Make Three Wishes

Hi all,

It’s that time of the year again. Time to write a post to reflect on my journey so far.

Obviously, a lot of things have happened since I celebrated my birthday last year. It feels like it was just yesterday that I wrote this “my 10220th day on earth is coming”.

Birthday is a time to celebrate, relax and reminisce. For this post, I’m going to put milestone markings in each month that has passed, the five elements that I always hold dear to my heart;

health, home, love, dreams, friendships

so here we go,

Sep 2014 [dreams]

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Blew these candles on the day itself. It’s a yummy durian cake from my dear sister and her boyfriend. It’s also the beginning of a year-long work and play, building up a hectic but enjoyable schedule of working, teaching, volleyball games, date nights, movie nights and everything else in between. It was the start of a slow transformation and meaningful baby steps towards a better work & life balance.

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Oct – Nov 2014 [health  & dreams]

These 2 months were filled with teaching schedule and volleyball games. Beside the classroom teaching job for Indonesian language, I started accepting some private tuition jobs teaching English to Primary school kids living near my place.

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Dec 2014 [home & friendships]

Organized and attended several gatherings with friends and colleagues every week. They were fun and dine activities. At the end of the month, I flew back home and celebrated the new year surrounded by my beloved parents and siblings.

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Jan 2015 [home & health]

Time to face the  real deal together as a family, we burnt a hole in our pockets but it was for the greater good. Health is always number 1 in my book. Every year, I’d wish for the health of all my family members and loved ones (friends and romantic partner), and for them to be protected from any harm, be safe and  sound wherever they are.

Feb 2015 [home & love & friendships]

It was the peak of uncertain moment in my love life. We were not together yet, I’ve almost given up any hope of ever being together.  It’s been almost a year of dating with no next-level commitment. The situation inspired me to write this post and also made the decision to join my friend on her trip this September.

After an additional confusion on Valentine’s day, I went home for the annual CNY celebration, had fun, met old friends and forgot about it for a while. Several girls’ talks & heart-to-heart later, I returned to SG and determined to (somehow) solve this uncertainty. I was afraid of rejection but still hopeful.

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Mar – Apr 2015 [love]

One fateful night after a usual movie date night, I decided to throw a “bait” at him and he caught it *and subsequently ate ‘it’. Hooray!*. We started talking about us, instead of some other random things. Several questions and phone calls in the next few days, we were finally together as a couple. I still remember that awkward conversation while slurping our noodles. It was one of my fondest memories from our date nights.

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May 2015 [home & love]

We were going steady and got better at discussing the relationship whenever it’s needed. Treating each other with respect, showing our love in various ways (we have the same love language *yay*), being honest to each other and committed to this relationship despite our busy schedules. It’s that kind of relationship that I described in “Respect, Love, Loyalty, Commitment”.

Two months on, inspiration came and I wrote this post,

In between those dates and my busy schedule, you were always around. Hike or bike on Sunday afternoons, little gifts every time we met or after your trips abroad, movie nights spent watching animations, had fun and laugh together on dates, just you and me. There were a lot of those small things that were impossible to ignore. I obviously noticed how you treated me differently. There were “something” more than we care to admit. We were probably afraid of being “friend-zoned” by each other. In those months, we’d talk about anything under the sky, except about love and relationship, EXCEPT about us. Anyway, long story short, you and I have finally overcome that barrier. (l5t, 15 May 2015, Connecting the Dots)

In between all that new-love-fluttering-heart syndrome, I got the notification to move out from my then-room. I searched for new rooms on the web, arranged some viewings and signed a tenancy agreement within 3 days. I was super-efficient. My parents were also in town at the end of May, so I was rushing to close a deal immediately. It was a fun and busy month.

Jun 2015 [home & love & health]

Moved to new place with the help of my sister and the boyfriends. Luckily, my new place was just a few blocks away. Moving my stuff and re-arranging them were a lot easier than expected. Watched some volleyball matches during SEA Games and cycled together with friends.

