Chiao Kee Lim, Award Winning Author, Founder and President of The Dirty 30s Club
Today, my friend Chiao Kee Lim is taking over The Indestructible Relationship blog to share some of the lessons she’s learned in the romance department. Her second rule may seem obvious at first, but it will serve as an important reminder. Because so often we try to force a budding relationship that simply isn’t meant to be because the person really isn’t into us. Chiao Kee’s blog entry is a must read. I also invite you to visit her blog, The Dirty 30s Club, for interesting perspectives on everything from how to find happiness to self empowerment.
The Three Universal Rules Of Love
By Chiao Kee Lim
In September 2011, I wrote the article Do You Know What Your Game Is on the second day of National Achievers Congress in Melbourne. The focus of that article was predominantly about the game of money and finance. I thought it is worth highlighting how the concept of games and rules apply to our personal relationships, in particular—our romantic relationships.
I was a late bloomer when it came to dating and love. My parents did not believe that we should have boyfriends when we were in school. In fact, they forbade it. My mother’s excuse was that boys were a distraction from our studies, and if we didn’t do well in school, we would have a hard life. All four of us went to a co-education primary school, where boys and girls mingled when they were still unfamiliar to the concept of dating. When high school rolled around, we were appropriately segregated. My brother went to an all-boys school while my sisters and I went to an all-girls school, aptly named after a convent. At the time, I did not think that my mother’s programming on me would have an effect that would spill into my adulthood, now I know better.
I didn’t start dating until I was in my twenties. I never knew how the game was played and what the rules were. Maybe there were no rules, I didn’t know. I just played it by ear and went into the dating game armed with what little knowledge I had from watching Disney and Hollywood films.
Of course, I know now that real life romance bears little resemblance to Hollywood romance, and that line “You complete me” from the movie Jerry Macguire is—without a doubt—responsible for many women’s distorted view about love. The thing about Disney and Hollywood is that they only ever end at “happily ever after.” The real challenge takes place after the “happily ever after.” It’s one thing to snag a man, it’s another to keep the relationship healthy and functioning for years to come. Unfortunately for many women, the primary goal is to have a wedding instead of a marriage. We were never taught about love, dating and relationships when we were in school. Those who are lucky might have learned a thing or two from their mothers and their fathers. Those who aren’t just fumble their way through the game of love and learn by trial and error.
Is it a wonder why 50 percent of marriages end in divorce?
I’m not a relationship expert. Everything I know about relationships came from my own failure in that arena. My painful experience about dating and love, the tough lessons I had to learn from dating more men than any of my friends have, has taught me more than I would otherwise have learned if the first guy I dated turned out to be my partner in life.
What I know about the game of love is that there are two sets of rules—the Universal and the Specifics. The Universal applies to all relationships while the Specifics apply to individual sets of relationships. Here’s my own take on what the Universal rules are:
Universal Rule #1:
Both parties must share similar beliefs and values about the important things in life—money, religion, family values, character values, sex, goals and dreams etc.
I learned the hard way that what people say about what they believe is not necessarily congruent with how they behave. I once dated a man who preached the importance of honesty in a relationship. On our first date, he confided in me on how he had been cheated on and he had been hurt by people who often lied to him. He told me that honesty is important to him, and he wanted to surround himself with honest people. I believed him. What I didn’t know was that he did not embody the value that honesty was a two-way street. We talked often about the values that were important to us, and for a while, it seemed to me that we were on the same page on all the important things in life.
Three months after we started dating, he went off the radar. One night, I tried to call him and the dial tone went straight to international roaming. I hung up by the third ring, puzzled and a little confused. Two weeks later, just before Christmas that year, he left a voicemail on my phone saying that he had gone to Perth and absent-mindedly left his phone at home, telling me to call him when I have the chance. It pained me to hear how easily he lied when I already knew the truth. When I finally confronted him, he relented and admitted that he had gone overseas but did not want me to know about it. He thought the lie about Perth was an easy cover up to save him from having to explain anything.
To cut a long story short, I found out later that he was seeing another woman. So much for his big speech on honesty. Sometimes people say things they think you want to hear, or they are unaware that their words and their actions are in conflict with each other; just bear this in mind when you have these important conversations about values and beliefs. Bear in mind also that values and beliefs can change too. The only way to keep these transparent is to talk about it openly and honestly. I know it’s not always easy to do but it helps to be aware.
