Friends, Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When You’re In Love With Your Best Friend – Tan Lili

Do you jump headfirst into a relationship or do you take time to build your friendship first? Tan Lili opts for the latter, but she reckons it shouldn’t matter either way.

As a writer and a reader, one of my biggest pet peeves is presumptuous writing. Very rarely do articles like “10 Signs She’s Wifey Material”, “30 Things You MUST Do By 30” and “Why You Should NEVER Date An Ex” paint an objective picture as they tend to be self-indulgent and filled with one-sided drivel. It’s one thing to motivate readers to better their lives, but quite another to unnecessarily plant a seed of doubt in their minds – and those articles have an inclination to veer towards the latter.

The most befuddling part to me, though, is that they often go viral and are well-received by majority of their readers.

ANYWAY.

A friend recently showed me one such article. It listed down 10 reasons why it’s a terrible idea to marry your best friend. One of the reasons: You’d likely just be settling for a safe option, secure in the assurance that he would never let you down. (It was written by a relationship counsellor, mind you.) And for reasons I would probably never be able to comprehend, my friend actually agreed with everything the writer said.

“Do you think you settled down too early?” she began. “When things get too comfortable between two lovers, the passion will fade and, eventually, all that’s left is friendship. And hey, weren’t you and Terry friends for nearly two years before you got together? Do you think that makes you guys even more susceptible to falling back into old patterns and seeing each other as just friends?”

To my friend’s defense, her intentions were non-malicious because she’s always been an inquisitive character. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly miffed by her line of questioning.

Because what’s wrong with taking time to invest in the friendship first? Call me old-fashioned, but for me, I’d rather have that rock-solid foundation upon which you build your relationship. As Vanessa very sagely added last night, the alternative would be to dive headfirst into the fiery romance then work on the friendship later – but when you take away the passion, what’s left?

In the same vein, I chanced upon a Reddit thread about a guy who went around the world to interview couples about love, and one of the biggest takeaways he gained was this: that the most madly-in-love long-term relationships are those built on friendship.

material world_best friend love

My boyfriend and I did start out as platonic friends, but somewhere along our friendship, the line blurred. Granted, it took us nearly two years of mindfuckery to decide that our feelings are mutual, but it was also during those two years that we got to know and genuinely like each other as buddies. And that – realising that he’s your perfect partner – is the best thing about falling in love with your best friend. Throw in romance and passion and, yes, definitely sex, it becomes a whole new level of amazing.

Of course, the world is not black and white. I know of so many friends who were lovers first before they became friends, and they sure aren’t any less committed to each other than any other couple who started out otherwise. When there are so many variables involved – your personality, your beliefs, your present psyche – what works for one couple may not work for another. My personal preferences may change in the future, but for now, I honestly do not see anything wrong with being in love with my best friend.

I suppose that’s what makes love so beautiful, isn’t it? There’s no one mould into which every couple fits; the way you start your relationship is irrelevant because, to quote Neil Gaiman, sometimes when you fall, you fly.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. 

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Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] On Taylor Swift’s Love Advice – Tan Lili

Selfless love: To love someone with all your heart and not expect anything in return. Does it really exist? Tan Lili reckons it doesn’t – and shouldn’t.

The pop star recently surprised one of her Instagram followers by replying the fan’s question on unrequited love with this lengthy piece of advice:

I think we grow up thinking the only love that counts as true love is the kind that lasts forever or is fully realized. When you have a broken heart, the first thing a stranger will ask is ‘how long were you two together?’ As if your pain can be determined by how long you were with someone. Or if you were with them at all. I don’t think that’s how it works. I think unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind. It’s just as crushing and just as thrilling. No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember that what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you’ll ever have your affections reciprocated. You are admiring something for its beauty, without needing to own it. Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly. I think someday you’ll find someone who loves you in that exact same way.”

I never thought I’d say this, but that’s some pretty solid advice coming from Swifty, who isn’t exactly role-model material as far as relationships are concerned.

Love is a constant balance between give and take.

Love is a constant balance between give and take.

But her words about selfless love – to love someone wholeheartedly without expecting his reciprocation – got me thinking, Does it really exist? Should it?

For this dog, it certainly does. If every living creature were capable of such love, this world would’ve been a flawlessly beautiful place for one and all. But obviously I’m talking about the romantic love between two humans – and humans are far from perfect. Not that there’s anything wrong with being unable to love selflessly, because that’s exactly what makes true love feel so right. Here’s why.

First things first, I think a lot of us confound selfless love and unconditional love. The definition of the former is to love regardless of your personal needs; that of the latter, to love without conditions. We’ve seen portrayals of selfless devotion in countless movies, but in the real world, I dare say it’s an inconceivable notion. Before I met my boyfriend, I had my fair share of encounters with unrequited love, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for my affections to be reciprocated. But being human, we have our limits. Indeed, we can love without expecting anything in return, but at the same time we also have needs to be met. Over time, we’d have nothing left to give, and all that remains is a void in our heart. This is why we move on from unrequited love – because our needs are not being fulfilled. Suffice it to say, the idea of selfless love is even more destructive in a relationship. To quote Audrey Hepburn, “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”

At the end of the day, it all boils down to being careful with your gift of love. There’s no denying that unrequited love sucks. You give, you hurt, you learn. And when you find someone who gives as much as he takes, who fulfils your needs as you fulfil his, you’ll know it’s the kind of precious love you hold on to with every fibre of your being. I’m glad I found mine.

taylor swift love advice 2

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Friends, Love, Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] The One Thing You Won’t Expect Your Wedding Planner To Be – Deborah Tan

She’s been married for almost three months now. Today, Deborah Tan talks about the one person who might have actually saved her from becoming a runaway bride.