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Jul – Aug 2015 [home, love, dreams, friendships]

Working and teaching during weekdays; singing, dining and relaxing during weekends. Life went back to its normal pace, no hustle and bustle of finding new place or the crazy jitters of new love *though I believe in giving some surprises once in a while to spice things up* There were plenty of holidays in these two months and I spent my time dipping in and out of holiday and/or working mood; preparing for the long-awaited trip in September versus. re-arranging my teaching schedule for the rest of the year.

Anyway, as I typed this I looked back at what I wrote before and found the same wisdom as before, so I quote,

Life is too short to be spent on worries and regrets and forever going with the flow with no specific purpose in life. I believe in finding my purpose, making plans, executing them and then I’ll go with the flow after I’ve done my part. We should always strive to be a better person and choose what’s best for ourselves and our loved ones. For me, I want to live healthily and happily doing whatever I want in life with integrity. (l5t, 13 Aug 2014)

Now the difference is, I get to share my life with that special someone.

Most importantly, I know that I want to have this kind of relationship one day, with respect, love, loyalty, commitment; and put my heart on the sleeve more frequently, instead of hiding behind a huge wall. When I’ve chosen to be in a committed relationship, I’ll do the same as the 3 points above: be curious about my life (and his life too), re-arrange my priority and be a good person. Hopefully, we could also grow better as a person, walk towards a better future together, hand-in-hand (l5t, 11 Feb 2015, Is what I want the same as what I need?)

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As cliché as it might sound, I just have these simple wishes on my coming birthday:

Birthday wishes (H-5)

1. Stay healthy and away from danger/harm (also applicable to my family, lover & friends)

2. Be happy (refer here: connect the dots and here: prevent boredom)

3. Live life to the fullest (refer here: do what you love)

 

Cheers,

Sien

*Babe, the first time posting our ‘wefie’ publicly. It looks awesome:)

Connecting the Dots – You, Me and Us

Hey Folks,

How are you? It’s been a month. I’m doing great, busy like a bee and as happy as a clam.

Here’s my monthly reflection and update post.

But first, let me direct you to a post I wrote in March last year, “Connecting the dots – why you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be”. In that post, I elaborated on how certain life events were connected to each other and what I’ve learned from connecting all those dots. There was one thing that was not explained yet…so here I am, finally connecting the dots in this department:)

As for my love life, I haven’t found the way to connect the dots yet. I wish I could. Anyway, life must go on and it’s up to me, whether I choose to live it to the fullest or regret all those distant events and wrong people in the past.

In 1998, we were in the same school for 6 years. You’re in the class next door and we were in the same choir team. We were young and busy with school work. Besides, back then, my taste of boys had been restricted to only those with sporty-charm-part-of-school’s-team kind. I especially had a penchant for boys who play volleyball. I started playing this sport since Primary 5, so yeah…puppy crush. This trend continued throughout my first 2 years in junior high. You and I were probably not inside each other’s radar.

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From 1998 to 2001, we were classmates. Still nothing happened. Instead, I had this silly crushes on 2 volleyball seniors and then the longest one-sided crush on your best friend. You told me recently, that you knew about this back then, a long time ago. Nonetheless, I still have a very fond memory of this distant event and have even described it here, this post.

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In 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013, I’ve had a few one-sided crushes and some suitors who came along but they didn’t come close to what we have now. Apparently, they were there to teach me some invaluable lessons on: how to respect and love myself, how to be comfortable and happy being on my own, how to be loyal and committed to my own self-improvement. I need to be happy alone before I’m able to share my happiness and love with someone else.

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In 2014, we met again on that fateful day. We were in the same city for the past 4 years but we’ve not seen each other for 2-3 years. The last time we met were at a mutual friend’s wedding, a reunion dinner gathering afterwards and that’s all. We’ve never talked to one another for long. We were still normal old school friends….until not so long ago *not in friend zone…phew, what a relief*

When I met you again early last year, I was a different person. Beside having my braces fixed in January, I was also more relaxed and happier after completing that one thing that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve also set new exciting career goals for myself by then. Building a relationship was not my main priority. Of course, the thought of having someone special whom I can share my life with, would hover in my mind once in a while, but I didn’t actively looking. I’ve tried dipping my toes into the online dating world and it was an eye-opening experience. Found out a few months later that it’s not for me and have since deleted all my profiles.

