Love can­not be sched­uled

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Elena He

“Why do I have to rush into mar­riage? Why didn’t I just find a boyfriend in col­lege?” Those are the ques­tions my friend Linda of­ten asks me. At 28, she is con­sid­ered “too old” to be sin­gle by her par­ents, who con­stantly ar­range dates for her.

Linda ap­pre­ci­ates her par­ents’ help, and she does hope to find true love one day. But the real prob­lem is that she has never been in a re­la­tion­ship be­fore and has no idea how to get along with men or what she re­ally wants in a re­la­tion­ship. She finds it hard to keep the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing dur­ing a date, and she gets con­fused when a man con­fesses his feel­ings to her af­ter only a few dates.

“How can he say he likes me when we barely know each other?” she would ask.

Most of Linda’s dates are older than her and are in a rush to get mar­ried due to pres­sure from their fam­ily and peers. She doesn’t want a re­la­tion­ship just for the sake of mar­riage, but it seems that it’s too late for her to find love in her par­ents’ eyes.

Some­times she feels pa­thetic. She hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced love be­fore, and while mar­riage seems more prac­ti­cal, it is more about eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and less about romance or pas­sion.

“I think I might have missed out on the most beau­ti­ful and pure pe­riod of my life by not find­ing love on campus,” Linda sighed heav­ily over the phone.

She is sad, but I can­not help feel­ing an­gry at this whole prac­tice and value sys­tem. It’s Linda’s par­ents who per­suaded her not to date boys and to fo­cus on her stud­ies when she was at uni­ver­sity, and it’s them again that have been push­ing her to build a re­la­tion­ship and rush into mar­riage right af­ter she started to work.

Hu­mans are not ma­chines that can be pushed into dif­fer­ent modes ac­cord­ing to a pre­cise sched­ule, and love takes time.

Linda’s case is quite com­mon in the post-80s and early 90s gen­er­a­tions. Fall­ing in love in high school was strictly for­bid­den. Par­ents and teachers al­ways told you to fo­cus on your stud­ies and stay away from love.

I re­mem­ber my high school even had a “dis­ci­pline team” to mon­i­tor stu­dents and any form of in­ti­macy be­tween boys and girls. Hold­ing hands or even walk­ing too closely to­gether would have been re­ported to par­ents.

For many stu­dents, dat­ing was not what a “good stu­dent” was sup­posed to do. That ide­ol­ogy car­ried over into col­lege, and some par­ents, in­clud­ing mine, still re­minded their chil­dren to stay fo­cused on aca­demics and not to spend time on ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships.

The prac­tice killed ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity for the young to learn about and en­joy love. If some­one has no idea what a re­la­tion­ship is, how can he or she make the right choice in mar­riage?

I can tell Linda is still a baby in re­la­tion­ships. But whose fault is it?

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