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Wolves mate for life.

That says a lot about civilised societies when we divorce our partners due to irreconcilable differences after we have sworn to be with them in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth until death do us part. Of course, if your partner is violent or abusive, or has a seriously warped personality, then by all means leave.

I’m not deriding divorcees. I’m also not claiming that marriage is easy. It’s just a sad fact that many people today go into marriage with false expectations, or a general lack of understanding that besides stars-gazing and candlelit dinners, marriage is also about tough and boring times with their partners.

Also, people grow and develop, and adapt to dynamic circumstances…people change, for better or worse. In my part of the world, we have lots of choices, so it’s not surprising that if the other party changes in a way that we find challenging to accept and adapt to, we often decide to just cut our losses.

Anyway, back to wolves. Like all beings that communicate, they use a system to help them convey their demands or wishes to others, and that system inevitably includes the use of their vocal cords. So when a wolf howls, there will be times when it’s a call to attract potential partners. Maybe something along the lines of,

‘I’m strong and fit and attractive. Interested? Come here now.’

According to here, wolves pack their personal advertisements into their howls. If only people can do that. I mean, if only I can just throw back my head and howl, to have a man appear and he would just happen to be the right person for me to share a lifetime with, how miraculous would that be?! I know, that would really be a miracle.

It seems so easy for other people to get a mate. I’m surrounded by friends who are married with kids. Whenever we meet up, there is often the inevitable question of ‘When can we expect you to get hitched?’ Mind you, they may not come right out and ask me, but the implication is always there. They mean well, they don’t want me to die lonely, and they think having kids is the most rewarding thing in the world. I take it to mean that:

If you have a womb, don’t waste it.

It inevitably makes one feel like a major failure because most of the time, it falls back to another loaded question, and that is,

‘Are your expectations too high?’

Seriously, no. Handsome men do nothing for me if I talk to them and find out they’re dumb-dumbs. Intelligent guys bore me if they’re self-absorbed. Average men who are average to me..well, it’s definitely not that I don’t give chances for average men to show off their fantastic sides. Yet, it hasn’t worked out. I’m almost always too smart, too combative, too independent, too serious, too unfeminine, too ungentle, too logical, too committed, think too much…it’s enough to make a girl howl, let alone wolves.

As friends and acquaintances have asked whether I expect too much from my would-be partner and hence imply that the problem of my not being attached lies with me, I too have spent considerable time asking myself whether there is a grain of truth in their implicit chiding. The problem mainly boils down to the below.

I’m looking for a friend, as well as someone who has intense chemistry with me. I have found both, but nine times out of ten, I will find one or the other, and seldom both in one man. When I do meet the one in ten, he’s already married or attached or the timing for one or both of us is just not right, etc.

During my junior college days, an English Literature tutor gave my class an exercise. He read out a story with certain breaks in between, and during those breaks, we had to rate what has happened in the story thus far as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Just instant reaction, no complicated thinking required.

Easy peasy enough. Well, in that class of about 15-20 students, I was the only one who had eight ‘good’s as compared to the rest who had only two to four of them. Just proves that I’m either optimistic to the point of having blind faith, or that I’m seriously delusional, right?

Let me defend myself. That story was similar to something like ‘Jack and Jill’ or ‘Hansel and Gretel’, and it told of how a little boy and girl in the story met with mishaps along their journey. They rolled down hills, fell down, got swept along the river waters…you get the idea. Don’t get your hackles up; I’m not a sadist.

When the story started, I was happy that there were two protagonists. Holding hands, backing one another up, ‘us-against-the-world’ kind of attitude…it appealed to me and it still does. So when the children in the story got separated, that was when it became ‘bad’ for me. Whatever happened before that, at least they stuck together, was my sole thought.

I still remember the reaction of the class when my tutor asked us to reveal how many ‘bad’s and ‘good’s we had; stunned silence with visible recoil from those seated closest to me. Trust me, I’ve had to deal with these kinds of reactions from my peers throughout my life, and have learnt to keep a lid on my thoughts unless otherwise prompted.