In between those dates and my busy schedule, you were always around. Hike or bike on Sunday afternoons, little gifts every time we met or after your trips abroad, movie nights spent watching animations, had fun and laugh together on dates, just you and me. There were a lot of those small things that were impossible to ignore. I obviously noticed how you treated me differently. There were “something” more than we care to admit. We were probably afraid of being “friend-zoned” by each other. In those months, we’d talk about anything under the sky, except about love and relationship, EXCEPT about us. Anyway, long story short, you and I have finally overcome that barrier.

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I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve now and having the courage and kindness to finally commit to this. I’m new, you’re new. We’re in this together. The dots are CONNECTED. We really shouldn’t be with each other back in those school years, 16 years ago. We were still too young, lack of self-identity, lack of direction, still finding our own ways.

Now that our paths have crossed, let’s enjoy every single step, be kind and generous! ^_^

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XOXO,

Sien

*I should change my topic next month:)*

Reading list:

Why People Who Feel Complete on Their Own Have Stronger Relationships

How to Love without Losing Yourself

7 Vital Choices for Happy Relationships

Why do you get married?

Disclaimer: Do let me know if you have other opinion after reading this. Would love to hear your point of view. It’s such a touchy subject. I’m sure married or single people will have different opinions on this matter. I’m writing this based on what I’ve heard and read, not from my own experience. I‘d fill you in with some of the quotes I extracted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed. She used to be a skeptic of the marriage institution and refer to the book as her way to convince herself otherwise. I’ve read the book and found it quite a revelation, with all her thorough research on how marriage has evolved throughout the different eras and how it is defined by various religious views.

“Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

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First, before we get to the answer of why people get married, here’s my take on all the WRONG reasons to get married.

You get married…

NOT because everyone else is getting married. Life is filled with uncertainties, and that includes single life, married life, any kind of life you choose to live in. So the same goes for marriage and having your own kids. I believe that everyone has different timeline. You can’t be waiting for the day when you feel 100% sure that you want to tie the knot and bring new life to this world. That day will never come. If I could just pick a random %, I’d say if you’re at least 80% sure that your current romantic partner is the one that you should marry based on how you feel throughout your relationship (the length of relationship is not the most important factor), then go ahead and marry the love of your life. The 80% that consist of what you’ve built so far: respect, love, trust, intimacy, loyalty; from practical point of view, readiness to merge your assets and finances with a binding contract. If both of you don’t feel that 80% yet, it’s wiser to not blindly follow the crowd or succumb to parent & peer pressure. You shouldn’t marry whomever available by your side either. That’s a recipe for disaster and suffering. Eventually, after the marriage, both husband and wife still need to cultivate the remaining 20% every single day. It’ll be discussed below. So keep on reading!

“It’s the same with relationships, I think. People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of that.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

You get married…

NOT because you WANT to have an easier time-saving money for your first house, aiming for public housing (BTO/resale flats) just because you can’t afford the private ones with your income alone (read here for the difference of public and private housing in Singapore)

“The Buddha referred to married people as “householders.” He even gave clear instructions as to how one should be a good householder: Be nice to your spouse, be honest, be faithful, give alms to the poor, buy some insurance against fire and flood . . . I’m dead serious: The Buddha literally advised married couples to buy property insurance.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

You get married…

(if you’re a lady) NOT because your biological clock is ticking and you love children so much that you want to have your own. If you’re too old, your eggs may not be of a good quality to pro-create and produce healthy babies. Hence, you NEED to go through a common route with the society’s approval, that’s called Marriage. By following the social norm, you’ll be able to pro-create as many as you want without people sneering and jeering at you. No cohabitation, casual sex and children born out-of-wedlock. That’s the society’s unwritten rule (especially in Asian culture). Nowadays, with various fertility treatment, you can still get pregnant and give birth to healthy children even in your 40s. And even without getting married or having a sex partner, you can still have kids (read about a guy who fathered 34 children through sperm donation here). Despite all these, there are bigger questions you need to ask yourself:

Are you ready to bear the huge responsibility of bringing a new life out to this big messy world? (at least 80% ready)

Are you ready to embark on the new journey of bringing up the little-being to a mature adult? (at least 80% ready)

“Every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationship that are open to the world—that is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimate secrets of your marriage.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

You get married…

NOT because you WANT someone to accompany you when you’re old. Your spouse may die before you and you’ll be left alone anyway. Your kids may be too busy with their own life that you’ll probably be left alone in an elderly home most of the time. You can play with your grand kids once in a while but they will eventually drift away when they get older. You’ll be too old and weak to play with them. We will all die in the end. But maybe those who are dying while being surrounded by their family, children and grandchildren, will have less regrets than those who chose to live their life unmarried? Well, who knows? Maybe those single unmarried spinsters/bachelors might have done something great in their life, be so inspirational and have lived their life to the fullest that they will ALSO be surrounded by their beloved friends, nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, neighbors and the community when they’re dying. They would ALSO die with no regrets. So if marriage is not about having a life-time companion, what is it for?

“This is intimacy: the trading of stories in the dark.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

I used to think that the last point above is the reason why people get married. But one day, when I attended my good friend’s wedding, I heard these 3 reasons and they kind of stuck with me this whole time. So I decided to share it here:

Why do you get married? The 3 simple reasons.

1) Because of your permanent COMMITMENT to each other. Marriage should be “the point of no return”. You don’t marry each other with a divorce as your exit plan when things go bad. You fix it. Because marriage is not only the union between man and wife but also a union between two families. It’s about the commitment to cultivate the remaining 20%: making compromises, not taking anything for granted, being loyal to each other and many other little things.

“Marriage is what happens “between the memorable.” He said that we often look back on our marriages years later, perhaps after one spouse has died, and all we can recall are “the vacations, and emergencies” – the high points and low points. The rest of it blends into a blurry sort of daily sameness. But it is that very blurred sameness, the poet argues, that comprises marriage. Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody so utterly well-known and so thoroughly ever-present, that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

2) Because of LOVE. And in marriage, it’s the mature kind of love. It’s not about looking at each other, but it’s about looking at your future life together.

“What all couples have ever wanted, a little bit of privacy in which to practice all manners of love.”Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

3) Because you want to SHARE your WHOLE LIFE with him/her. Both of you are focused on giving care and attention to each other until the day death do you apart.

“Real, sane, mature love—the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school—is not based on infatuation but on affection and respect.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

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I will end this post (that looks more like Liz Gilbert’s book synopsis:p) with another quote.

It’s the last piece of food for thought, especially for all the single women out there.

Choose wisely and we shall not suffer. If you haven’t found a good one yet, don’t settle for less!  

“The cold ugly fact is that marriage does not benefit women as much as it benefits men. From studies, married men perform dazzlingly better in life, live longer, accumulate more, excel at careers, report to be happier, less likely to die from a violent death, suffer less from alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression than single man…The reverse is not true. In fact, every fact is reverse, single women fare much better than married women. On average, married women take a 7% pay cut. All of this adds up to what Sociologists called the “Marriage Benefit Imbalance”…It is important to pause here and inspect why so many women long for it (marriage) so deeply.” ― Elizabeth GilbertCommitted: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Cheers,

Sien

*Some articles as a reminder:

for husband – 7 keys to a happy wife

for wife – 10 marriage tips every wife needs to hear

Je t’aime plus qu’hier et moins que demain

Learn to trust my own intuition and judgement.

