Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Is It Only True Love When It Hurts? – Vanessa Tai

Getting hurt is an inevitable part of the dating process, but Vanessa Tai refuses to waste any more time on relationships that are fueled by unnecessary pain. Read on to find out what she means.

After several friends recommended it to me, I finally got round to reading the suspense novel Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn. Without giving too much away, the book traces the marriage of Nick and Amy, especially the events that take place before and after Amy’s sudden disappearance on their 5th wedding anniversary. Beyond just being a crime thriller though, I believe the book serves as a commentary on romantic relationships, in particular, toxic ones. There was a particularly poignant part of the book that leapt out at me.

“… The woman knew me cold. Better than anyone in the world, she knew me. All this time I’d thought we were strangers, and it turned out we knew each other intuitively, in our bones, in our blood.

It was kind of romantic.
Catastrophically romantic.”

While the toxicity of Nick and Amy’s relationship is taken to the extremes, I’m sure we all know of couples who seem to be perpetually at each other’s throats, whose relationships seem to thrive on mind games and spiteful fights. The book made me think – are there those among us who crave drama in our relationships?

love in lines vanessa 3

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

Admittedly, I was definitely guilty of perpetuating malice in previous relationships. Simply put, I was quite the shit stirrer. I knew the precise words and actions that would hurt the other person, and would exploit his weak points whenever I felt attacked or vulnerable myself. Needless to say, it was a destructive cycle of us always trying to “out-hurt” the other. At this point, you’ll probably ask, “Why stay on in such a relationship?” On hindsight, I think it was a combination of many things. With each barbed attack, it chipped away at my self-esteem and I started to believe the worst in myself, and that nobody else will be able to accept someone like me. From there, a sort of Stockholm Syndrome emerged. I started to believe my partner was the only one who “gets” me, especially since he has seen me at my most cruel. Like Nick in Gone Girl, he believes that Amy is the only one who has the ability to bring out his absolute best and worst. If he were to be with any other “normal” woman, it would be a mediocre relationship as he wouldn’t be forced to outmaneuver her at every step of the way.

Yes, it sounds extreme, and most people will probably dismiss people who crave drama in relationships as crazy. However, you probably have to admit that, at some level, most of us believe that true love hurts. If it doesn’t grieve you in some way or at some point, or if it’s constantly smooth-sailing, you may start to wonder, “What’s the catch?”

love in lines vanessaI Don’t Want No Drama

While I agree love IS bittersweet (when you open yourself up to be vulnerable to another person, it’s inevitable you’ll get hurt), I don’t think pain should be the fuel that keeps a romance going. As I get older and slightly more experienced, I’m learning to distinguish between destructive, soul-destroying anguish from the “normal” pains of dating. Let me cite an example: say the guy I’m dating hasn’t contacted me in days. In my previous toxic relationships – the ones that thrived on drama and mind games – this period of zero contact could be his way of “punishing” me for some “transgression” I did, and I would spend the time agonising just what I did and how I can get back at him for making me feel this way. These days, however, I prefer simply picking up the phone to find out if everything’s okay.

In the book The Fault In Our Stars, one of the characters says, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world … but you do have some say in who hurts you.” I’ll like to add another line to this quote, “You also get to choose what kind of hurt you go through.” My point is: love is always going to hurt. However, if the pain stems from you being unable to trust the other person fully or because you’re locked in some warped battle of wits, then you probably want to ask yourself honestly if this is what you want in the long term. Some people probably believe such mind games make the relationship seem more exciting or “alive”, but to me, it is way too exhausting to be sustainable.

Right now, I can say I’m done with mind games; in fact, I’m done with any sort of games when it comes to dating. Please give me 100 percent honesty, any day.

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.

Friends, Relationships

The 4 Toxic Friendships You Need To Rid Yourself Of By The Time You’re 30 – Denise Li

I’m in a very happy place right now where my friendships are concerned. But that didn’t happen without me culling some “unnecessary hanger-ons” from my life. For a lasting relationship to be meaningful, it has to be a mutually beneficial one for both parties and, as soon I realise that there is no such balance, I have no problems cutting that person out completely. It may sound harsh but truth is, everyone’s lives are so hectic and busy. You barely have the time to maintain the friendships that you treasure, let alone the ones that suck up your time and energy without giving anything back in return.

Start being kinder to yourself by cutting these four types of friends out from your life.

1. The Drainer

Conversation isn't a one-way street.

Conversation isn’t a one-way street.

“The Drainer” is what I call the person who makes it about her all the time. When you meet up, she’s always complaining about work, how much her life sucks, what a douchebag her boyfriend is being, how the world owes her a living. Of course, friends should be able to confide in each other. But something is definitely wrong if you’ve met up for her, and all she’s done is spent the last two hours talking about herself without asking about what’s been going on in your life.  “The Drainer” is an apt term to describe her because she has like a vampire – all she does is suck up your time, energy and goodwill. This person doesn’t need a friend – she needs a therapist.

2. The Barnacle

This is the friend who only seems to have one friend – you. That must be the reason why she expects you to hang out with every Friday night, and takes it very personally when you try to gently let her down. She has all these strange rules about all these obligations friends have to each other and has no qualms guilt-tripping you when you are unable to meet up with her. Being her friend is like being in a relationship – without all the fun parts. I mean, to start with, the reason why you became friends with her when you guys were still in school was because you felt sorry for her. Now that everyone has their own life to lead, this friend needs to grow a pair of (metaphorical) balls and stop using you as a crutch to make her feel better about herself.

3. The “Conservative”

She went to uni, landed herself a job in the civil service, got married by 27, and had two kids by the time she was 30. Nothing wrong with that, of course, except that that’s not how YOU want to live your life. This friend, however, is critical of the choices that you’ve made in your life because she deems them “risky”. Her catchphrases: “You’ve got a great job. Why would you want to quit to go backpacking around the world?” “Why would you want to take Job A when Job B pays better?” “Are you sure you want to date Guy C? I don’t think he’s earning a lot.” This friend has something judge-y to say about every decision you make about your life that’s filtered through her tunnel, microscopic vision and she cannot imagine that someone else will want to live their lives any differently than from her “safe” existence. You don’t really need to justify your life decisions to anyone, so this friend simply has to go.

Unfortunately, real-life doesn't guarantee a fairy-tale ending.

Unfortunately, real-life doesn’t guarantee a fairy-tale ending.

4. The “Grey-Zoner”

I’ve nothing against the whole “friends with benefits” arrangement – we’re all adults here – just as long you’re clear about the lines that are drawn. But things can get messy quickly if you start to develop feelings and expect a more from him (like a real relationship, maybe?). He, on the other hand, seems … well, ambivalent. He often says things like, “I’m not ready for a relationship right now” or “I’m keeping my options open” to maintain the distance he wants, but he’s not exactly pushing you away either. When you decide to take charge of this situation and start to pull away, he doesn’t take the hint and, in fact, goes out of his way to be extra nice to you, screwing with your mind even more. I hate to break it to you, but just because you’re friends with this guy doesn’t make his douchebaggery any more forgiveable. In fact, you should take him to task for not taking your feelings seriously. There are no two ways around it: he wants the good things that come with being in a relationship while fobbing off the inevitable responsibilities that come with being in one. You don’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect. Put aside whatever feelings you have for this guy and cut him out from your life. TODAY.

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. She can safely say that she only has kind, generous and intelligent people as friends. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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