Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Quora Question: Do you believe in love at first sight?

I’m a deep thinker and follow my head rather than heart, so my personal answer to this question is a resounding NO!

How on earth can anyone seriously say that after just looking at someone for the first time, they knew it was love?

However, I do believe in attraction/lust at first sight. I’ve only ever experienced this with two guys (Glen & Jason) in my life. What was it like? When our eyes first met, the intense feeling of attraction struck me like a flash of lightening, followed by butterflies in the tummy whenever I thought about them. Did it work out. No. I didn’t love either of them, because they were missing having the sort of personality I was attracted to.

If a guy tells me that he fell in love the first time he saw me, I’d think he needs to get himself out of the time warp that is his fickle teenage mind and grow up:)

True love must be grown from the heart, from trust, admiration and kindness. It takes time to cultivate not mere seconds.

Don’t get me wrong. I love romance. If you experience that electric feeling “lust at first sight”, and it develops into a long-term relationship, that relationship has a greater chance of achieving better quality.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m not concerned about whether I will experience “lust at first sight” again. Positive first impressions are great, but that sort of feeling is not profound enough yet for me to know if he’s the one. For me, love is gradual, it’s all about falling in love with personality first, because that’s harder to find. I’ve only ever been in love once. That was with a guy that had severe facial disfigurement. He really got deep inside my heart. Even when you do find it, love alone won’t be enough. At the end of the day, looks/personality/love means absolutely nothing without shared values & outlook (that’s the bit that takes time to figure out); it’s all about long-term compatibility, that is the truth…

 


 


Quora Question: Would you give up on having children? My partner wants them but I don’t.

My experience but the other way around, I wanted children but the guy I dated a few years back didn’t:

I started chatting to this guy, we seemed to get along very well via email, and the conversation progressed to over the phone. He didn’t show me a picture of himself, but I never probed into the reason, I just assumed he was nervous/private.

We arranged to meet, the day before he calls to tell me that he has something he needs to say. He opens up as to the reason he didn’t send me his photo. He was in his 40’s but when he was in his 20’s he had a car accident and his life changed. He suffered severe facial disfigurement. He said that he wasn’t honest from the start, as he thought I wouldn’t have spoken to him. He understood if I didn’t want to meet. I honestly didn’t know what to make of the situation, but all I knew was that I liked chatting with him, and I also felt it would be unkind not to meet him. We all have our own insecurities when it comes to dating, it must have been hard for him, and I wanted to give him a chance.

Honestly, I admit I was nervous when I was about to walk through the doors to meet him. I had no idea what to expect, would I stare at him, feel awkward?

For a fraction of a second, I noted half his face was normal, the other half was scarred and left eye closed completely. But then I saw his smile, I don’t know how to explain this, but once we started chatting, I suddenly felt like I’d known him for ages, we conversed effortlessly, no awkward silences. Then he told me he had multiple operations on his face, he married his girlfriend at the time, she was with him through the accident to recovery, they had children together. But he found out that she was having an affair, and divorced her three years prior.

We shared a connection. I didn’t care what his face looked like to the outside world, I fell hook, line and sinker for this guy. There are few people that you meet in life that touch you in a way that’s unexplainable, but his warmth, kindness (he was a patron of a charity), and love of his children was clearly evident.

The problem was that I wanted children. Problems arose when we were having dinner one evening. “What do you think of children, do you want them?,” he said. To which I replied, “yes, with all my heart, with the right guy.” Then he proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t do the sleepless nights, and changing nappies anymore, he’d done that for years, he wanted a life partner to marry but have no children. Suddenly my passive aggressive behaviour was bubbling away. I was much younger than him, what would make him think I didn’t want kids? He made some rather tactless comments like I get to keep my figure, don’t have to worry about the pain of child birth. In my mind, the gift of a baby was worth all that an infinite number of times over. Why was he being so shallow?

Of course, I wasn’t woman enough to confront him and talk honestly, instead I became more distant. Then finally one day, he noticed my behaviour, “what if you become pregnant, will you get rid of it?”, he said. That’s when my heart sank.

I turned to a good friend of mine for advice. He’s sort of my surrogate dad. He said, “Abi, why are you so desperate to be in a relationship that you are willing to forsake your own happiness? You know both in your heart and mind this guy isn’t going to make you happy, but you must be honest with him, all you are doing is prolonging the inevitable. You are setting yourself up for a fall, and you will get hurt.” He was right.

