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. 

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] 9 Things Women In Their 30s Do Differently In Love – Deborah Tan

When it comes to Love, Deborah Tan admits she can be rather draconian in her handling of it. But this, she says, is something that comes with age. Below, 9 things about Love she has learnt to do differently now that she is in her 30s. 

No matter our age, no matter our relationship status, we all encounter issues in Love.

As I think back to the ways I dealt with crushes before turning 30 (I now cringe with embarrassment whenever I think about them), I realized that with age, one also begins to perceive and treat this thing called Love very differently.

For one, my women friends in their 30s seem to take things in their stride a lot better than my women friends who are in their 20s. While it could be a “Oh well, I’m already 30, there’s nothing I can change about that – might as well move on and have fun” mentality at work here, it could also be that once we are past the 3-0, timelines and milestones matter a lot less.

What else do women in their 30s do differently from those in their 20s when it comes to Love?

bullshit
1. We have less tolerance for bullshit

When I first saw the movie “He’s Really Not That Into You”, I found myself annoyed with Justin Long’s character. Every time Ginnifer Goodwin’s character asks him about a new guy she’s seeing, he highlights the “warning signs” and tells her why the guy’s really not that into her. To me, at that time, it seemed awfully judgmental to so quickly dismiss the dude: Anyone could be THE ONE, right??? Fast forward two years later, when I caught the movie again on TV, I found myself agreeing with Long’s character. It’s true. With age, we really have less tolerance for bullshit behavior in men. If he likes you, he will do anything to be near/with/around you.

 

fun
2. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have time for fun

While finding a meaningful, long-term, committed relationship is still something we want, we recognize that we would be missing out on a lot of fun if we only went out with men who seem most likely to want to be in a relationship with us. The pressure is also a lot less once you make peace with the fact that you also don’t want a relationship with just anyone you meet at a club.

 

dontwant
3. We know what we DON’T want

At 18, my “Things I Want In A Partner” was a mile-long. I told myself I would NEVER fall for anyone who didn’t meet my requirements. At 25, the list was evenly split between the things I want and the things I don’t want in a partner. At 30, I realized that my list had morphed into a “Things I DON’T WANT In A Partner” list: I don’t want to date a psychopath. I don’t want to date a cheater. I don’t want to date a man with no ambition. This isn’t to say women in their 30s have zero expectations and have come to think we deserve less. 3 decades spent on this planet have taught us that nothing is ever quite it seems and, rather than set ourselves up for disappointment, why not just allow ourselves to be pleasantly surprised?

 

compartmentalized
4. We compartmentalize

Younger, we allowed our lives to revolve around Love and, our ability to function and behave normally was pegged to the ups and downs of our relationships. Now that we are older, we have learned to not let matters of the heart interfere with our jobs, our social lives and our self-esteem. Yes, every argument with a boyfriend will sting, every moment of uncertainty will bug us like a mosquito bite on our palm, but still, we know Life goes on and the ability to go at it alone is what makes us strong and confident. And strong and confident is attractive.

 

pull-your-shit-together-gif_zps4526e285
5. We get over it … slightly faster

Heartbreak sucks. That chest-crushing feeling that your heart is about to implode from not having someone to love sucks. That overwhelming sense of loneliness that surrounds you every time you lie in bed thinking, “Why can’t he love me like I love him?” sucks. Women in their 20s get it. Women in their 30s get it. Women in their 80s get it. But Age teaches you to get over it fast because … see Point 1.

 

2408356_orig
6. We are over “What if …”

As much as I detest cliches, there is some truth in the saying, “Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.” In my 20s, I was so afraid of being alone that it took me forever to break up with an ex I had stopped loving for some years. At that time, I was tormented with thoughts like, “What if he is the one?”, “What if I never find someone else?”, “What if I have already met and missed the person meant for me?” Entering my 30s, I decided that it’s no point obsessing over the What-ifs. The only thing you can do for yourself is to make the best of whatever situation you are in and hope that the best is yet to be.

 

dontgo
7. We leave people who make us work for their love

Is it because of my looks? Is it because of my figure? Is it because of the way I talk? Younger, we saw ourselves as products that needed constant refinement, that we needed to be “improved upon” in order to be worthy of love. Women in their 30s have less patience for this. If a man ever makes us feel we are not good enough, we will simply move on to the one who does. This is ME – take it or be sorry that you have let me go.

 

happycouple
8. We understand Love is more than just emo-ness

Emo-ness in movies sells tickets. Emo-ness in love songs is beautiful. Emo-ness in a real-life relationship? C’mon, it’s tiring and trying. We really don’t need this much drama in our lives. We don’t want to live in a HK TVB drama series. Your Love is not going to be any less real just because you are happy, just because you are not needy individuals addicted to private dramas and public meltdowns. Let’s spend our dramatic energy fighting things like people who abuse animals, people who assault women, and stupid people.

