Used to love her: A fond farewell to 2013

Whole lot fall in


Pursuant to my previous post which I needed to write to bridge some gaps, I’m now ready to say goodbye to 2013.

I wish I could say it was a fan-fucking-tastic year, in the same way that 2008 was awesome.

Fortunately or unfortunately, 2013 was a year of what could’ve been but wasn’t – for the better, of course.

A recap of the year’s highlights:

  • Did the freelance writer thing and wrote for a range of publications;
  • Went to Toji Cultural Centre in Korea for a two-month-long writing residency;
  • Travelled to Phuket, Hong Kong, Macau and Kuala Lumpur too – all very good getaways;
  • Taught in various capacities over the course of the year;
  • Started a new job at a great place – hopefully, a post on that soon; and
  • Learnt to stop hoarding and cleared out a lot of my old possessions, from clothing to household equipment – a post on that sooner.

The physical clearing out of objects was symbolic too, in terms of feeling less weighed down with tangible and intangible burdens.

And that helped me feel a lot better about myself than I’ve felt in recent years.

Along with that, I’ve sorted out many things in my life and I’m very ready to settle down – marriage and the whole shebang.

On that note, 2013 was relevant because of the dating and learning what I want/who I am looking for.

Without going into too much detail: I loved and I lost, and I loved and I lost, and I loved and I lost.

But I loved every single moment – from the way she arched her back to Instagram the pattern of light shining through the blinds onto my wall; to the way we were wonderful while side-by-side, if only for those fleeting moments; to the way the music made us move in a Dionysian-nectared intensity.

You may have taken away one year of my youth, 2013, but you paid your tab and the debt is squared.

What I took away from you – whether it was at work or with family, friends, lovers, etc. – was:

  • Learning how to set boundaries: to clearly communicate what it is I want and to say no to unreasonable demands on me; and
  • Learning how to let go: to be less sentimental about material and emotional things.

So I’m bidding you a fond farewell, 2013.

I used to love you, but you didn’t live up to your potential.

I’m letting you go, like how I’ve let go of the many other things for me to be free, and move on, and move up.

I’m leaner, I’m lighter and I’m ready for you, 2014.

Let’s go.

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.

Her World: Ladies, Do the Cheque Dance!

Ladies, Do the Cheque Dance!

My column in this month’s issue of Her World is out!

Ladies, Do the Cheque Dance!
Should men pay on the first date? Should women offer to pay their share? LAREMY LEE offers a suggestion to this age-old conundrum.

I started dating again after ending a long-term relationship last year. After five months out of the game, I quickly found I had to relearn many of its rules. The first – who pays on the first date?

On hindsight, I should’ve asked around first. Unfortunately, I’m prone to adopting a ‘just do, don’t think so much’ mentality, which often leaves me in situations where I have to learn from experience.

First Date #01: Dinner with M.
The conversation flowed smoothly; M and I had quite a bit in common in terms of career decisions and personal interests.

Going well, I thought. Definitely want to see her again.

When the bill arrived, I was all set to pay. But M threw a spanner in the works, saying, “Hey, I don’t have cash – let me pay by card.”

Before my brain could process what was happening, my mouth blurted out, “Er, OK?” M gave me a squinty, sideways glance and primly placed her piece of plastic in the bill folder.

Five seconds later, it hit me like a Ferrari running a red light at Rochor Road: Oh my gosh! I wasn’t supposed to let her pay!

To read the rest of the article, get a copy of the May 2013 issue of Her World from newsstands today!