We met and had a frank conversation. “Abi, I wish there was a switch I could just flick off for your desire for children. With me, you’ll never want for anything, there will be lots of love, and you’ll have a ready made family with my kids.”

The truth was that even the least selfish person is selfish is at the core, when it comes down to it, we will do what’s best for ourselves. For him it was making me live a life without kids, and me change his mind. We were at conflict in our outlook.

I wasn’t going to be one of those women that hung around waiting for a glimmer of hope he would change his mind, or trick him into having a baby. That would be futile, I had to respect his wishes, he had already been through so much in his life.

Logic prevailed, I said: “Please forgive me, although I’m extremely fond of you and could think of nothing better than being a part of your life, I’m afraid I’m not selfless enough to give up my dream of wanting a child, you alone are not enough.”

It took me a couple of months there after to pick myself up off the floor, but it was an important life lesson for me to learn, that I cannot always get what I want, no matter how much time I dedicate, however determined and passionate that I am, ultimately this pursuit was fruitless, with only an inevitable end point.

That’s probably how your partner feels too…

Quora Question: How can I learn to be more kind?

The first act of kindness was bestowed upon me when I was a small child. It was my first day at primary school. I vividly remember my mum holding my hand, passing these tall gates, then suddenly letting go and waving goodbye. I entered the playground, there was lots of noise from the children playing. All the good toys had been taken, there was nothing for me. I hid away in the corner feeling alone. A single tear drop falls down my face. Then from a distance I see a girl coming towards me, she smiles and pushes a pram with a doll inside to me, then she just walks away. That girl was called Jody and she became my childhood friend.

Then one day I got angry from one of my friends stealing my Barbie clothes from me. I ran to my dad who gets me to sit with him on the sofa and watch Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. I see tears in his eyes. “Dad, why are you crying,” I said. He said, “Abida, I was a young child during the partition. I remember walking for days without food, seeing dead bodies along the way, and I had lost my parents. I didn’t know whether they were dead or alive. We went from having a good standard of living in India to having to start all over again in the newly formed Pakistan. I learnt the importance of education, I studied hard, swimming across the river each morning to get to my school. I gained the highest marks in Mathematics in the country, a scholarship to study in the UK, and became successful in my chosen field. I never forgot where I came from though. When you see someone that hasn’t got much, please help them, learn to share.” I later learnt after his death that my dad gave money to poor people in his childhood village (they’d contracted Hepatitis and needed money for medication).

Two years ago, I met a nurse. I was paralysed with fear, I couldn’t face watching my dad die. She tightly grabbed my hand and led the way into his room. I watched her chat to him (despite him being in a coma), massage his body with moisturiser, and shave his face. I was humbled by her kindness.

Then it was my turn. One Winter, on my morning walk to Pret, I happened to pass a homeless girl who was sitting on the floor begging for money. Some guy in a suit accidently kicked the hat which housed her change but he was too busy talking on his phone to notice. It was really cold, and the young homeless girl (she must have been in her mid-late teens) had no coat and was shivering and frantically trying to collect the tossed change together. As I walked into Pret, my heart sank (I remembered Jody, and what my dad told me); I got my usual hot chocolate and croissant and also got the girl the same. I stood in front of her and kneeled down and gave her my coat and food. The smile on her face was priceless, she looked up at me and mouthed ‘thank you’. I had such a warm feeling inside.

Whenever someone compliments me on being kind and grounded, I tell them that the real credit goes to people that have inspired me throughout my life. From Jody, my dad to the intensive care nurse. I’m sure there will be more to add to that list in time.

Kindness anyone can cultivate through choice. You can start by graciously acknowledging when someone has helped you, open doors, give up your seat to the elderly, taking flowers or wine when your friend invites you to dinner, help fellow colleagues out, keep in regular contact with friends, be there for people when they hit a rough patch, involve yourself in charity work. The list is endless!

I’ll always remember the times in my life when I’ve needed help. Kindness is an act of genuinely caring and wanting to help others, I never ask for anything in return…

Quora Question: What is the right age to get married?

Although I’m unmarried, I do think most people’s perspective of the ‘ideal’ age to marry would be on average mid-late twenties to early thirties. This is based on having enough time to establish education before marrying, progressing both careers before and during the marriage initially, then being finally ready to start a family there after.

Times have changed, from a woman’s perspective, most of us go to university to study, then we need a couple of years to establish a career. My dad was always of the opinion that a woman should be comfortable being independent before getting married. This is because he was acutely aware that many couples these days do get divorced, in Asian culture there’s still a social stigma in being a divorced woman. In the West, we are more accepting given its commonplace in society. I think my dad was right, a woman should always have a back up plan in case things don’t work out, I’ve seen a number of women that have endured financial difficulties after divorce because they invested in their husbands and children, when that didn’t work out, they had to get back out to the working world but found it hard.