 

unsolicitedadvice
9. We get that people will love the way they want to

At the end of the day, people will love the way they want to, the way they know how to. It’s no point forcing them to be more clear-headed/level-headed/decisive/cruel because the heart works in such strange, strange ways. But to my friends who are still in their 20s and wondering why Love hurts so much, I can only say that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger and that things do really get less scary in your 30s. This, and that I’ll always be here to annoy you with unsolicited love advice anyway.

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 eternal realist says while she enjoys a good drama on TV – she’s not a big fan of it in real life. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When Love Is Not Enough – Vanessa Tai

Relationships fail. This is an undeniable fact of life. However, knowing this is not enough to ease the pain of losing someone you love. How, then, can we cope with heartbreak, wonders Vanessa Tai. 

Sometimes, despite your best intentions and efforts, a relationship doesn’t work out. It could be due to a myriad of factors but the end-result is always the same – heartache and disappointment.

I wish I could tell you it’ll eventually be okay, that time heals all wounds, and all the other tripe self-help articles may tell you. But I am not you. I can’t and won’t pretend to know what you’re going through.

Especially when I, myself, don’t know for sure if you ever truly recover from a broken heart.

However, I can tell you this much: Don’t give up hope. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 10.42.16 am

Romantic love can be complicated, twisted, and stomach-churningly unpredictable. Yet, we find ourselves drawn to it, time and again. Because, at its best, it is breathtaking and spectacular. I’m sure we’ve all seen how the power of love is strong enough to soften even the most hardened of hearts. Love is probably one of the only things in this world that can easily encompass good and bad, beautiful and ugly.

Even in its cheapened, shadowy versions — lust, infatuation, intrigue — there’s nothing quite like it. The quickened heart rates, the goofy grins, the quiet contentment. With so many rich emotions and experiences tangled up in it, it’s no wonder love is such an addictive drug. Despite the painful comedowns, people still keep chasing the high. Yes, the pain of losing someone you love — for whatever reason — can be unbearable. Whenever I go through heartbreak, I am an absolute wreck. I can’t sleep, I’m crying all the time and I am a complete bummer to be around. However, I also recognise it’s unhealthy to dwell on the loss and what could have been, so I create my own coping mechanisms to deal with the pain.

So, here’s my humble recommendation: Simply be happy that you had the privilege of loving someone and being loved in return … no matter how short-lived.

Think about it. Each day, you encounter hundreds, if not thousands of people. Yet, this one person, no different from any other person, wanders into your life and for some reason, both of you establish a connection. I can tell you, this is not a common occurrence, which is what makes it so valuable. Maybe it starts with physical attraction or maybe you discover a similar love for obscure music. Or maybe you just find it strangely easy to open up and talk to each other. Whatever it is, a connection is made and no matter the duration of your relationship, it still stings when the connection gets broken. That’s because it’s human nature to crave connection so when it’s rudely ripped away from you, it will definitely hurt.

However, the important thing to remember is, don’t focus on the pain.

Yes, you may have made mistakes, you may have gotten hurt, you may even have been betrayed … but the lessons you will learn about life and love are infinitely precious. It is often through our darkest episodes that we gain the most illuminating insights about ourselves. I’ll like to believe that if you make a conscious effort to get better (versus becoming bitter), it nudges you along to an even more fulfilling relationship down the road. Because, you know, life is a series of connections. Just because this connection did not work out does not mean another will not in future.

Yes, you may never heal entirely. It still breaks my heart whenever I think of certain people I care about and everything we could have been. But all it takes is a single happy memory to dull everything else and dare I say it, even make the pain worth it. No matter how fleeting my love affairs are, they never fail to make me feel excited and alive all over again.

Because when I love somebody — recklessly and with wild abandon — it feels like I am living life at the edge of a rollercoaster, instead of just cruising along on a subway.

And it feels fucking amazing.

So I wouldn’t have it any other way. No regrets.

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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.

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Yes, I Do Want To Add A New Member To My Family – Deborah Tan

Has Deborah Tan finally succumbed to all that incessant nagging about when she’s going to have a baby?

A couple of days ago, I posted up on Facebook that I’m thinking of doing an MBA. I hashtagged the post #nextchallenge because I saw it as the “next new thing” to obsess over, after having (1) quit my job (2) start a business (3) get married (4) learn to bake (5) run a half-marathon, etc. I was bored and I needed something that wanted my time and energy.

Then came a comment from my sister, “How about a cousin for (my kids)?”

I have said a while ago that the husband and I have no intention of having children. We feel that it’s more important to invest in ourselves to ensure we are assured of a good retirement than to pour money into raising kids and having to deal with the uncertainty of whether they’d turn out well despite our best intentions and efforts.

