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I like the idea of being in love, so much so that I tend to embody it within a familiar face and name that enables me to fantasise about this man. These idealized daydreams intensify my feelings and eventually I mistake this with genuine love for the guy. I realise now that I often fell in love not with that guy but everything I felt he had the potential to be. I had conjured up the perfect man and because he had a real identity, and the conversations we had together in my head suited the personality of him, and I had trouble getting over him.
The emotive last line of Damien Rice’s first single, “The Blower’s Daughter,” echoes a common belief that you only get over a person when you find another to focus your attention on: “I can’t take my mind off you, ‘Til I find somebody new.” Though I used to sceptically reduce this concept to fixation relocation, I actually think there is truth in his song if this someone else proves to be more than a mere ‘rebound’ object of affection. This new someone could make you realise that the love you had for the previous guy wasn’t real, but an expression of the love you wanted to give to somebody. It’s a case of understanding the difference between being in love with a particular person and craving someone to be in love with. This revelation poses two problems: 1) will there ever be a guy that outshines the ‘perfect’ one your mind created for you? And 2) how will you know whether the next person who catches your eye is nothing more than another vessel for your emotional expression?
A lot of my friends have struggled with the first issue, and reassuringly, they have found people who make them happy. Mr. or Miss Perfect is frequently inspired from the importance we place on ‘banter,’ our likes, our dislikes, the physical features that are distinctively attractive to each of us, in short, all the small things. But instead of searching for someone who adores Frozen just as much as you do, keeping ourselves open to the possibility of love outside of common interests could lead to a whole other dimension of happiness. It’s not that character traits such as sense of humour are inconsequential, on the contrary. However, your ideal partner is not just a configuration of qualities and physical attributes that tick the right boxes. We may chance upon Mr. or Miss Right after all. And Mr. or Miss Right won’t be Mr. or Miss Perfect, and we’ll find that our imperfections prompt us to put that special effort into our relationships, making them thrive.
It’s the second worry that can eat away at us, tricking us into doubting our instincts. Distinguishing our feelings is often hard enough as it is. My sister made a good point that gave me an insightful perspective into the web of thoughts we tangle ourselves in: time spent agonizing over what someone thinks of us springs from intimidation as well as from love. It’s difficult to tell which of the two: both make you want to impress the person. And then of course there’s the overthinking and over analysing of our feelings; it’s quite likely that in using my sister’s wise words to indulge my shyness in approaching guys, I had missed out on opportunities to experience love.
Perhaps we may only know whether our feelings are genuine once we feel comfortable being single. Knowingly or otherwise, many of us tend to measure our self-worth in terms of our relationships. I did, my reveries were in part filled with romanticized encounters with a guy because I was self-conscious of my being single. As Matchmaker Cristina Conti wrote in her article, “The Truth Behind Summer Love,” the entertainment industry perpetuates an ideal of love that fuels certain expectations of ourselves and of our life experiences. Watching rom coms about young teenagers falling in love made me feel sheepish about having never dated anybody; I’m in my early 20s. The timelessly covered classic “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” conveys the truthful message that we derive much more from our social connections than we ever can from material gain. Interaction is inherently human. But the song title taken in its very literal form implies we are defined by our relationships, how true is that?
A person can’t fall in love with you if ‘you’ doesn’t exist; they love you for the somebody who you already are, your individuality complements and shines through the relationships you foster with others. My point isn’t that they aren’t important. Neither do I mean to suggest that love exclusively knocks on the doors of happy single folk with no desire to look for Mr. or Miss Right. As long as you’re seeking a relationship because it’s what you want, as opposed to what you feel you need in order to validate your significance, Matching Up is there for you for exactly that reason. But we should see ourselves as entities distinct from the relationships we hold. This is helpful in nurturing them too, for we lose the inclination to mould ourselves into ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ material. We stop changing ourselves to suit others’ needs, and in the process, are more likely to cultivate healthy loving connections with people who like us exactly for who we are.
It is when you feel comfortable in your own skin that you’ll make steadier emotional choices. You’ll also have greater confidence in your judgements rather than too much self-analysing, you’ll trust what your feelings and emotions are telling you.
Nisha is an aspiring songwriter with a degree in Philosophy and Spanish. Whilst studying at the University of Oxford she discovered her love for Hip Hop and Bollywood dancing as well as her questionable dance skills! Currently learning Italian, Nisha hopes to further expand her language repertoire and acquire her musical edge by mastering Elvish, the Tolkien inspiration behind her band name, Numa Stabilisers. To hear originals by Numa Stabilisers check out www.soundcloud.com/numastabilisers, and follow the band at www.facebook.com/numastabilisers.