This Is for All the Teens Who Don’t Go to Prom

I thought about calling this “To All The Girls Who Don’t Get Asked to Prom” but that sounded so 1985. Actually, that sounded so 1955, because I went to an all-girls high school in the 80’s, when we were asking boys to our prom, as many girls have done for decades.

Also, it’s 2024 and we all know that guys and girls ask same-sex dates to the prom, and we have thankfully come to a place where we don’t (or we shouldn’t) think twice about gender issues and who is asking whom to a prom. Let’s all just celebrate young love and young friendship and kids wanting to dress up — or down — and have a great night out near the end of their school year.

Prom isn’t always a cause for celebration. (Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash)

Prom may not be a cause of celebration for all teens

But the prom, or simply just “prom” as it’s called now, isn’t always a cause for celebration.

Every year, there are kids who want to go to prom, but who are not asked by anyone. Many kids in this situation go with a friend, or a group of friends so that they don’t miss out on the tradition and the fun. We all love that that’s an option and countless kids have a great time every year being part of a friend group at prom.

But that doesn’t always prevent kids from feeling left out and sad over not getting an invite. Especially today, when the whole promposal thing is such a huge production at many schools. Who wants to be the perpetual bystander, smiling on the sidelines when your friends are the ones receiving the clever poster boards, flowers, candies, or stuffed animals?

What can parents say to a disheartened child who may be feeling that there is something wrong with them? They don’t want the platitudes or tired expressions of positivity that may feel disingenuous or forced coming from the parents who love them.

Reminded your teens of these 5 prom realities:

1. Sticker shock

Just the price of tickets alone can prohibit some kids from asking a date. Then add on clothes, shoes, and a meal. Add costs for transportation and pictures. Throw in the “extras” that many spend additional money on like hair, makeup, nails, spray tans, and after-party activities. And there are a lot of parents who tell kids that these costs are all on them. So even if costs are shared, the prom price tag may just be too high for many.

2. The word on the street

Kids talk a lot about prom. Some of that talk is wishful thinking, boasting, or kids trying to cover all the bases so as to not lose out on a potential date. Someone may hear that a certain student is going to be asked by someone else, and that may or may not be the case. Or someone may hear that a certain student is not interested in going with a particular person, and that also could be entirely false. The reality is that a lot of kids don’t investigate further or they wait too long. Assumptions and procrastination result in kids getting left out.

3. Anxiety

Kids worry that their promposal idea is dumb and they’ll get turned down in front of others. They worry they won’t look good in their suit or in a fashionable dress. They worry they don’t know how to dance well. They worry they don’t have a nice car to drive that night. They worry that if they don’t want to party that night people will think they’re not cool. Even the most confident kid may harbor secret anxieties over something that is known only to them.

4. Intimidation

It can sound like such a cliché, but so many teens get intimidated easily. They may think someone they are interested in asking is “too much” for them — too popular, too smart, too tall, too serious. And many kids are not willing to take a risk or take the time to get to know someone better. On the flip side, a lot of teens are not super approachable yet, because flirting doesn’t come naturally to everyone and takes time to develop.

5. Lofty expectations

In our society, prom has been elevated to near mythical status. How many teen movies have prom scenes in them? It’s no wonder that costs are outrageous and of course, social media has made everything surrounding prom even more prominent. Kids feel a fair amount of pressure to make sure prom night is an unforgettable event. Some teens simply don’t want to deal with all of that.

So, for all the teens who will go to prom this year, try to have fun and be safe. For those who don’t go, make your own fun, do things your way, and remember, you have the rest of your life to celebrate any occasion you want.

You May Also Enjoy:

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About Marybeth Bock

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing - as long as iced coffee is involved. You can find her work on numerous websites and in two books. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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