Both the husband and I can be extremely stubborn when it comes to the way things should be done. Over the course of four years of our relationship, we have worked out that there are certain things we won’t do together because the ensuing arguments will most likely lead to the outbreak of another world war. We don’t actually spell them out but I think we can both agree that …

1. We will not run a business together
He sees only the “big picture” and I’m all about the details, obsessed with the nitty-gritty. Whenever we talk about starting a business, he accuses me of being “all doom and gloom” while I shake my head at his eternal optimism.

2. We will not use the kitchen at the same time
I don’t think we can be inside the kitchen together and hope that both will emerge from it alive. It would only be a matter of time before either of us puts a knife in the other person’s heart.

3. Sometimes, we just have to go our own way
I count hitting the karaoke with friends as one of my favorite things to do, he loathes singing in public. Fitness is his life while I only do the minimum required. We have learnt to leave the other well alone when pursuing our individual hobbies.

And in a way, I’m grateful we decided to accept the help of wedding planner Rubina Tiyu of Inside The Knot. Contrary to popular belief, wedding planners are not a luxury. If anything, given my temperament, I think using a wedding planner probably prevented a big day walk-out! I can just see it in my mind: me, all flustered and stressed over the wedding logistics, he, just going his own merry way telling everyone they can wear whatever they want. Not a pretty picture – literally and figuratively.

The color theme was Black, White and Pink. Guess WHO didn't follow the theme?!?!?

The color theme was Black, White and Pink. Guess WHO didn’t follow the theme?!?!?

And in case you think hiring a wedding planner equals spending more unnecessary money, allow me to explain why you can’t be more mistaken:

1. A wedding planner can open your mind to options you would never consider
When we decided to get married, our first choice for venue is “somewhere in Bali”. I’m the sort who expects people to reply to my email like … NOW. So when the wedding vendors in Bali proved too “relaxed” for my liking, we found ourselves suddenly at a loss of where to hold our wedding. In came Rubina to save the day. She asked, “Why Bali? Why not Phuket? Or, Penang?” It was as if the sun had broken through the clouds. She told us she knew the bosses of Mansion 32 – a seafront restaurant – and could help us check if it was available for the wedding date. Within a week, we locked down a venue – something I had been trying to do for two months!

Mansion 32 in Penang, Malaysia.

Mansion 32 in Penang, Malaysia.

 

Look Ma, NO FLOWERS!

Look Ma, NO FLOWERS!

2. A wedding planner can save you money! 
I bet this is something many people wouldn’t expect. You are probably thinking, “A wedding planner is probably going to mark up everything so that she can pocket the difference.” That’s not true. In our dealings with Rubina, we made it clear that we were not a couple with money to burn. We gave her a budget and she did a marvelous job keeping to it. I told her that I did not wish to spend more than $1,000 on my gown and she hooked me up with a dressmaker who made my wedding dress from scratch for $800. How awesome is that!?!?

Bridesmaid Madeline showing off DIY social media paper fans made by Rubina.

Bridesmaid Madeline showing off DIY social media paper fans made by Rubina.

3. A wedding planner has the resources to make your visions a reality
At our second meeting, I told Rubina that I had a challenge for her: Except for bouquets for the bride and the bridesmaids, and a basket of petals for the flower girl, I don’t want to spend money on flowers. I’d rather the money went to where it would really count – alcohol. She did a fabulous job decorating the venue and very, very little flowers were harmed in the course of making my wedding happen. I wanted a black and white wedding cake and … BINGO! It’s done!

I wanted a simple black and white wedding cake. DONE!

I wanted a simple black and white wedding cake. DONE!

4. A wedding planner makes your wedding party feel welcomed
As a bride, the last thing you want is to worry if your friends are enjoying themselves. For me, I’ve always been a bit of a worrywart when it comes to events and parties. I worry if people are enjoying themselves, I worry if they are getting along, I worry if they are being taken care of. On my wedding day, while my wedding team was busy getting everything in order, Rubina zipped out to buy Penang char kway teow to feed everyone. She really made sure I didn’t have to play “mother hen” so I could enjoy my big day.

Meet my well-fed makeup artist, hairstylist and photographer in a selfie before the ceremony.

Meet my well-fed makeup artist, hairstylist and photographer in a selfie before the ceremony.

5. A wedding planner can potentially save your relationship
So, the husband decided to celebrate his stag night in Phuket a week before the wedding. However, he realized he would be missing the flight to Penang because his return flight from Phuket was arriving after it. If I had been the one working on this wedding, Mount Deborah would have erupted. Instead, my darling wedding planner saved the day, and my marriage, by offering to drive the groom from Singapore to Penang.

The role of a wedding planner is more than just a coordinator. She is the couple’s closest ally in the months before the wedding. This person has to be aboveboard in her dealings with you and you have to feel comfortable enough to tell her your concerns and limits. With Rubina, we never once felt lousy that we didn’t have a large budget for the wedding. We were able to air our concerns very openly with her and she never downplayed them or waved them away. Simon and I not only got ourselves a fabulous wedding, we gained a very close friend in Rubina.

So the groom and his best man made it to the wedding on time ...

So the groom and his best man made it to the wedding on time …

So, couples, if you think fights are part and parcel of what it means to get married, I strongly recommend you work with a wedding planner. Your marriage will thank you for it.