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That’s the only lesson I picked up from reading a love story submission from a friend. I read it two weeks ago and decided to post it on the 14th Feb. Yeah…the Saint Valentine’s Day! Although I seriously think that we should be celebrating love EVERYDAY: with our lover/partner, family and friends. Not only on the 14th of Feb. Valentine’s day is just like any other day. Anyway, in case you are wondering what the title means. Literally, translated as: I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. Or the same as, I love you more and more each day. After reading the story, I guess I need to learn how to trust my intuition and judgement more. Nevertheless, everything that I wrote previously about respect, love, loyalty and commitment still holds true. No matter what other people said to me these past few weeks.

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Some of his points that I don’t quite agree are highlighted in red. But well, everyone is allowed to have an opinion and we need to agree to disagree at one point, don’t we? I re-arranged some of his original sentences just to get the point across more effectively, but the content is still the same.

Here we go. All credits go to the guest writer. You know who you are:)

I consider LOVE as something very natural, just like having my own heartbeat. Since we’ve been together, I have no interest in any other woman. Not even a bit, it is perfect like this. I can speak freely with any other woman, realizing that she will never be like her. Even though she may not be perfect *yes, NO ONE is perfect*, but she has passed my high standards with flying colors. I have always thought that if I meet someone like that, I should go for it all the way, and I did. I went along and trusted my intuition. I followed her here, to Singapore. No matter how many judging eyes and stereotypes that people may hold about European-Asian couples. What really matters is only what she and I think. We decided to be together. Friends, acquaintances and family have to accept it. Never mind what others think. That would be my first advice to you. 

“If you have what you’ve always wanted *not necessarily in the love area*, hold onto it at all cost. Never mind what the people think. People love to judge, laugh at you, question you, but those people probably don’t have very good lives themselves. Don’t let their negative opinion about your life and your decisions become your concern.”

Life is a constant battle of your own judgement versus the judgement of others. I have always been a self-confident person *up to the point that people (erroneously) called me arrogant*. Nevertheless, I remain true to myself and trust my own judgement.  I am well-educated, have seen something of the world, met many different people from different cultures and backgrounds, have earned myself a PhD job based on my own excellence and is living in one of the best countries with my dream fiancée. I’m happy with my current life. Of course, there were moments that I had to make difficult decisions, but I am proud I did what I did. I have very few regrets. So here is my second advice for you, summarized in the words of Israel’s first female Prime Minister:

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”― Golda Meir 

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It is good to have high standards for potential partners. They are of no use, however, if no one ever passes them. I think I have high standards. To name a few: I would not accept a partner who drinks a lot, who has bad teeth, who smells bad or has ugly hands. Generally, taking care of the body is important. She needs to be exactly the right height (which means: a lot smaller than me) and dress well. Yes, physical appearance matters. “True beauty is on the inside” is a proverb made up by ugly people. I am not claiming to be the most handsome man on the planet, even though my blue eyes and tall posture make up for a lot, but there is no point denying that physical attraction matters *agree to a certain extent, beauty is really in the eye of the beholder. Physical attraction is important, YES. But when both of you become older with lots of wrinkles and withering faces, you have to look beyond this and still love her the way she is. Even when she has no more teeth, if she fell sick and too weak to take care of her own body, when her hands are not pretty anymore: bulging veins, wrinkles, loss of volume, fat and elasticity. Ugly hands. Will you promise to still love her anyway?* Other important factors are mental abilities (intelligence, emotional factors, dealing with stress and pressure, etc.), interests, norms and (political) views.

On the other hand, I once asked her what she likes so much about me and her answer was spot-on: we went through similar development. We grew to a certain independence at 17/18 years old, unlike many others. Suddenly you need to make sure you pay your bills on time, that you eat your meals and that your room is clean, and there is no one to do all that for you. You go through good times and bad times, good experiences and bad experiences, but as a person, all those experiences shaped and defined who you are today. So even though we had different native language, culture and dreams; our personalities, ideas and norms must have converged at that time and even more so in Paris, the city of love. She was a quiet student and unlike many Asians, she liked to hang out with her fellow non-Asian students. We were just friends at first. I found out that I liked her that way, I could joke with her and she could take that. We were part of the same group of friends and we didn’t pay much special attention to each other at that time. That came later, certainly from my side, and I think also from her side even though she denies up to this day.

