Falling in Love On Fridays: With Love, From Singapore

This week’s Falling in Love on Fridays post comes from someone I used to work with, J. Bubbly and sassy, this marketing gal made meetings more interesting and after-work drinks funnier. She moved back to her home country, Singapore after a brief stay in the States and continues to have a long-distance relationship with the love of her life that she met while here. Read her sweet story that just might make you go on that date you’re dreading tonight. If you’d like to submit your own Falling in Love on Friday story, click here.

With Love From Singapore

I decided to take the big leap to New York City to pursue a gradaute degree and follow my true passion for media three years ago. Yearning for excitement, I traveled 9343 miles away from my island home of Singapore, leaving behind the familiar smells of tropical palm trees and blue-green jeweled waters speckled with memories of my young 23-year-old self. I looked to the big city that promised so much – vowing that my education and career would be priorities for the next few years. Relationships and love were the last things on my mind especially when I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay in the US for.
For anyone who’s made a drastic move to a new city, it quickly dawns on you on how overwhelming it can be. Even though I spent the first year burying myself in school and venturing into different boroughs on the weekends, discovering what it meant to be a true local in NYC, things got lonely. Coupled with long winters that I wasn’t used to, I decided to give online dating a shot. I heard it worked for some but was still very apprehensive about this unconventional way of meeting people.
I was what you’d call a non-committal online dater. Browsing profiles and briefly replying to messages but rarely agreeing to actual dates. Having not been in a serious relationship for about four years, there was still a big part of me that treasured the freedoms of being single, especially in a place like New York.
Until I met D.
From the onset, D and I didn’t seem like we had much in common and was unlike any others I usually dated. He was quiet, meticulous and low-key. I was sociable, passionate and enjoyed going out. We worked in completely different industries and our shared interests seemed minimal – eating, snow boarding and were of the same religion. After 10 days of texting (yes, 10!), D finally asked me out.
Our first coffee date turned into a dinner in Korea Town because we were both working late. To someone who’s new to online dating, I was pretty sure a dinner date wasn’t exactly a smart idea. What if we had nothing to talk about? What if it became clear that we had no chemistry after five minutes? Oh boy. I was nervous and had a friend on speed dial should I need to make the S.O.S. call.
Thankfully I didn’t have to. The list of things we had in common grew longer as we tucked into fragrant kimchi and bulgogi (not the most romantic of first date meals but we were both famished that day). We had the same sense of sarcastic humor and although he was Vietnamese and I was Chinese, we connected with Asian jokes and history. Interestingly, we both came from a family of five siblings, D was the eldest of three girls and two boys, while I was the third of a set of three boys and two girls. The date seemed to be going well until we bid farewell. I expected an indication that the date was a hit, like a “I had a nice time, we should do it again soon” or perhaps even a hug. Instead, it was abrupt and I walked home feeling more confused than ever. That night, there was still no follow-up text from D and after a call to rant with my best friend about how badly the date ended, I fell asleep thinking,“Oh well, can’t help it if there was no attraction from his end.”
Surpsingly, D got in contact with me and asked me out for a second date… and a third. By the fourth date, it was clear that our relationship was growing and I shared my concerns with D about my permernance in NYC, not wanting to lead him on should I have to move to another city. I expected that any other 28-year-old would run for the hills, but D unassumingly reassured, “I’m in this for the long haul.” That night, we held hands for the first time while taking in the majestic views of Manhattan’s skyline along the Hudson River.
Seven months later, D and I are still going strong. We’ve since then taken snowboarding trips and met each others families. Given my job prospects, I’ve had to make a hard decision to return to Singapore, leaving behind everything I love about NYC. As disappointed as I am to not have spent more years working in the city like what I set out out to do, I gained so much more with my unexpected relationship with D.
His generosity and stability are the perfect complement to my sponateniety for life. What I lack in number skills, he makes up for. What he yearns in elegant writing, I provide. We stay grounded and honest, and go to bed every night saying how grateful we have been to have found each other. We rarely have difficult moments, but when we do, they are almost always because we wish we got to spend a few more precious moments being in the same location.
Even though being away from each other is not ideal, D and I are plowing through – because that’s what you do when you find your other half.
Happy 29th Birthday D! Can’t wait till I next see you.

