Posted in dating, relationships, romance

Hello, Goodbye.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been the kind of person who made lists, whether in my head or in actual writing. I’ve always felt better once I’ve put some semblance of order into the everyday chaos of my life, and things just make so much more sense to me when I can see them in bullet points.

At work, I would probably be described as task-orientated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean we thank the stars for task-orientated people in our workplaces because they get things done. They tick off each item on the list and move on from one task to the next without batting an eyelash.

I come from a family obsessed with life goals and plans. We’ve always been encouraged to go for our dreams but to make sure that those dreams pay the rent. Again, sensible, but the thing about having dreams and aspirations that no one ever tells you about is that they take a lot of work and a lot of focus. Hence, the list. The list of the things you need to accomplish in order to achieve your dreams.

It’s only now that I’m a little bit older that I wonder what things I’ve missed out on because I’ve been too busy trying to achieve that “life list” in my head. For example, I was so focused on doing well in my studies that I never really dated in high school or college. I mean, let’s forget about the fact that my strict Chinese-Catholic parents (and extended family) had forbidden it, we all know there were ways that I – being smart and sort of devious – could have gotten around it.

It’s telling that I never felt the inclination to rebel against that particular rule when I’ve broken others (curfew, travels to other cities, drinking, spending too much money, you name it!). I think I always knew that dating and having a relationship would put a wrench in my plans; its an unknown variable that I can never fully control. Of course, that’s not to say that love (the unrequited kind!) didn’t shape my life in a major way but that’s a blog for another day!

And since we’re talking about dating, I can’t fail to mention that other list in my head. You know, the list I had of what constitutes the perfect man. Think of every attribute you’ve ever read in romance novels or seen in Hollywood rom-coms and you’ll have a good idea of what my list looked like. These days, much to my chagrin, I’m down to just two non-negotiable traits: hygiene and sense of humour. Everything else – I can learn to live with (or without). But there was a time when I was holding out for Prince Charming or his handsome twin brother.

Lists go hand in hand with plans. I’ve always planned to be successful, married and settled by the time I reach my 30s. I’ve sort of achieved the first one, but yeah, let’s all laugh at that naive teenage girl who thought that the 2nd and 3rd would be easy. I think everything I’ve ever done in my life has been rooted in my need to achieve that marriage plan. It’s so deep-seated that even when it makes absolutely no sense anymore I can’t seem to fully let go of it.

The thing is, I think we all harbour this illusion that we are somehow in control of our lives. And to an extent I think we are, I mean certainly its up to us how we react to or handle certain situations. But as for the things that actually happen to us, the people we meet, the things we experience, I still believe that a lot of that is fate and some unknown force in the universe who likes to laugh in the face of our so-called plans.

And thank God for that. 

Spoiler alert: I’m not married nor am I likely to be in the immediate future. But. This year I planned to seriously think about settling and to keep at dating even when I have one bad date (or two or three. I think the current count is five in a row!). I told myself that I was done with the games and the fanciful aspirations; I want a mature life partner that I can finally think of settling down with, hygiene and sense of humour non-negotiable, stable bank account desirable but not required, good looks – open to negotiation depending on all other criteria met. Lol

I’ve spent the last 6 months making a list of how I can achieve this goal and the last 4 or 5 seriously doing everything I can to tick off the items on that list. I’ve been on a sort of dating frenzy, swiping right and left willy-nilly and never really getting anywhere. But just like the Energiser bunny, I kept going and going because I told myself that he’s out there somewhere and just like everything I’ve ever accomplished in my life, I just need to work harder and I’ll find him.

And then one day, out of the blue, due to some random collision of chance, fate and orthopaedics, I met a guy who made my world stop. It’s like someone was looking at my life for the past 3 months and they got fed up and finally pressed PAUSE. Pause, anj. You’re getting too caught up in all of it that you’re forgetting to actually enjoy life.

Since we’ve met and gone out, I don’t know, its like someone saw a list of all the things I wished for when I was a little girl dreaming of romance and that same someone has been granting my wishes one date at a time: getting lost in the city when its raining, bonding over a shared love for food, cuddling for warmth in winter, drinks and intimate conversations, texts in the morning, secret looks at work, waiting for me to finish up at the office so we can go out, going to a fair together, and my favourite, holding hands in the park while drinking mulled wine.

I harbour no illusions about this guy, nor do I think for one second that there is a future in store for us. In lots of ways, its a case of wrong place, wrong time. We’re at different stages in our lives and we probably want different things. He’ll be going back to his home city in a couple of days and I will not waste my breath hoping that this thing extends beyond that.

But until then, I got to enjoy the oh-so-wonderful present. I’ve loved every single moment of the past 3 weeks, the uncertainty of wondering whether he’ll text or call and the delight when he follows up with the next date and the next date and the next one after that. This is an interlude in my life that I’ll look back on whenever I need a happy memory.