But lately, I have been wondering if the need to grow a family has been “programmed” into us all. That it’s not just our parents and grandparents who want us to “expand the family”, but we ourselves kinda want it.

For me, I DO want a new addition to my family.

Just last Sunday, as I was dozing off on the couch, I found myself entertaining this thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a chubby bulldog is nestling in my arms and we are both taking a nap together?”

I am now obsessed with the idea of acquiring a bulldog and I’m making it a point to tell my husband once a day, “I really want a bulldog.”

But is this a precursor to something more insidious? I also wonder.

Could it be that the thing I actually want isn’t a chubby bulldog but a chubby baby?

Do all married couples wonder – at some point in their marriage – whether they want children?

I must admit, I am curious as to just what kind of kid my husband and I would be able to “produce” – would he be argumentative and annoying? Would he be creative? Would he be a left-hander? Would the child inherit both our innate disrespect for authority and status quo? Vanessa and Lili are of the opinion that any child of ours would, first and foremost, be very talkative – I am inclined to agree with them.

Curious as I may be, does it mean I have changed my mind about being a mother? I still don’t think so … sorry to disappoint those of you who have been hanging on the edge of your seats.

So every time I find myself veering dangerously into “maybe baby” territory, I’ll remind myself that I personally still prefer a pet by looking at these cute pictures:

bulldog2

It’s a hard fight in the Who’s Cuter contest but I have my winner …

bulldog3

Seriously, who can resist those folds of skin!?!?

bulldog4

Check out the butt!!! The tail! The frown! So cute!

bulldog1

At the end of the day, a bulldog does, “It’s ok, bro” best!

I want a baby. I want a bulldog as my baby.

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. She’s going to talk non-stop about bulldogs until her husband succumbs and allows her to adopt one. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

Standard
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.

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Being Vulnerable In Love – Vanessa Tai

When it comes to love, it can be downright scary to strip away your protective layers and bare your soul to another person. This is why Vanessa Tai is especially cautious about who she entrusts her heart with. 

material world_love

In one of my earliest Love In Lines posts, I wrote about how I used to avoid emotional entanglement as much as possible because of a perennial fear of getting hurt. Vulnerability is terrifying because there always seems to be a lingering possibility of rejection. Nothing scares me more than being honest about my feelings and having a door slammed in my face. However, in recent months, I’ve been slowly inching my way around the fortifications that surround my heart and exploring this  “falling in love” thing.

Yes, it is safe behind these walls, but it is also boring and lonely. As painful as failed relationships can be, the high of being with someone you like is almost magical. And right now, I think I’m going to continue chasing this high.

Of course, I’m not about to throw myself straight into the fray and hand my heart to the first available person. There needs to be a certain level of mutual trust first. In other words, we need to be discerning about who we open up to. While we may never know with 100 percent certainty that the person we love will be careful with our hearts, here are a couple of ways to gauge:

Is he really listening?

When you try to talk to him, does he make a concerted effort to listen to what you’re saying? Or does he keep trying to tell you what he thinks? Or worse, does he invalidate your feelings and make you feel ashamed?

As much as your judgment may be cloudy from lust/infatuation (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), try to take an objective look at your relationship and listen to your gut. The crucial question we should always ask ourselves is, “Do I feel safe opening up to him?”

Is he authentic with you?

In order for a relationship to work, both parties need to be willing to let their guard down and share themselves openly with the other. We need to give each other a safe space where we can open up about our feelings without the fear of being judged or dismissed.

And no, it doesn’t count if he opens up to you only when he’s intoxicated. I was once in a situation like this, and was driving myself crazy with confusion and misery. Then, fellow co-founder Denise said something to me that made everything so much clearer. She said, “If the guy was really in touch with himself, he wouldn’t be that far off from his drunk self. If he is unwilling to open up to you when he’s sober, that’s a problem and you don’t want to be involved in that.”

At the end of the day, it’s important we remember that vulnerability is not about being weak. In fact, it’s a generous act of courage. The knowledge that someone intimately knows the messiness of your mind and sees you at your ugliest yet still loves you wholeheartedly … I reckon that is an incredible experience that we all deserve to have in this 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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. 

[If You Like This Post, You Might Also Like]

1. [Love In Lines] Why You Should Date Widely
2. [Love In Lines] To Thine Own Self Be True
3. [Love In Lines] Deadline For Love

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] What Is Your Language Of Love? – Deborah Tan

Each of us knows just how we like to express our love for our partners, but today, Deborah Tan wants everyone to stop and think about what YOUR partner’s language of love is.

Is this the look your man gives you every time you speak your love language?