Falling in Love On Fridays: Tomorrow or Ten Years from Now

It’s no secret that I’m a little skeptical about online dating. Though I’ve technically been a participant in the love interwebs for years (off and on), I’ve yet to find what I consider someone I’m into enough to date long term. I know that statistics show that lots of people meet their significant others online (1 in 5!) but I just haven’t found much success and often feel like throwing in the towel. But my friend from college, J, makes me want to give it another try. She’s recently engaged to a man she met online and their story will make you get on Match for an hour tonight. No joke. Oh – and just try not to cry during the proposal video. If you want to write your own Falling in Love on Fridays post, click here.

Tomorrow or Ten Years from Now

After getting dumped by my boyfriend of two years, I had given up on love.  I would go out, flirt with guys at the bar, and then go home disappointed, realizing that there were no good men out there. I felt like a sad imitation of the gals from Sex and the City: Hopelessly romantic and also a little hopeless… After one of my nights with my girl friend Lillian (and way more than my half of the bottle of wine), I decided it would be cathartic to create an online dating profile. That way, my not-completely-sober self rationalized, I could highlight my best qualities, something I don’t often do in my self-critiques and realize how awesome I am.

I created a profile on a religious dating site, mainly because the guys my friends found on regular dating sites turned out to be absolutely horrific. Immediately, I was receiving messages and emoticons from guys, some of whom were too old, a little creepy, and just so, so wrong for me. It made me laugh a little, though, and I felt better about myself, realizing that at least somewhere out there, guys thought I was worth pursuing.

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I took a break from the site and retreated to the beaches of North Carolina under the pretense of house sitting for a friend. She was visiting her boyfriend over the 4th of July holiday, so I had 4 days by myself, with only her dog and my dog to keep me company. I laid out, got some sun, read, wrote, and just allowed myself to accept where I was in life.  Like most of my trips to the beach, the salt water washed away my worries. Here I was, surrounded by thousands of tourists, with no one sitting next to me. No one talking to me. I was alone among the masses, and I felt more at peace than I had in a long time. I finally accepted that it was okay to be alone, and that refocusing on improving myself was now a priority.

I drove home refreshed, realizing that for the first time in a long time, I was freed from my insecurities, from my unhappiness. I was me once more, made whole by the sand, sun, and surf. It had been a month since I had joined the dating site, and I thought to myself, “Give it one more go.” After all, I was back to myself, the type of girl who could look on something like a dating website as an opportunity and not necessarily a last resort.

I had a few messages from a few different guys, but none of them really caught my eye. So I did what any girl would do: Scroll through the guys in my area until I found a cute one and then stalk him. I wasn’t planning on messaging anyone, since I still just had the “free profile” that wouldn’t let me send messages, but it was fun to “browse” the available men. One page down, then another.It was interesting seeing the men in my demographic and how varied they were. And then, I saw him. Tall. Good looking. Not too old. Not already divorced. Professionally successful. To say I fell in love with a picture and profile is a stretch, but it was close.

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My newfound sense of purpose gave me the courage to bite the bullet and send my first message, something I equated to walking up to a guy at a bar. Really, was there any difference between me approaching a stranger at my local watering hole and sending a message through a social forum? No, I told myself, there wasn’t. Plus, if he immediately rejects you or doesn’t respond, you don’t have to slink away in front of his friends and a bunch of random strangers. I typed out my short message and hit “send” before I lost my resolve. Then it was time to sit back and wait…

A day later, as I was checking my email, a notification message from the site popped up. The mysterious “Brad” had responded to my message. Thrilled that my first foray into online dating had resulted in at least a consensual message, I clicked open my email and read his brief message which was punctuated with tons of questions. What did I do? How did I like NC? Where all have I traveled to? I eagerly replied, answering each question in depth, wanting to give him the fullest version of myself. I hit “send” again and felt a sense of hope. Hope in my newfound freedom. Hope in this conversation with a stranger. Hope in myself.

