I'm now 20 years old, and the whole romantic world is something that is still completely foreign to me. Aside from the issue of intimacy (which I've discussed briefly here), I'm having a difficult time understanding the way in which relationships manifest themselves. So much happens when traveling from Point A, where you and the other person are mere acquaintances, to Point B, when something exclusive is going on - whether it be a relationship, friends with benefits, even something that neither of you will call a relationship but clearly displays an attraction to the other person alone, thereby displaying such exclusivity. A lot of signals are discreetly communicated, little body movements, eye contact, brain signals that are transferred into subtle twitches, signals which inform the individual whether they will make or break the night.
So much goes on behind flirting that I have yet to learn. For years I thought that you'd gussy yourself up, smile at a boy, and BAM! You'd have yourself a boyfriend. Unfortunately, you hardly ever get anything merely by wanting it - you must put in an effort and send out the correct signals to the other person involved, and if those signals are well-received, then perhaps something lovely will spring to life.
I'm learning that the right things must be said as well so the other person doesn't get turned off, and it all must be done in a timely manner before the guy you're interested in gets bored and moves on. I'm learning all of this the hard way, after all this time. It's been one of the hardest and most stressful things I've ever had to make myself aware of. We'll just say this past semester's been extremely difficult, haha.
I've also come to realize, though that the rules of appropriate flirting are something that everyone must learn. From what I've observed, they're generally acquired sometime around mid-adolescence, but there isn't really a time limit on when they can be learnt. I've been stressed out since a lot of my friends currently have boyfriends (not that this is a competition or anything), but I've noticed that even more of my friends are experiencing the same problems as I am. The nervous blushing that taints middle-schoolers' cheeks when they see their crush walk down the hallway happens to students in college as well, causing us to stumble our words and make our brains rush through a premeditated list of insecurities regarding our foolishness for even trying.
Where do nerves end? Confidence. As long as we are confident in our abilities to interact with others, with time, we will meet someone whom we are compatible with. This confidence may take years to acquire, but I have faith that with practice and self-esteem, anyone can get there. I'm not there yet, but hopefully I'll be able to build my confidence up.
It's a difficult journey, but by paying attention to the right rules, I think it can be done. This applies to any goal you may be working towards, not even a relationship. Failure will happen as well, it's inevitable, but we must learn from our mistakes so we can grow. Hopefully I'll get there, as will everyone else out there. Self-confidence is one of the best things anyone can have, and something that everyone deserves.
I don't know where I'm going with this. Sorry if I ramble a bit! Let's just get out there and work on it.