Universal Rule #2:
Both parties have to want it with each other.
In addition to beliefs and values, there are many other pieces to this puzzle of love—proximity, chemistry, timing—and they all have to come together for a relationship to work. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to relationships. There is hardly any black and white evidence on whether long distance relationship works, whether opposites do attract etc. I have seen long distance relationships that work and short distance relationships that don’t. I have seen opposing personalities staying together longer than similar personalities. Likewise, I have also been in the flipside of both scenarios. And timing IS everything.
There is no blanket, generalized rule on what makes a relationship tick except that all the pieces of the puzzle have to come together and both parties have to want it with each other. At the end of the day, every relationship is made up of two individuals with free will and choice. A relationship is an agreement between two people. As far as agreement goes, we are all free to decide what the terms and conditions are that govern our personal relationships, that’s why some long distance relationship works and some don’t. Just as important as sharing similar values and beliefs is the requirement that both people have to want it with each other. This may sound like common sense but to the woman who is still hanging around the man who does not want to be with her, hoping he would come to his senses and change his mind, this rule makes the difference between maintaining her self-esteem and destroying it. I should know. I used to be that woman.
Universal Rule #3
Concrete triumphs abstract when it comes to laying down the specific rules for every relationship.
This rule deserves an entire book of its own. Ironically it’s a Universal rule about the Specific rules. The premise is simple—we are all different. We experience the world in different ways. We see things through different filters. We may all live on the same earth but we live in different realities. I talk about Definition vs Delusion in my upcoming book What My Mother Never Taught Me—The 7 Things I Wish I Had Known About Finding Happiness and Definition vs Delusion is exactly what this rule is all about.
Love means different things to different people. It looks different, sounds different, smells different, tastes different and feels different for every single individual. We all have our own definition of what love means to us and what needs to happen for us to be able to recognize something as love. To one person, love could mean getting a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. To someone else, they might need to hear the words “I Love You” very often and the words have to be said with a certain tone in a certain way. To another, it could be having their partner/husband/boyfriend reverse their car out of the driveway every morning before they go to work so that they don’t have to do it themselves (this was what my dad did for my mum for as long as I can remember).
The rules and language for love is different for everyone. If you speak French to a German, he or she would not be able to understand you. You have to speak German to a German for the message to get across. The same goes for money, religion, family values, character values, sex etc. The word honesty means different things to different people. Just saying that honesty is important is not enough. The rules for honesty need to be concretely spelled out. What does honesty look like to you? To me, it means being upfront and open, telling the truth at all times, it means no lying, no withholding information and no cheating. To others, maybe it’s okay to withhold information because “technically it’s not lying, it’s just not telling the truth.” But that small difference in distinction alone can cause a big enough crack to break a relationship.
I try to keep the Universal rules as simple as possible. They are the rules I have learned through my own trial and error. You may agree with them or you may disagree with them, the choice is yours. When it comes to the Specific rules, it’s each relationship to its own. What works for one relationship may not work for another and vice versa.
The more important question is this—Do you have Specific rules for your relationship? Do you and your partner have an agreement on how to behave in your relationship? What are your rules on resolving an argument? What are your rules on how much time you spend with each other, how often you talk to each other and what you talk about? What are your rules on what activities you like to do together or not do together? These are all specific rules that are unique to your relationship. The rules that apply to your last relationship may not be the same ones that apply to this one, simply because the person you are with is a different person.
So, that—in a nut shell—is my own take on the rules to the game of love. What are some rules you apply to yours? I would love to hear from you, so leave me a comment at the end of the post.
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Chiao Kee Lim is a three-time award-winning author who won her first award at the age of 16. She is the President and Founder of The Dirty 30s Club – a blog that promotes self awareness and personal empowerment through stories and personal reflection, packed with a generous dose of humor and fun.
Chiao Kee Lim is a passionate student of personal development who started her journey in 2007 learning from world experts such as Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, T. Harv Eker and Blair Singer in the areas of personal growth and the psychology of peak performance.
She is a voracious reader and an avid blogger. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and her book “What My Mother Never Taught Me-The 7 Things I Wish I Had Known About Finding Happiness” will soon be published.
To read more about Chiao Kee Lim, go to www.thedirty30sclub.com/blog. You can also find Chiao Kee on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ChiaoKee
or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TheOfficialChiaoKeeLimPage