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True Love


Mai Le


At 00:24, I finished watching The Danish Girl. My brother and The Monsieur refused to watch it with me so I watched it on my own. Admittedly, I have cried. Since I last watched Les Miserable the musical for the fourth time last year, no other performance has made me cried like this one does.

Touched me was not only the profound pain of a woman who cannot live as who she truly is, but also an ideal and very different portrait of love. Like many other confused human being, I sometimes wonder what love meant. In the search of love, I have stumbled and fell through many cracks of my own insecurities and to the collision of trying to understand another human being. My new open wound repeatedly cut onto the old scars to the point this question seemed a meaningless pursuit.

I have stopped trying to comprehend the state of love; yet today I learnt something new from this refreshing performance. I have not wasted my tears to this great movie because from the deep connection with the characters, I realised what he meant by “But I love you” to his wife, even when he has already found out that he is a woman. Because love is detached from sexuality and physical needs, the state of mutual love is essentially meaningful companionship, constituted from the best traits that made us human.

I realised, true love is an eternal friendship built with trust and security.

Your true love is your one true friend you will not leave.

My grandmother often told us how her arranged marriage made true love possible. She said if you forced two strangers to be with each other for long enough, and that if they constantly put more effort in trying to understand, work with, and live with each other, they’d eventually love each other and appreciate the companionship. I always dismissed this opinion of hers and thought it was backward thinking. This opinion changed in one of the rare nights when I stayed over at my grandma’s place, I woke up to the sight of her, by my deceased grandfather’s picture, drinking with him and talking to him about her day. She missed him, her true dear friend. My grandfather passed away before I was born. Little did I know how great of a companion he was to my grandmother. Little did I know what true love looked like.

We often pursue the movie-like instant romance and forgot that life partner are first and foremost, a friend. Getting sexually attracted is easy and quick, building a friendship is difficult and slow. Hollywood hype made love looks easy and instant. The reason why true love is not portrayed in blockbuster movies is because true love is difficult, slow, confusing, full of occasional arguments and misunderstanding. True love do not make the best selling story as the act of love lies in the smallest details of how we resolve differences and understand each other, work with each other as a team, and tell each other about our days and the concerns that bother us. The movie hype make people, especially young people, believe they ought to therefore “find” love. Finding love is an easy and quick fix – who would not like such convenience? When in reality, there is no such thing as “finding” love. You may find the partner you believe is right for you at the time, with the best information you have, and hoping it is an optimal choice. Then you begin the process of “building” love.

As true love is an eternal friendship, it needs to be built, not found.
Try finding a friendship, and that will explain to you why finding love never works.

I am not perfect. I am full of confusions of my own existence and identity, and so is The Monsieur or other men who I may encounter. My first relationship was at 16 when I was fully devoted to a guy to the point I lost my own identity in a storm of anxiety and insecurities. My second relationship fostered me to grow as a person, both intellectually and psychologically. Yet again, we separated over the difficulty of a long distance relationship. Loving is risking. However, all these scars of an imperfect heart are the evidence of learning experience that allows me to handle similar future problems better. Every setbacks, arguments or pains with another person make me stronger, know myself and my behaviour a bit better.

Here I am with close to 6 years of full time being in relationships. It is not to be proud of, but I certainly consider how far it has helped me grow. I become much better at handling myself, and in building that “friendship” with the special companion. This “skill” is a result from all the pains, tears and suffering in my teenage years. My ex-boyfriend’s sister is over 30 years old. She has never been in a relationship or had a boyfriend. When I observed her interactions with men, I almost saw a 14-year-old in the body of a 30-year-old woman. She may be going through the struggle now to learn how to handle another human-being in her life, but she has my best faith that it will all work out wonderfully.

Love is like anything else in life, that requires learning by making mistakes, and suffering from failure to become better. Everyone will go through the states of learning to love at different times in their life and there is nothing wrong with failing, or being hurt. It will make you better and strengthen you as a person.

You will truly appreciate great companionship once you experience an eternal friendship with complete trust and security. Knowing that you are both a complete, independent and secured human being but choose to be with or spend time with each other, choose to share and build this life together regardless of up or downs or the unpleasant things of life. A special partnership that requires a lot of effort, but at the same time feel effortless, that is true love.


Illustration by my friend at ANML Studio. Check out her IG and support by buying her art @anmlstudio

Written by Mai Le

My name is Mai. I am originally from Vietnam. After my university years at LSE, I worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. After a wonderful time there, I started several of my own business as well as helping others on theirs. I've always been building communities and businesses for as long as I can remember, and absolutely thrilled to see others enjoy what I've built.



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