The first guy I dated worked as a waiter, became a restaurant cook and ended up to be a holistic masseuse in Japan. He was a high school graduate who felt he was inferior against college graduates because they have a degree and he doesn’t.
“Why didn’t you get a college degree?” I asked.
“I wanted to work,” he said. “It made better sense for me to work and earn money than to waste more money going to university.”
He was what you called a failed soccer player. Back in high school, he was a good enough soccer player that they sent him to Brazil to train for soccer. Unfortunately, an injury put a quick end to that career.
So he was in Taiwan with me learning Mandarin. On the side, he was a waiter and helped out in the kitchen at a friend’s restaurant.
In other words, he was not very well off. But given that I was head over heels in love with him and 22 years old, that never really mattered to him. I comforted myself with the fact that I could be the family’s breadwinner because given my training and education, I can make money for us.
But men don’t like to be outshined by their partners and he was no different.
While he did look up to me, he also unconsciously put me down. Having a college degree was not important, and if we got married, education will also not be a priority with our children.
After awhile, the relationship ran its course and we broke up in our one-year anniversary.
We were different in many ways — culturally, socio-economically, and everything else. Only love kept us together, and when the love candle dwindled, we finally didn’t have many things in common.
I remember he would spend his rest days drinking sake with friends, making tambay.
That was not really me.
I loved to travel, discover new restaurants, talk to different people of various nationalities. In short, we were incompatible.
So of course, while I was hurt we broke up, I was glad as well. I realized that it was important to be with someone who shared the same background as you do. That while too many commonalities made someone boring (I mean, would you marry yourself), if you’re too different culturally and socio-economically, that’s a problem as well.
Relationships are hard enough already. Why complicate it further if you can choose it?
It was then I realized the value of choosing someone who has a similar background and culture as you. And language is also important – you must have the same mother tongue.
Do you know how hard it was to argue in Mandarin?
Yeah, I guessed.
The second relationship I had was with a recent divorced man with whom I had a 18-year age gap.
I was 25, and he was 43 years old, but looked 35.
Nobody could imagine he was 43… not until they saw his ID.
He was American-born Chinese, mature in the ways of the world, and loved the finer things in life. He made me feel like a princess, and whisked me one time to Hong Kong just to eat at the Mandarin Grill.
After eating instant noodle with Guy#1 and saving money all the time, that was nice.
I realized that while love works, it was important to be comfortable, and you have to have enough money so as to NOT worry about money.
Again, relationships are hard enough as they are already, but if you have to fight about money, your relationship won’t even stand a chance.
And before you condemn me for going out with someone who’s old enough to be my dad, we did ultimately broke up.
Turned out despite his age, he was a sweet mommy’s boy and his mother didn’t approve of him dating someone who was 18 years younger than him (Then again, who can blame her). What’s worse, divorce does something to a man.
Because of that relationship, I had a new rule: DO NOT date any guy who just broke up with a serious long-term girlfriend/wife.
These men have issues, and you’re the sap who have to listen to him to sort out those issues.
Every moment, every instance, is a reminder of his ex.
So yeah, from that time on, I never dated anyone who broke up with a serious girlfriend… not until I know he’s 1000% over her. This usually takes 2 years of playing around.
From the next guy I dated, I learned the value of dating emotionally available men. If the guy is not that gung ho about you, NEXT!
I remember moving to Hong Kong, a new city for me at that time, and waiting for him to call. He was from Singapore and we were in a long-distance relationship. It was Christmas and cold and 2008 so people were getting sacked from their jobs. It was depressing and lonely for me.
No call — he called me in New Year’s and we broke up then.
Or shall we say, I broke up with him. I cried afterwards but it was empowering for me. If it’s not working, gather up the courage to break up than to drag a relationship nowhere.
As a result, I wasted only a few months. And learned a good lesson.
Given all the lessons I’ve learned through the years, my next boyfriend came from the same culture, had a good analytical job, was about the same age, did not break up with someone recently and was emotionally available.
In other words, in paper — I hit the jackpot! What’s not to like?