We officially had our first date at a minor league baseball game, way better than the coffee date that was originally planned. He changed it last minute due to my love for the sport. We laughed. We ate hot dogs. We danced and sang to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” We stood next to my car, and he pointed out the stars to me.  Then we went on a second date. Then we had lunch. And then… and then… The days turned into weeks. The weeks turned in to months. He met my friends. I met his. Then he met my family. And then I met his. We started speaking about the future, marriage, kids, family, all the things you plan for in your head when you’re with someone you love. And every time we talked about it, every time he got nervous thinking about the future, I’d tell him the same thing: “I’ll marry you tomorrow, and I’ll marry you 10 years from now.”

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For the first time, I didn’t need a ring to define my relationship. I knew I had found the one, the guy who could make me laugh until I cried and who could cure my tears with laughter. So many people say, “I knew he was the one…” and I finally knew what they meant. It didn’t matter to me how long it would take. Our friends started asking about engagement, proposals, the possible future wedding. And as always, I’d tell him, “I’ll marry you tomorrow, and I’ll marry you 10 years from now.”

We celebrated Christmas. We celebrated New Years. We went dancing and cooked dinners for each other. Each and every day, I woke up feeling happy. He didn’t define me. He still doesn’t. I was finally in a place where I was comfortable with myself, and I found someone who loved me for me. All my faults and failures, he accepted. Through his loving me, showing me how someone else could view me, he allowed me to learn to love myself, and for this, I will be forever grateful to him.

proposal


People get cynical when it comes to online dating. I knew I was. For months after we started dating, people would ask, “So, how did you two meet?” and Brad and I would both exchange a look. I was the only one able to tell the story with a straight face because to both of us, it was still so ridiculous. We’re old-fashioned, and we met through the internet? But somehow, in this crazy mess of life, we found each other. In the end, the means of how we met don’t matter. Boy meets girl. Girl falls for guy. It’s a story as old as time.

Falling in Love on Fridays: The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made

This week’s Falling in Love on Fridays comes from one of my very best, dearest friends, Renee. We became friends 7 years ago while in high school and she quickly named herself (or maybe I named her?) my protege. But in the years that have passed, she’s definitely not in my shadows — she shines brightly all on her own. In fact, she’s rather radiant — both inside and out. She’s not only a talented writer, an insatiable explorer and truly a lover at heart (though she’s stubborn about it) — but she’s a courageous birth mom and incredible friend, too. She writes letters to her son Liam on her blog Letters to Little Man. Her posts almost always make me cry (that’s a lie, they always do) and the photos of her adorable tot are just… addicting. I feel lucky to call her one of my favorites and thankful she’s there to tame my SOSes (there are often a lot of them!). Her story below is about meeting and falling for her wonderful boyfriend that I’ve yet to meet, but have only heard great things about. It’s an important reminder to trust the process of love… and though you may fight it, whatever is meant to be, will surely work itself out. (Submit your own Falling in Love on Friday blog hereand read past submissions here.)

The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made
The first time he told me he loved me, I hyperventilated. That doesn’t sound romantic, but oddly enough, it ended up that way. We were only three weeks into our official, exclusive “boyfriend/girlfriend” status and it had only been one month and three days since our first date. Nobody falls that fast without suffering from the impact, and I wasn’t looking to become a casualty.

But then again, I was never “looking” for the things I ended up finding. He was a prime example of that.

The night of our first date, I almost cancelled on him. Even though I had accepted his invitation just the night before, by the morning I was already plotting excuses not to show — I don’t feel well. Something else came up. My mother made a surprise visit. He didn’t need to know that my mother only lived 20 minutes away and that I saw her every Sunday when I drove over to do my laundry.

I caved in and went anyway, though I showed up to our date fifteen minutes late. Not to be fashionable – I wasn’t that strategic when it came to dating. My only plan for the evening included being gone by 9:30 at the latest. An hour and a half and we would go our separate ways.

But I was wrong, as I almost always am when it comes to love. We were there until after 11 o’clock that night, a three hour first date. He kept offering to let me go if I had somewhere to be and I kept turning him down. It was the first time in a long time that I had said no to leaving instead of staying.