I think that bad dates take away a piece of your soul each time and it gets harder to recover and pick up the pieces to try again with each successive bad date. I didn’t realise until now, writing this post, how close I was to giving up on love and romance entirely. That’s saying a lot for a girl who’s always been a hopeless romantic. So no matter what happens, I am grateful for this wrinkle in time, for this wrench in my plans, for this wholly unexpected blessing that fell into my life just when I needed it the most.

Cheers to another couple of days NOT making plans with you. 🙂

Posted in dating, Lifestyle, relationships, romance, Uncategorized

Goodbye, Hopeless Romantic…

Its a rainy Saturday morning in London and I’m listening to the last song on Taylor Swift’s new album and I feel compelled to write a confessional blog.

 

Most of my friends know how much of a hopeless romantic I was. I read romance novels by the dozen every week while I was growing up. Name every literary romantic tropes and I’ve probably fantasised about and lived through them, especially the tragic ones: the enemy turned crush, the popular guy you could never have, your best friend’s boyfriend, and of course, the unrequited love for your best friend.

 

I’m not going to get melodramatic, don’t worry. I’ve already exercised a Taylor Swift-style catharsis on all my past loves in one way or another, including a Facebook message to someone I should have said ‘I loved you’ to a long time ago that is as honest and candid as it is cringeworthy (I still CANNOT believe I did it.)

 

In this age of Tinder and Match.com (and endless stories from my friends of cheating, friends with benefits arrangements, and one-night stands) its hard to hold on to my starry-eyed belief in fairy tales and happily-ever-afters. Its hard to reconcile my unrealistic expectations with the very harsh reality that dating and relationships in the 21st century is not the stuff of Disney movies and Judith McNaught novels.

 

When I moved to London, I resisted the pull of online dating for a long long time. My hopeless romantic soul could not accept the idea that my future love story would be written with an opening line of “…once upon a time there was an app where you can swipe through all the single men within a 5-mile radius”.

 

As time went by and life got busier, I came to fully understand why those sites exist. It is difficult as hell to meet someone in this city and I say ‘bullcrap!” to those articles that say London has the most number of single people in the world. Where are those single, eligible people? They’re certainly not walking up and down the halls of the NHS in scrubs and clogs. They’re not buying Pret coffee or egg McMuffins with bleary eyes and tired faces, already anticipating a long shift at work.

 

So yeah, online dating: today’s version of meeting people in coffee shops and striking up random conversations. Almost the same, except that everything’s virtual. With much reluctance, I ultimately resigned myself to the fact that this is how people date now.

 

At least once a year every year I download an online dating app and try my hand at dating. And without fail, every year for the past 6 years I go on one or two bad dates and then I give up on the process. I delete said app and go back to living the life of an independent woman, telling myself that I refuse to date for the sake of dating and that if its right, it will be easy. I believed (and still believe) that there’s nothing lacking in my life just because I’m not in a relationship; having a partner isn’t what defines me and society can piss of if they tell me 30 is too old to not be married. 

 

While all of the above are true, they’re also symptoms of someone who’s tried and failed too many times that it just became too exhausting to try, and easier to tell myself that I’m happier being single. And I’ve been really happy these past 6 years; my life has been enriched by experiences and adventures that have changed me for the better. And with the 20/20 vision that comes with hindsight, I realised that there are two reasons why I’ve always failed at dating (online or otherwise) where others have succeeded: I was never really ready, and I’ve been incredibly lazy.

 

My attitude towards online dating is a little like my attitude towards shopping at TK Maxx. Like I know that there are loads of amazing stuff there but I’m too lazy to go through all the rubbish ones to find that one dress that will make me feel like a million dollars. And then someone comes out with that amazing dress and I kick myself for not making the effort.

 

2017 is the year of the effort. I think that for the first time in a long time I’m genuinely ready for a relationship and I hope that my second-date-claustrophobia won’t rear its ugly head once again. I’ve had three meh dates and one bad one already this year and I’m still trying. I’ve had dates where someone’s nice but boring, where someone’s not boring but is only out for one thing, where there were sparks but no follow through, where there was a follow through but no sparks…and I figure that sooner or later, lightning will strike and all those elements will come together in one date (Please, God, I hope this is true. haha).

 

Baby we’re the new romantics, come on come along with me. Heartbreak is our national anthem, we sing it proudly.

New Romantics | Taylor Swift

 

I’m no longer the hopeless romantic that I was, and while some part of me misses the girl with the rose-coloured glasses, I’m mostly okay because I know she’ll always be there somewhere. She’s there in the way I giggle at every text; she’s there in the way I smile because he’s said something funny; she’s there in the warm feeling I get when he says something that means he gets me even though we’ve just met; she’s there, always, in the way I keep the hope alive that this time lightning has struck. But the great thing about being this new kind of hopeless romantic is that I know, even if I strike out instead, I will somehow find the fortitude to have another go at the bat. 

 

Goodbye, hopeless romantic. Hello, Hopeless Romantic 2.0 – bigger (literally), better and stronger version.

