Part 2 - Figuring Out Why We Want To Be In A Relationship

We should never go on a date just to ease our loneliness. Rather, we view it as an opportunity to see if there is an organic connection.
— J A Santosa
Nawww. They look so happy.

Nawww. They look so happy.

LENGTH: 10 minute read.

This post is the sequel to Part 1 Figuring Out What We Want In A Relationship. Read it here.

In Part 1 we were set the equation:

(a) Really Knowing Oneself  

+ (b) Indiscriminately Meeting New People  

+ (c) Taking Responsibility For Your Own Happiness

(will equal) = Knowing what we want in a committed romantic relationship.

I know we finished with some questions to ask ourselves, our 3 closest friends, and a mental list of what we're looking for in a partner. I have to admit, I spoke hastily. I realised we can't talk about those things until we do the following:

Take a moment to ponder the deeper meaning of everything in life over an Early Grey iced tea where you will forgive me when I ask you, in the gentlest tone I can muster:

Why exactly do you want to be with somebody? 


Singaporean Spoken Word Poet Deborah Emmanuel states in her award winning poem “I Love You”:

“I thought that this was what love meant,
a struggle to possess when we only fully possess ourselves,
a need to have another person exactly how you want them,
an unwillingness to accept that everything is impermanent.”[1]

I salivated over these lines because they hit the nail onto my skull:

The measure in which we can love another in a way that brings them life, is a reflection of our relationship with permanency and our understanding of impermanency.

Tales of permanent love on impermanent padlocks.

Tales of permanent love on impermanent padlocks.

The eternal and the temporary, the long-term and the short-term. 

Even our Top 40 love songs imply the "forever" aspect of a committed relationship. We can criticise Taylor and Adele all we like. They seem to flit from relationship to relationship practically asking for their hearts to be broken. 

While I'm on the cautious end of things now; as a Feeler personality myself, I totally get it. Falling in love is addictive.

Whether you aren't looking for anything serious, or you are ready to find the love of your life - I'm sure you at least hold onto friends who understand you deeply. And this is what the heart seeks:

To be known fully, and to be loved deeply despite our imperfections.
- Timothy Keller (paraphrased)

And when we find this person, we want them to stick around forever and a day.

Alas, there implies the contract of a committed relationship - the sacrifice of some of our freedom for the gainful, daily joy of having one person to do life with. Forever.


Day to day, this manifests in our understanding of control and influence. My partner is responsible for himself, as I am responsible for myself, but the beauty is in the choosing to let each other in.

For we only "fully possess ourselves".

Some examples:

  • You can't force someone to love you.
  • You can't convince someone to be in a relationship with you without making them feel unhappy and coerced.
  • No matter how happy you might be together, your lover will never truly understand every chink and crevasse of your mind. (Like your simultaneous thoughts on world poverty AND how delicious Starbucks green tea frappuccinos are.)
  • You will change. They will change. It's inevitable.
  • If they decide to leave you tomorrow, that is completely up to them.
You can't convince someone to be in a relationship with you without making them feel unhappy and coerced.

You can't convince someone to be in a relationship with you without making them feel unhappy and coerced.

You cannot control anybody but yourself.

You cannot make somebody do something they do not want to do. 

You can influence, yes, but true influence comes from a person who can communicate to another that they honest-to-God, genuinely care for the other's best interests. And that person will come around if they sell themselves on the outcome that you both want. 

To the person who is proactively pursuing the best version of themselves I say this: 

If it's meant to happen, it will happen. If it doesn't, it wasn't meant to be. It is pointless to try and force it.
J A Santosa


So how do we not keep a tight grip on our lovers who inject every bit of light into our lives?

Weren't we made for community, for oneness with another human being? Yes! We certainly were! 

But to pour all the weight of our expectations on another human being is to crush them. That's why I don't encourage marrying too young, before one really understands themselves and what they can realistically expect from another human being.

Your other might try for a while but they will eventually feel smothered, pressured, controlled, inadequate for the task. And that's because frankly... they are. I've seen this happen time again to my friends, to past clients I had as a Social Worker, to distant relatives and family friends. 

In my church-girl-world, they call this pressure "idolatry". The act of making someone or something your idol. Only God was meant to carry this honour and burden. 

There's a belief I've held for 11 years, and that is the hope I have in a God who created me and adores me. I believe humanity was made in the perfect image of the Creator, meaning that toxic emotions, a stunted life, and limiting beliefs are just a small cut of the enemy's work in our minds. 

I believe that we were all created to smash life, to overcome challenges, to be surrounded by healthy relationships, but that it's our choice to pursue a clear, healthy mind so we can create this for ourselves. Before we overcome our own mind-prison, we won't be able to contribute effectively to a deeply hurting world. 

It's our choice to pursue a clear, healthy mind so we can create the best life for ourselves. 

It's our choice to pursue a clear, healthy mind so we can create the best life for ourselves. 

The hope we have is to pursue the best and truest version of ourselves. Then we can change the world.

For when our minds are clearest, we are in a better place to choose the best career, friendships, and life partner that is consistent with our values and calling.

So try new things, make mistakes. Figure out your "perfectly you". Figure out what makes you tick; what revs your internal engine. 

Where do you feel the least effort internally? Which of your friends do you feel are little to no effort to be around? What comes naturally to you? 

Until you get to know this person - this "perfectly you", you will be constricted to a limited version of yourself, overvaluing traits in people that aren't good for you, or recognising them too late.

We should never go on dates just to ease our loneliness. Rather, view them as opportunities to see if there is an organic connection.

We don't want to miss this opportunity to really touch, feel, taste, smell and see someone's character for what it truly is. 

Let's make assessments of others while single, happy and complete. After all, this is the most important decision of our life. No pressure - I'm in the same difficult boat as you.


Assuming you are a mortal person, even the most permanent, intimate and voluntary human to human relationship (i.e. marriage) inevitably ends in death.

Woah. I know, intense.

Thus, meta-narrative-epic-love-story-wise; this is how I have solved the permanency/impermanency dilemma:

I prematurely committed to someone when I was 17 years old. While I didn't fully understand at the time, our 11 years together were full of wrestling and growing intimately in love. We have been in a very serious long term relationship. It is longer than marriage, stronger than death. I have tucked myself into Him. He will prepare a room in eternity for me.

So this is His name - Jesus. He qualifies as my official forever-person. 

The Hobbit  marathons!

The Hobbit marathons!

I could distract myself with The Hobbit marathons, going rock climbing in the Blue Mountains every day, building up this blog so it becomes an online library of internal strength literature and reaching my dream of making a living off writing as dictated by me – those are all enticing pursuits, and the composition of my purpose, but: *VULNERABILITY ALERT!* I know my heart just longs to find my forever-person in another human being, til death do us part. 

Unless he is Legolas from Rivendell, he will most likely die a mortal death, and cease his love contract with me. So I have Jesus Christ. And let's face it - Jesus is so much better. 

And while I am on this Earth, I want to produce babies with someone who loves Jesus and loves me. (More on that topic later, as soooo many people ask me why I don't get into relationships with non-Christians).

So why do we want to be in a relationship? Here's the cheater's comprehensive back-of-book answer:

To be fully known, and truly loved to add to our already complete selves, for the duration of our impermanent life here on Earth. 

Let's not ever settle for anything but this.

[1] Emmanuel, Deborah, When I Giggle In My Sleep, Loud Mouth Volume 1, Red Wheelbarrow Books, Singapore (2015)

STAY TUNED FOR PART III, LIVE NEXT MONDAY 18 Jan 2016! Please click like, subscribe or share so we can create a world with healthier, lovelier, & happier relationships.