So, it’s Chinese Valentine, have you found the one?
After a certain age, society makes single-hood feel dangerously unpleasant. If you are a Chinese born in the 80s or 90s, you might be facing an enormous pressure from you parents to get married. Advertising, films and music have done their utmost to convey to us that people do eventually, after a little heartache, find their true love. It is a powerful idea to lean on， but it isn’t always true. The number of people around the world who are profoundly emotionally, sexually, practically and intellectually with a partner is tiny. This doesn’t have to be the end, there is a more mature idea of love.
Being the part time editor of Wellcee, my views on love are heavily influenced by the British philosiphor Alain de Botton, and the Psychologist Ester Perel, whose work has helped people worldwide to navigate through the complexity of modern life with grace and kindness. Just Google their names if you genuinely feel curious, lost, confused or deeply disappointed about love. I briefly listed some of their ideas as Wellcee’s Valentine gift for you :)
Is it better to remain single?
There are of course drawbacks to both states, being single and being in a couple: loneliness in the one; suffocation, anger and frustration in the other. The truth is, we’re simply not terribly good at being happy whatever state we are in. We will probably be a bit miserable rather often whatever our relationship status – which is ultimately an argument for neither rushing too fast into a couple, nor rushing too fast out of one.
Why only the happily single find true love?
One of the most important principles for choosing a lover sensibly is not to feel in any hurry to make a choice. Being satisfied with being single is a precondition of satisfactory coupledom. We cannot choose wisely when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be utterly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to have any chance of forming a good relationship. Only then do we stand a chance of deciding to be with someone on the basis of their own and true merits.
Stay or leave a relationship?
To stay or leave a relationship is one of the most painful decisions any of us ever has to make. On any given day, millions of people worldwide will be secretly turning the issues in their minds as they go about their daily lives, their partners beside them possibly have little clue as to their momentous decision weighing upon them. With us having more and more freedom of choosing who we love and how we love, the burden of making such decisions is shockingly heavy as the only factor determining whether to stay or leave is how we feel, which is a hard matter because our feelings are terribly good at shifting and evading any efforts of rational qualification.
It might be helpful to have a set of questions to dialogue with ourselves: How much of our unhappiness can be tightly attributed to our partner? How much of it is essentially due to living with another human being at such proximity? How likely it is for any couple to have great sex after 2 years? Are you ready to face the risks of perhaps achieving no more than exchanging a familiar kind of unhappiness for a new and more complex variety of unhappiness? Do you really want to choose hope over experience? If you still have the impulse to leave - then leave.
Wellcee’s take on love:
We are complicated creatures and it is highly likely that no lover will ever understand us fully, we are fated to be alone with a lot of our inner struggles. But it’s ok, the struggles are often a sign of our complexities and they make us more sympathetic to others, as Alain de Botton puts it: “Consider them as the atonement we have to make for the complexity of our mind”.
It is beautiful when we find someone with whom we feel safe to share the not only the sunshine and giggles, but the painful journey of our lives. But it takes luck and immense appreciation to keep them around. When you do manage to find this person, you’ll know they are worthy of your kindness in return, which is a skill we’ve yet to learn.
There are many people with whom we can have great romantic stories, but there are quite a few we can build a life with. Some people are meant to be a short passenger from whom we learn a little bit of ourselves, and there are a few who are worthy of our lifetime devotion. How do we know which category our current partner belongs to? Well, the only relationship worth saving is when both two people are desperately trying to be together.