Deborah’s Wedding Team
Wedding Planner: Rubina Tiyu and Clarissa Chiang of Inside The Knot (Tel: 9151 5535)
Photographer: Raymond Toh of Vineyard Production (Tel: 9679 7087)
Makeup Artist: Eric Tan (Tel: 9791 7133)
Hairstylist: Edward Chong of Evolve Salon (Tel: 9777 7128)

 

[More stories like this?]
1. I Refuse To Be A Size 2 Bride
2. Learn The Ropes From Val Lee of Blessed Brides
3. Should I Take His Name?

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Love, Relationships

The 8 Escape Routes From A Bad Date – Matthew Fam

Bad dates can be an excruciating affair to endure, but some of us may feel bad for being straightforward with him over our lack of interest. Be it due to non-existent chemistry of having little in common, or him possessing a deal breaker trait (bad body odour anyone?), escape routes are sometimes the necessary evil to put a premature end to an otherwise terrible occasion. Save yourself the trouble with these 8 ways. 

Wishing someone's call would be the perfect excuse for you to leave?

Wishing someone’s call would be the perfect excuse for you to leave?

1. The Emergency Call
To nail this date-terminating smokescreen, have a trusted friend call you in the event of a meeting gone sour. When a date turns unbearable, discreetly send her a text to call you. Upon receiving the lifesaver call, pretend that an urgent matter has sprung up which requires your immediate attention (tip: saying ‘my [insert family member] just got admitted to a hospital’ is probably not the best excuse). The grand exit follows.

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2. The Friendzone
This is the dreaded phrase that all men loathe. To enforce its power, casually mention during your date how it’s great to be making new friends and networking- he should be getting the hint that you have no romantic intentions from this outing. Can’t take a hint? Then try being a little more forward by telling him that you’re not looking for love. Who knows? A romantically unmatched pair may make great platonic friends instead.


tumblr_mobrqm7gOX1s2wckio1_5003. Gross Him Out On Purpose

Not many people enjoy making themselves look bad in front of others, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It could be as simple as personifying the very trait that he doesn’t like in potential partners, for example, being high-maintenance (this is where you have to listen well during conversation). But take care not to overdo it- you want to put up subtle signs to ward him off, not make a fool of yourself.

 

tumblr_n57djaf1j31qbatypo3_5004. The Cramps Card
Sure, it’s no laughing matter to be having your monthly cramps, but when a disaster date looms, a little white lie couldn’t hurt right? It’s time to unleash that inner Secondary School Drama CCA diva and whip out those acting chops for this stunt to be pulled off successfully.

 

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You’ll have to do better than that to convince him.

5. Fake a Food Allergy
In this last-ditch effort to relieve yourself from date torture, you need to find anything you ate in your dish, whether its nuts or seafood, that could warrant a full-scale allergic reaction.

Allergies can activate as quickly as a few minutes after ingestion, so you don’t need to worry about timing your staged itch too soon. First, make a remark about having ingested some allergy-causing ingredients. Next, endure Mr. Boring for another 10 minutes before you start itching. A little acting would certainly go a long way (note: the trick lies in not over-exaggerating. It’s not the bubonic plague you’re feigning!)

6. Go Dutch 
For some reason, several men seem to think that paying for your date is an entitlement for him to expect a second one from you or a romantic advance (uhh… WRONG??). To prevent unwanted future disturbance, pay for your share of the meal to ensure that he can’t use this excuse against you.

And remember: repeated messages from him post-date on why you aren’t unto him counts as harassment. You have every right to inform him that his advances are not welcomed!

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7. Let Him Blabber
We all know that people love talking about themselves, right? So latch onto this perfect opportunity- let him drone on in the event you find yourself scrapping the bottom of the barrel for conversation topics (hmm, nice weather we’ve been having lately). A good starter is to ask him all about his job, and let the conversation go on idle auto-pilot. This way, you’d spare him the ego-crushing defeat of a deathly silence between you two.

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8. The Sleeping Beauty

You tell him that you’re dead tired from a strenuous day at work, when really, not even a double espresso could save you from this snoozefest of a date. Here’s where it gets tricky: if he’s a complete stalker and insists on seeing you again, avoid him altogether. Feeling shy? Being upfront via text in a non face-to-face meeting makes it less awkward to express your disinterest.

 

So, how do you get yourself out of a bad date? Share with us in the comments section below!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines.

if you enjoyed this post, you might like:

1. How To Get Date-Ready In Under 5 Minutes – Vanessa Tai

2. 10 Must-Know Ways He’ll Never Be Boyfriend Material – Matthew Fam

3. [Love In Lines] When You Don’t Have Time For Love – Tan Lili

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Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When You Don’t Have Time For Love – Tan Lili

We’ve all heard of couples complaining about neglect, the lack of spending quality time together, etc. But founder Lili reckons it’s important to take a step back in order to move forward.

One of my friends, who’s dating a flight attendant, is unapologetically possessive of her boyfriend’s free time. She gets offended whenever he chooses to spend a Saturday night with his friends; to her, it’s akin to him saying she isn’t worthy of his time.

As warped as her logic may sound, I get her. Because, as the longtime girlfriend of someone who does shift work, I can tell you this: it SUCKS. Weekends of cuddling at my place are now a thing of the past. Dinner dates on weekdays are also few and far between (his shift usually starts in the late afternoon and ends late at night – or very early in the morning). One weekend rolls into another, as does the bitter taste of resentment. Surely if he loves me enough, he’d make an effort to spend as much time with me as possible, no?

I know it’s irrational of me to blame him; it’s his way of making a living, after all. But when you are constantly bombarded with pictures of loved-up friends as well as relationship articles that preach the importance of quality time, reason flies out of the window pretty easily.

