Jumping into a new relationship after a bad one is a scary expedition. Actually, getting into a relationship regardless of the ending of the last one is a potentially terrifying experience in itself and here’s why.
When a person gets into a relationship, they never really have the expectation that it’s going to end. At the very least, they know it’s not going to be a walk in the park for whatever duration it’s going to be, but the last thing one thinks of at its inception is its demise. Looking at it, a relationship literally has a 50% chance of success from the onset, but as a hopeful, you often look at it from a glass half-full perspective with rose-tinted glasses hoping for the best.
The slither of negativity, however, almost makes you want the new person to sign an affidavit that binds them to a contract, categorically stating that they should not waste your time. Let’s face it; there comes a time when you know that the way you relate has probably waded into the “more than friends” zone and borders into the “what are we?” phase. I’m not going to lie, it’s exciting starting to fall for a new person, experiencing new emotions, and being consciously aware that they like you, too. However, knowing fully well that the day they’re actually going to ask you out is at the edge of the horizon brings about some sort of anxiety.
Yes, the chase is awesome. Although you might not admit it, you love the attention, but agreeing to sign into said social contract is almost an anti-climax and has an “oh no, this isn’t about to happen” or “am I ready for this” vibe attached to it, which for a brief moment makes one cower at the thought getting into an actual relationship.
I would probably liken the anxiety to the same as when you’re doing your shopping, you’re at the till about to pack and then the till operator informs you of the amount due, asks for your card, and while you fumble for it in your bag, goes on to ask if you would like some airtime, if you’ve heard of such and such a promotion, oh and plastic bags, all the while thinking of where on earth your keys are. The thought of having to fumble and look like an idiot with your groceries sprawled on the tarmac in the car park a few minutes later isn’t too appealing, either. And then, because there’s no one to help you pack, you have to awkwardly get that done while the receipt is being handed to you and the next person is pushing your items, and and and…The pressure mounts and you’re unable to focus as your brain momentarily freezes. Like, did you ever have to think about this packing debacle while browsing in the various isles? No, your concentration at that time was trying to decide on whether you really needed to splurge on the extra chocolate bar or if the ice-cream box should have remained behind instead.
Putting it back into perspective, the moment you then have to define the relationship, a huge volley of questions start attacking your inner psyche and sanity. “Am I ready for this?” “Is this who I really want to be with right now?” “Do I know myself well enough for me to handle another entire human being’s character when sometimes I don’t even understand mine?” “Fine, I’ve seen the good, but can I actually handle it when things aren’t so good?” All of a sudden you forget that only just a few days prior it was all fun and games flirting away, merrily getting along only to come to the sudden realization that you may have unwittingly catalysed the process that has led to this moment where you have to pick a side. To just be friends or to dive into these murky relationship waters? To be or not to be?
So, where exactly does this anxiety come from? What IS the source of this relationship-phobia? As time goes by, a lot has been put on the definition of a relationship and what it should or should not entail. Of course, the strain gets worse as the years go by. The pressure to make a relationship successful comes a lot later in life as opposed to say, a high school relationship. Failing to maintain or to have a somewhat progressive relationship as an adult is essentially a travesty. It also might not be as easy to get over a heartbreak and may require having to go through an entire process all over again, which, at a certain stage has the tendency to become exhausting. Never mind the fact that with growing acquaintances, the more circles clash and the more likely you’ll fall for someone who is an ex (again), known by an ex or at the very least, a mutual friend of an ex.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, I mean, it’s not like getting into the next thing has to be super scary right? Yes folks, there are some wins! First of all, a person you like actually likes you back! Win! Reciprocated feelings are always a plus and an ego booster knowing that someone else finds you attractive in all aspects of the word. Plus, oh yes, you no longer have to drag your friends to the random events that they don’t really want to go to, but feel obliged to because you’re the only single friend in the clique. Their attendance is merely a pity appearance. So yes, there are a number of reasons to maybe take the plunge and go for it. Most times, it’s just about taking a chance, confidently declaring that you’ll just go for it. If it works – it does, if not, then that’s yet another lesson.
But how many lessons do you have to go through? Maybe break a couple of hearts and have yours broken too in the quest of finding the one? Another school of thought is more of the cautious type, taking time to settle for a chosen person, opting to learn them and their traits, meticulously ensuring that this step is what is not only right for right now, but also fits in the overall grand scheme of things. Taking one wobbly step at a time, and eventually sliding into it. Sometimes you want to protect your heart so badly, but at the same time you want to be carefree and live your life. Maybe not being over cautious may lead to something truly amazing, unbarred and blissful or, on the flipside, may lead to a vicious cycle of failed partnerships. Being overly careful may feel like slowly colouring in the lines, refining each stroke, with the anticipation that the meticulousness somewhat pays off. But then again, what if it’s boring and cookie cuts each emotion, plays on your patience and places the heart in some sort of impenetrable sheath lest it be shattered yet again? At the end of the day, it’s all about chance, I guess.
Miriam Nyakudzuka is an award winning Dating and Relationship blogger of “The Bedsit Banter Series” This series tackles various aspects of love, situationships and the awkward phase of being an adult but not really being an adult. You can check out more of her work here: http://mirinyakudzuka.wordpress.com/