• Charlie King

Relationships: A mental minefield.

Now, relationships isn't really a topic I talk about a lot to anyone and I still won't be going really in-depth about myself in this post. However, I will be sharing my thought process regarding the prospect of a relationship and the pros and cons of relationships. Some of it is my own thoughts and other parts are ideas I've developed about relationships through experiences with couples and various television shows and films. Basically, there are many aspects about the nature of relationships that seem to be mind-boggling when viewed from the outside.

Let's start with the dating process.

There are a number of different ways people can meet and eventually end up on a date. People can meet online whether it's through a dating site or shared interests (like in a Facebook group), long time friends can give dating a try, meeting someone at a social occasion and asking for a number to set up a date or meeting someone through work and asking them out. There are plenty of different methods out there but, at this moment in time, I would say the only suitable ones for me would be meeting someone through work or social occasion but not on a night out. By this, I mean perhaps a small gathering of people where a person you haven't met before is invited and you start talking. Even then, I couldn't see myself asking someone out having only just met them that day. Instead, a couple more separate interactions would be needed to convince me it was worth a shot.

This is why I wouldn't look for a relationship to start in a night club as I ask myself how much can I really learn about a person and how well we communicate when the music is playing out loud. As for online dating, I'm really surprised at the number of young people who are on dating sites. For me, I consider online dating to be a potential option when I'm much older. Online chatting also gives a bit of a false sense of security as to how well you communicate with people. I've been able to talk confidently with people online but it was usually a different story when came back around to face-to-face conversation. As for the friend-to-relationship aspect, I consider that quite a high risk tactic especially the longer you've been friends with that person in the first place.

I'll be honest, it was only a few years ago that I realised "dating" and "in a relationship" was two different things. Dating is strange because it doesn't seem to reflect how a relationship actually is. I remember going to an interview (not a worthwhile one) and the interviewer said at the start "don't give me fake interview you, give me real you." It's surprising how relevant that is to dating because dating almost seems to be all about a 'fake you.' It's mainly because on dates people want to pull out all the stops and be on their best behaviour. Then, after a few successful dates, a relationship can start and then the standards immediately lower. You're no longer required to go to a fancy restaurant each week and you can then present yourself in a real way whether it's your flaws, your attitude or your appearance.

I know that this does actually make a lot of sense. As people become more comfortable with each other, they'll be more willing to let people see all of what they are and be comfortable being unkempt and an acceptance of natural bodily functions. Even so, that means the dating process is almost an irrelevant factor as to whether or not a potential relationship could be successful. There are only certain things people will say or do on dates in order to impress someone but once that has passed, that's when people see the real you and have to decide from there if they can accept everything you are.

Despite this, many relationships work on a "what have you done for me lately?" basis. You have people comfortable with each other in every way, they enjoy each other's company and they swear that they are in love. Yet, having fun in each other's company isn't enough and no words can give enough impact to keep people happy. Instead, people need the constant reassurance that the relationship is still strong (which it clearly is by how well they get on) with expensive outlays whether that's gifts, days out or nights out. It makes sense that as part of a relationship, these should occur but when there's such a pressure on it, it just seems more stressful than anything else to come up with new and spontaneous ideas. These are people who can happily spend all day talking to each other and making each other laugh but need some kind of material or monetary incentive every now and again. If people aren't enjoying each other's company, that's when the real warning signs would appear. For me, I know I can be nice so my main concern is to constantly remain interesting and spontaneous which is required for the long term.

Then, there's always the question of looks versus personality. I always find this a bit strange because it's clear that successful long term relationships are built on how people get on with each other. The real question should be do looks matter to you. I'm going to admit some shallowness and say that I'd be very unlikely to start a relationship based on personality 100% but it would be the majority. I feel like there would have to be some kind of physical attraction but that can be helped by the personality. What I mean by that is that I could meet someone reasonably good looking and find them quite attractive and if they have a great personality to match, then the 'quite attractive' state would improve to 'very attractive.' In truth, looks can be the purpose for a conversation starter but ultimately there has to be some substance there for a worthwhile relationship.

This is where the friend-to-relationship aspect becomes a risky tactic. Being friends for so long, you know that you get on well and if you find that friend attractive, it can be quite a dilemma. However, it's all the same regardless. If you get on with someone you find attractive, no matter how long you've known them, you have to seriously consider whether they are thinking the same thing or if they see you as a friend. For me, my mind has always been programmed that if a girl is being nice to me, it's because they are a nice person and I don't want to mistake that for something else. I do feel, however, that I would be braver on future occasions and I'd consider 'taking the plunge.' Although, for me, I'd need to get to know someone reasonably well to decide whether it might be worth a shot.

There's a lot of aspects to relationships to look forward and lots to dread. I think the biggest mistake anyone can make is to go out looking for a relationship. For now, I am happy to focus on all other aspects of life first like my current and future work and eventually move out. If a relationship occurs in that time, fair enough, and if it's the last thing I achieve on my list then that's also fair enough.