In the beginning of our relationship, she needed to change a lot: making the transition from single to relationship life. There were times I asked why she walked far away from me, even ran across train stations, seemingly without noticing me, she was basically OK with any kind of (physical) distance. It puzzled me. It was as if we were living separate lives even though we were officially a couple. On one of our first dates, she told me something like “we don’t have much to talk about.”  She didn’t start any conversation and didn’t really give long answers to anything at first. If I had given up trying to have conversations with her, we wouldn’t have been here now. I persevered. Not long after, we can even talk about potential marriage in the future. This topic came mostly from her side. She was afraid it would scare me, but it didn’t. I think that if you don’t have at least a rough vision of  a common future, a relationship is doomed to fail. It was a sign of her maturity. I appreciate her initiative until today.

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Well, that’s the end. Thank you for sharing:). It’s a pleasure reading your love story.

All the very best for your wedding preparation. I wish both of you a happy blissful marriage ahead!!:)

With love,

Sien

*gave out these babies for my close friends and family last year. None for this year. Apology:)

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Crossing Oceans Just to Find You

Disclaimer: this is NOT my story. I’ve got my friend’s permission to share parts of her love stories to all of you, my random readers wherever you are. Moral of the story will be summarized at the end of this post. So keep on reading!! 🙂

The ideas for this post have been brewing in my mind for 2 weeks and finally I’ve managed to put them into words and got my friend’s consent to publish this. Before we start, let me share with you WHY I’m writing this as my last post of 2013:

1. Because I’m a sucker for romantic movies and touching love stories. I want my last post of the year to be an awesome inspirational story about someone’s journey to find love. Since I’ve talked about my own (lack of) love story in my previous post here, I started looking for inspiration from my friends’ love stories, those who have found the right one and have already begun their new journey together as a happily married couple. I wish that their marriages will last long until (hopefully) death do them apart and that the family they created will one day bring blessings to the world.

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2. Because I’m skeptical when it comes to getting to know someone and starting a relationship from a distance, I thought that writing this post can be one of my yet-another therapy or brain-wash session for my hyperactive mind *head vs. heart in love? my head wins most of the time, not sure whether it’s good or bad:p*. When I said ‘starting a relationship from a distance’, it means that a relationship that starts from a distance, guy meets girl online or through chat and they live in different city/country. 1800-minute chat time, 60-hour video call and 30 phone calls later, BOOM…they’re officially a couple. In those months, they hardly see each other face-to-face and no direct physical interaction. Due to the distance and logistic problems, they can only visit each other 1-2 times in a YEAR.

I’d sometimes wonder, is this scenario really possible? I’ve had some old friends from my childhood or school years who would suddenly appear out of the blue and start chatting with me (either via whatsapp/fb message) and somehow we just ‘click’ through those endless chat nights with very little face-to-face physical interaction during the weeks, how can romance blossom from there and eventually leads to a real relationship? I’m a skeptic but my view has been challenged so much these past few years (including by my friend’s story that I’m about to share with you) that I can’t help but question myself, “Should I open up to this possibility?” Sometimes I hit it off better with a guy I talk to from a distance but I’ll always cut it off after a while just because I see that there’s really no point in continuing the endless chats and virtual flirting with a distant ‘friend’, there’s no real future, you can’t get to know him properly and it’s a waste of time???

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3. Because usually a couple that starts organically from togetherness (in the same city of course) and direct contact with each other (traditional courtship) over a period of time can lead to a long-lasting loving relationship. So when one of them has to move to another country for a while, it might stand the test of distance. But if from the start, you are not even in the same city. Will it ever work out? Apparently, it CAN be done. I’ve had 2 examples for this. One was my junior high school friends who started out from a distance between Singapore (guy) and America (girl). Both of them were my classmates back then, I witnessed the constant bickering when the two of them were still young but somehow they are now married and living in Singapore. The second one also has the same distance and they were also old high school friends from the same hometown. They are now busy preparing for their wedding celebration next year.

von 1*for my friend’s case, it’s 12 years*

This is the story of my dear friend, who’s brave enough to risk her heart and cross the oceans just to find her love. Here we go.