Is this the look your man gives you every time you speak your love language?

“What’s your language of love?” I asked my friend one night when she was lamenting to me about her boyfriend.

I got a lost look.

“Well, according to what I learned from Vanessa and Lili (co-founders of Material World), there are five love languages.” I went on to elaborate, “Acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, spending time and gift-giving.”

More lost look from my friend. I sighed in exasperation. “I’m not trying to play relationship counselor here but it seems to me that the both of you are speaking entirely different love languages. Your boyfriend expresses his love for you by buying you expensive presents. You said you’re into gardening, he went out and got you tools sophisticated enough to build a house! So, his language of love is clearly gift-giving.”

I looked at my friend and waited for her to absorb what I had told her. “I’m guessing, yours is words of affirmation?” Her eyes lit up and she nodded vigorously in agreement.

Languages Of Love
As mentioned above, there are 5 love languages. This is a concept first written about by Gary D. Chapman. The idea is that we each express our love differently and we also want love expressed to us in a certain way. If a relationship were to grow and flourish, both partners must be able to speak their partners’ language of love.

Hmm … What’s her love language here?

Language 1: Acts of service
If your partner’s love language is this, it means you need to express your affection by “doing things” for him/her. For example, help her with the dishes after dinner without waiting for her to ask.

Language 2: Words of affirmation
If this is the chosen language, you need to break out of your shell, no matter how reticent a person you may be, and make it a point to tell your partner EVERY DAY something that shows how much he/she matters to you. “Thank you for taking the car to the workshop, baby. I really, really appreciate it.”

Language 3: Spending time
If your fights stem primarily from one partner working too hard and being away too much, your partner wants your time and undivided attention. Even if you are away on business, make it a point to Skype with him/her for at least 20 minutes every night.

Language 4: Gift-giving
The price of the gifts doesn’t matter here, and it shouldn’t. If your partner’s love language is gift-giving, it means what he/she wants is the thought behind the action. With a physical gift, he/she is receiving the assurance that you have not forgotten a special occasion that means a lot to the relationship.

Language 5: Physical touch
Hugs and kisses, gently grazing his/her arms whenever you both are talking, having sex often and regularly … physical touch is how your partner wants to be loved so be sure you don’t shy away from him/her because that would be like a slap to his/her face.

In your relationship, do you think you are speaking your partner’s love language? As much as we think we are doing our bit to keep the relationship going, sometimes, we may not be fulfilling our partners’ real emotional needs. One way to find out what his/her love language is is to observe the way he/she expresses his/her love in front of you. Once you have that figured out, make an effort to change the way you show your love.

Of course, it is a two-way street. You need to make sure your partner understands YOUR love language. If you want him/her to know what your love language is, the best way to do it is tell him/her. My female friends overwhelmingly choose Acts Of Service as their language because they just don’t want to be the only ones shouldering the responsibilities of keeping the house in order. “It would make me less stressed knowing that I don’t have to rush home from the office because he will (insert household chore here).”

Rather than just stew in silence and push your partner away every time he/she tries to show his/her love for you because it isn’t the “right” one, I think it’s best to just come right out and tell your partner which love language you speak so he/she can start doing the right thing.

What is your love language? And what do you think your partner’s is?

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. Her language of love is acts of service. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Standard
Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Should I Take His Name? – Deborah Tan

Newly married, Deborah Tan writes about the first of many problems about life as a wife. Today, she asks if she should take her husband’s name.

just married
This is my first Love In Lines post as a married woman. We ROM-ed last Friday. The actual wedding party, however, will happen at the end of the month. One of the things I get asked a lot is if I’d be taking on my husband’s name. You see, he’s got a rather interesting last name and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see if I – The Girl Who Loves Her Black Dresses – would change my name to …

Deborah Pink.

Yep, my husband’s last name is Pink.

It is quite a big thing – in some cultures – for the wife to take the husband’s name. The wife’s own last name is called her “maiden name” and that is why, in marriage, she is expected to assume her husband’s last name. Some women do the double-barrel thing and combine both last names. In my case, if I wanted to go double-barrel, I’d be called “Deborah Tan Pink”.

There is a growing debate whether women should still be expected to take their husband’s name. In the United States, it has been found that the number of women opting to keep their maiden names is shrinking. From 23 percent in the 90s, the number has fallen to a paltry 8 percent in 2011. Some feminists find the trend disturbing because it is akin to a woman choosing to lose her own identity – the one she was born with.

For the women who have chosen to keep their own names, often, the reason is professional. If her name is already a well-established one in her industry, it seems counter-intuitive to change it. This is the biggest reason for me as well for not wanting to change my name. I have been publishing under my own name since I started working in magazines. “You have no idea how much work I’ve had to do to get onto the first page of Google!” I’d tell my friends. There was a period when if you had Googled “Deborah Tan”, you’d get the principal of a girls’ school.

