Heart Sense, Life Sense    Most recent entry: April 25, 2011

Sensible reflections on life and love. Bringing head and heart together for better living.

    sense (from Merriam-Webster online dictionary):
1. Feeling or mechanism of perception;
2. Conscious awareness or rationality;
3. Implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence

2.2 Should I fall in love in college? (April 25, 2011)
2.1 Should I get married before going away to grad school? (April 11, 2011)
1.3 Does being attractive mean being childish?  (Oct. 27, 2010)
1.2 Why I’m still not falling in love with somebody?  (Oct. 27, 2010)
1.1 I only want a tall boy. (May 9, 2010)


2.2 Should I fall in love in college? (April 25, 2011)
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I got the following from a male student:

Should I fall in love in college and how to create a long-lasting love relationship. Some people say that love take too much time and energy, especially in the college. Do you think falling in love in college waste time? I am falling in love and feeling confused about this.

Working out relationships with other people is one of the important skills that we develop as we mature. This includes love relationships.

This question about whether or not to have a girlfriend or boyfriend in university is one that I have never heard debated on campuses in the West. People might debate about whether they should be involved with a particular person but not about the general question of whether or not they should consider being involved with anyone. I can't tell you if you should fall in love with this girl, but I can give you a few questions to think about that may help you to answer the question for yourself, or at least the question about whether the relationship is good for you.

First, what do you gain from being with this person? What, if anything, do you lose or give up being with this person? As a general guide, if you are losing more than you gain, the relationship is not good for you.

Do you like this person? You may think, of course I do, I am falling in love with her, but love and like are not the same thing. For a relationship to work, you want to be with someone you like as well as love. There is also a difference between loving someone and being 'in love' with someone. When you love someone you care deeply about them and want what is best for them. When you are 'in love' it is really all about your own feelings. You don't see the other person as they are but only as a reflection of you and your needs. Being 'in love' can feel wonderful, but in many ways it is like a drug. Love deals with reality and is much more likely to grow and to last.

Do you like who you are when you are with her? Does she encourage you and help you to reach your goals? Do you encourage her and help her to reach her goals? Love doesn't have to be only a distraction from your goals (such as graduating with good marks).

Love is truly a wonderful thing, but I firmly believe that is better to be single than to be in a bad relationship. And you often do not know at the beginning of a relationship what it is going to be like for you. There are no guarantees and this is, of course, where the fear kicks in. None of us want to experience a heartbreak. But if you never risk the chance of loss, you never experience the joys of gain either. You have to be willing to take some chances in life, but do so with your eyes open.


2.1 Should I get married before going away to grad school? (April 11, 2011)
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A female student posed this question to me recently. She was talking about her future education plans and said that she wanted to go overseas to do graduate studies after she did her Masters here. That was still a couple of years away, but she mentioned that a few of her teachers were suggesting to her that she should get married before going away to grad school as she would be too old (in her late twenties) if she waited until she got back.

This reminded me a lot of worries that had been splashed over the pages of newspapers when I was growing up in Canada, that women who waited to get married would miss out on all of the good guys, they would find their biological clocks ticking and no available men interested in women who had passed thirty. Since the average age of first marriage (for both men and women) has been going up in the West since the 1960s I think many people are ignoring these worries and finding they can still marry if they want.

I was a little surprised to hear concerns expressed in China about women being able to find husbands. With a gender imbalance of almost 120 males for every 100 females I would have expected more concern about men finding wives. But regardless of the gender ratio statistics, should women try to get married before going overseas for further study?

Well, as with most things, it depends. I don't think that one should get married just for the sake of being married. Marriage is a long term commitment that serves many purposes for different people. If a student is currently in a solid relationship with someone she wants to be married to then it may make sense to marry before going away. Getting married can seal that commitment on both sides. It could also make visa considerations easier if her husband wanted to visit her while she was overseas. If she has no solid relationship though then to get married she first has to find someone. Will doing a rushed search for a husband lead to a good and lasting match though? It might, but it also might not.

These is also an intesting, and somewhat hidden, assumption in the advice to marry before you go overseas for study, and that is that you won't have opportunities to date while overseas. But you are not being put on a shelf behind glass when you are studying overseas. Assuming a normal university population at the overseas university you attend, you will have ample opportunity to meet many men while you are away. College romances have been known to happen and you may just meet a true love while you are away. And considering the number of Chinese studying overseas, that true love may even be from China. Stranger things have happened -- I met my husband, another Canadian, here in China.

If you do not marry before you go and if you assume that you will not meet anyone whiile you are away is age a factor when you get back? Many people marry in order to create a family unit in which to have children. This does put some age considerations into the equation for women as they have a limited age range in which they can bear children. This age range generally extends at least into the forties, though the risks of genetic problems do increase after 35. The best child-bearing years are generally thought to be from 20-35 for women. So this is a factor women need to consider when thinking about when to marry. If hoping to have several children then starting at a younger age makes sense. In China, with the one-child policy, most couples are looking at only one or two children so the need to start young is not as pressing. The late twenties does give you time to find a husband and still have a child during the best child rearing years.

