I may not be the expert in the love department. I’ve never been in a steady long term relationship, except for a few crushes and some potential ones who got away prematurely due to distance, overall incompatibility (different values & purpose in life), unrequited, no chemistry/attraction or just downright disrespectful childish disappearing act (usually by emotionally unavailable guys: either the guy who is newly single, out of a long-term relationship and still can’t get over their ex or the guy who is a perpetual commitment-phobic person).
Even so, I FEEL that I’ve observed enough from my married/attached friends relationship and have had quite a number of crushes & broken heart experience to know that there are some TOP VALUES that are extremely crucial to create a healthy relationship (e.g.: with lover, parents, friends or siblings).
In fact, I have my personal TOP 4 values and I will personalize it with some of my experience with Mr. V, B, W, Y. They are my 4 major heart breakers for this decade. Fortunately, these past years, once I decided to acknowledge my own heart broken feelings, cried it all out and spent more time on myself, all wounds eventually healed. I’m totally fine now and have let the feeling go. That’s why I’m able to write this. Thanks to them, I’ve learned so much about myself and what I want from a relationship. I hope that my next one will have all these four elements and that guy may not be perfect, but he’ll be the perfect one just for me.
Here we go…
I found out early on that RESPECT is one of the important elements that we must have for each other at the beginning and throughout all the different stages of relationship. When you first meet someone new, you’ll get to know them, their values, their thoughts, their hobbies, and you start to admire them for who they are, their mind and their inspiring outlook on life. You are motivated to become a better person just by interacting more with him. Without respect in a relationship, either one or even both party will eventually get hurt; not caring for each other, no thoughtful words of encouragement or praises for each other’s achievement. Instead of treating your partner as a priority, you’ll start to treat them like an option and frequently use abusive words to hurt their ego and reject their affection. No respect, no love. As simple as that.
Oftentimes, from this feeling of admiration over his talent or his life aspiration or just by laughing at his witty jokes, the respect can grow into ‘like’. For me, it did. It turned into a 4-year unrequited (puppy) love *okay, pause…start preparing my tissue box, snort…snort…just joking…:p*
Mr V was my former classmate back in junior high school. We were classmates throughout those 3 years and back then, my first two years as an adolescent girl were spent by having little crushes on my volleyball seniors, admiring and giggling away with my girlfriends. I never really noticed him until the third year of junior high. He was a rather serious, smart and talented guy in my class. I was not too sure when and how it started, but from the moment we started talking more about lesson, assignment and other stuff, I started to know him better and slowly having a crush on him from that third year of junior high up until senior years. For a total of four freaking years, beside setting my eyes on my study, I had also set my eyes only on him. What a great way to spend my high school years huh? They say, high school is the best time for you to explore and start going out with different types of boys, start having puppy love, a carefree lifestyle. But I didn’t do all those. I know I know, what a waste right?? 😛
Anyway, one fine day, I couldn’t resist the feeling anymore and started writing a heartfelt confession letter that I carried to school everyday, in my skirt pocket. Well, I couldn’t remember now, how long did I take to muster up the courage and give him that letter? 1 week or 3 weeks?? Not sure. But all I know, after waiting for the longest time, I finally gave him the letter right after school. The letter was all crumpled and wrinkled because I stuffed it inside my pocket for too long. I remember I was so embarrassed that I ran away as fast as I could and was afraid to even check the incoming SMS in my mobile. Haha…silly me! Unfortunately, he said that he liked me before (don’t know when) and then after a while he felt like I was more like a little sister to him, not more than that.
In the end, I earned the respect, but didn’t earn the love. Respect alone was not enough if you want a healthy romantic relationship. There has got to be the love itself, followed by loyalty and commitment. Mr. V taught me that unrequited love is a very painful kind, but yet, through this experience I learned to be brave and honest with my own feeling. That moment when I handed him the letter was also the moment I pat myself on the back for being so brave and bold. I had no regret at all and was very proud of myself. In those years, I also learned the value of loyalty, even though it’s the stupid kind of loyalty, you know, being loyal to a person who doesn’t like you back while shutting down your own chances of having fun. Well, well, I was really a bookworm back then, so there was really no one else back in high school. This tale has been repeated many times before and every time I’ll end up with a smile on my face, remembering my innocent self with the purest kind of unrequited love, just giving and expecting nothing in return.