To change my name to Deborah Pink would – in the words of my inner-geek – mean losing my search engine juice! And just what would happen to my personal domain, deborahtan.com? My ego is telling me to keep “Deborah Tan”.

The Pinks wearing black.

The Pinks wearing black.

The first complication I foresee arising out of my decision to keep my name would be if formal invitation cards should address me as “Ms Deborah Tan” or “Mrs Deborah Pink”. Obviously, I’m not a Ms but it would be weird to call me Mrs Deborah Pink if I’m going to introduce myself as Deborah Tan.

Earlier on, I mentioned how some women go double-barrel but for me, I cannot consider it an option. “Tan Pink” is just asking to be made fun of! If I happen to spend a minute too long in the sun, I’m going to have to sit through all manners of sunburn jokes because I’m Mrs Tan Pink!

The arguments supporting “Deborah Tan” are mostly professional, based on my crazed need to keep my identity. The arguments supporting “Deborah Pink” are most certainly more emotional. The women who have opted to take on their husbands’ names often say that marriage is not the place for personal egos. Rather, it is a partnership where two people have promised to work as a team. Of course, we can discuss why can’t men take on their wives’ name but this isn’t the point of my post. What messages would I be sending out if I chose to remain “Deborah Tan”? What messages would I be sending if I chose to become “Deborah Pink”? Does it even matter?

To my husband, he has said no, it doesn’t matter to him if I become one or the other. I guess the reason why I’m bringing this up is because I’d love to hear a second, third, fourth … tenth opinion. I’ve heard the, “It’s so cute to have Pink as a surname” argument, I’ve heard the, “Deborah Pink will also get you on page 1 on Google. How many Deborah Pinks are there?” consolation.

Beyond saying, “I do” and putting on the wedding band, I think many women struggle to establish what their new identity really entails. As a wife now, should we set aside our personal ego and recognise that we have to work with our husbands now to build a new life together? As a woman, should we remind ourselves that we shouldn’t forget our own person just because we are now married?

I think I’m only just beginning to scratch at the surface of a whole new personal growth topic. But tell me, what do you think I should do? Stay as “Deborah Tan” or be “Deborah Pink” or thicken my skin and just go by “Deborah Tan Pink”?

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. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She does openly wonder if people would take her seriously if she goes by the name, “Deborah Pink”. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

[If you like this story, you’ll love]
1. [Love In Lines] Wedding Woes
2. I Refuse To Be A Size 2 Bride
3. [Love In Lines] He Proposed

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Do You Give Good Text? – Vanessa Tai

When you’re getting to know someone new, texting is probably your main mode of conversation. As convenient as texting is, it can also be a potential minefield. Before you pick up your phone to WhatsApp your crush, be sure to refer to this handy checklist.

I have a love-hate relationship with WhatsApp. I appreciate how convenient it is to talk to groups of people at the same time, and how the hundreds of emojis liven up any conversation. What I hate is how the “Last Seen” function has the ability to send you into an emotional tizzy. You know what I mean. When you send your crush a message and he’s “Online” but not replying, it can really mess with your mind. Worse, when you see him “typing…” but then he stops and doesn’t send the message. It’s like, DUDE WHAT WERE YOU GOING TO SAY?!

Now I won’t consider myself a texting guru by any standards. (If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide, there are actually plenty of books on how to be a great texter.) However, there are a few lessons I’ve picked up in my years of texting guys that I hope will be useful for you, or at the very least, help you be less anxious when you next text your crush.

First, who initiates?

As Denise rightfully pointed out, there’s really zero shame in asking a guy out. However, if you find yourself always initiating a text conversation with him, it’s highly plausible that he’s just not that into you. Here’s the thing – if a guy is even mildly interested, he WILL get over his shyness/busyness/whatever to contact you. If he doesn’t, well, dust off and move on. This is why it’s always important to have options.

Maintain several text conversations

When you’re casually dating around, it’s the best time to talk to as many people as possible. Why? First, it takes your mind off that one guy you’re more interested in than the rest. Second, you could be pleasantly surprised – the other guys could actually be way more interesting. Third, it’s just fun! I don’t know about you, but I actually find it de-stressing to have random chat conversations with people I don’t know that well. It reminds me of the good ol’days on IRC and ICQ. Not sure where to find willing chat partners? Check out dating apps like Tinder or our very own local version, Paktor. Not sure what to talk about? Here’s a pro tip …

Be funny

Some of the best conversations I’ve had were with guys who didn’t ask me run-of-the-mill questions like “How are you” or “What do you do?” Instead, we jumped straight into talking about things like travel, books, music, the worst dates we’ve been on … you get the idea. There’s actually a way to steer the conversation to make it more interesting. For example, when someone texts to ask, “How was your day?”, instead of simply replying, “Good! Yours?”, you could relate a short and funny anecdote about something that happened to you that day (perhaps you spilled coffee on yourself before a big presentation or you fell asleep on a stranger’s shoulder while on the way home). It doesn’t have to be anything major or significant, but it invites the other person to share something funny about themselves too, and that gets the conversation flowing more smoothly.