He was also very very nice to me.
He was sweet and given we were in a long-distance relationship, with him from Singapore and me in Hong Kong, we Skyped every day and saw each other every month. Thank goodness for cheap fair of AirAsia and other budget airlines.
But to be honest, he was so good to me that I found him to be boring. Regrettably, I was a bit of a bitch to him, because I wanted to see the extent on how patient he was.
I tested his patience and pushed his buttons. I was a brat. And deluded myself into thinking that I was worth it and hence, if he wanted me, he had to work to get me.
On that relationship, I learned not to be a bitch to your partner. And to give and take. If you take too much advantage, you will get dumped.
And I did get dumped. Rightfully so.
Although arguably, he dumped me because he already found a replacement (they officially announced they were a couple in Facebook exactly 30 days after we broke up, those creeps), it taught me to value my relationship and to treat my boyfriend as I wanted to be treated.
It also taught me the importance of finding someone you won’t be bored with.
I was so bored in my last relationship. He was boring. But he was nice, so I stuck around.
I remembered watching my brother with envy as he talked animatedly to his then new girlfriend. They talked about everything and anything. And they seemed to really enjoy their time together.
I looked at my relationship and felt empty. Our conversations were constrained and I couldn’t find in my heart the same animatedness that my brother had with his girlfriend. We talked the same language and loved the same things, but for some reason, didn’t enjoy each other’s company too much.
Sure, he was good in paper and I was good in paper but we were also not right for each other. If we got married, we would’ve settled for each other. And that’s not right.
I remembered looking at him as he arrived the Airport Express, and couldn’t muster the excitement to greet him. He was there sure, and that was nice… but that was it.
So I learned another lesson: When choosing a partner, choose someone who excites you. Someone you can’t wait to talk to. Someone you’d like to see everyday. Someone whom you will miss, and someone whom you can see tomorrow and forever with.
I honestly thought finding the right relationship was bullshit.
That love stories were concocted by lonely women who project their wants and dreams in paper. That rom-coms are there for us to make money for Hollywood executives. That true love is an impossibility. That it doesn’t exist. And so, why waste time in things that don’t exist? Just focus on being happy single.
And I was happily single.
Until I met my now husband.
I realized after I met him that all my other relationships — all my failed relationships — opened the pathway for me to realize that my husband was the One for me.
From my first relationship, I learned the importance of finding someone who is culturally and socio-economically suitable. And not to judge someone just because they wear shorts and t-shirts on a daily basis.
From my second relationship, I learned to give divorced guys a chance. That it was not a taboo as most people in the Philippines think it is. And to find someone who can feed you, because worrying about money is a bitch.
From my third relationship, I learned that the guy has to be emotionally available and ready for a relationship with you. With husband, I never had to chase after him and ask him to be mine. He did the right moves and made sure I knew he wanted something serious and long-term once he was ready. Which was before I was ready, so that’s good!
From my last relationship, I learned you have to enjoy your partner. His company, his stories, and the way he thinks. It’s important that you share the same beliefs and values, otherwise, you’d constantly ask yourself, “Why do you think that way?” You have to have the same mindset.
Oh, and I also learned not to be a bitch in a relationship.
Yes, that’s very important.
So it’s easy to say it now, but I will say it because I believe it is true — for me, every single one of my relationships readied me for the One for me.
Yes, they took years and many lessons were painful for me. My heart and ego took a beating but they transformed me to a better person who was ready for my now husband. When we met each other, I was a nicer, better girlfriend because of everything I went through. And because I was one of the more amazing women he’d ever met, he married me.
So it’s true — for those who are married, kudos to you. I hope you didn’t settle, and I hope you are happy with your choice.
And for those who are single, think about what I said. Look at your past relationships and see how much they’ve changed you. Thank the Lord for all the lessons and take them to heart.
Then open your eyes and never lose hope. My mistakes let me to my husband. I hope yours will also do the same.
So let me know what other lessons you’ve learned in your past relationships. Once agian, comments welcome below.