We happened quickly after that. He kept asking me on dates and I kept saying yes. He kept making promises and I kept being pleasantly surprised when he didn’t break them. We relearned a lot of things in those first few weeks. Like how nice it was to look forward to seeing someone. Like how it feels to have your heart in your stomach every time you get ready for a date. Like how to trust again.

I fell like I’d never fallen before – intensely but comfortably. We may not have been ready, but bravery took over and endorphins kicked in — we were goners before we’d even noticed, and no amount of force could have stopped the power of takeover. I lost count of how many times we told each other,

“I’m scared of how much I like you already,” because nothing that good could possibly be true. And then the “L” word dropped, like one of those nuclear bombs that leaves widespread damage years after the fact.

“I’m falling in love with you.”

Oh no. Not ready. Mind racing. Words failing. Panic building. Just…breathe. Breathe. In for five, out for five. In…and out.

Then came The Speech.

The one about what love means to me and what my last one did to me. About how I don’t take it lightly and it shouldn’t be said lightly because when you say it, you should mean it. About how he couldn’t possibly know me well enough to love me – good me, bad me, angry me, stubborn me. He hadn’t even met all of me yet.

It was one of those times where you try to talk someone out of loving you before they can do it themselves. He was the first man I’d fallen for in ages. When something like that happens, self preservation kicks in and you realize that if it’s going to end, you’d really rather it be your idea.

And yet, less than twelve hours after the speech had been spoken, it went from “I’m falling in love with you” to “I love you.” I gave him points for boldness and he gave me a look of hope and longing and meaning, as if he saw me in a way that no one else could. He was literally in a cold sweat by the time he got the words out, but he got them out. Despite all of my warnings, he said it.

But I didn’t hyperventilate that time. Instead, I said it back.

And we’ve said every day since.

Falling in Love on Fridays: The Most Important Love Story of My Life

This week’s Friday post comes from a dear college friend of mine, Michelle. She’s bubbly and brilliant, brave and intelligent. She’s one of those girls who takes chances and follows what she believes, without wavering. That’s part of why I love her story so much — she really did have to love herself first before she could find that special man. Though I haven’t met the lucky guy, I look forward to it — and to reading more posts on her new blog. Hope you fall in love with her story below and if you want to submit your own, read this.

The Most Important Love Story of My Life

Most people that know me would label my love life as…educational, at best. With quite a few relationships of varying degrees, I have wined, dined, and rolled my eyes with more than a few gentleman callers. Only a couple seem worth remembering for their lessons and values–most served their purposes depending on the time of my life. There have been times when I’ve been bored or feeling mischievous or desperate, but all of those feelings and emotions tend to blend together after time. There have been times of feeling broken-hearted–months of agonizing relationship faults and wondering what I did wrong, trying to love myself again since the man that had left me made me feel worthless. Times where I felt dumb and defeated, but swore I would forget the feelings any thoughtless man had given me, and rejoice in the love I had in myself.

This desire for self-love lasted for a very long time.

Long enough for me to forget butterflies from former flames, to be foggy of times that had felt so real, so important at the time. The romance I embarked upon with myself became the most important love story of my life–it is because I learned how to love myself, my faults, and my strength that I am the woman I am today. Two years of self discovery led me to something that was so much bigger, so much more wonderful than anything else I had ever imagined. Because I allowed myself to be in love with my own heart first, I am now in absolute, head-over-heels, crazy love with the most perfect man I have ever met. If it hadn’t have been for that time period of falling in love with myself, I would never have been ready for the kind of love he has brought into my life. If it weren’t for the terrible experiences, I would never be able to appreciate the man he is to me, and what our life together has become.After an intervention from my mother and sister, I decided that it was time I “put myself out there”. I absolutely despise that term–it’s not like I was ever closed off to the idea of being in a relationship, it’s just no one seemed that…great. My mom and sister insisted that I was closing myself off on purpose–I had been hurt, led astray, and infuriated with guys before, so I was shutting all future suitors out before they could get in. At first, I was annoyed by their assumptions–I had just gotten a new job that I liked, I was getting involved with community theater, and had a group of friends that I adored. I thought I was getting my life together, and that a guy would happen when it was supposed to–I shouldn’t have to go looking for it. It would just happen, right? But they pointed out that although my new job was great, it took up a great portion of my time. My group of friends, although wonderful and hilarious, allowed me to create a barrier against any strangers when going out–it is intimidating to approach one single girl in a group of rowdy folks to ask them for a number or a date. I huffed and puffed, and reactivated my Ok Cupid account.

