Sunday, December 2, 2012

Heartache in Hong Kong and three new pairs of shoes

In Hong Kong over the weekend, living a TRAVELIFE, I had lunch with T, an old friend, at a chic dimsum place with a view in Central. We hadn't seen each other in a while and this weekend was a good opportunity to catch up.

Delicious dimsum in Hong Kong
Whenever I see her, she's usually in love.

She's had several major relationships and one or two short ones, living for years in Hong Kong as a high-profile career woman after divorcing her husband sometime back.


But this time, she wasn't in love. She was heartbroken. She told me she'd met a man and he was giving her the runaround.

After she'd recalled part of her story, she said to me: "Have you ever heard of the "emotionally unavailable man?"

Of course I have. I'd even seen a couple of them in my lifetime, although mostly as escorts of my female friends. I've had the good fortune and good sense never to have been involved with one.

Even now, I have two friends who would fall nicely into this category of emotional unavailability -- and, although I don't really keep up with that aspect of their lives, I'm sure they're breaking a couple of girls' hearts as I write this.

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From the December 2012 - January 2013 issue onwards

Holiday issue on sale everywhere
from December 15

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Anyway, to my friend T, I simply said: "They're bad news. Stay away from them."

I knew how this conversation was going to end and I was already steeling myself to take her to the nearest shopping mall after our lunch, to try to get her to shop him out of her life.


Retail therapy isn't the answer to everything, but it can sure make you feel good for a few hours; and sometimes, it'll even knock some sense into you -- especially if you start thinking about the credit card bills.

She then said to me: "He's Mr. Right. We're perfect for each other. I just know it, even if he's keeping me hanging. Maybe he's just going through a rough patch and that's why he can't commit to me."


My friend T is attractive, smart, financially independent and she can take care of herself. But like most women, she'd really like it if she had a guy to take care of her every so often anyway.

But I had to break the bad news to her that this guy she's dreaming about probably won't be Mr. Emotionally Unavailable.

I felt I had to give it to her straight. So I said: "If he's not working hard at keeping up a relationship with you, or if he's giving you all kinds of excuses, you've got to read the signs clearly and stop misinterpreting them. Either he's not the one, or he doesn't think you're the one. I'm so sorry."
I thought she would burst out crying at this, as her face puffed up and she put her sunglasses on even if we were inside a restaurant.

She asked me: "Do you think he'll ever change his mind?"


I sighed and said: "Yes, if these were in the movies, he would wake up one day and realize what he's been missing all this time and what a fool he's been. And then he's going to call you and you'll go out and finally end up together. But in reality, the chances for winning the biggest lottery of the year are much higher."

I added: "You should just go and buy yourself a lottery ticket, rather than wait around for this guy to come around. Please don't wait around for men who don't really want you. It's not good for your self-respect."

She practically sobbed into her tea. She said: "I can't imagine life without him."

This was when I shook her, rattling the table and causing the next table to look at us inquiringly.

I said: "Yes, you can. You have so much to give in a relationship, and he'll never be able to give you what you want. Too little should never be good enough for you. Or for anyone."

Of course, this was always easier said than done. It's much easier to be giving the lecture...

She asked me: "Why are some men so emotionally unavailable? Why do they do this to themselves? Do you think they're really happy being in a series of half-relationships instead of having one real one?"


Who knows and who cares, is basically what I said to her.  I stopped deciphering guys a long time ago, and I just take them at face value.

Then I added: "All I know is that if someone isn't spending enough time thinking of you, you shouldn't be wasting your time on him. Call it mirroring, if you must."

This didn't seem to sink in, because she said once again: "I can't imagine life without him. Whatever am I to do?"


I knew what she meant. She'd told me about their wonderful dates and how they clicked whenever they met. But things never seemed to progress to the next stage for her and it really was too bad.

So I simply said: "An emotionally unavailable man can't ever be in a proper relationship so it's useless to indulge in wishful thinking."

Then I gave her something I thought of, off the top of my head, which now sounds like a Hallmark card quote, in hindsight.

I told her: "It's not his fault that he can't be what you want him to be. If you want him in your life somehow, just enjoy him for the little that he can give, and understand him for what he can never be."

She actually looked at me appreciatively, as if I was spouting eternal wisdom, when I said this.

And then I took her to Landmark a block or two away, to buy three new pairs of shoes.


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