What about sexting?

In a word, “No”. I don’t do it, don’t think I’ll ever do it, and I strongly encourage you not to do it either. It may seem like harmless fun to send your crush a picture of your cleavage (or more) but just the thought of the possible repercussions is more than enough for me to toe the line. Type “ex girlfriend pictures” in Google, and you’ll see scores of images of women who entrusted their intimate pictures with someone who ultimately betrayed that trust. Don’t sext. There are other ways to get a man’s attention.

Finally, my golden rule …

DO NOT TEXT WHEN YOU’RE DRUNK

material world_drunk text

Unfortunately, I learned this the painful way. On more than one occasion, I’ve texted guys when inebriated and ended up ruining perfect text relationships with gibberish messages or spammy chunks of text. Of course, you could argue that if the guy has decided he likes you, one or two drunk conversations isn’t going to change anything. And I agree. But if you’re just getting to know somebody and feeling them out, wouldn’t such behaviour annoy you? This is why I’m entrusting my phone with my pals the next time we go for a round of drinks.

Having said all this, texting is merely one way of getting to know someone better. The best way to really get to know a person is still meeting face-to-face and doing things together. After all, body language accounts for between 50 to 70 percent of all communication. So, put down that phone and go out already! In my next edition of Love In Lines, I will be talking about why it’s important to date widely. Keep a lookout for it!

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. 

[If You Like This Post, You Might Also Like]

1. [Love In Lines] How To Enjoy Yourself At A Dating Event
2. [Love In Lines] What’s The Fuss About Tinder?
3. [Love In Lines] To Thine Own Self Be True
4. [Love In Lines] Where Are All The Great Guys?

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] The Only 6 Words That Matter – Deborah Tan

What is the best thing your partner can say to you when you’re down and feeling defeated? Deborah Tan thinks she may have discovered it on Sunday.

It was a horrible day. I woke up on Sunday with a nagging feeling that I should check my CPF account. I have known for a while that it would be a matter of time before I have to start servicing my mortgage with cash. Being self-employed meant that I haven’t been contributing to my CPF account for a while. With only money outgoing over the last few months for the mortgage, I knew my account is about to be drawn dry.

But I was still unprepared for the harsh reality of seeing the number on the screen. From an extremely healthy number of above $100,000, I now only have $4,000 left in my account. This means that in about 3 months’ time, I would be left with nothing. All that talk about having a Minimum Sum in your CPF account at 55 wasn’t helping either. I felt hopeless, I felt defeated, and most importantly, for the first time in my life, I felt unsure about my future.

holdinghands

Love asks me no questions but gives me endless support – William Shakespeare

At 35, I have only 20 years to build up a healthy retirement account with CPF. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so invincible anymore. The onset of the rainy weather did nothing to lighten up my mood. And it was with an extremely heavy heart that I went to see “A Singaporean In Paris” with Vanessa. I could definitely relate to the theme of leaving home, leaving it all behind, to start anew in another country, somewhere where, perhaps, the pressure wouldn’t be so suffocating.

Back home that evening, I sat on my couch – my super-comfy couch that every single one of my friends have decided is a fantastic couch – and wallowed in a super depressive mood. I was on the verge of an epic breakdown, the only reason I didn’t start bawling my eyes out was because I didn’t want the boyfriend to know what was wrong.

But he noticed and then he asked, “You’ve been in a miserable mood all day long. What’s wrong?”

“In about 3 months, we’d have to start paying the mortgage in cash,” I choked. “I only have $4,000 left in my CPF account.”

“Okay,” he responded. “How much is the monthly payment?”

“About $1,200?”

“Do you have enough?”

“I do …” I replied, “I just don’t like the idea of an empty CPF. It’s a sad sight seeing how little I’ve got!” At this point my eyes had already began to prickle with tears.

Happiness-QuoteHe tried to keep the conversation and the mood upbeat. He went out to buy groceries and made dinner. And although he passed a comment about how maybe I shouldn’t have quit my job, the fact that he wasn’t all doom and gloom kept my semi-suicidal thoughts well at bay. He, along with my army of friends who responded to my Facebook status update about feeling depressed, really kept me afloat.

