After nine years of friendship, I said ‘yes’ to the most wholesome man I knew: my best friend, Steph. Last year, we bought our wedding bands before he proposed in his bedroom.
Many people asked me if I knew he was The One. I could say I don’t—not because I don’t love him, but because I am hesitant to label my illusions.
I believe in chance encounters, fate and karmic links. But I think the man you choose to be with is a reflection of you, your circumstances and coincidences. You like him because he has traits you want in yourself.
Love him, let him go
When Steph and I first dated, I told him never to buy me flowers for what's meant only for our eyes shouldn't die. I suck at keeping roses alive so I told him we could save the money to visit a garden instead.
No bouquets could replace my memory of sitting in Hokkaido's Shikisai-no-oka flower field in its full bloom in July, eating lavender ice-cream. Among rolling pastures on a hill, there was no ownership required for appreciation.
As a person who has been through long, happy yet toxic relationships, I know one’s tolerance for abuse is a capability. You could cling to happy memories or bad ones; forgive your partner or yourself; learn from mistakes or turn into someone you hate.
With my pirated Michelangelo skills, I drew this Venn diagram to explain why the best marriages land in that 'sweet spot' (it's subjective, of course).
Many couples break up not because they don’t love each other, but because they don’t like each other. Some are in love, but not together. Some fall out of love, but stay together for both right and wrong reasons. It's ironic if we don't even know how to love ourselves (we distract ourselves, mostly).
We say feelings fade not because the spark was lost, but because we refused to see magic in little things. We say people change even though we hardly knew who they were before us.
Why do we justify our losses by telling ourselves we were too late, too early, too much or too little—but never too obsessed?
We think we’re controlling our partners, when we’re only controlling our fears. We know partners who ban each other from certain outfits, interests, social media, or worse, talking to people of the opposite sex. But a good man is never “only good for you”—he is respectful of all women, of all races.
Don’t twist him into a person you want. Don't project onto him. Don’t wait if he isn’t ready. Let him help himself. Tell him what's bothering you as a partner, but listen to his response like a friend.
If he chooses you, he will compromise. If he doesn't, don't look back in anger. Thank him for trying, but don't expect him to change what he doesn't believe in.
Friendship gives space to grow
They say ‘relationships ruin friendships’ but never the other way round—perhaps good friends don’t try to own each other like couples do.
Friends don't show their ugliest side; they think twice and take responsibility for their problems. Friends give advice without projecting too much. With less investment in others, you can invest more in yourself.
Comfort makes us complacent, but we can choose to remember that the minute an argument is about who’s right or wrong, it’s no longer about us.
I choose Steph every day because he makes me want to say, “Your joy is equally important as mine. So I will wake up every morning thinking how to make you happy. I will laugh, forgive fast and remember not to nag. But if you leave, I will let go.”
Placing someone else’s happiness above yours isn’t foolish if your partner would fight fair and do the same for you.
Because the man you marry should make you believe good men do exist. This way, you will allow yourself to love and be loved as a good woman, too.