February 24th, 2015

Ze Cartoon

The Fragility of Love... or is it?

I've been wanting to write about a topic that has been close to my heart for a long time - love and relationships.

You might wonder, why the sudden inspiration?

I came across an article yesterday about 'the pain of falling for a guy who only kinda likes you' and it totally echoed my thoughts and feelings a year ago when I was in an ambiguous relationship. I wanted to share my thoughts about love at my current life stage because I feel that many people, especially single ladies might share the same sentiments. I write from the bottom of my heart and I represent my own thoughts so please don't judge me for them.

Last year, many of my friends found their other halves and some even tied the knot. I wouldn't deny that I have felt envious when my friends were all getting matched up while I had just walked away from an ambiguous relationship that has given me more tears than happiness.

On Valentine's Day this year, I expected my Facebook to be flooded with pictures and status updates of sweet nothings. Instead, I was shocked to read that at least a handful of my friends have broken up with their partners and around 3 of them had called off their engagement.

Is there no happily ever after anymore?

I'm at the stage in life when I am bombarded with questions about my love life from friends and relatives. I am thankful that my parents do not add pressure on me. As much as they hope that I can find a partner soon, they also want the best for me - which is for me to get married to someone who is the most suitable for me. My Mum has told me during one of our heart-to-heart conversations that if all the guys I've met are bound to hurt me; she would rather that I do not get married at all. Marriage isn't the answer to happiness. If a couple isn't prepared to share weal and woe together, the marriage would fail and one would have wasted a large part of their life being in an unhappy relationship.

The people who aren't genuinely concerned about your life-long happiness are the ones who just want to hear whether there is that special someone in your life; how he looks like (handsome or not) and what he does for a living (rich or not). They do not know you well but they tease you about having high expectations in guys or not actively or purposely going out there to make friends with guys. They judge you for not improving your looks; for not being open-minded; for being quiet and reserved; for being boring - basically the qualities that undermine your attractiveness to the opposite sex. They warn you about your fading youth like a ticking time bomb. 'You must quickly find; once you pass a certain age, no guys will like you', they said.

Do they think people are single because they do not care, or that their qualities are beyond hope?

It is one thing to meet someone new and be attracted to his looks and personality. It is another thing to talk to someone and realize that hey, both of you can hit it off with such intense chemistry and common interests. It can be easy to fall in love. But whether or not a relationship moves on to become a committed one is another thing. It needs work. It needs mutual agreement for both parties to trust and commit to each other. It needs maintenance. More often than not, only one person is actively trying to push the relationship further while the other person is passively receiving. When a person gives more than he/she takes in a relationship, it is bound to frustrate and collapse.

Sometimes, a relationship doesn't progress because both parties have different values and life goals. Maybe you aren't at the same spiritual level as him. Perhaps he isn't ready for a serious relationship with you because he just got dumped. Maybe he makes a good boyfriend but not a good husband or a father. You want to settle but he wants to play the field. His family doesn't like you; and you don't like them either. He couldn't get over his ex-girlfriend. He was hurt and don't ever want to love anymore. So many obstacles that can test a relationship; so many things that tell us that there is more to just attraction and being in a love.

Everywhere I go, I noticed that there are more single ladies than single men and I kept asking myself why. Are these ladies ugly beyond belief and are thus left on the shelf? No.

Aside from a few 'outliers', I've met a fair share of single ladies who are attractive both inside and out and it really makes me wonder why these ladies have not found that someone who can appreciate their beauty. Is it because many eligible guys around their age have been taken up by other attractive girls and these ladies do not exactly have many choices left?

While men can take their time and afford to wait for their other halves to appear in their life, women are constantly being reminded about their fading youth and attractiveness if they do not 'quickly find'. It is very sad but it feels almost as though a woman's self worth is based on her ability to find a partner; simply because finding a partner is life-changing for a woman. It determines whether a woman moves on to become a wife and later a mother, or whether she will end up a single old lady who might die alone.

Women are judged for dating someone societally deemed too old for them ('why you date old man who can be your father') or someone too young ('why you jie di lian'). Coupled with other personal restrictions like 'need to date someone of the same religion', 'I do not date other races', 'I do not date colleagues', 'need to be with someone who earns more than me' as well as personality and looks preferences, there really aren't many people who will fit the bill.

Even when it comes to dating, women are told to behave in a certain way to successfully attract the opposite sex. No, we can't chase the guy; we need to be chased. We can't openly declare our feelings for someone; we need to wait for the guys to declare their feelings to us. We need to drop hints; we need to play hard to get. Does attracting someone really involve playing mind games? It can be emotionally tiring when you are trying to drop hints to someone who doesn't share the same level of interest with you but at the same time having to run away from the guys whom you have no interest in.

Attraction works in a strange way and at times, it is really a 'hit' and 'miss'. You can strive to be the prettiest or the sweetest girl that you've ever been but the guy you're fond of might still not notice you. On the other hand, someone might come along and fall head over heels for you when you don't even remember looking particularly attractive or doing anything supposedly special in front of him.

Last year, I thought I found love and happiness. I felt the mutual attraction; we had good chemistry and common interests; we confided a great deal in each other and we enjoyed each other's company. I was prepared to accept his shortcomings with hope that he will accept mine. I thought that it would eventually lead to something serious and maybe a happily ever after. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be; or it was meant to become a love lesson in my life because there was ultimately no progression in the relationship beyond ambiguity. How long do I want to continue in an ambiguous relationship? How long do I want to invest my time and emotions in a guy who cannot promise commitment?

What started as a sweet beginning turned into disappointment and hurt. I couldn't count the number of times I've shed tears. I hardly cry for people but when I really do, it means I've been hurt very greatly.

My friends and family stood by me with words of comfort, telling me that he wasn't worth it; telling me that I would find someone more suitable soon. Ultimately, I knew that only I could help myself. I was losing hope in myself; my cheerfulness and positivism in life have ebbed. I decided to pull myself together and snap out of it. I did all I could to forget him - I stopped contacting him; I deleted his contacts and conversations; I removed his gifts from anywhere near my sight; I busied myself with work; I surrounded myself with events, activities and friends; I even tried to make myself get interested and fall in love with other guys. Anything - just anything to make me move on from this hurtful relationship.

My methods of moving on might seem selfish but being selfish, with the goal of wanting to live a more fruitful and productive life without him made me better. It took me around 6 months to stop feeling upset and really focus on the positive things that have been going on in my life - the love and suppport I get from family and friends; the increasing blog opportunities that I've been receiving; my increasing social circle from meeting new people regularly; my developing interests in dance and fitness, etc. I learnt to live for myself and work towards goals of living a better life each day.

This year, I want to carry on with my life philosophy, which is to live life to the fullest. I want to learn as much as possible about myself and other people; experience new things; capture new memories and lead my life happily and optimistically again. No more investing my emotions on the wrong person; no more waiting foolishly for a relationship to progress; no more expectations of another sweet beginning. This year, I'm concentrating on chasing my dreams. As for love, I'll leave it to fate to come knocking on my door. When I meet someone suitable and the time is right for both of us, I will know it and I'll be ready to embrace love again.