The Runaway Bride Stigma

‘If you’re so bold, jumping on cliffs without a flinch, why do you hesitate at love?’ 

That statement from a friend sounded more like a mocking dare. Like, ‘I bet you can’t do that!’

There’s nothing quite as painful as suppressing a much-needed eye roll. I know he means well, but with equal weight I also feel he deserves more like a punch in the face.

I wanted to be more mature and philosophical as I recalled Art of Stillness.

‘Look at the household cat. By the look of his constant look of boredom, he portrays to the humans a life of monotony; if not for the occasional betrayal of evidence in the form of mutilated bird and rodent corpses here and there that tells us of murders our feline friends in their daily lives.’

‘And—that’s why you never want to get married.’

I will always be the villain in their eyes. I’ll always have that runaway bride stigma carried with me. I don’t blame that it’s not so difficult for people to forget that time when, a month before the wedding day with all the preparations set, I did a 360. No wedding is going to happen.

Not my proudest moment. But my friends bring it up occasionally, just to make fun of me . I’ll always be that ‘runaway bride’, ‘girl who’s afraid of commitment’, ‘guarding her freedom like her life depended on it’.

And then there’s this urban legend about me bringing ‘bad wedding luck’ to couples.

Hmm. maybe that’s why despite all the wedding posts on Facebook, I never get an invite.

Ten years ago I was that annoying manic pixie dream girl with paint splatters in her clothes and rolls of film in her bag. You know, the type who used to poop fireworks and rainbows as well.

I was always in a relationship. Jumping from one long-term relationship to another; the kind that lasts for years and years that people start thinking we’re going to eventually end up together. And then I jump the gun and surprise everyone. At the last minute, I realize that it wasn’t really something I wanted. For some reason, when my relationships get close to marriage, I bail out. Queue in intense disappointment from family, friends and loved ones.

The caveat with labels and stigmas: Oh, she’s the straight-A’s stellar girl; that one’s the problem child and this one’s the alpha female. The problem with assigning people (or your own children) labels is that they will tend to live up to that label, until they fall short of your expectations and you assign them a new one.

And probably that’s also my issue with boyfriends and girlfriends: they assign you to their version of a ‘perfect mate’. But in the end, people don’t truly get to know their loved ones’ souls. They dream of ‘perfect’, but perfect is shallow. They have no interest in knowing your complexities, and they pay the price with heartache.

Look at Tom and Summer.

‘You overshadow me and don’t give me a chance at the spotlight‘, an ex said. What a big amount of bullshit. It’s been a recurring theme in my relationships, men make it out like it’s a sprint marathon; and their expectations are as lofty as their egos.

I remember years ago, I got into a bad fight with one of my exes. I got a business award and he surprised me with a large bouquet in the awarding ceremony. I thanked him, but was really busy talking to other people all day. When we got home, he went all out on me because I didn’t ‘thank him enough’. I think he wanted me to swoon and keel and maybe cry a little.

That was one of the early red flags that it wouldn’t work; but unfortunately I let it pass and it ended up to be a toxic three-year-relationship with constant validation and insecurities. It’s shocking to see he started as being supportive and encouraging at first but ended up with so much resentment.

Somehow, it still had to be about him. He assigned me his concept of what I should be–and frankly, I can’t just be benched to the supporting cast.

You outgrow people. People understand, but unfortunately most exes don’t.

It’s always hard to break up with someone, more so your long-term partners. I never break up with someone unless with good cause. You started pushing them to become better versions of themselves and years down the line you end up pulling most of the weight. Most of the time, you realize that you have outgrown this person you once thought would be your life partner.

The older you get, the shorter the relationships become because you finally realize what you need; and what you can and cannot tolerate.

Maybe there will come a time when we meet that person who doesn’t make it like a competition. A person that, as Pico Iyer put it, a companion that is strange and familiar all at once; with enough change to quicken my mind, and enough steadiness to give sanctuary to my heart. A soul who feels like home and adventure all at once. Someone who gets your impulsiveness and fosters your curious spirit; a partner-in-crime who is as steady as a rock and with the same brand of crazy.

Until then, the world has enough curiosities to keep me fascinated — and a four-year-old boy who made me feel what unconditional love feels like.

home and adventure in love.jpg

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