I cannot believe that while many other women my age are well on their way to raising their kids and managing their families, I have only just begun to grow up.
I am perhaps only comforted by the fact that at least I have realised my mistakes. And it's not too late.
My approach to relationships has always been an eye for an eye. You throw a punch and I'll return an even harder one. I relished the thought of hitting them back ( I mean this in a figurative sense, not a real punch)... and I felt a great sense of justice. I honestly felt that even if we did shitty things to each other it was ok, as long as it was fair (both ways).
But love is not supposed to be a battle. If you are treated unfairly (or without respect) in a relationship, then your partner is not the one for you. You can't fix it by getting back at someone. An eye for an eye truly only leads to more blindness. You don't see that you're actually much better off being single, or with someone else.
Here are my humble lessons in love... learnt the painful way, through many failed relationships. By the way, not all the failed relationships described in my experiences below were with white men ok. There were asian BFs too. (So don't just start jumping to conclusions)
1. Don't Be With Someone Who Won't Let You Be Yourself
One of my past BFs was Catholic (so am I, by the way). But his mother didn't like me because she had the impression that all pretty girls will never make good wives. My favourite attire as most of you would have realised is a pair of shorts and a singlet.
Pretty much every girl in Singapore wears it. It's definitely not considered indecent is it?
Well, the first time I went to his house was when he had pop in to get something he had left behind. To my utter dismay, his mother literally pointed to a corner of the living room and said "You Wait There", in a tone of voice you'd use for like a misbehaving dog. I wasn't allowed to sit on the sofa, or offered a drink... or even a smile.
When my boyfriend came back out of his room, we left. I was so shocked by that experience that I could not hold back my tears. I hated that woman. I hated that he did nothing to defend me.
I asked him why I was treated like that. And he said it was because his mother thought I was not a good person. Surprised, I exclaimed," Just because I wore shorts and a singlet, does that mean I'm like spawn of the devil?" He said "To her, yes."
So from then on, I bought and wore dowdy dresses and cardigans whenever I knew his family would be around... I even had to wear a viel to church whenever I went with them. They didn't go to a normal Catholic church like my family. They went to some sect like exclusive church near Somerset.
Even with all that effort, the mother still treated me like I was heathen. And I kept having the pressure from my BF to be someone I was not. (This is off topic but... a couple of months after we split up, his mother died of cancer. Does it make me a bad person if I felt absolutely no pity for her?)
2. When Trust Is Broken, Learn To Let Go
Very early in one of my relationships, I tested my BF (another one, not the Catholic BF above). I put a bait (my girlfriend) posing as a stanger off the internet and tried to hook him.
By this time, I already had my toothbrush at his place, and we were (in my mind) a couple.
They had exchanged pics through email (of course I was aware of what was going on every step of the way), we used a sexy pic taken off some random chick's blog. She pretended to be this wild girl and outright offered him sex. Then, through SMS, she asked if she could come over that night (I had a date with him). He declined and said he had something on.
A few hours later, I rang my BF to cancel the date. AND WITHIN SECONDS, he messages my friend and says "you can come over tonight".
In the end, I revealed the whole charade.. and he came up with excuses like- he didn't think we were a couple yet.. and he wasn't serious about the "other girl"... only testing to see what she was about.
In other words... he was showing so early on in the relationship that he cannot be trusted and he cannot resist temptation. But instead of leaving, I stubbornly stayed on... and I became a paranoid witch of a girlfriend. I also started doing things behind his back to make me feel like the scales were balanced. Tit for Tat... I know you're fucking me around so I'll do the same to you.
I could not just let go. All I got was 2 wasted years in battle. If trust has been broken... just leave.
3. You Need To Be A Priority
No matter how much of a giving person you are, you simply cannot be in a relationship where you are not a priority.
That same catholic BF I talked about (in point number 1 above), had told me repeatedly that priority #1 was God, #2 his parents, #3 his siblings, #4 His career and if I wanted to be with him, I had to accept that. I was unhappy that I didn't register on the radar even! I mean I never felt like I was a priority, but it was even worse to have him say it to my face (repeatedly).
I hate myself then for having such low self worth that I would accept being so inconsequential in a relationship. Never again. I deserve better.
4. You Can't Be With Someone Who Doesn't Think Much Of You
Another one of my ex Bfs, thought I was stupid. We had gone out with a few of his mates. And I didn't talk much. I'm like that. I'm chatty when it's just one person I am with, or a cozy couple of people. But once it's a group, I tend to clam up.
What made it worse was the seating arrangements. 5 people. 2 pairs were facing each other and I was facing no one. Then the girl beside me turned her back to me and was talking to the guy beside her. My bf turned to the other guy and they chatted. I struggled to hear what he was talking about (we were in a pub). I felt so excluded. And stupid.
Meeting a partner's good old friends is not easy for a lot of people... especially me. If he respected me, he would have been on my side. He would have tried to make me feel included... or at least reach for my hand under the table and give it a squeeze which says- I'm here.After that incident, he chided me for making his friends feel uncomfortable cos I just sat there and said nothing. And that next time he was out with his friends, I can't come. How can you continue to be in a relationship with a person if you don't think they fit in?
OH... I'm so sorry I made YOUR friends uncomfortable. Well, at least they got over it by turning their backs to me and chatting amongst themselves about banking shit and politics. It really must have been sooo dreadful for THEM.
5. You've Got To Really Love Yourself
You know how people always say that when you break up, you've got to stay single for a while, to find yourself... before you're in another relationship?
It's true. But it's not so much about finding yourself... rather, it's more about getting used to being single, and learning to do things for yourself. After you get over the misery of not having a partner, you start to have a self-centered yet very happy existence.
When you reach this point (that you're happy even when you're on your own).... you'll be in a much better position to be objective in your next relationship.
Now, I would only be in (and stay in) a relationship if it made me a happier person than when I was single. If it made me a less happy person, I'd naturally pull out of that relationship.
So you see.... all this while, in my past, because I was never happy single, any shit relationship appeared (to me) better than being single. So when someone came along and seemed to fit. I stubbornly and blindly did all I could to make it work... thinking that all that misery and hardship would finally lead to happiness.
But it's not like that for me anymore. The bar (of satisfaction in a relationship) is much higher now that I know how happy I can be alone. I'm no longer someone who will just settle for someone who isn't right.
I've been avoiding blogging about my relationship with Mark over the last month or so because everything has been so good. And I know that I would only piss some readers off if I wrote about it. So if you sometimes get annoyed with me because I seem so smug in love now, please understand where I am coming from.
Almost 5 months now, and I know it's only the honeymoon period, but compared to how my other relationships were, this is in a league of its own. I've never been happier (and I was pretty happy enjoying my single hood).
Apart from being here for me, trying to understand me, planning a future with me, telling me constantly that I am his buddy and that he loves and adores me, I do feel a great sense of happiness and contentment just feeling in my heart that I may have actually chanced upon love this time.