Of course my mood did not pick up immediately. Thoughts of how I’m basically screwed for retirement kept entering my mind. It’s not the possibility of losing my beloved apartment that scared me, it was the idea that my future seemed so uncertain that sent shivers down my spine. As much as entrepreneurship is an empowering journey, it can still send you a nasty surprise every now and then. On Sunday night, I wavered between staying true to my passion and caving in to my fears.

Just before bed-time a friend messaged me and I stayed up to chat on Whatsapp for a while. The boyfriend went off to bed on his own. When I finally got into bed, he rolled over and pulled me into a embrace. He planted a kiss on my forehead and said, “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

I couldn’t reply. I could only nod my head because if I said anything, I knew I would probably start crying.

Those 6 words, “No matter what, I’ll be here”, hold in them the promise of unconditional love and unwavering support. They spoke of how no matter how much I think I’ve lost, I will always have someone I can call my own. Those 6 words reminded me why I have chosen to marry this man – that come what may, I’m enough and he’s enough.

The only 6 words that truly matter: “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

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 living together with a partner. 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. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. Her retirement plan now involves writing a series of books that’ll, hopefully, make her Singapore’s JK Rowling. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

[If you love this story, you’ll like]
1. [Love In Lines] How Love Has Changed Me

2. [Love In Lines] Dealing With Differences In Opinion

3. [Love In Lines] You Can’t Save Your Friends From Bad Romances

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When The Most Romantic Thing You Can Do Is Disagree – Deborah Tan

“You like Queen, right?” my boyfriend asked me. I nodded.

“So you must like Bohemian Rhapsody!” he declared.

“No,” came my reply. “I don’t like Bohemian Rhapsody. In fact, of all the songs by Queen, I hate it the most!”

“UNBELIEVABLE!” he shot back. “And you call yourself a fan? Why don’t you like it?”

I went on to explain – patiently – how I did not like the operatic quality of the song, how the music video totally scared the shit out of me when I first saw it, and how it’s really quite “psychotic” sounding! He was appalled.

“Well, you wanted an opinion and I am telling you that I don’t like Bohemian Rhapsody,” I said, in a tone that I kept intentionally flat to tell him that I was not impressed with his judging my musical tastes, and that the conversation was done.

Opinions – that’s what I want to talk about today.

Raise your hands if you agree with me that sometimes, an opinion is a painful thing to have in a relationship.

What is “an opinion”?
An opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. You liking something, hating someone, disliking the way certain things are done … that’s having an opinion. You airing your views on an issue, that’s having an opinion. Someone disagreeing with what you have to say … that’s an opinion.

Why do we need a difference in opinion?
We need opinions because if everyone agrees on the same thing, it makes life really boring. When someone expresses his/her opinion, it opens the gate for a conversation to develop. In a relationship, having an opinion – while inconvenient – is important because (1) nobody enjoys the company of a couple who have morphed into each other; (2) it allows your partner to understand you better.

The nightmare comes when someone in the relationship decides that having an opinion no longer matters. This could come about because (1) every time he/she voices an opinion, a fight erupts; (2) he/she gets brushed aside whenever he/she tries to speak up; and (3) one person in the relationship makes it impossible for the other to squeeze a word in.

In short, a healthy relationship is one where both partners get a chance to express their opinion without being judged, getting belittled, or feeling patronized. While I am not advocating you guys break out into a fight, a “lover’s tiff” can be a fun thing to have in a relationship.

Don't be afraid to bare your claws!

Don’t be afraid to bare your claws!

For love to happen, sparks need to fly
I personally feel that not enough couples possess the gumption to start a “lovers’ tiff”. It’s almost as if they feel too tired to talk to each other – and that’s pretty depressing. It’s a very sad day if you simply allow yourself to go with the flow, to go along with whatever your partner wants to do, to agree with whatever he/she has to say, to not feel motivated to share your views on something.

Whenever I pull up at the traffic light, I like to observe couples in the cars around mine. Sometimes, it’s clear as day that they are having an argument. A lot of times, the one who is the passenger is busy with his/her iPhone. The ones I feel most sorry for are the ones who just stare blankly out of the windows.

Do you have absolutely nothing to say to one another? Is your love life so monotonous, so uneventful that you fear further conversation will uncover the boring person your partner really is?

But no one’s really boring 
No, no one’s really boring if they are allowed the space and the opportunity to talk about things they feel strongly for. I want you to think back to the very first time you met your partner. Did you not find everything and anything about him/her fascinating? Even if you weren’t that hot about cars, did you not make an effort to at least try to understand why he was so into them? So, what has changed?

I admit: some days I’m too tired to share my views and thoughts on the things that are happening around the world. My boyfriend would grow so exasperated at my lack of enthusiasm, he’d go, “Hello?!? Am I the only person making an effort to get a conversation going here?” The thing is, you need to register that exasperation and understand it is not something you should just forget about. Even if you feel nothing for the topic that has been brought up, you have to make that effort and find something that the both of you can banter over.

