Category Archives: Relationships

An unending high

The one constant about Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week is its enduring tardiness. Every single show starts at least an hour late, with a lot of waiting in between, and a general air of disinterest because almost every show features a few designers whom nobody has ever heard of. As a result, the only good thing about the shows running late is that you get to catch up with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, and — if you’re lucky enough to be seated at the top row — judge everyone you see together.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend who was attending some of the same shows as I was, and it was then that I learned she had just started seeing someone new, and because he was so new, they were still in what people like to call the ‘honeymoon phase’ of their relationship. As a self-professed relationship addict who has been in long-term relationships her entire adult life, this friend told me that she is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, indicating that the honeymoon phase would be over and she would start seeing the bad parts of the relationship. And at one point she said, “You’ve been with Dani a long time. When does the honeymoon phase end?”

“Tell me your definition of the honeymoon phase,” I hedged.

She said, “To me, the honeymoon phase is like this period where nothing goes wrong, we’re always happy and I can’t wait to see him every day.”

Whether or not that was really just her concept of the honeymoon phase, or if she was projecting off a statistically-proven phenomenon, it made one thing very clear to me, which I said aloud to her: “Then there is no such thing as a honeymoon phase.”

She goggled at me, so I quickly followed up with “If that is what you think the honeymoon phase is, then whether or not it ends is up to you, and the one you’re with. I don’t think there was ever a honeymoon phase for me, because after three and a half years, I still can’t wait to see him every day.”

The cheesiness of that statement was not lost on me, even as I said it. Because it took me 15 years and far too many men to realize that, as important as trust and honesty are in a relationship, what matters more than anything else is compatibility, because with that compatibility comes the emotional support that no on else, not even friends and family, can give.

“At the end of the day, if he can give you that emotional support you seek, there is no reason that after three months or three years, you can’t still be happy. Of course men are annoying, and of course things will go wrong, but if he works with you to make them right, then it’s not even so much that the honeymoon phase doesn’t end, but more that there was never a need for one, because what you are to each other will always stay the same.”

Clearing the air

“Stop. We are done with the question portion of the program. I’m happy. I’m going.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

baliQuestions. So many questions. So many questioning. So often questioned.

I was raised to believe that everything has an answer for itself, which means, naturally, that everything can be questioned — or rather, should be questioned. I grew up with a need to know everything that crossed my path, especially their reasons for it, because I needed to understand why some things were the way they were, and why I couldn’t make other things the way I thought they should have been. And no matter how unsettling the answers were, when I finally did get them, I really could feel the weight of not knowing being lifted off my shoulders.

The questions were what shaped me into what I am today. They gave me the resourcefulness I needed in order to achieve what I wanted. They were also my downfall, torturing me with the only answer that I could never abide by: no answer.

It has been five months since the day I regained everything I had come so close to losing, five months since I felt as though a dark and limitless cloud had been parted for a tiniest sliver of light to shine through. And yet, five months later, the wounds remain as fresh as ever, scabbing over every now and then, only to be picked open eventually by a recurring memory. And in the five months that I have spent trying to recover from a year of torment, I have questioned and been questioned to the within an inch of my life.

The questions started out genuinely curious, such as “So are you back together now, for real for real?” “Is everything back to normal?” “How is everyone dealing with it?” Then they turned vapid, like “Are you getting married?” “But don’t you want kids?” “Why don’t you want kids?” and the like. Then the questions delve a little deeper, along the vein of “So why are you together?” “Is it because you haven’t found The One?” “Then what will you do with your life?” and so on.

It’s an inescapable and regrettable fact that most people think in order to live a fulfilling life, I have to be like other women: get married, and have as many children as my body is willing to spit out. Nobody ever took into consideration that it doesn’t take a piece of paper stamped by a court for my life to actually mean something. And as soon as I have the balls to say, “I don’t want to get married,” or “I don’t want to have kids,” they automatically chalk it up to the simple fact that I just haven’t found the right person to do that with yet.

So, once and for all, I will set the record straight. I don’t want to get married, and I don’t want to have kids. Even if I did, I have already found the only man I will ever do that with, but our relationship was founded on his regret that he ever got married in the first place — although he has never regretted having kids — so I wouldn’t be dumb enough to put him in a position where he would regret being married again. And, most importantly, after almost three years of coming (several) full circle(s) to find each other again, we know full well that we don’t need a marriage or kids to live the kind of life we want. And we are happy.

I will never stop questioning. I will always wonder why some things took so long to happen the way I needed them to. I will always wonder what my life would be like now if, four months ago, I really did have to watch him walk away from me so that we could both be free. I will always wonder how long it would be before we could be together again, and how far he would go to bring me back. I will never stop questioning, and thanks to that, I will never stop being grateful for what we have now.

And with that, I hope to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Lost to love

‘Girl Before a Mirror’ by Pablo Picasso

I’ve been dating ever since I was 15 years old. I can count on two hands the number of relationships I’ve been in, but only on one hand the number of serious ones. And out of all the boyfriends I’ve had, I’ve only ever really been in love with one, because he was the only one who could ever meet me on my own level, and who knew how to make his life fit seamlessly with mine.

That last statement comes off a little ironic, because in all my years of dating, now matter how I felt about the boys (and later men), I always made a point of adapting myself to them. I learned their habits, their idiosyncrasies, and their lifestyles, and found a way to make room in my life for them. On some occasions, my friends mistook my conformity for actual love, and pointed out that I was losing myself by allowing my life to revolve around my boyfriends’.

I maintained that I wasn’t doing that, and that I was just being flexible, because any woman with a brain knows that it’s much easier to adapt to a man than to try and make a man change his ways for her.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally saw myself through my friends’ eyes.

I came across a post on Instagram that read: “Relationships aren’t built on how many times someone tells you that they love you. Relationships are built on all those times that they didn’t tell you, but showed it to you instead.” And at that moment I found myself thinking, If this is love, then I don’t want it.

As someone who was raised to speak her mind and never say things she didn’t mean, I don’t think I’ve ever taken back anything I’ve ever said or written about anything or anyone. Truths are hard to hear, and read, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s only because people don’t want to have to live with them. My career as a journalist only sought to reinforce my belief in writing the facts — only after having incontrovertible proof that they are true, of course — so that I never had to feel guilty or take them back.

So it was an enormous step out of my comfort zone, not to mention against my own principles, when I was asked to remove something from a recent post, but because it caused a lot of unnecessary backlash i.e. drama. And after much raging, swearing and crying, I relented, not because what I had written wasn’t true, but because I was being asked to by the first person in the world I would have given up everything for.

Immediately after I edited that post, I was filled with a sense of self-loathing and resentment so profound that I knew I would never forgive myself — or him — for what I had been made to do. I was a hypocrite for backing down on what I believed in and doing what I had always been taught never to do, all for the love of one person. I had, once again, allowed every aspect of my life to be controlled by someone I neither know nor respect, all for the love of one person. And in loving someone too much, I had lost myself.

If this is love, then I don’t want it.