29 January 2014, by Tan Li Lin

What is Love?

This last week, I was really fortunate to be a part of two very interesting public conversations. Now, being immersed in two ultra honest super authentic sharing sessions, more so as a speaker/host, inevitably got me stewing on my notion of these four:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.57.04 PM

Love, Choice, Courage, Truth – There’s nothing like real stories to inspire.

The first was on “Coming Out”.

That’s right – of the ‘closet’.

I was the only straight – and married – individual in the room, but I never felt any less connected to the topic (and the people) despite. Context removed, “Coming Out” is such a core, human experience. We’ve all had moments where we had to ‘expose’ the truth of who we are. And as scary as it seems, this mysterious thing called ‘Love’ compels us to dump all rationality and just do it.

I must admit, I didn’t expect what I was to realize that night. Listening to amazing speakers with their inspiring tales of inner struggle, confusion and the losses and gains in their journey of Love made me humble. I take for granted the little problems I’m going through and focus on making a fuss out of them. I was hearing how difficult it was them to simply express their Love for themselves, and for someone just because this expression doesn’t fit into the ‘social norm’.

Do we take our expression for granted? To be very honest, I can only answer,


But hear me out.

Several nights later, I’m invited to be a speaker at another session called ‘Dwelling: What is Love?’

Dwelling Love

This Dwelling Session on Relationships saw 30 odd attendees, a mix of married individuals and singles

(Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/DwellingSessions)


The demographics and the questions were slightly different:

“Stepping out – is it worth it?”

“What if …”

“I can’t let go of the past relationship.”

“How do I make sure our relationship doesn’t ‘go to sleep’?”

“How do I manage a long-distance relationship?”

“How do I keep the love in the relationship for long?”

But the key reminders were the same:

Courage. To be honest, to be open, to let go, to get what you want

Choice. To understand that there will be consequences, and still cherish your decision

Truth. To be real and free

My co-speaker Steve shared his story: He screwed up his relationship because he was caught up in a pretense that suffocated his ability to be genuine and express himself. He lost the girl he spent 14 months chasing. BUT he didn’t learn his lesson immediately, and almost missed his chance to be in an amazing relationship IF his current girlfriend had not plucked up HER courage to do the expressing.

It had finally hit him how more ‘ballsy’ his girl is, and he finally admitted that he’d like her all the while too. He didn’t think it was possible, and was almost contented to the opportunity slip by. He shared that he’s completely honest with his girlfriend now, even addressing with her thoughts that could send her packing and running. Being honest and real with her has made him treasure the relationship more.

But what was more interesting was the effect his advice had on the audience. People were captivated by the thought of complete honesty. There was almost a sense of disbelief hanging in the air. Immediately the ‘But’s and ‘What if’s came in – “What if she cannot take it’, ‘But my wife….’, ‘But you’re lucky to have a girlfriend who is so understanding….’.

How we take for granted our ability to express amazes, and alarms me.

Even more so, how we underestimate the other party in assuming he or she ‘won’t be able to deal with it’.

An ex-boyfriend of mine broke down randomly one day 2 years into our relationship and finally came clean with a pretense he was keeping. It was probably scary for him to ‘come out’, but it wasn’t as big a deal to me that he imagined it to be. We became closer than before.

My gay friend shared that he eventually ‘came out’ to his brother after much consideration, only to be met with “Okay. Whatever the case is, you are still my kor kor.” It struck him that he never appreciated the wisdom of the people around him. He went on to tell his Mom, who replied “Er, actually I knew since you were 4.” (Can’t hide much from Moms huh)

As much as we all have the right to freedom of expression, our LGBT friends go through more because of societal norms. Another friend just told me today that any act of same sex PDA warrants a fine of something like $500/$5000…

… and just 10 minutes ago I jumped out of my car, plonked a kiss on Ronald’s lips and headed off to school. No one batted an eyelash.

We don’t even have to put up with these restrictions – so what’s stopping us?

In the crowd, a lady shot her hand up and asked the speaker panel, “What about Singles? How do we find it?”

I replied, “How do you know what your favorite food is? You can’t just eat 1 dish once and declare it as your favorite.” To be more blunt, you can’t conclude what you think. Okay, death of logic here, but that’s exactly it. Our logic is flawed because it’s always based on the past, and the projection of this past onto the future.

“You won’t know what Love is until you experience it. Throw yourself in. Love is an experience, and any experience worth having shouldn’t be lived in your head, but out there.”

I won’t ever proclaim myself an expert in Love or relationships – but I do know one thing.

If I hadn’t come out to Ronald that I fancied him, he wouldn’t have taken the step to express how he was feeling too.

We would’ve just continued our separate ways, and walked away from this miracle of two very different individuals coming together committing to building a life together.

By the way, we knew each other for 3 years before even BOTHERING to speak to each other. That’s how zilch the probability was. We started dating after only 2 months since.

So what’s my point?


Open up. Let go.

Maybe it’s something you need to verbalize, or something you need to do, or stop doing.

That someone you love – your wife, husband, mom or dad, heck even siblings or old friends – deserve to hear it.

Do it responsibly, but don’t use this to disguise your fears.

It might be scary, but that’s part of the deal with Love.

Choice. Courage. Truth.

Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies. Follow her blog on ilovechildren.sg/blog and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30′.

Posted on : January 29, 2014

Filed under : Life After Wedding


Jac Neville

March 19th, 2014 at 9:13 pm    

Thank you for sharing…

Tan Li Lin


February 10th, 2014 at 10:53 am    

Hi Petrina! These are community type events that are designed to empower people to live a live of truth and passion.

Here is the link for the ‘Dwelling’ series:


Petrina Kow

Petrina Kow

February 7th, 2014 at 5:48 pm    

Great post Lin. What sessions were these? SOunds really interesting!

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