Then I think of all the times he’s had to put up with my horrible work schedule. Once, he booked a 9pm movie for us near my former workplace but ended up watching it by himself because I was still trying to close a magazine – and he was so sweet and understanding about it when we met up after the movie. There have also been so many times when I wasn’t able to meet him on his rest/off days because of work-related events. Not to mention the occasional press trips, which means I wouldn’t be able to meet him for however long I’d be away. And sometimes, I’d feel so mentally and physically drained after a particularly stressful week, I just wish to be alone for a while to regroup and recharge.

I hate double standards; the realisation that I’m practicing them myself leaves me at once ashamed and grateful – ashamed for my petty misgivings, and grateful for my boyfriend’s unflagging understanding. Retrospection can be a very powerful tool to yank your feet back to the ground.

I’m still trying to get used to his irregular working hours, but I consider myself very lucky; as a boss, I have the flexibility of time and can meet him as long as nothing urgent crops up. If you are also dating someone who does shift work, I hope you will be able to take away something from my tips below!

Home Sweet Home

My boyfriend and I may not be able to hang out every weekend, but I find myself looking forward to it in spite of that because, one word: Family. My sister, brother-in-law and my two nephews come over every Sunday. For a solid few hours, I’ll park myself in my parents’ room (that’s where everyone congregates before and after dinner) and simply chill out with my family. I’ve also developed a pretty tight bond with my sister’s elder son because I’m rarely absent from home on Sundays. To be in the company of the people I love – what else can compare?

Catch Up With Friends

Now that my weekends are freed up, I’m able to catch up with my friends in the early part of the day before spending time with my family. Just a couple of Sundays ago, I met up with one of my best friends at a heartland mall at noon to watch The Fault In Our Stars, followed by a waffle pig-out session at Gelare after. The last time I did something like that was when I was still studying so, in a strange sense, that outing made me feel young all over again! Well, I’m not going to contest that, for sure.

Practice Self-Love

No, I’m not talking about that kind of self-love (which is a perfectly healthy expression of female sexuality, by the way). It’s so important to carve out time for yourself and use that little pocket of solitude to cultivate personal growth. I recently started to learn the piano, and I love every minute of playing it – it’s my very own creative outlet and I always feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to learn it all by myself. Likewise, my boyfriend enjoys running, and I completely respect his need to do that during his free time.

At the end of the day, it’s about learning to compromise. It will always be a challenge, but I guess that’s what relationships are about – they are a constant work-in-progress. If it was all sunshine and rainbows with frequent glitter showers, how are we ever going to grow up and truly, fully, experience real love?

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Family, Love, Opinions, Relationships, Tan Lili

Do LGBT Relationships Threaten The Family Unit? – Tan Lili

One of the issues raised by some communities regarding Pink Dot SG is that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) relationships go against traditional family values. Do they, really? Founder Tan Lili speaks to a few people for their takes on this hot topic.

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It’s two days to Pink Dot SG 2014, an annual event that promotes inclusiveness and the freedom to love. Dishearteningly (though not surprisingly), this movement isn’t welcomed with open arms by one and all. In a bid to protest against the event, an Islamic religious teacher launched a Wear White campaign, which urges Muslims to wear white on June 28 (the day of Pink Dot SG 2014). Since then, a few religious communities have voiced their support for the campaign. While certainly not representative of all religious groups in Singapore, the ones who have jumped into the fray claim the Wear White movement protects traditional family values as they believe the LGBT community compromises the very definition of family unit.

To better understand what a family unit means in a multicultural context, we spoke to a few people of diverse backgrounds for their views:

“I think LGBT individuals love, respect and treasure their families as much as any straight person. And, as with all human beings, they, too, need and want to be loved. As a mother, I cannot imagine loving my children any less for wanting to be with someone of the same sex, or for being born into the wrong gender. Unfortunately, social stigma and ignorance have torn families apart. I believe Pink Dot can help start that conversation, to heal the rift, and bring families back together.” – Janice Koh, Nominated Member of Parliament, Pink Dot SG 2014 ambassador

“I think we should strive to be more inclusive on what a family unit means. It shouldn’t only be based on a nuclear husband-wife-child model. Single-parent households (by choice or otherwise), childless couples, and even same-sex couples with children are on the rise. The alternative family unit is not a western invention; it’s a natural human phenomenon and we need to embrace that. I get the argument for preserving a nuclear family unit as means for procreation. But statistically, the homosexual population is pitted as 2 percent to 10 percent. Now, how can a minority group overthrow the entire human civilisation and curb procreation? What real threat is there?

I came out to my whole family – in stages – from a very young age. I was out to my close friends when I was 14; my siblings, around 18; and my mum, at 19. I’m not going to sugarcoat things. My mum is a religious person, so when I first came out to her, she was quite ambivalent about it. She had prior conceptions of what being gay meant, and she was worried that I wouldn’t be able to live my life without being ostracised. It was trying at first because I had to be patient in sharing what homosexuality is about and to clear the air regarding any untrue stereotypes. She’s much more accepting and open-minded today.