She has never been without a boyfriend for a long period of time.

She’s my senior by one year and I’ve heard stories since I was still in the same junior/senior high school/university as her that she’s very popular and lots of boys (not yet a man) would line up to become her boyfriend. Even though she’s popular and smart, I found that she’s very down-to-earth and a fun girl to be with, so I started to know her better and we hit if off (as good friends) after our university years.

We’d often talk about boys during our time as housemates and roommates when we’re out in the working world. So I roughly know her history with all the ex-boyfriends she had. It was a very long painful journey to where she is now. But they were lessons for her. Without the experience, she wouldn’t have come this far (literally, she’s living in the US now, haha:p).

Her first boyfriend was from junior high school days. Back then, I didn’t know her at all. I only heard rumors about her being with this guy in her class, a kind of puppy love. She told me that her mother didn’t like this relationship and eventually asked them to split up. Still young and innocent, she just followed what her mom said. There really wasn’t much seriousness in those days. They were just 15 year-old teenagers. 

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Her second boyfriend was during her senior high school years. She seemed to have it all: a doting boyfriend, pretty face, loving family and good grades at school. This time, her mom was very supportive and ‘in love’ with her boyfriend. She would sometimes joke and told me that maybe her mom should just be with her boyfriend back then. She’s more enthusiastic than her daughter. Unfortunately, this relationship ended amicably when she came here to study. She was still very young and didn’t think that she could manage a long-distance relationship. So she just let him go and started off her new university life in Singapore. As soon as she’s back on the market, new breed of guys (now including Singaporeans, Indonesians and other nationalities. The competition was very tough!!) would just swarm around her, waiting to be picked.

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During university years, I remember vividly about the drama and intense stories surrounding her relationship with her third boyfriend. She fell head over heels in love with this guy and from the outside, it looked like they had a good steady relationship. Until one day I heard that they were having a fight and found out that apparently the ‘good’ boyfriend cheated on her. After that, a lot of our other friends witnessed the bf pleading for her forgiveness and she courageously took him back. I didn’t want to meddle too much in other people’s relationship so I never really asked her why she did that or told her why she shouldn’t have done it. We were not very close back then, just a friendly neighbour next door. Anyway, after the second chance, it went quiet for a while until after graduation and she started working at her first job. When I moved into her house, I was (not quite) surprised that she wasn’t with this bf anymore. Apparently, once you’ve broken someone’s trust, things will never be the same again. In due time, the relationship just crumbled to the point of no rescue. She was obviously heart-broken but decided to move on.

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Her next boyfriend was her coworker and a very sweet guy who treated my friend very well. In those 2 years that they’re together, as a bystander observing them, I honestly didn’t feel that she’s very into her bf. There’s this lack of passion and respect from her side. She later told me that maybe she was just too broken to ever love again (after the 3rd bf) and needed some time on her own to re-evaluate her priority, her needs and wants. So she went on to being single for the longest time ever, around 1-2 years.

In those reflection days, she would go back to exploring her faith and often say her prayers to God, asking Him to give her a life partner whom she can trust again, who loves Him and preferably someone she’s familiar with, maybe an old friend from the past. Incredibly, her wish did come in two forms. First, the wrong guy who came at the wrong timing and second was the right guy at the right timing, her current partner. Both of them were her old friend.

