Love Is Not A Mind Game

Dear people of the Philippines:

Yes, I hear you. Single people. Married people. People in a relationship. I know how hard it is to find love and keep love. As a romance writer, it is my job to explore romantic love and how it works in real life, so it’s not like I haven’t been paying attention. 
That said, boys and girls, I have to tell you that you are all making it too hard on yourselves. 
Like Jesus said, you are all looking for signs and miracles. You’ve been approaching romance like a game of chess, where you have to guess what the other person is thinking. In fact, I am astounded by the lengths that you would play these mind games on each other: If I do this, I can get her to fall in love with me. Or, If I do this, then I can get him to do what I want. 

Please, please, please stop doing this. 
If you want to know if a person likes you, stop trying to figure out the meaning behind the way he looks at you or the way she plays with her hair. Stop making the other person wait for your texts. Stop saying the things that you don’t mean just to keep things cool. 
Would it be so hard to stop assuming and start asking in the first place?
And this is not just for single people, either. I’ve seen marriages and relationships fall apart because of these little things that people don’t do for their partners. It’s never the Big Fight that ends everything–it’s the buildup of the tiny cracks in the foundation, the lost conversations and everyday micro-aggressions that breed contempt. 
My parents have been married for 50 years, but they had to endure the same shit that could’ve ruined any other relationship. There was a time or two when things seemed irredeemable between them, and they both had solid reasons to end it all. 
And yet. And yet. 
It’s not enough to fight for love. You have to know what you’re fighting for, what you want out of love. 
At first I thought that being single was going to suck for me, because I really wanted to meet people and feel how it feels to be loved. All of that changed when I started writing again, because suddenly I found a vision for my life that gave me a sense of purpose. When I looked at the things that were important in my life–not just my writing, but my family and my studies–I understood that I can’t just have any old romantic relationship in my life. That’s when I realized that I wanted a man of courage and conviction, someone who could tell me what he needed and listen to me if we have to talk things out. I wanted someone who didn’t keep secrets from me, someone who was articulate and understanding and had the same basic values of human decency. Everything else was negotiable. 
I’m not saying that you can’t ask for these things when you’re not single anymore. Quite the opposite. Like I’ve said, marriages and relationships have been undone by lesser things, so knowing your needs is half the battle. What are your ambitions? What are your dreams? Maybe you need help. Maybe you should take some time off to be with yourself for as long as you can handle, until your perspective is clear. Whatever you do, don’t wait until your partner knows how to read your mind. Just do it. 
You want a believable happy ending? Don’t wait for things to change. Be the hero(ine) of your own life. Have the courage to ask for the things you want out of love. Communicate. Ask questions. You deserve the clarity.

Do all of this, and I promise you, it won’t take long for true love to come to you. 

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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