Love Notes: This Is Not A Dating Column

Have a story to tell? We’d love to hear it.

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Two years ago, I found myself undoing something I spent the bulk of my early twenties building.

Like most Singaporeans my age, it had somehow been drilled into me that I needed to find a nice boy with whom I can be amicable roommates for the next six decades or so. We’ll then apply for a BTO flat in a non-mature estate (we did, in Sengkang), have kids (ideally two boys, one girl), send them to university, and then live our lives out in peace.

Then, a chance encounter on a solo trip to a foreign land led me to realise that it wasn’t what I really wanted. One tearful plane ride back from Seoul later, I broke up with my fiancé—whom I had been in a four-year relationship with.

For someone who craved stability more than anything, that felt like a strange move. Even talking about this now feels surreal.

When you rock the boat like this, it’s only natural to feel… lost. And I felt really, really lost for the longest time. The past two years saw me on this journey to find the love I craved. It was often misguided—I looked in one too many wrong places and things seldom ended well.

Did I regret it? Initially.

I felt like I came close to having something great, and then I blew it. Like, on an apocalyptic level where I had majorly screwed things beyond repair.

But in this cycle of self-destruction and self-repair, as cliché as it sounds, I’ve realised that romantic love isn’t the only one worth having.

I felt love from my best friend who stayed on the phone with me for half an hour, when I was crying so hard at the airport that all she could hear was my gasps for air.

I felt love from my family, who made sure I at least ate something, no matter how much I wanted to just fade into nothingness.

I felt love from my social circle, many of whom had made a lot of tough nights easier to brave through, whether they realised it or not.

That’s why the column you’re reading right now, which is going to be a permanent fixture in this magazine, isn’t a dating column.

Instead, it’s a collection of reflective essays about love—and not just the romantic kind either. We’re going to use this space to talk about all forms of love, loss and heartbreak, and the revelations that come after, in hopes that we all can learn from experience,
albeit someone else’s.

And perhaps, in the process, understand ourselves a little better. Because, in the words of the great dating columnist Carrie Bradshaw, the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Have a story to tell? We’d love to hear it. Email us at CLEO@sph.com.sg

Illustration: Shian

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