In the beginning, from initial attraction to dating stage, it’s really important to check whether your feeling is reciprocated or not. Physical attraction and chemistry are the things that differentiate a platonic guy friend *oops friend zone alert!!* and a guy who you’re attracted to, whom you start giving more attention and hints to, whom you don’t mind if he starts chasing you. However, one thing about love due to physical attraction, they don’t usually last very long. Once boredom sets in and the initial excitement fades away, we will still have to look beyond the physique and material things. What matters are the soul within, you want to fall head over heels in love with a person who genuinely cares about you, who love his own life and his own family, who can give freely and treat you well. A guy who not only wants you to become part of his life but also share his deepest fear and dreams with you. You want to feel connected with his mind and can talk to him about almost anything, without feeling judged. I totally love the saying here
“Love is a PARTNERSHIP of TWO UNIQUE PEOPLE who bring out the very BEST in each other and who know that even though they are WONDERFUL as INDIVIDUALS, they are EVEN BETTER TOGETHER.”
In other words, you shouldn’t look for someone to fill in the gap for you and wait around for him to fix what you don’t like about your life. You should be a “full” person even before you meet your partner, happy being alone with your own company. Don’t look for someone to complete you, look for someone who can complement you and inspire you to live a better life & become a better person. As I always say, I’m looking for someone to share my awesome life with:)
Mr. B taught me exactly that, to be happy alone. He’s the last unrequited love that I experienced. After him, I simply shut down, built a wall to protect my heart and started focusing more on becoming a better me, instead of running around looking for love *read the old post here –> Special Entry for Valentine’s Day, posted on 13 Feb 2008. I know I shouldn’t build a wall and be afraid to love again. Currently, I am slowly tearing it down and starting over with a clean slate*
I met him in my freshman year. He was funny, witty and obviously a smart guy, and guess what…he happened to play volleyball too!! One night, in a supper event organized by Indonesian student’s society, I noticed him right away just because he was holding a volley ball and was playing with it. I remembered thinking “Wow, this is great, There’s someone playing volleyball, I can still join a club or something and play my favorite game here. It won’t be a boring university life after all.” I was excited. Then we started spending more and more time together, from gathering people to play every week and starting our own group of volleyball team. We were also studying the same engineering course, so naturally and unknowingly, I started to have feelings first. I ended up keeping it to myself for 2 years before telling him virtually via msn *oops I did it again*. Apparently, he read my earlier blog post and left me this message,
“There is a saying about this, men are destined to chase. The privilege they have is to choose who should they put their efforts into. On the other hand, women are destined to wait. Their privilege is to choose among those who are coming their way. The right to say yes or no. My advice is to wait. Patiently observe those who are coming your way. Because it’s easier for women to learn to love someone new compared to men. Sometimes it’s not that they don’t want to try, but they just can’t. That’s just how things are. That’s the difference between men and women.”
Now, every time I feel the urge to be the aggressor and start chasing after guys, I’ll remember the message that he left for me. I will mind my own business, wait patiently and start observing those who are coming my way.
In an exclusive relationship, you are only seeing that one person, sharing your happiness, frustrations, dreams and hopes, getting to know them in every way possible. You will slowly build trust and confidence in your partner. The foundation of a good strong unshakable relationship is built from those long-winded sharing session and time spent together. The relationship with this kind of solid foundation can stand the test of time, third party or even long distance. Loyalty is extremely important in any successful relationship. Even with respect, love and commitment, if your partner has wandering eyes and cheating mind, the relationship will still crumble. Trust is not built within a day. Without fierce loyalty towards each other, trust can be easily shaken and it’ll be hard to forget once it’s broken.
It took me almost 2 years to forget a barely-there-6-month relationship *it leads me to this website and I’ve been following each post ever since, here*. The amount of time I spent just to forget was ridiculous considering the short time we spent together. In fact, I didn’t know him really well.
