:/ I'm just about turning 21. Never been in a relationship before.
From personal experience through school, dating for quite a few people starts around age 13, possibly 12 if you're among the popular crowd in middle school/junior high school. I think more than a third of students in my highschool were in their first or even third relationships by the time they were 15.
In high school, it used to bother me like crazy. A fair number of friends I knew either were in relationships, or had been in relationships. I was always considered to be the nice guy, popular with the girls. Yet totally friendzoned by all of them since day one. I never had a shot to begin with. It did hit my self image pretty hard back then, but I've since then gotten over it.
Relationships aren't worth it if you're getting fairly stressed or worried over it. Also, if it takes any of you less than 9 months to ask out someone, you're doing better than me. The best way to get close to a girl is to just TALK to them like normal. They're people, too. Blatant flirting probably comes across as unnatural or forced.
I might not be the best person to get advice from, though. I'm very... particular... Looks, personality, attitude, hobbies, I take them all into heavy consideration, and I don't build close connections easily. In terms of looks and personality, in the past decade, I've only found four girls attractive enough to even ponder the idea. Everything considered together, only one girl is a sure fire yes from me, while the other two I believe already preemptively friendzoned me. I talk to girls in pretty much only two modes: "We're at least good friends", or "we don't really know each other well [yet]", so I'm sure my perception of them is of minimal-to-no effect on how they see me.
While a relationship will, by definition, solve loneliness, the chances are slim-to-none that someone would put it upon themselves to be there for you if they don't already feel a connection of sorts to you, ie. your chances aren't great if you "want a girlfriend because you're lonely". A relationship also won't take care of any heartache - unless it's a mutual supportive relationship, which brings me to another point. I do want to comment on the note that "relationships are work". In an ideal relationship, it shouldn't be "work". At the very least, it shouldn't feel like any additional work. As people, both partners should have a desire for their own happiness. Also, as a couple, both partners should also have a desire for each other to be happy. I wouldn't imagine it to be any more difficult than being single, if both partners have this mutual desire for happiness. Maybe I'm still naive and overestimate the good in people, but this is how it in theory should work.
Just a bit of a rant here to get stress off my mind about relationships, or my lack thereof.
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