The thing about love

Face off

So, many of my friends and loved ones have paired off or are pairing off.

I’m happy for all of them. Unfortunately, not all of them are happy, and some want out.

In a case like this, what’s the best way to decide?

The conventional decision-making process utilises happiness to decide whether to stay or to go.

That’s not wrong, but the focus is – because it usually tends to be on: are you/am I happy with X?

I’ve come to realise – from both conversations and experience (recent and otherwise) – that this question needs to be reframed so that we address the more pertinent issue at hand – that of added value.

Because the thing about love is that it isn’t merely about value i.e. happiness with X; the thing about love is that it’s about added value i.e. how happy X makes us feel about ourselves.

Assuming ceteris paribus – i.e. we’ve cleaned up our act and sown all the wild oats we need to sow, we’ve let go of any issues or people that need to be let go of, etc. – the real question we should be asking ourselves is:

Does X make me more awesome than I already am?

I’ve seen it in the friends and loved ones who are happy, and I’ve felt it for myself too: a good partner is someone who explicitly supports you in becoming better than you already are.

And rightfully so – if being with someone constrains you; curtails your development as a human being; turns you into a shadow of your awesome self, then is that person really good for you?

It’s applicable to not just love, but at work and in friendships and family relationships too.

For as hard as it may be, all of us will need to cut the strings to relationships that are toxic or stunting at various points of time in our lives.

In making those decisions, we shouldn’t let past happiness or promises of future bliss cloud our vision.

What we should be doing, really, is focusing on the fundamental issue of how much X will be able to help us grow.

And if that growth is going to be minimal, negligible – or even negative – then I’d say you know the answer for what you need to do to be happy.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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  • Raj

    I agree! I also think it is important to see how much value you can add to the other. The definition of value also needs to be viewed in detail because a lot of this is intangible and consequentially, difficult to quantify. Finally, how do you know if this value is sufficient to meet your threshold – is it a simple (and maybe simplistic) comparison to your current state or is it more (e.g. a comparison to your future state)?

    • > I also think it is important to see how much value you can add to the other.

      Yes! I didn’t add that in because I wanted to keep the post focused 🙂

      > The definition of value also needs to be viewed in detail because a lot of this is intangible and consequentially, difficult to quantify.

      I think that’s a cop-out; you may not be able to measure happiness on a scale, but I’m sure you’ll be able to tell if you’re happier today than you were yesterday!

      > Finally, how do you know if this value is sufficient to meet your threshold – is it a simple (and maybe simplistic) comparison to your current state or is it more (e.g. a comparison to your future state)?

      I don’t understand this question – what comparison are you referring to?