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With this wrong guy, the timing was just so wrong for him to barge in my friend’s single happier life (though sometimes lonely, she’s generally happier during that period). They started going out only a few months before this guy was going back home for good, which means a long-distance relationship if they ever made it official. But he didn’t say a word of that when he left. So after all those intense time together, he just got away with it and left my friend with the darkest, most devastating period of her whole life. Okay I’m exaggerating here, maybe not in her whole life, but dark enough to make her tear up every night for a few weeks and do some silly things just to get him to come around. But he never did. I moved with her to a common room across the street once she rented out her whole-unit in preparation to ‘go back home for good’ and supposedly ‘live happily with him back at home’. I listened to her late night talks, heart-to-heart, on how she felt about him and all other obstacles she faced just because she wanted to pursue this relationship and believed that he’s the right one. I watched all these dramas and couldn’t bear to see her get hurt even more and started to talk her out of this unhealthy obsession. I’ve been there too and I know how it felt. The difference between her and me is just that she’s braver than me and is more willing to risk her heart for love, I couldn’t do that (even until today, maybe not yet? or never? I don’t know. head rules over my heart, probably too much). After around 6 months of struggle, she eventually calmed down and started to let him go.

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Even so, she knew that she wanted to be in a relationship and was still open to it, but now she’s taking her time and got closer to God and wanted to meet someone who can guide her along with her faith. That’s when the miracle came (in her words, a miracle). She got in contact with an old friend who seems to be very religious and wanted to know how they could share their faith with each other. So despite the distance and time difference, they got to know each other and became closer everyday (by chat, international call, video call. Thanks to technology!). By middle of 2012, they were officially a couple. In the next 5 months, things escalated further and she decided to apply for a master study in the US and quit her job. I’m pretty sure 95% of this decision came from her desire to be closer with her boyfriend. She just jumped right into the relationship with both feet in. I was awestruck by her bold and brave move but supported her decision nonetheless. Earlier this year, we sent her off at the airport and wished her well.

Now, as I’m writing this, the both of them have been engaged for 10 months and later on the fiancé told her that actually he had had secret crush on her since they were still in school years, but somehow their paths didn’t cross until last year, 2012. He didn’t regret it though. If they had been together back then, they might not have ended up like the way they are today. He’s a much wiser man now and my friend also had to go through all her broken relationships first in order to finally take a leap of faith and cross the oceans just to be with him. The TIMING can’t be any better than this. 

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So folks, moral of the story (and also a reminder for myself):

1) Some of us would have a drama-free smooth-sailing love life, some would have to endure some incomprehensible heart-ache along the way before finally meeting the right one. Everyone has different timing, different path to take, different challenges to face in life. So all we need to do is just believe that everything will be beautiful in its own time.

2) Sometimes, we have to get over our fear of rejection, let go of our ego and unhealthy obsession, risk our heart a little bit and take that leap of faith. Only then, we’ll be able to find our life-partner, the love of our life, the right ONE.     

What do you think?

Will you cross the oceans for love?

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When I showed the first draft of this post to my friend and her fiancé, they have kindly shared with me their initial ups and downs and I’m quoting them here. *I hope it will be a good learning point for all of us*

We went through a moment of challenges as well, and we both believe it was a process of maturing our relationship. Until today, we still work on our differences. There were a lot of doubts at first from both of us. We were also not sure if this relationship can work out or not. If not because of our prayers, I believe it is not possible. But of course, it is not only the praying that we did. He always reminds me about working as a team in building this relationship, how we should trust and treat each other as the closest friend, be open towards each other. I believe those are the keys that I missed from all my previous relationships before. There was no teamwork, no prayer, no trust, no openness in the past. But now, I am grateful I have found my closest friend 🙂

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Cheers,

Sien

PS:

To: my dear friend. Consider this as my wedding gift to you. I hope he’s worth the wait and all the heart-ache that you’ve been through. So have a blissful marriage ahead and be together through thick and thin until death do you apart! XOXO *big hugs*

To: my dear friend’s fiancé. You’re a lucky guy. Always be good to her OK? or I will hunt you down *just kidding:p*

Respect, Love, Loyalty, Commitment

259449628503345385_hXOCB0vG_fI 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…

1. RESPECT

respectI 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.

2. LOVE

LOVEIn 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.

3. LOYALTY

loyaltyIn 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.

4. COMMITMENT

commitment 1Let’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.

With love,

Sien

*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”?

best relationshipnext time journey end