I had been doing really well alone, threading my life and accomplishing my goals step-by-step when I suddenly met him through an introduction of mutual friend. When I think back, I didn’t even remember that we agreed to become official couple or be in an exclusive relationship. It’s just getting to know each other through the DISTANCE. Yes, distance. I was here and he was there. We’re not in the same country. Those few months, he would come and visit, asked me out for dinner and movies. We would be on ym or skype every other day, catching up. When I’m in his town, we would also go out. He treated me well but I was guarding myself because of previous experience. Within those 4-6 months, I have also met his parents and siblings and visited each other’s house. All these happened while I was living here and he was there. At first, I was just getting to know him and was not convinced that we could get along well with that kind of distance. Normally, a new relationship starts when two people physically spend quality time together in the same town, go for a date once a week and eventually make things official after that. So when one of them needs to move for a while to another country, at the very least their bond and trust were stronger and their relationship might have survived the distance. For my case, it was the opposite. At that time, I didn’t believe that it can be done, knowing someone from a distance?? Sounds dodgy. Nevertheless, I responded well to his efforts as the respect I have for him grew over time and I kinda like him. So I started looking for him first and we went out occasionally.
Fast forward to another 2 months, suddenly I stopped hearing from him and no more late night chats and video call, no news. I know that he had to go through a tough time that month and I really wish I could be there for him. But there was nothing that I can do, I wasn’t even his girlfriend. I can show him some support as a friend and that’s all. All of a sudden, he just stopped all communications, only replied my message after 1 or 2 days. I was confused and couldn’t comprehend. What was wrong? Eventually, after another 6 to 8 months, I calmed down and learned to let go of him and the pseudo-relationship, forgive and forget. So once I came back into my senses, I wasn’t surprised when one day I found out that he had a new (official) girlfriend who is living in the same town as him. I’m okay. I just wish that he could have the sense to at least say something to me before he disappeared the previous months. “I’m sorry and thank you for these few months. But I don’t think it’s going to work out between us.” Ah well…it’s a history now and I’m glad the wound healed. He might have his reason and I’ve accepted it, whatever that is.
Love, respect and loyalty will not be complete without mutual commitment to be together.
Let’s not talk about the big commitment like marriage yet. Start with the small ones like showing up on your date, calling when you said you would, communicating everyday just to share your life and other little boring things that make up a long-term steady relationship. I’ve always admired those long-term married/attached couple who seem to enjoy each other company and they can have endless things to talk about. How can they do that? What are they discussing? Even after spending everyday together, how can you still have so many things to talk and laugh about? I guess, I will need to experience it myself in order to understand.
Commitment to each other doesn’t mean that we get too attached or depend too much on one another. It’s also wrong to expect him to take up all the responsibility of bringing happiness into your otherwise miserable life or expect him to fix your problems every time. Not at all. Instead, we still maintain our own identity as an individual. We still need our own independence, private time alone, time to recharge our energy and indulge in our own hobbies, meet our friends and all the things that you experience as a single person. The only thing different about being attached is that we’ll get to do all those things with our best friend, lover and life partner. We have someone to talk to, to share our dreams with, to ask for advice from, to eat delicious meals together, to travel the world with, to accompany each other watching our favorite movies (he watches horror, I watch romantic comedy), to cycle and hike together, to grow old together and support each other through thick and thin ’til death do us apart, and etc etc. Both of us may not have all the same hobbies and favorite movies, heck maybe we fundamentally have opposite characters and can’t agree with each other every time. But if our outlook on life is the same, it won’t matter which movie he likes, we can still be a wonderful couple together, sharing our life, complementing each other.
All of the above, I learned from my short encounter with Mr. Y. I was too eager and didn’t give it time to bloom gracefully, so slowly, he got away and I’ve acknowledged this mistake quite a while ago. We’re still friends but I don’t know if the love and attraction will ever come back to us. He and I are maybe of the same type, we’re probably a perpetual commitment-phobic person who’s just waiting for the right one to tear down our walls completely.
So friends, wherever you are, please learn from my mistakes! Nurture your RESPECT and LOVE for each other. Maintain LOYALTY and COMMITMENT to your loved one every single day.
*waiting for someone to tear down walls…:p, let’s start with a CLEAN SLATE Sien!! ^_^
**how to get away from the bloody “friend zone”?