A couple is kind of like a recipe with just two ingredients. You mix them together and — wow! — interesting stuff can happen. Milk and chocolate syrup turn into ... mmmm ... chocolate milk. Combine milk and pickle juice and the results are not so yummy. And sometimes the stuff you mix — like root beer and vanilla ice cream — will bubble, fizz, and nearly explode!
So it's no wonder that girls and guys are interested in those romantic recipes called couples. In fact, more than 4,000 kids — most of them between 9 and 12 — answered our survey on what makes a great couple. The No. 1 answer was that people who make a great couple are different, but in a way that works really well — like peanut butter and jelly. The No. 2 response was that great couples make each other laugh.
And whom did kids choose as their all-time favorite couple? Vanessa and Zac? Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter? Will and Jada Smith? Nope. It was Mom and Dad.
Isela, 12, chose her parents because "they're kind of from two different backgrounds but they couldn't fit better together."
Victor, 12, says his parents are his favorite couple because "they make me happy whenever they are together."
Grandma and Grandpa rated high as well. That's who Ashley, 12, chose as her favorite couple. "They are fun and make each other mad, but always work it out," she said.
As for herself, Ashley isn't interested in a boyfriend right now. "Everyone thinks you should have a boyfriend but it is really stupid, I want to concentrate on school."
But Caiti, 10, named herself and her boyfriend as her favorite couple. "We make each other laugh and we have a good time when we're together," she said.
Like Caiti, half of the kids surveyed said they already had been part of a couple, though with mixed results. About 50% said being in a couple was good and only 5% said it was a bad experience. But 45% said it was a little bit of both.
You take two people who both say, "Hey, you're the one for me." But what happens next? It's common for young couples to stay a couple for a while and then realize, "Hey, you're not the one for me after all."
One or both people might decide they like someone else. And sometimes a person is just not comfortable having a girlfriend or boyfriend. It's perfectly understandable. Lots of kids told us about how funny it feels to be part of a couple for the first time. Sure, it's fun and gives you that warm feeling inside, but in other ways it's just so strange. Someone is holding my hand and maybe wants to kiss me? Cool! Gross! What do I do now?
Timmy, 12, said he had a girlfriend for about a month and the best part was hanging out together. The worst part was "not knowing what to say when I talked to her."
And 12-year-old Jade said she liked knowing the other person returned her feelings, but the worst thing was "trying not to embarrass yourself every time you're around them — easier said than done."
Other kids said they didn't like feeling pressure to spend time with that person all the time. And many said they felt like they couldn't talk to their friends who were boys or friends who were girls for fear it would look like they were flirting or cheating. Being part of a couple sometimes means being stared at or talked about, both boys and girls said.
Tanya, 12, had a boyfriend for 2 months and didn't like that "the whole world gets to know your business."
And Melissa, 12, noticed that things didn't go quite back to normal after she and a friend stopped being boyfriend and girlfriend. "It never lasts as long as you want it to. And you're not as close as friends anymore," she said.
While about 30% of kids said they stayed a couple for a year or longer, most relationships ended more quickly. About 35% ended in less than a month, with about 14% making it only a week or less.
But before you get too worried about all these couples breaking up, know that it's perfectly normal. It would be boring if everyone paired up in fifth grade and stayed together forever.
When you're a tween (between a kid and a teen), you get to try different things and imagine what it will be like someday when you are older. That's why it's OK if you're like Olivia, 9, and you don't want to be part of a couple just yet. "I'm still young," she said.
So true! Olivia, like most of the kids we surveyed, thought 13 or older would be the right age to be part of a couple. Of kids who said they hadn't had a boyfriend or girlfriend yet, 67% said they'd like to be part of a couple someday.
Most Choose Marriage . . . Someday
And looking way down the road, almost 90% of kids said they wanted to get married in the future. The top reason (54%) was that they wanted to have children and be a family. Lots of kids (33%) also said they wanted someone who would stick with them in good and bad times.
For those who said they didn't want to get married, here's why: It sounds boring (30%); forever is too long (29%); they didn't think they would ever find someone; or they didn't think they could ever pick just one person (16%).
But most kids wanted to get married and not just for a little while. About 85% said they would like to stay married for 50 years or more. That's 50 Valentine's Days with the same person — whoa!
But for now, how can kids celebrate Valentine's Day with the people they like? Lots of girls and guys said they'd use their cell phone to show they cared. Nearly half said they'd put their boyfriend's or girlfriend's photo on their cell phone. Others said they'd assign that person a special ringtone (21%) or text the person constantly (20%).
Kids were even willing to do some of the silly, romantic things couples sometimes do, like give each other cute nicknames (32%), write love poems or letters (18%), or wear matching outfits (12%).
But the No. 1 answer was to put two straws in the same drink and slurp together. What a sweet way to celebrate Valentine's Day! What will it be — chocolate milk, pickle juice and milk, or a bubbly, fizzy root beer float?