Love: Selfish or Selfless?

Yes, I know I’m not currently in a romantic relationship. Neither do I have someone that likes me. So why talk about love? Well, why not? But okay, I’m triggered to write something about this because of something said by Nam Chi Won (played by my human, Choi Daniel, in Jugglers, eps 9). He says:

“The amount you care about or love the other person can’t be the same for both parties. One does it more and the other less. The one that cares more starts to get resentful, and the one who cares less feels bad. The one who cares more gets tired of it, and the one who cares less feels guilty. Then eventually, you end up breaking up.” (Nam Chi Won in Jugglers, eps 9)

It’s sad but kinda true. I mean, this is what I believe. We cannot really measure how much someone loves us or how much we love someone. We can say “a little” or “very much”, but how much exactly? We’ll never know. Thus, we’ll never know if how much we love someone equals exactly how much that someone loves us. Unless you’re okay with it, willing to put up with it, committed to it, it’s not going to work. And in that case, it would take a very selfish person and a selfless partner to make it work. The selfish one won’t feel bad or guilty, and the selfless one won’t get tired of it. But what do I know? Love ain’t that picky. And that’s why you need commitment.

Me at Tanah Lot, Bali.

I wrote that sometime ago as a caption in my Instagram. I don’t know. Sometimes I really get to think about it. What about me? Will I be selfish or selfless when I’m in love? Honestly, I’m not sure. Sometimes I think I’m selfish but when I really love someone, I can be selfless as well. Like, I’m so insecure, I will need my man to keep trying to convince me that he really wants me, that he loves me. I will reject him because I’ll find it hard to believe. Too good to be true. And so he’ll need to keep trying and I know it will be exhausting. I have no rights to make him keep doing it because he deserves to be happy, too. At this stage I’m surely selfish, no? Because I want the man to do everything and anything to convince me. So it’s all about me. I really need a guarantee that this man is the one. That’s because once I’m convinced that he loves me, then I’ll be more “selfless“, i.e. I’ll do a lot of things to make him happy. Hence, I need to be selfish because I can’t help being selfless afterwards.

However, while I’m being selfish at that stage, seeing it from this frame, the man might be selfless, because he is willing to do it for me. He doesn’t think about himself because he wants to make me happy. However, at the same time, I think it can be a form of selfishness too. Like, for instance, when I keep rejecting him but he keeps trying, maybe that’s because he is being selfish; i.e. all he cares about is for him to get me to love him, right? He doesn’t care about how I feel when I reject him, no? It’s selfish.

Nonetheless, I remember saying that I am a selfish person to a friend. At that time she asks if I ever want to get married. I say yes though I don’t want to rush it. I’m okay being single and I do want to get married but I do not want to get married just because, not because I’m getting older, not because my parents are getting older (though it might be one factor), not because the society tells me to get married (definitely no), etc. And so I tell her that maybe that’s because I’m selfish. I care about how I feel and I want to make sure that later when I get married I’ll be happy or happier than I’m now. Well, she says that I can’t be selfish. She says that only selfless people will want such a relationship.

Well, I don’t know. I might be talking rubbish right now, not to mention that I’m “empirically” inexperienced. After all, feelings are so complex – and we have this tendency to make it complicated. I guess, when we’re truly in love, both being selfish and selfless are inevitable. Sometimes, we’ll be selfish, sometimes we’ll be selfless. It can’t be helped. And if you truly love each other, you’ll somehow know when to let yourself be selfless or when to let your loved one be selfish, and vice versa. I think that’s how love and relationship works. As love fluctuates, we just need to adjust ourselves as we move along to keep the good harmony. We can’t be selfish all the time and we won’t be selfless all the time either. When our spouse gets mad, for instance, even though we’re not in the wrong sometimes we need to retreat and even apologize or wait for them to calm down. We let them be selfish and we play the selfless role, swallowing up our pride and ego. At other times, the roles might be reversed. Maybe we’re the one who gets mad. We know we’re wrong but too prideful to admit and so we’re being selfish for staying mad and not apologizing. Then, our spouse has to play the selfless role trying to understand how we feel. I think if we can work it out that way with the love present between the two, then we can call it destiny, no?

