Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Whatever You Have Learnt From Matchmakers Is Wrong – Deborah Tan

Sick and tired of being told you have to be The Right One instead of always trying to look for The One? Deborah Tan says just don’t do either.

puzzle_heart_pieces__jpg_408x395_q85How do you find The One? How do you decide that a person is THE person you’ll marry?

I had asked these questions, and I had wondered the same thing about The One. I had been in the position where I asked my married friends how they got to the stage where they basically made up their minds that their husbands/wives were the people they wanted to build a life with together.

And now, I find myself being asked these same questions too.

Is There Such A Thing As “The One”?
I think many of us see Marriage as the end-goal of being in a relationship, a destination that you and your man work towards getting to. As such, we tend to want to set a clear finish point – The One. Who is The One? How does he look like? What should he be like? What can I do to make sure The One is The Best One For Me?

If you are going to obsess over The One, you shouldn’t, therefore, be surprised to find yourself driven mad by the impossibility of locking down “The One”.

Some women, and men, may go, “No! I absolutely know what I want in a life partner!” But the majority of us will find that what we want is often not what we get. Holding out indefinitely for The One to appear in our lives isn’t the solution because that just means we are missing out on the thrills and spills of going on dates and falling in and out of love.

Just go with the flow. You will find him/her when you do!!

lovequoteHow Do You Become Someone’s The One?
I don’t know. I really don’t. A founder of a popular matchmaking agency in Singapore once told me that it’s not about finding The One – it’s about being The Right One. The idea is that somehow you can carve and shape yourself out to be the ideal mate for someone out there if you work hard at checking all the imaginary boxes on his/her list. It’s ludicrous. First, we all have no idea what other people want. Second, we can’t completely become what other people want without betraying our true nature. Third, why do it?

It doesn’t work. I have tried to be sporty, musically-inclined, adventurous, cool, whatever … to be the person I thought would attract the different guys I was crushing on at different points of my life. It worked as well as taxes on cigarettes trying to stop teenagers from smoking. What worked? I quit trying and just went out with the mentality that I am awesome in my own right and if no one wants a piece of this awesomeness, it’s their loss.

You have probably heard all the cliches before: “Love finds you”, “Let Nature take its course”, “Don’t try too hard”, “Be yourself”. You have probably tried to abide by these “rules” and still have yet found someone whom you can call your own. I’m ashamed to say that my advice isn’t the solution either. I don’t know why some of us are perpetually single, I don’t know why some of us have relationships that never bear fruit, and I don’t know why some of us find Love so easily.

But I do know that being in a relationship, being married, having a boyfriend/girlfriend … does not complete you. Being someone else’s girlfriend doesn’t make you a better person than a single girl. I made this analogy to a friend earlier this month:

“When you go out shopping for a dress, do you pick the dress that is missing a sleeve and calling out to you to ‘complete it’? No! You don’t! You buy the completed dress! Similarly, when someone is looking for a partner, he/she isn’t looking for someone that needs ‘completing’! Be a complete person and stop thinking someone will make you whole. There’s nothing attractive in a dress with a missing sleeve.”

If you feel something’s missing in your life, let me just say this … it’s not another person.

I've been looking for someone like you my whole life!!!

I’ve been looking for someone like you my whole life!!!

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 Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. The only thing that is missing in her right now is breakfast. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] How To Survive a Long-Distance Relationship – Denise Li


You know those annoying people on Facebook who only use pictures taken with their other halves as profile pics, post puke-inducing mushy status updates and leave lovey-dovey messages on their partner’s Wall for all and sundry to see?

My fiance Alain and I are one of those couples.

But given that we only ever see each other every few months or so, I think we’re entitled to a free pass. We’ve been in a long-distance relationship for more than three years now and despite our best efforts, we haven’t been able to live in the same country for more than six months. When I tell people this, I’m usually met with these responses: “I can’t imagine doing it” or “I’ve done it before but it didn’t work out” or “I’ll never choose to be in a long-distance relationship”.

I can understand the incredulity. Before I met Alain, I also told myself that I never want to be in an LDR. I mean, seriously, aren’t relationships hard enough as they are when you live in the same timezone?

There is one and only one reason that you should ever be in a long-distance relationship, and that’s when every fibre of your being tells you that you need to be with this person. I could come up with a whole string of cliches about needing him like you need oxygen, etc, but you get the drift.

Alain and I did not fall in love at first sight. But we did fall in love at first encounter; our connection was pretty much instant and it became clearer to me over the next few days that we spent together. Having had my fair share of lousy dating encounters, I knew I was onto something special and so did he.

I believe a long-distance relationship can work only when both parties have that unshakeable certainty that it will. It’s that certainty that will encourage the effort of waking up early and staying up extra late to Skype; of taking the time to tell each other and find out about what happened in each other’s day; of making the extra effort to maintain emotional intimacy over a fuzzy screen when you just can’t do it in person.

Of course, it’s not all roses and sunshine, so when we fight on Skype (a rarer occurrence these days, thank goodness), we need to really talk it out and make sure there is no residual resentment. After all, it’s not like we can give a concluding cuddle to the argument.

In spite of the distance, the bond Alain and I share is much stronger than the one I shared with my ex in my previous long-term, same-country relationship. In the final year of my last relationship, I barely saw or talked to my ex more than a couple of times a week. It didn’t even cross my mind to text or call him when I travelled on my own for my three months (the death knell of a relationship that had been dying a slow death for years). Alain and I, on the other hand, do our best to talk every day, even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes when we both have to work.

The success of a long-distance relationship is really dependent on that old nugget for any relationship to work: communication. The distance works as a constant reminder of how truly and fundamentally important it is so we make more of an effort to maintain it instead of taking it for granted.

Of course, you’ll only be inclined to put in so much to make it work if it’s worth your time and effort in the first place, which is why now, whenever friends ask me how to make a long-distance relationship work, I answer the question with a question: “How sure are you that you want to be with this person?” Anything less than 100 percent is simply not worth the emotional investment.


About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Lastly, she believes that everyone should make it a point to travel solo at least once in their lives. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets

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