People who aren’t open to LGBTs won’t immediately be okay with it from day one; it takes constant engagement, sharing, mutual respect and exchange of views to get somewhere as with my mum. At the end of the day, it’s fine to disagree with something. It is also possible to embrace diverse views and accommodate all of them in an inclusive manner. What I hope for is to be loved and an acceptance that some people are just born differently. This isn’t merely a lifestyle choice. I mean, you don’t choose to be straight, right?” – Matthew Fam, Material World contributor

“All LGBT members are a part of our society. An inclusive, pro-family society must welcome families with LGBT members. To protect families and our values of inclusivity and equality, we must respect and support all individuals – regardless of their sexual orientation – to have a happy family life and to live free of discrimination and harassment. Any definition of family that excludes LGBT persons is anti-family.” – Corinna Lim, executive director of AWARE

“The right to stable and secure familial lives should be universal, regardless of gender, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation. Particularly in a society where the family unit is constructed as central to one’s wellbeing, this is the moral and ethical position to take. Just as straight-identified are born into and forge families, so do LGBT individuals. We are not talking about mere ‘lifestyle’ choices here – these are people’s everyday lives, people’s livelihoods, people’s need for dignity forged in real social relations. Families have always existed and will continue to exist in diverse forms. That is an empirical fact. It also remains an empirical reality, unfortunately, that LGBT members of our society suffer disproportionate stigma, discrimination, harassment and cruelty – and that this often happens precisely because they are deemed to be anti-family. We have shared responsibilities to work towards a society where these bullying behaviours are no longer tolerated and where everyone’s right to family is respected and protected.” – Teo You Yenn, sociologist, author of Neoliberal Morality in Singapore: How family policies make state and society, and board member at AWARE

“I personally don’t think the LGBT community runs in conflict with the family unit. Some of the primary causes of family breakdown are unreasonable behaviour, domestic violence and infidelity. Individuals and groups interested in protecting the ‘sanctity of the family’ would do better to address those issues instead of confronting the LGBT community. A single mother struggling to raise a child should be cause for concern more so than whom a person chooses to love. How do LGBT couples affect the family unit exactly? Heterosexual couples still exist in great numbers and have children, to the extent that we are actually facing a global problem of overpopulation. Recent campaigns in Singapore come off more as an excuse for homophobia rather than the protection of any family values.” – Seelan Palay, artist and activist

“What I can say is that a healthy and complete family unit in these days should no longer be based on how it is represented by the dictates of a narrow and repressive model of roles and expectations. Rather, it should be how it is experienced by its members. But first, these members have to be recognised as unique and dignified individuals in order for them to make more meaningful contributions to what they understand as their families. While its mood may be celebratory, it is not in the intentions of Pink Dot to break up the conventional institutions of the family unit. In contrast, it wants to work towards greater inclusivity and belonging with a broader umbrella that can shelter more families of different backgrounds.” – Dr Liew Kai Khiun, an academic doing research on Cultural Studies

“In the first place, sexual orientation should not have any bearing on what a family should be. In some respect, other social stereotypes that are seen as ‘abnormal’ – single parents, racial differences, arranged marriages, etc. – should not have any bearing on the definition of family. A family is a group of people who accept one another for who they are, regardless of all the above conditions. I think something like LGBT is still a sensitive issue that needs to be discussed in a more constructive manner – that’s the first step for a conservative society like Singapore. No one is given the right to dictate how one chooses to live and, therefore, love. I understand how and why the stigma exists in this conservative society, but Singapore is a country that prides itself on being cutting-edge in many aspects, and is home to some of the region’s – if not the world’s – most respected think-tanks, so why can’t we discuss this in a civil, respectable and logical manner?

It’s going to be an uphill climb, in terms of how the LGBT community shapes how we define the family nucleus, but with the right attitudes and the right leaders who don’t feel the need to subject to downright bullying and discrimination, Singapore has the potential to be on its way to the equality we recite so proudly in our National Pledge. One more thing: I’d like to point out that LGBT relationships should never be seen as a ‘threat’ to the family or society. It would be sad for a mother to shun her child just because of whom and how he/she decides to live and love. Again, family is about accepting your loved ones for who they are.” – Andrea Azureene, creative copywriter

Pink Dot SG 2014 will be taking place this Saturday, June 28, 5pm, at Hong Lim Park.

Everyone has the freedom to love.

Everyone has the freedom to love.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Character & Soul, Family, Friends, Love, Relationships, Self-Improvement

The Key Takeaway From “The Fault In Our Stars” – Tan Lili

There are many lessons we can all learn from John Green’s young-adult novel The Fault In Our Stars, which was recently adapted into a feature film. But if there is one important message that everyone should take away from the book, Tan Lili reckons it’s this.

The Tale of Tears :(

The Tale of Tears 😦

For most parts of the movie, I was furiously blinking against the sting in my eyes and willing my lips to stop trembling. Then came the fake-eulogy scene. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you’d know that at this point, resistance is futile. And so enter the puddle ocean of tears that washed away most of my not-really waterproof eyeliner.

This isn’t a review of the movie, because it’s a no-brainer that everyone has to watch this intense and profoundly brilliant masterpiece. This is about a very important life lesson all of us should know, even if you don’t intend to read the book or watch the movie.

Very briefly, The Fault In Our Stars is a beautiful story that revolves around two preternaturally mature teenagers – Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus “Gus” Waters – falling in love and grappling with loss and life’s uncertainties. It tackles the subject of cancer without glorifying it as most Hollywood depictions do (remember A Walk To Remember?); the author John Green forces you to confront mortality head-on with the constant reminder that life is no bed of roses, that “the world is not a wish-granting factory”. Death isn’t pretty, and it’s going to hurt like hell – especially for the ones left behind.

Lest you think The Fault In Our Stars is all gloom and doom, it isn’t. Quite the opposite, it is about hope – which, to me, is the most important lesson everyone one of us should take away from the story.

At the beginning, Gus feared oblivion; he wanted so badly to leave a mark so he’d be remembered after he was long gone. Hazel couldn’t disagree more. She told him, “There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you … There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it.”