For a relationship to be healthy, you both need to invest a fair amount of brain cells into it. Try to have an opinion on everything, if not, most things. Sure, you don’t have to give your two cents’ worth all the time but it’s important to have it when your conversation bank is facing imminent bankruptcy.

So dear Boyfriend, you want an opinion? Sure, here you go! Just remember this: the most romantic thing you can do is disagree with me.

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 living together with a partner. 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. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She really wants to go watch The Rolling Stones but, sadly, can hardly afford the ticket. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Standard
Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] What’s The Fuss About Tinder? – Vanessa Tai

Tinder is a hot new dating app, and it’s looking to change the face of Internet dating. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? 

I was recently having drinks with fellow Material World co-founders Denise and Lili, when Denise asked me, “Hey, so have you heard of Tinder?” I must have given her a blank stare because she continued excitedly, “It’s this new dating app, but how it works is quite different. Basically, you’re shown profiles of the people within a set distance from you. And because your Tinder account is connected to your Facebook account, it accesses pictures from your Facebook page. If you like what you see, you swipe right. And if you don’t, just swipe left.”

Hmm, interesting. So it’s kind of like playing Hot or Not with a huge pool of strangers. (Well, they aren’t really strangers, since some of these people may be on your Facebook friends’ network.) And c’mon, let’s admit it. Don’t we all secretly play Hot or Not in our minds when we’re out socialising? No? Just me?

Anyway, I was intrigued enough to download and play around with the app that very evening. Here’s my verdict:

1.  It’s so simple

Unlike other dating sites or applications that require you to fill in long questionnaires about your personality, or where you have to sift through hundreds of “I’m juz a simple guy” profiles, Tinder cuts through all the crap to show you what’s most pertinent – how the other person looks. And it’s not about being shallow either. After all, in face-to-face social interactions, the first thing we notice about the other person is their appearance. Yes, of course it can be argued that in real-life interactions, we may look past the person’s looks if he/she is funny or interesting to talk to. But hey, if everyone had the time to go out and meet people, would we still be on Tinder?

2. There’s less risk of rejection 

Although it’s hardly a taboo for women to make the first move anymore, we gotta admit it still stings a little when you “wink” or “wave” at a potential mate, and don’t receive a reply. Or worse, if you crafted a witty and thoughtful message, only to receive … stone cold silence. With Tinder, you’re only taken to the instant messaging feature if both of you swiped to the right. That way, at least both of you are already mildly interested. In the spirit of full disclosure, I only got matched with two guys during my one hour of fiddling around with Tinder, but we didn’t message each other in the end. (My excuse? It was 2am. I couldn’t think of anything more witty than a “Hi,” so I decided to roll over and sleep instead. Very romantic, I know.)

3. It eliminates the creep factor

Any woman who’s put herself out there on dating sites will know the horrors that lurk on the interwebs. From obscene pictures to persistent messaging, there are some really creepy men out there. I like the fact that on Tinder, the only people who get to message me are people I’ve already sort of “approved”. As an added security measure, you get to see if you have any mutual friends with the dude before swiping right or left. In fact, there were a couple of guys I thought were cute but because they were mutual friends with people I don’t really care to associate with, I swiped left instead.

"Hmm ... cute or not?"

“Hmm … cute or not?”

4. It’s mindless fun 

Because you’re just swiping right and left, it becomes like a game that you whip out any time you have a few spare moments. I downloaded the app onto my iPad, which I hardly bring out with me, so I don’t check in much. But for people who have it on their phones, it becomes something they do to pass time. In fact, some articles indicate that the average user checks the app 11 times per day for seven minutes at a time!

5. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, Tinder probably won’t work for you.

As fun and convenient Tinder is, it’s definitely not the best platform for those looking for a serious relationship. I mean, yes, you could be one of those exceptional cases where you meet the guy offline, hit it off, fall in love, the whole works. But this “swipe, swipe, swipe” style of browsing through potential mates feels more like an online shopping experience than an earnest search for a life partner. I guess Tinder is a nice-to-have tool for our hook-up culture. That said, like a casual hook-up, it’s fun and stress-free but ultimately not very fulfilling.

What are your experiences like with Internet dating? Share with us in the Comments section below or Tweet me at @VannTaiTweets! 

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. 

[If You Like This Post, You Might Also Like]

1. [Love In Lines] To Thine Own Self Be True
2. [Love In Lines] Where Are All The Great Guys?
3. [Love In Lines] Deadline For Love
4. [Love In Lines] The Fear Of Getting Hurt
5. [Love In Lines] Choosing Not To Worry

Standard