The unwritten rules of relationships are always tricky little things. Somehow, a set of rules about who and how to date have become etched onto our mating-conscious minds and even though we don’t have a clue where they come from, most of us seem to be permanently in awe of their wisdom. I’m certainly no exception. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve thought: ‘this probably isn’t a good idea’, simply because the so-called ‘rules’ tell me so. Now I always thought that I was pretty good at listening to that strict little voice in my head and that in general I manage to toe the line of relationship law. But recently I’ve realised that when it comes to breaking one of those sacred rules, I’m a repeat offender.
The rule: Don’t date people you know. Alright, strictly speaking this is a contradiction in terms. What I mean is, don’t start relationships with people who would be impossible to remove from your life completely if it all went wrong in the end. I’m talking about friends, friends of friends, relatives of friends, family friends, travelling buddies, people you work with and especially at university, people you live with. I know the rules say don’t go there, but I can’t seem to help myself.
Last year, when I first moved into room G51 in the wonder that is Rootes, ready for the excitement of university life, I had one piece of advice going round and round in my mind: don’t have a thing with someone you live with. A year and a half later however, I’ve now been going out with my boyfriend for a year and guess where I met him? That’s right: on my floor, or more specifically, in room G52.
Of course, even I have to admit that going out with people you already have connections with doesn’t always work out as well as that. Barely any of my close-proximity conquests have ended very successfully, and it can be awkward when they inevitably pop back into my life. More than once I’ve had to face the consequences of my actions when my past has come back to haunt me. For the two weeks before Christmas, my boyfriend worked for my parents, which in theory was going to be fine… until I found out that the son of one of my mum’s friends, who I’d briefly had a thing with before I came to Warwick, would also be working there. My boyfriend then came to London to see me again, this time for New Year, and I was really looking forward to it. Of course, what I wasn’t counting on was for my ex (friend of a friend) to turn up at my house unannounced, or for one of my other friends to decide to bring her cousin who, you guessed it: I had a thing with briefly before I came to Warwick.
So why do I to it? In the past some people have told me that it’s just because I’m a bit misguided and others have said I’m simply a little insane. I do have to admit that in all three of these situations, I was mortified. I was beside myself with worry about how awkward all these people coming together would be. And of course, I couldn’t help thinking that if I hadn’t been stupid enough to attach myself to people who could very easily wonder back into my life at inopportune moments, these situations would never have been possible. For once, I had to admit that maybe mental instability was the reason for my previous misguided judgement calls. On the other hand, I may be biased, but I’d prefer an explanation that was slightly less insulting to my sanity.
First of all, all my worries turned out to be totally unfounded. Strangely, my boyfriend got on unsettlingly well with the family friend, and the other two barely made a fleeting appearance in the end. It was then that I realised how stupid I was being, questioning my sanity when nothing had actually gone wrong. I don’t have a problem at all. It’s always going to be awkward seeing an ex, but if you’re forced to see them, that awkwardness will go away pretty quickly. And in the case of my current boyfriend, I wasn’t misguided. Instead it was very simple: I liked him, he liked me and he lived next door. It was fun and convenient! I’ll admit I hesitated at first, but eventually I managed to beat down that annoying little voice in my head and let myself go for it. Turn’s out the close proximity thing is great – at least this way there’s never any need to walk through the rain/snow to see each other, instead I can just pop downstairs! So I say, if you like someone and they’re close at hand, go for it and embrace the convenience. Life’s too short to live by unwritten rules anyway.