And this is where hope comes in. No matter how tightly we hold on to certain relationships, no matter how stable or solid they may be right now, they will fade into oblivion someday because nothing in life is guaranteed – except for moments. It is the right-now that is certain; we can either choose to wallow in despair because of the impermanent nature of life, or we can choose to celebrate and enjoy your right-now since it will pass anyway. The simple fact that it is within our power to find beauty in every moment gives us hope for a better future, no matter how short-lived it may be.

It seems wrong to quote someone unrelated to The Fault In Our Stars, but late actress-comedian Gilda Radner summed this up best:

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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3. Do You Live In Fear?

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Love, Relationships

Would You Date Someone Who Looks Like Your Ex? – Vanessa Tai

Online dating website Match.com has partnered with an LA-based dating agency to find you potential partners who look like your ex. Vanessa Tai finds the idea creepy, and frankly a little depressing. 

Yesterday, I chanced upon the news that world’s biggest dating website Match.com has partnered with an LA-based “personalised dating service” called Three Day Rule, to pair people up using a facial recognition software. All you need to do is provide them with pictures of your ex and the technology will trawl through the database to search for people with a similar facial structure. (On a slightly unrelated note, I wonder if they’ll accept pictures of our favourite celebs? Haha!)

According to Three Day Rule’s founder Talia Goldstein, “I noticed over the years that people have a type, and it’s not based on ethnicity, hair colour, or body type. Their faces look very similar.”

Fair enough. While I agree that each of us may have a certain type that we go for — whether consciously or sub-consciously — why would anyone want someone who looks like their ex? Wouldn’t it be awkward, not to mention painful? Personally, I prefer to start afresh. Yes, perhaps these sophisticated computer algorithms may determine from past lovers that I have a “type” and perhaps I may even be attracted to these matches, but the idea of having a “genetically profiled partner” creeps me out on so many levels.

Maybe it’s because I still believe falling in love is a spontaneous act, not something that can whittled down to numbers or arbitrary perimeters. While I can understand the rationale behind searching for a compatible partner based on certain set rules, I still think it’s contrived to try and find a match based on a particular “checklist”. As you may already know, even if someone ticks all the boxes on your checklist, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll definitely fall in love with or even get along with them. On more than one occasion, I’ve tried setting up friends whom I thought were very compatible — in terms of work, interests, and values — but nothing ever came out of it. And almost all of them told me the same thing – “There was no connection.”

A great connection is crucial, especially when you're still getting to know the person.

A great connection is crucial, especially when you’re still getting to know the person.

Being able to connect with a person, I believe, is ultimately the most important factor in determining whether you’ll like to continue dating him or her. Of course, later on in the relationship, other factors like timing, being able to give and take, and so on will come into play. But at the beginning, a solid connection is absolutely necessary. In the past, I’ve met guys who ticked almost all the boxes on my so-called “checklist” but there was simply no spark or connection between us, no matter how we tried to force it. Then there were guys whom I never thought I would be compatible with but as it turned out, we had so much in common and so much to say to each other.

That said, I don’t deny that dating websites and dating agencies are still viable resources for finding a mate. However, my point is, algorithms can only get us so far. Love and the emotions that come along with it are capricious and unpredictable. It’s pretty impossible to use science or math to craft “the perfect partner”. And by the way, newsflash: there’s no such thing as the perfect partner. Finding and sustaining love is still about putting in work. We need to work on ourselves by engaging in activities that help us discover our identity and build self-confidence. In addition, we need to continually push ourselves out of our comfort zone to go out and meet people from all walks of life. Believe me, your dating experience will be far more rewarding than if you left it entirely to a computer software.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Love, Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Do You Believe In Marriage? – Tan Lili

In this week’s Love In Lines, founder Tan Lili shares why she is still on the fence about marriage. And while there isn’t a cut-and-dried formula to marital success, she believes she’s found a key to a happy, healthy wedded life.

But what comes after?

But what comes after?

If my buddy had asked me that question when I was 25, my answer would’ve been a resounding yes. But when she sprang that on me last week, I found myself in two minds. On one hand, stubborn me refuses to support the institution of marriage; why do I need a piece of paper to validate my relationship? But on the other, I want so, so badly to say, “I do” to the man I love.

And deep down, I’m terrified. I’ve heard of and witnessed too many broken marriages to know that so much more would be at stake the moment you’re legally bound to each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banking on an eventual screw-up at some point in my relationship, but shit happens.

The ugly truth

Wedding preparations are another level of horror altogether. To me, they set the stage for the slow but affecting reveal, i.e. marriage. Case in point: A friend of mine, who used to dream of an intimate wedding affair, ended up having a grand celebration because her mother-in-law had insisted on it. “You don’t only marry your man; you marry into his family,” she warned me. Gulp.

And that’s not including other terrifying tales of ang pow drama, overbearing MILs, and the ridiculous amount of money spent on the entire fanfare.

Every couple's greatest fear.

Every couple’s greatest fear.

Once the wedding’s over, you’d still have the whole marriage thing to contend with. When you live together under one roof with shared responsibilities, there are bound to be bigger conflicts between the two of you. But each time I see my favourite real-life couples uncharacteristically argue over money or kids, I’d look at them and wonder to myself, Can two people who love each other so much eventually fall apart? I’m sorry if I sound unnecessarily bitter, and I know it’s silly to base my beliefs about marriage on what others have because every couple operates differently. I know.

But doubt and fear are two very powerful things.