I had used OkCupid when I lived in Washington, D.C., mostly to fill the void of loneliness I had moving from my college town to a huge city. I had some moderate success, but nothing really stuck, so I was hesitant to relying on it for true romance in my new city. With some new pictures and witty one-liners, I updated my profile and allowed the rest of the universe access to my vulnerable dating state. It was nerve wracking.

I messaged a few guys here and there, but was mostly underwhelmed by their responses. One night with a glass of wine and a rom-com in the DVD player, my sister insisted on looking at my profile, editing it, and finding some suitable gentlemen for me on the site. I reluctantly gave her control, and as she deleted and searched, I wondered if what I was looking for could be found on a site used primarily for booty calls. While browsing, she clicked on one fellow in particular–a Mr. “unnecessarybeef”. “He’s cute!” she exclaimed. I looked at his pictures. Cute, yes, but he looked like a jock with his marathon photos. “He won’t be into me, I hate sports,” I said, but my sister pushed on. “Just message him. What do you have to lose?” she responded, and while rolling my eyes, I looked at the rest of his profile.

In the section labeled “You should message me if:”, he had a long list of quirky, personal skills that he had, that he wished to share with another person. I found this endearing right away, but my eyes lit up at the sentence “You want to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow”. Seeing my gateway line, I sent him a message saying hello, and that I was dying to learn archery.

A couple days later, I got a sweet response saying that he would love to teach me. He also wrote that he didn’t know many other girls in their 20’s that had an interest in learning to shoot a bow, and inquired why I was interested. I knew I had to be honest. It was a compatibility test of sorts–could this guy deal with my nerdiness? I told him the truth: I loved the young adult book series The Hunger Games, thought Katniss was a bad ass, and wanted to learn her life-saving skill in the books. I clicked send and waited for the universe to decide what to do.

I got exactly the response I had been hoping for. “I love The Hunger Games, that is awesome,” he wrote, and I had a good feeling about this guy. We exchanged numbers and set up a date that week at a local bar downtown. He asked if we could each exchange a book that we loved when we met, and my good feeling turned into a feeling of “Oh my God, who is this prince?”.

When I walked to the bar and saw a fit, handsome, and well-dressed man awaiting me outside, my mouth dropped. I saw him before he saw me, so I don’t think he noticed, but I was in awe. His smile and greeting eased my nerves, and we went to the lower level of the bar where we chatted non-stop about anything and everything for two hours. He had brought me a Noam Chomsky book which made me realize he was as intelligent as he was adorable, and I brought my favorite collection of Augusten Burroughs essays so he would know I was funny and open-minded. I found out that he loathed sports but found a lot of joy in running, which was relieving. He didn’t kiss me good-night, but we made plans for a date the next night, and when I got in my car I called one of my best friends. When she asked how the date went, I told her I had just gone on the very last first date I’d ever have.

We’ve been inseparable since that meeting, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner. He challenges me to be the very best that I can, and supports me with his wisdom and heart. He makes me laugh so hard it makes my stomach hurt, and he has introduced me to so many new hobbies and skills (including shooting a bow and arrow, which I am awesome at). He helped me train and ran my first 5K with me, and together we’ve gone on adventure after adventure. I love how mature and put together he is, but also that he is incredibly goofy and passionate for life. I never want to know what a day without talking to him is like. He’s successful and kind, he loves to help others and make people laugh. He is my missing puzzle piece, and it is because of him, he has completed the love story I have with myself. He loves me so deeply, that it allows me to view myself the same way he views me.

Currently we are house hunting and chatting non-stop about our future–it’s exciting and fun and crazy and everything in-between. I am so happy these days, and it is because of so many things. A job that I love, a family that supports me, a community of friends that I wouldn’t know what to do without, and living in an amazing city that I never want to leave. But it’s him, my partner, that pulls it all together in my heart. I wish that everyone can experience this kind of love. I hope you all find it.

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