“Why are you still single?”
Ahh, a question that I’ve been asked countlessly since I’ve hit the age of 20. Interrogation gets increasingly common as you enter young adulthood – especially with relatives who often probe into the romantic conquests of young, vulnerable lasses.
Perhaps they do so in hopes of passing down some words of wisdom from their own battles.
For the past three years, my answer has always been, “I think I’m still waiting for the right one.” My answer contains both hope and slight melancholy; they nod approvingly at my seemingly mature and sensible answer.
But I’ve finally seen the light.
No Such Thing As Perfect
The truth is, there is never a perfect person for me, only one who would put up with my imperfections. Still, I’ve always thought that waiting was the wisest decision – but I realised that it was just the safest.
I’ve seen the dangers of waiting through a good friend of mine, Randall. Randall is a prime exemplar of a nice guy: smart, tech-savvy and caring. One may even say he’s a rare gem these days.
Except what’s rarer is his dating experience.
He has been in the waiting game for five years now, ever since his first relationship ended up in a ditch. Each time we met up, he would ask me if I had anyone to introduce to him. Unfortunately for him, most of my friends are guys, and a dejected smile would spread across his face.
For many of us in the waiting game, the act of waiting is more of a curse than a blessing.
It becomes dreadful for Randall who is almost reaching a quarter-life crisis at the age of 29. He’s lost the anticipation and excitement of falling in love and meeting other women. The idealistic romantic story of a happily ever after that everyone is looking for becomes a distant, and almost faded dream.
He has gone sour, jaded from a made-up story fed to him when he was younger that for love to come around, he’s got to wait.
But have we not been waiting all our lives?
In fact, the average time that a human being could spend waiting in his or her lifetime is approximately six months. Ever so patiently we wait for our dinner to be served, we wait for the arrival of our trains, for our turn at the automated teller machine – waiting has become an essential part of our lives, so much so that we have gotten used to it.
Putting In Effort
Yet growing up, we learned that in order to have results, we need to reap what we sow. What exactly are we reaping by choosing to wait? What exactly has Randall reaped when he hasn’t even tried sowing his seeds?
Granted, it’s easier said than done.
For many of us who have lived by textbook rules and rubric scores, it is instinctive to follow the instructions. Yet, there isn’t a surefire recipe for success when it comes to matters of the heart. Your only manual comes from your personal experiences.
If anything at all, the act of waiting only enforces inertia. We can’t compensate lost time from inactivity. Stagnancy remains a problem as 59% of young Singaporeans are still not dating seriously. We may opt to ignore such a reality, but we sure can’t erase an impending rise of increasing singletons.
Amongst the 59% was another friend of mine, Jason.
Unlike Randall, Jason lived on the other side of the spectrum where waiting was a temporary phenomenon. A loyal member of the clubbing fraternity, he was a 25-year-old with plenty of company for lonely nights. But after consistent credit card swipes and one woman after another, he failed to foot his bills.
Debts accrued until he realised that it was time to be serious.
You might think that Jason wasn’t wrong by choosing to live in the moment, but his wealth of experience was no better than Randall. While Randall waited for the right person, Jason waited for the right time.
And that’s the biggest problem – wouldn’t it be too late?
The Time Is Now
Times have changed, and so must we.
Dating and marriage aren’t for the sake of continuing a family’s lineage anymore, it has become a personal affair. Apart from changing times, waiting for the right person or the right time is dangerous because of our over-romanticisation of “The One”.
Searching and waiting for the perfect person leads you to set unrealistic expectations – that lead to the end of relationships because our supposedly ‘potential’ partners had failed to meet these standards.
In a time and age that demands incredible velocity and proactiveness, the romantic ideal of a ‘Mr/Mrs Right’ is already obsolete – or rather – it has never existed.
Yet, we continue chasing after a concept instead of a person.
Finding an equilibrium is not from waiting for the right ‘who’ and ‘when’. What we should be waiting for are the lessons we get from a manual that is uniquely ours. It is through “The Ones” that we have been with that we will be able to know what to look for in a life partner.
So, dear Singaporeans, stop pacing the streets with the intention of waiting for the right person to fall in love with because there is neither a perfect person nor relationship, but only the ones that you are willing to get up and take risks for.