Like my writing, my thoughts are not always beautiful, but always honest. When I tell the truth or point out a problem or a character flaw, it’s not with the intention to hurt or ridicule. Beneath that honesty, is a genuine desire to help…to push my friends into overcoming those flaws or their confided fears so that they can achieve their greatest potential and a more encompassing happiness. Despite my outward cynicism, I do like to see happy, shining faces.

Sadly, I have found out through the hard way that truth is not something that is appreciated greatly. I have had friends who have misunderstood me, shied away from what I had pointed out to them, and generally avoided contacting me thereafter. It’s…demoralising, to say the least. I have learnt to be gentler in breaking bad news over the years, but I admit I still have a long way to go.

Back to the unfortunate-children-story. My tutor was bemused, didn’t berate me at all, and declared that I ‘took one more step’. It puzzled me because thinking about the children hanging on together wasn’t a step beyond the first for me; it was the first step. DBS (Dearest Beloved Sister) was really nice when I related this incident to her. She said that it just means that I always think ahead of others. I never quite thought of it that way.

If so, I guess it’s a lot about not being in sync with the guys that I’ve gone out with. I can’t be ahead all the time. Neither can I be behind all the time. Two steps ahead, one step behind, another step forward together…I crave mental challenges, verbal banters, and intellectual sparring.

It’s not about being on the same page for hobbies and interests. It’s about being quick enough to jump onto the other’s wavelength, and respecting and accepting the other’s viewpoint even if it’s different. It’s about sharing similar values on family, on ethics and morality, on having+rearing+developing children together, and on what motivates us and makes us happy in life. It’s also about communicating, and accommodating and incorporating each other’s needs and wants into our existing lifestyles.

It’s about teamwork, basically. Teamwork that doesn’t involve us killing our own individuality, and allows us to reach both personal and common goals. Add all that with a healthy dose of mutual respect, and emotional stability to balance out the mental fluctuations, and I’ll have my ‘intense chemistry’.

I’m still waiting to meet a man who shares this intense chemistry with me…who won’t recoil at my ‘strangeness’, who actually understands me without too much prompting all the time, who trusts me enough to know that I’m actually standing by him even when or precisely when we argue, and who accepts me for all that I am and encourages me to be all that I can be.

I’m not anxious to get attached in the sense that I don’t have a timeline that directs me when to get married or when to finally use my womb to house a baby for ten months. Yes, I do understand that my fertility drops the older that I get, but I also know that technology is advanced enough for me to preserve my eggs for future use, should I wish to take that step. I’m also not averse to adoption, if my partner agrees. Just as I think ‘family’ is not decided solely by blood, loving children borne by other people is just as good as loving one that has sprung from my loins.

Society is cruel to singles. Especially to single women. Especially to single women considered past their prime. Especially to single women considered past their prime living in (southeast) Asia. We’re called names that aren’t worth repeating here. We’re coerced into thinking that we’re undesirable and unwanted due to some inherent personality defect. Ladies, if your ‘friends’ make you feel like that, what makes you think your enemies would make you feel better? Oh, and ladies, don’t believe those lies.

I’m dead sure I’m not the only one facing pressure from others about ‘singledom’. I refrained from pointing out to some of these people that they’re existing in what is, to me, ‘marriagedoom’. There are some truly blissful couples out there, but some are just not listening and talking to each other anymore. Similarly, there’d be singles who are unhappy about not being attached, while others would be happy and contented just as they are.

There’s no right or wrong, good or bad in either state. It’s just a lifestyle, sometimes a conscious choice, and other times a circumstance that we happen to find ourselves in at certain points in our lives.

Live and let live, I say.

Just as we think it’s wrong to laugh at people and say they’re weak-willed, lazy or plain freaks for not shedding that extra weight, running 20 km every Saturday, playing fetch for their children every time they scream ‘I want’, etc., it’s also not right to needle your single pals about their state of being single. That’s just being mean.

Especially since for those of us who do want to get attached ultimately, being unable to find someone to settle down with often has nothing to do with our so-called personality defects.

We’re just waiting for those howls to work because we too, want a lifetime with that special someone.