When love isn’t enough

Friends always celebrate my long-term relationship but, honestly, there’s nothing to shout about. Yes, it involves hard work, but we don’t have to worry about household expenditure, pleasing the in-laws, the proper parenting methods – the whole shebang. Right now, it’s so easy to love and just be.

But from what I gathered from my family and friends, once you get married, love isn’t enough anymore. It’s about teamwork, it’s about practicality, it’s about serious commitment, it’s about having truckloads of patience.

And therein lies what I think is the key to marital success: No matter what happens, you don’t stop fighting for each other.

Never stop fighting for each other.

Never stop fighting for each other.

While I’ve seen a fair share of broken marriages, I also know of happy long-married couples. These couples shouldn’t be seen as an anomaly; their lives are peppered with as many obstacles as anyone else. But the difference is that they simply stick to their guns and never give up on each other. They fight hard.

I know there’s no point worrying about the unforeseeable future. But with my recent epiphany, it does help paint a clearer picture of what marriage entails and make me better appreciate and respect married couples who fight to make it work. I sure as hell hope I will be as strong when the time comes.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Family, Friends, Love, Relationships

How To Comfort Someone – Tan Lili

When our loved ones are hurting, we often wish we could do something to take their pain away. But how can we ensure we don’t say the wrong thing? Should we even try to solve their problems? Founder Tan Lili explores a few ways.

how to comfort somone

Many years ago, my best friend burst into tears in the middle of sharing with me her family problems. Stuck between supreme awkwardness and full-body paralysis, I comforted her the only way I knew how – by silently giving her awkward pats on her back.

Five minutes later, she sniffled-giggled, “I love you, but you really suck at comforting others.”

I might have been offended if her remark wasn’t so acutely true. You’d think that, being a writer, I would have a way with words, that I would be able to bring peace and clarity through profound yet emotionally lifting sentences. Uh, no. While I’ve learned to get a better handle on my irrational fear of comforting someone, I am still terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing and making her feel worse. Apparently, we all are.

According to grief counsellor Val Walker, author of The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress, comforting has become a lost art of sorts in this day and age. Perhaps it’s got to do with our personal coping mechanism for grief or stress. For some of us, we tend to keep to ourselves a lot. So when the tables are turned, how do we know if they appreciate our quiet presence, or if they genuinely want to be left alone?

Give them time and space

As much as you wish to understand the situation, give them the time and space to digest their own emotions. If they want to talk, they will. The important message you’re conveying is that you will be there for them – if and whenever they are ready to open up. And if they do, the best thing you can do is listen, not shower them with platitudes.

Step into their pain

Be present, only then will you be able to empathise with them and feel a fraction of what they are experiencing – that’s why when our loved ones hurt, we hurt along with them.

It’s not about you

As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, “It is such a secret place, the land of tears.” We can never fully understand what another is going through because everyone responds to grief differently – for instance, what you experienced from your painful breakup five years ago is not the same as what your friend is experiencing now from hers. So, while well-intentioned, telling someone you understand exactly what they are going through can come across as patronising and insensitive.

Speaking of insensitive, few remarks are worse than “I told you so”. You’d be better off not saying anything at all.

You can’t fix their problems

When someone near and dear to us is hurting, we instinctively want to help them fix their problems. But sometimes, it isn’t a solution from us they are after; it’s acknowledgement. A simple “I’m sorry this happened to you” may not take away their pain, but it validates what they are feeling and tells them you are on their side.

There is no way to master the art of comforting someone. It is difficult enough to get a grip on our own emotional response to sadness, let alone figure out how to comfort someone else who is grieving. But by following the points above, you are essentially showing them they are not alone – and for someone who feels like they are drowning alone in their own grief, it is this very knowledge that keeps them afloat.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Entertainment, Love, Relationships

10 Must-Know Ways He’ll Never Be Boyfriend Material – Matthew Fam

Is he into you? Is he not? And if he is, does he only see you as a one night stand? The madness ends NOW. Whether you’re dealing with someone out of your league, a playboy or complete sleazeball creep, the telltale signs are undeniable. Here, the 10 must-know ways he isn’t boyfriend material.

1. The Picture Sender
Rule of thumb: if a guy is totally into you, he’d want to share as much of his life as possible. This means sending snaps of anything under the Sun- his new haircut, the new GoPro camera he’s tricked out with, or even a meal that he whipped up (pssst… your cue to suggest a dinner date!) On the flipside, if your Whatsapp media folder has been flatlining, you know he’s a real dud.

emoji

Shut up now.

2. Emoji Overload
And just when you thought emoticons were bad enough. Emojis teeter on the date-defining line between adorable and totally nauseating. So imagine if your sweetie signs off each and. Every. Single. One of his texts with a parade of monkey faces. You’re dating a man- not babysitting a teenage kid.

3. Hanky Panky
Touch is essential for intimacy, no doubt. But having it five steps ahead of the game gives the impression that he’s only in it for your lady bits.

Signs to look out for instead? Eye contact, mimicking of body postures, and his pelvic region facing you (sounds insane, but seriously). Sometimes, subtlety does it.

tumblr_n20st9nAVV1tpkh8yo1_500

4. The Phantom Menace
Text. Flirt. Disappear. Repeat.  Sound familiar? Unless you’re settling for a flirtationship, you should find a chap who won’t string you along. Perhaps you could switch things up and make him the one to wait instead! Just remember: no crazy text spamming or instant replies that scream ‘psycho girlfriend’.