Me at Waduk Selorejo, Indonesia.

Well, I know it’s just a theory and I’m not sure how it’s gonna be in my reality yet. But, well, I remember this one Japanese drama I once watched. The title is Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu (The Reason I Can’t Find My Love). But I’m not going to highlight the main characters. Often times, I also learned more from the supporting characters. Hence, one of the supporting characters was a successful woman, the husband seemed to be in the lower “rank” of profession but it was not a problem because, well, when it came to love, such things should not be a problem. The woman actually did not look down on the husband. The man did not feel inferior either. So there should not be a problem, right? Unfortunately, even though it was just drama (or maybe because it was a drama), there was this thing that turned out to be a problem. It seemed that at the beginning, when the love between the two was blossoming, they felt they were compatible with each other. They strove for their career together; they minded their own business; they did not demand a lot from each other, etc. It was the ideal life for them. However, as time passed (it was kinda revealed at the end actually), it turned out that the man actually wanted to have kids. I forgot whether or not the man actually told the wife about it, but all I knew was that the wife had not wanted it, and so the man respected that because, well, he thought he loved her and he respected their commitment in the marriage life. They did not get divorced but it seemed that the relationship was becoming dull. The woman was busy with work, the man was too. Basically they lived not as a husband and a wife but more like two people who happened to agree to live together in a socially acknowledged relationship called marriage. Fast forward, the man felt lonely. He then ran into a girl, one of the main characters in the drama. This girl fell in love with this man, but the man could not betray his wife. Even though he felt comfortable with the girl’s company, he simply could not break his marriage vow. At this point, I think he was being selfless. I mean, had he wanted it, he could divorce his selfish and workaholic wife so he could marry the girl and be happy with her, right? He didn’t so he earned my respect for this. And guess what? At this point, the wife wanted to have kids – for the same reason: she was feeling lonely. She came to realize that the marriage was dull, that she had not paid enough attention to the husband when he had been very supportive, that her husband might no longer love her, etc. And so she communicated this and asked him to give them “another chance” to amend their marriage. She also asked him to go to the doctor and see the possibility of having a kid because they two had been growing older now. Well, the husband found that he’s now got a problem with his sperms, not sure if they were weak or something like that. But the point was that he was not as fertile as when he was younger, not as fertile as when he had wanted to have kids but the wife refused.

I forgot how the problem was solved at the end for them. Well, they were not the main characters so some parts might have been left hanging. All I could remember was that they didn’t get divorced. I remember feeling so upset with the wife. I felt that she was so selfish and I know that it’s not the kind of wife I want to be. I mean, just think about it, when the husband wanted to have kids, she refused, the man tried to understand and go on with her decision. When the man was now lonely and unhappy and find happiness with another woman, she now wanted to have kids and asked him to stay just so she could be happy. Gosh, that’s so selfish. Didn’t she even think about his feelings?! His self-esteem?! Well, I’m not going to defend her just because we both are women, no, and I’m not against feminism either just because I don’t defend her, but this is more because I care for their feelings as human regardless of the gender. If the situation was reversed and the man was the one who was selfish like that, I would of course be upset with him. But, well, even though I was upset with the wife, I’m actually glad that they didn’t get divorced. I’m kinda a conservative person. I want a once-for-a-lifetime marriage. I know that’s what everyone wants too. I’m not saying that people should not divorce. I mean, if you are not happy in your married life then why would you stay, right? Well, in some cases, divorce is inevitable or even better and I’m not here to judge the divorcees. I’m just hoping that everyone will find happiness in their married life. And in this context, the husband and wife in this drama I’m talking about, I guess even though it’s kinda upsetting, at least the two were willing and decided to give it another try. Teamwork. Compromise. Tolerance. Forgiveness. Understanding. Etc. There will always be ups and downs. And sometimes it feels like at the verge of breaking. But if after all that somehow we’re still willing to stick together and strive to be better and happier, maybe that’s what destiny is. Don’t you agree?

Gosh, I think I’m being so complicated about this. Not sure if that is why I’m still single 🙈🙈🙈😅😅😅✌✌✌

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