12 Advice About Love For 20-somethings
Hindsight is 20/20. We asked women in their 40s and 50s what they wish they’d known about love in their 20s, and here’s what they said.
*Names have been changed.
Images: CLEO/Sheryl Seah
Text: Hoe I Yune / Her World / October 2016
For similar stories, visit www.herworldPLUS.com.
For more stories about love and relationships, read Here’s How A Dinner Date Onboard The Singapore Flyer Looks Like and 9 Best Things About Being A Single Girl In Singapore.
“I’m not even sure I dated that much in my 20s. Sure, there were some crushes and flings, but until I corrected my squint – a birth defect which gave my eyes an unfocused look – I’d always been insecure about my appearance. What I’d tell my younger self: You are so much more than your squint. So don’t be self-conscious. Be at ease and completely present with your date.” – Anthea Ong, 48, entrepreneur
“When I was 22, I adored how my boyfriend (later my husband) was a steady force in my life. When my dad passed away, he was always there to help, was gentle with his words and calm as the ocean. But after my career skyrocketed, what had impressed me before suddenly irritated me. As I travelled for business, he questioned my priorities – family or work? His steadiness started to look like inflexibility! But I eventually realised he was right and recalibrated my life. So, never lose sight of the qualities that drew you to your husband in the first place. My man was, and still is, my inner conscience and compass.” – Regina Chua, 50, executive coach and strategic process facilitator
“Not sharing the same interests isn’t a deal-breaker. Actively disliking what your partner loves is. It’s OK to enjoy drinking and a night out with friends. But that guy who thinks it’s ‘unladylike’ and shames you for it? He’s not worth it. You’d just end up sneaking out for a drink and having to come up with lies and excuses. Find someone else who doesn’t sneer at what you love.” – Mandy *, 53, financial controller
“At a tender age, I decided that I would never, ever marry a Malaysian or someone from a ‘cheena’ school! It was just my ‘preference’. My advice now would be: Look for real qualities and give up silly notions of preferences. Thank goodness I did. I bonded with my current husband during a church outreach mission to the sick. I remain happily married to him – a Malaysian, and one from a Chinese school at that!” – Mary Ho, 54, homemaker
“Have courage and don’t be afraid to act on love. I took the plunge and moved overseas after being in a seven-year long-distance relationship… I am still happily married! Love waits for no one. Trust your inner Cupid and don’t be afraid to make an instinctive decisions.” – Koh Tze Yin, 50, publisher
“I got married at 19 and gave birth soon after. At the start, I stayed at home and was tempted to continue doing so just to be there for my daughter. If you’re in the same boat, my advice is, don’t get too comfortable. Don’t hope for your husband to be the sole breadwinner. When my daughter entered her toddler years, I made the right decision to find a job. It kept me active, up to date with trends, and prevented my mind from becoming dull. Always improve yourself so you won’t fall behind as your children grow and your husband advances in his work.” – Grace*, 49, finance manager
“You don’t have to find a tycoon, but do date someone who is financially stable. It’s OK if he is not earning a lot right now, as long as he has the potential to in the future. If he’s industrious and responsible, he’ll continue to strive and improve his financial position.” – Charlotte*, 45, marketing manager
“Get to know more guys so that you know what works and what doesn’t!” – Ling*, 40, accountant
“I remember a guy once said that his mother taught him never to make a girl cry… what she didn’t say was that a girl could make him cry. When you’re young, you’re seldom attracted to guys who are sweet and considerate. You want the loud, bold, and funny ones… even if they aren’t right for you. Date someone like-minded and who makes you a better person. If that means going for the ‘nice guy’, do so. It is not a ‘boring’ choice.” – Sherry*, 49, lawyer.
“Moving in together can get messy when your relationship isn’t mature. Don’t rush into sharing your whole life with a man. Assess whether you’re ready to see his ‘unglam’ side – and if he’s ready to see yours. Besides, there’s a certain sweetness in having someone who is happy to walk you home, surprise you with a bouquet of flowers at your doorstep, and chat with you over the phone before bedtime.” – Amanda Chu, 44, homemaker
“Men I’ve dated used to say, ‘I’m not marrying your mother, I’m marrying you. Does it matter if your mother and I don’t like each other?’ The answer is: ‘It sure does!’ Happiness is determined by relationships. Poor in-law relationships can break down an otherwise good marriage. I once offered this advice to someone who retorted, ‘It’s already difficult to get a guy. Now you want me to consider his family as well?’ I say it is up to you to elevate your self-worth and afford yourself this luxury of choice.” – Sarah*, 47, teacher