Now if a woman does not want to have children then the whole equation around marriage changes. There is no longer any time pressures imposed by biology and she can afford to wait until she finds just the right person. When the primary purpose of marriage is companionship I am a firm believer that it is better to be single than to be with the wrong person. Even when marriage is entered into for other reasons you still want to be sure that your chosen partner fulfills those and that you can be happy together. Life is too short to rush into a marriage you later regret.

But perhaps what they are really talking about is that she will be seen by men as being too old to consider for marriage. And they are probably right that a fair number of Chinese men would hold to this traditional notion. If she is a modern woman who seeks equality are these the kind of men she would want to share her life with? Not likely. There are men who will not be concerned about age, men who will value a woman for who and what she is. These men will be much better matches for a modern woman. These men are worth looking for and waiting for. I know, I have one.

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1.3 Does being attractive mean being childish? (Oct. 27, 2010)
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I got the following from a female student:

            One of girls in my dormitory is a very lovely girl. You know lovely I said means sweet and childish. But she is popular with boys. So, I wonder whether being attractive means childish? But it’s not my style; I couldn’t say something or act like a little baby. I hope to become a lady who is smart, gentle, brave, independent and lenient. Does it mean that I can’t get love?

Would YOU really want a boy who would want you to be childish or baby-like? Any relationship that tries to make you less than what you are will not be good for you in the long run. You are better off having no relationship than being with someone who is only attracted to you when you are acting like someone you are not.

But don’t despair about the possibility of finding love. While there may be many boys your age who think they are attracted to babyish girls, not all boys, and certainly not all men, are attracted to them. Think about this: how many boys do you want to be in love with and be in a loving relationship with?

While it feels nice to have many boys attracted to you, you probably really only want to have one boyfriend (at a time) and eventually one husband. So that means that you don’t need to be attractive to all the boys, or even to many boys, you just need to be attractive to one.

Instead of worrying about being attractive to a big number of boys (boys who you wouldn’t really want to be with anyway) try to find just one boy who likes you for who you really are. You will have a much happier life with just one of him than with many admirers of a false you.

You may not find a boy like this tomorrow, or next month, or even next year, but your patience will help you find a good match for the REAL you. You really can get love being who you are – and it is the only sort of love worth having.

In the meantime, be happy with who you are. When you are happy with yourself other people will be attracted to that happiness and you will make more friends.

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1.2 I’m confused about why I’m still not falling in love with somebody? I’m 21 now! (Oct. 27, 2010) 
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I can hear that you are concerned, but I don’t think that you need to be. 21 years old feels very old to you right now, but I assure you it is still very young. You are only a few years out of childhood. You have years ahead of you in which to find romantic love.

Love is not a race. The first one to find it does not get a prize. In fact the first one who thinks they have found it often discovers later that they were wrong – what is attractive in a boyfriend or girlfriend when you are 20, is not necessarily what you find you want in a husband or wife when you are 30 or 40. So the first thing to do is to stop worrying that you haven’t fallen in love with someone yet.

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1.1 I only want a tall boy. (May 9, 2010)

I have heard this sort of comment from some girls and, frankly, I find it short-sighted.

It is fine to be attracted to tall boys (or tall men for that matter) and to recognize that this is one of the traits on your ‘list’ of what you look for in a guy. We usually have quite a few traits on that list, some of them are physical characteristics (height, hair colour, face shape, length and shape of fingers…), some are personality traits (sense of humour, loyalty, kindness, ambition,…) some of them are interests we want to have our partner share with us (loves dogs, likes action-adventure movies, plays music, …). We may even have some life experiences on that list (university graduate, well-travelled, has lived in the country-side,…). Other traits get added to the ‘list’ as a result of relationship experiences. ‘Must be emotionally whole’ is high up on my list.

So back to tall. Having tall on your list is perfectly fine. Saying you won’t even consider a boy unless he is tall though, seems somewhat limiting.

There may be some practical reasons to have a preference for tall. There are some societal advantages given to tall people. At least with white males in the U.S. there are studies (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3) that show that society discriminates in favour tall people and that, on average, tall people make more money than shorter people. So then what is wrong with discriminating right along with society and also going with a tall guy? Don’t you want your guy to be able to make a good living? Well, the problem with that is that the studies are only looking at averages. You are going to be choosing a specific person to be with, not a statistical average. Many people beat the averages every day. If that weren’t the case then North American average height Bill Gates would be making just a North American average income.

So how else is a single-minded focus on height going to limit you? Well, think about your list. How many traits are on it? 10? 20? Maybe even 30 or more? What are the chances of finding a single person who meets all of the criteria on your list at the same time? Very likely, you are not going to find your idealized guy. But you know what, that’s okay. Flesh and blood people are much more interesting than idealized fantasies and they are full of surprising appeals. You may find someone who matches 15 of the 20 things on your list and has other traits you never knew you would find interesting too. Being open to possibilities outside your list increases the chances that when a good match (notice I said ‘a’ good match, not ‘the’ match – but that is a grammar and life lesson for other article) for you comes along, that you will notice.

If you don’t even consider, or notice, guys who are ‘too short’ then you are rejecting possibilities before you even know how they rank on all of the other items on your list – many of which are much better indicators of someone who will be a good boyfriend (and perhaps someday, husband).

And one last thought for your consideration. How would you feel about a guy who focussed on just one physical characteristic of girls? If he would only consider dating girls with, say, big breasts wouldn’t you consider that a bit superficial?

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