How should we love and be loved?

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

The many ways of modern love, from page 100 

My Reading Room

This may seem like a simple question, but for many, it could also be a lifelong quest.

Many of us belong to a generation where fathers are seen as the main breadwinners, while mothers – even when they held full-time jobs – are perceived as the main caregivers. Generally, our parents stayed married, the power dynamics between them never shifted, and familial lives remained status quo. “That’s how love and marriage will be like for us too,” many of us thought.

Then, the women of our generation received more education, travelled widely, lived overseas, met people from all walks of lives and cultures, and became more independent – financially and emotionally – than the generation before. Women are feeling increasingly empowered and we are, slowly but surely, gaining traction in the fight for gender equality.

As the social status of women evolves, we must also look inwards to understand how our approach to love has evolved. The term “self-love” might be the new buzzword, but it does hold some truth.

Local celebrity Jamie Yeo shares how she found love in her third marriage (page 106), while writer and travel host Jemimah Wei tells us how she’s making a long-distance engagement work (page 109). Circumstances differ, but they both emphasise the importance of understanding, loving and accepting themselves, before their romantic relationships could work.

Perhaps self-love is truly the most important love of all. It’s the root of all other types of love. As “self-partnered” writer Tan Lixin says (page 108): “I share a stronger relationship with myself and, free of the social burden of ‘needing’ to find a partner, happiness visits often.” Sounds like a self-fulfilled individual is also the most attractive to any potential friend or partner.