Posted in dating, Feminism, relationships

Of Retinal Detachments (Maybe!) and Late Night Realisations 

It was the middle of the night and I was caught in a rather strange dream about two of my workmates when my sister suddenly barged into my room, frightened, because she had a sudden blurring of vision on one eye. Being a nurse aaaaand somewhat of a hypochondriac my brain automatically goes to the worst case scenario. Some people would probably think its nothing, but I immediately think retinal detachment, macular degeneration and oh God, let’s go to the A and E.

It made me think about the other times that my sister would come barging into my room with one form of complaint or another, whether its the fact that we’ve suddenly lost the wifi or something more serious like when the time she had severe abdominal pain (and we really HAD to go to the A and E because her pain tolerance is minimal to the point of nonexistence). She comes in expecting me to be the mature adult when I really have no idea what I’m doing half the time. Its funny because really, between the two of us my sister would probably be considered more mature but when it comes to acting quickly in a crisis, I’m your girl. 

My brain doesn’t believe in wasting time. It will automatically go into problem solving mode and switch from ‘Houston we have a problem‘ to ‘okay, what can we do?’. That’s not to say I’m fearless; in fact, I’m probably scared shitless the whole time. But the way I deal with fear is to eliminate the source as quickly as possible and most of the time fear comes with the unknown. So no matter how bad it might be, I would always search for answers and the root cause of the problem so I can go about looking for solutions. I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose this is one of my greatest strengths.

Its also incredibly exhausting.

And when Arlene came into my room that night, I found myself wishing there was someone else with me to support me for a change, someone I can rely on and count on, even if its just someone who will call an Uber whil I deal with my sister. I am usually the first person to bolster someone who’s feeling lonely and afraid because they’re single. I am probably the poster child for single adulthood because I can say with all honesty that I’ve never felt like there was something missing in my life just because I don’t have a boyfriend/partner/husband. It would certainly be nice, but its not something I would force or rush into just for the sake of it. Its too important a life decision to treat impulsively.

But that feeling of wanting someone as a partner came over me suddenly that night, I have to say. Not to use as a crutch, but like I said, it would be nice to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold as I face life’s many inevitable problems. Its the kind of feeling that probably means my online dating presence will be much more rampant in the coming days.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I’m generally a very strong person, it would be nice not to have to be strong all the time, to trust someone enough to let go of the reins and to be able to cede control of my life to another person for a few moments, trusting that they’ll act in my best interests and that when I’ve recharged they’ll hand it over to me, and I will be all the better for it. To me, that’s what being in a relationship means and if that’s what’s waiting for me at the end of all this dating palaver, I will gladly go on Tinder and whatever other online dating app there is. 

I talk to the universe and God less and less about my love life because I think they have other more important things to worry about but just in case they’re in the middle of a break and have 3 seconda to spare, this is me asking nicely for them to give a girl a break, enough is enough, maybe its my turn to win the relationship lottery huh? Its been a long time coming. 

Posted in dating, london, relationships

Seventeen Thoughts That Run Through Your (or MY) Head on A First Date

I have been called a serial first dater so many times. Dating for me is like one of those things that I need to tick off on my yearly to do list, like: travel ✔️try a new workout ✔️lose a few kilos ✔️ go on a date ✔️✔️

As I always explain when people ask me why I’m single, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m somehow less just because I’m not one half of a couple. I do my own thing and live my life the way I want it to, not as society expects me to. But every now and again I do feel like it would be nice to have someone to share these experiences with and so commences my annual dating bonanza, a series of first dates that never really lead anywhere.

I think bad dates are a universal experience. I certainly have my share of stories to tell but apart from the initial apprehension, I do enjoy meeting and getting to know someone. Here are some of the thoughts that inevitably run through my head on a first date:

  1. Oh God, what am I going to wear?
  2. Hair up or hair down? Hair up makes me look more chic but hair down hides the fact that my face is as big as the moon. What to do, what to do?
  3. Am I wearing too much perfume?
  4. God, let this case finish early so I can get out of the hospital with enough time to freshen up.
  5. Why why why did I schedule a date on a work night?!
  6. Damn, I should have taken the tube instead of the bus.
  7. Please Lord, let him look better than he does in the photos.
  8. Oh, and please don’t let him be a psycho.
  9. Okay, he’s attractive enough. I can work with this.
  10. Hmm, has a sense of humour. Great.
  11. Would it look bad if I get another glass of wine?
  12. Why do first dates in this country mean just drinks? I’m really hungry and could do with some food.
  13. Pace yourself, anj. You know you have to drink water in between liquor so that you don’t get too drunk.
  14. This date is going better than I thought it would.
  15. Yes, there is definite second date potential here.
  16. Ah, the goodnight kiss.

And depending on how well number 16 went….
17. Please let him text me. I really like this guy.
Hahahahahahaha

I don’t know why I constantly find myself on a first date situation. It would be nice to try a long-term thing for a change but I’ve come to accept that if its not in the cards for me, I’m gonna have to learn to deal with it. The one thing I don’t want is to feel pressured to settle just because society dictates that women have to be married at a certain age. Don’t ever settle, people. The kind of love we’re all looking for is worth the effort, the wait and the endless first dates.