going to prom with someone whom you intend to shake the instant the cameras are done flashing, it is better to simply go alone. You shouldn’t ask someone to prom just to have a prom date, nor should you be putting in so little thought as to instantly say yes to whoever comes along. Look for someone whom you have a connection with.

Furthermore, if you’re going to go through the trouble of finding a date, take the time to make sure it’s worth it. If you haven’t already, get to know your prom date. Do some fun activities together and enjoy each other’s company before the actual night, so that you’re not finding out your date’s last name for the first time at the venue. With that said, a prom date can still be a perfectly casual affair. People often think prom dates come with romantic connotations, when in reality platonic dates are widespread and perfectly legitimate. After all, you’re just there to have fun. There is no need to overthink things.

Another misperception that people often have is the amount of time that you actually spend with your prom date. Perhaps people make such a big deal over choosing prom dates or having one in the first place because they believe that they are committing to someone who will be glued to them for the entirety of the night. This is entirely untrue; prom is not your wedding. Based on accounts of students who have been to prom, the only times that involve exclusive interaction with your date are when couples pictures are taken and when slow dances come up periodically in the night. The majority of activities at prom, be it having dinner, dancing, or mingling at the venue, will be spent in the company of all your friends. If you thought it would be awkward to go to prom without a date, rest assured that this will not be the case. In reality, having a prom date does not entail much at all.  

Prom marks the ceremonial end of high school. It is the one final chance for you to celebrate with your closest friends the progress you have made in twelve grades of public education, before moving on to the great frontiers ahead. It is not the occasion to be deterred by something as trivial as anxieties over a prom date. If you are thinking of asking someone, just do it. You will laugh at your worries in hindsight. If you are debating whether or not to go alone, understand that many aspects of having a prom date are completely overblown. A single person does not define the prom experience. Whether you arrive with a date or not, it is everyone around you who contributes to the magic of the night.

Illustration: Chrystal Zhang

Illustration: Chrystal Zhang