5.When the ‘L’ word is said FAR too soon
According to this article, men take 88 days on average to say ‘I love you’ to their girlfriends. And over 39% of those surveyed take the verbal plunge during the first month of their relationship. While this isn’t a compulsory guide, it should give you a fair gauge if your man is just saying romantic mush to appease you.

tumblr_mvocecDQXV1slj24go1_500 2 6. Payment In Kind
Let’s get one thing straight: him paying for your date is NOT an excuse for a free pass at you. And you absolutely shouldn’t feel obliged to entertain his advances. I mean, hello?? It drives home the message that you’re a commodity to be bought… and ain’t nobody got time for that!

7. Repeat Offender
Now, this technique requires some next-level snooping skills (and a sliiight breach of his privacy… just don’t get caught!) If the way he treated his past girlfriends fall into a pattern- same breakup excuse, same bad habits- you know he’s not likely to change his spots anytime soon!

Total. Deal. Breaker.

Total. Deal. Breaker.

8. When He Secretly Films You During Sex!
Ever wanted to be a YouTube celebrity? Well, the only kind of internet sensation you DON’T want to be is this!

Sure, sex is supposed to be fun, but this here is a major deal breaker. Aside from having a total lack of respect, recording lewd acts without consent is just way too creepy. Spot a suspicious red dot floating in the darkness of his room? Congratulations- you now have liberty to go apesh*t on his MacBook.

9. Phone Fiddler
We’re all guilty of the occasional phone checking- even during dates. But if he’s busier than a Bangalore call centre, dump the dude. Actions speak volumes, so if he can’t even commit that little bit of time for you, what more a longer-term relationship? If text replying is a must (could it be that he’s chatting up other ladies too??), how about having a 5-minute timeout instead?

10. Bad Body Odour
Deodorant; cologne; instruct man to scrub pits with Clorox… Or seriously, just don’t go out with him.

So, how do YOU judge if someone is boyfriend material? Share with us in the comments section below!

 

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines.

 

If you liked this post, you might also like:

1. The 8 Times You’re A Total Biatch Without Knowing It – Matthew Fam

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3. [Love In Lines] Is It Acceptable To Flirt When You’re Attached? – Tan Lili

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Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Is It Acceptable To Flirt When You’re Attached? – Tan Lili

Founder Lili’s stance on the subject: HELL, YEAH. In this week’s Love In Lines, she explains why it’s healthy to flirt outside your relationship, and where you ought to draw the line.

material world_couple

I should probably begin with this disclaimer: I’m happily attached, and I absolutely condemn cheating.

Having said that, I do think it’s perfectly normal – healthy, even – to flirt outside your relationship. But what constitutes flirting, exactly? Is the classic hair flip too subtle? Does maintaining eye contact count? Do I have to get touchy-feely with him to get my message across? Should I buy him a drink? Is making bold, suggestive moves pushing it? Admittedly, my definition of flirting is going to sound very chaste. I have only dated one guy since I was 19, so my flirting methods are embarrassingly outdated and awkward. But that’s fine, because everyone’s reaction to flirting is different – which also means we all set different boundaries when it comes to flirting. It’s subjective, it’s fun, it’s encouraged.

This is a picture of cardinal sin, according to some.

This is a picture of cardinal sin, according to some.

As for flirting with others when you’re already in a committed relationship, however, that’s where the lines are often blurred. Some people think the mere act of flirting – even if it is something as innocuous as paying a stranger a compliment – is a form of cheating. They believe there must be some underlying problems in your relationship, that you must not love your partner like you think you do if you so much as lock gazes with a hot guy at a bar.

I beg to differ.

I love my boyfriend. There is no doubt in my heart that he’s the one I want to grow old with. When I awkwardly flirt with others, the interaction between me and them is always short-lived; I have zero interest nor intention of taking it any further. But, I do know of attached friends who make a conscious effort to know the recipients of their flirting attempts. And therein lies the definitive question that sets harmless flirting apart from, well, flirting with danger: Why do you do it?

How you flirt is irrelevant; but if you flirt with intent, that changes things altogether. Here’s the definition of flirting with intent, according to relationships expert Jenni Trent Hughes:

Flirting with intent is the art of showing someone what you appreciate and like about them while introducing the possibility of a sexual element to the relationship. If you’re in a relationship … be honest with yourself that you aren’t pretending to be innocent when there is lightly veiled intent. There’s nothing more repulsive than someone slobbering in your ear, murmuring, ‘If only I weren’t married.’”

So, it all boils down to the intent. Whether or not you are actually going to act on your intentions, the deed is done – you’d have already led another guy on and, at the same time, disrespected your partner. With innocent flirting, on the other hand, you are well aware of your boundaries. In fact, harmless teasing outside your relationship can be good for you and him. Here are some reasons why:

1. It boosts your confidence, making you feel sexier in your relationship

Especially for those of you who have been in a relationship for eons, the knowledge that others find you desirable is unnecessary but totally welcomed all the same. To put it bluntly, girl, you’ve still got it!

2. It shows complete trust in each other

The confidence with which you flirt is actually pretty revealing about the strength – not weakness – of your relationship. You both know your limits as well as where your hearts belong.

3. It brings out the natural flirt in you … for when you next meet your partner

Channel all that positive energy that comes with flirting into your relationship. It’s a win-win. More importantly, healthy flirting with others reminds you the kind of flirting you’re most comfortable with – with each other. The best part? With your man, you can freely act on your intentions and unleash your flirting prowess on him. Nothing beats knowing that, after so many years of being attached, you’ve still got what it takes to make your partner go weak at the knees.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more! 

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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1. [Love In Lines] The Couple Who Plays Together …
2. [Love In Lines] Doing This Can Kill Your Relationship
3. [Love In Lines] Is There Such A Thing As Soulmates?

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