In a perfect world, one wouldn’t put restrictions on the ideal age to marry. Life though is unpredictable, I think it’s sensible to always be prepared that we may face challenges along the way and to plan ahead where possible. That’s why I think it’s important for a couple to both be confident in certain core aspects of their life independently first (emotional stability & career), whilst also dependently sharing the same values – in my opinion this provides a higher chance of long-term success.

That said, people can get married much younger without all that and still be together for the duration of their lifetime, or conversely get married at the ‘ideal’ age and only to find out 20 years down the line they’ve become incompatible, divorce, and then start all over again with new families.

You can get married at any age, but in practical terms (the reason for our perceived ideal age) the real issue is the age constraint placed on women if they want to have children. Damn you Mother Nature😉

Quora Question: How do you know for certain you won’t cheat on anyone?

The unpredictability of life means that there’s not a lot of things I can guarantee that I can be 100% certain of, but fidelity is definitely one of them. This realistion came many years before I got cheated on. 

My first day of work there was this guy, and he wouldn’t even acknowledge me. This continued for weeks. Over time, he warmed to me, and one day he invited me to spend the evening with his long-term partner and two small children for Bonfire night.

We were having dinner together after the show, and as we sat, I observed them. They seemed like a happy, loving family. I thanked my colleague the next day, for allowing me to spend time with his beautiful family. I recall secretly wishing I had that life.

Over a year later, my colleague asked me to stay behind after work. I noted over the course of the past few days his behaviour was peculiar. He was withdrawn. As everyone left, he locked the door. I started to get concerned, I stood up from my chair, “is everything alright?,” I asked. “Abi, sit back down, I have some bad news.” Perplexed, “tell me what’s going on,” I said.

Him: “I was in the kitchen at home a week ago and saw my partners laptop open, there was an email between her best friend and her, explicitly detailing her affair with the neighbour. I confronted her, and she admitted it. She said she is unhappy and doesn’t want to live in London anymore, she’s taking the kids abroad to her native homeland. We’re not legally married. I’m not sure I can stop her. I’ve lost everything. What’s the point of living? I just want to kill myself.”

Wow, I wasn’t in a million years expecting that. She seemed so lovely. I was in shock. There was silence for a brief period. Then my lips moved. “You must live for your children. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you haven’t lost everything, they’re still your children. No one can take them away from you. Pull yourself together, don’t get into a bitter fight with her, keep your cool. She holds all the cards, so be smart. Also, you need to put the children’s emotional well being first. I’m always here if you need me, we’ll get through this together.”

Months passed, I watched him turn from the once strong willed person to a shadow of his former self. He started drinking heavily. Worked really hard so that he could travel abroad to see his kids for a long weekend every month. The loneliness of rattling around in an empty house destroyed him. Eventually, he retired early, so that he could move abroad to be with his children.

We’re still really close. Years later when I found out a guy I was dating cheated on me, he was the first person I called. He’s my adopted dad.

He hasn’t moved on to another relationship. I sense sadness still in his heart. Why wouldn’t I cheat? Because, it has the potential to devastate lives forever. Not everyone recovers. I wouldn’t wish to have that on my conscience, that I’m certain of…

Best,

Abi

Thanks for the A2A, Yasmeen.


Amarpreet Singh’s Answer to: What’s the rudest thing a child has said to you?

This was when I was a child myself. Some of the things which I will write will be from memory but I would like you to be aware the mind can change memories, so some of it may be a bit foggy.

So, it’s November 2004 and recently my mother died to cancer. I was 6. The news of her death wasn’t known to me as my dad wasn’t ready to see me like that. So in break time, kids would come and ask me if my mother was dead, and when I would say no she isn’t , some would taunt me and some would tell me to admit it and stop lying. Some kids even laughed at me. Some teachers also asked me about her death but they were more aware of what it is like for me.

I kept on denying because I knew my mother was in hospital and recently had gone blind, but I didn’t know she died. Later on the evening , I was met with the reality of my mothers dead body.

Quora Question: Who’s the nicest stranger you’ve ever come across?

Hands down, it has to be a guy called Anders from Denmark. We were in touch a few years ago. We’d communicate pretty much everyday by Skype, chatting naturally for ages. He would tell me the exact time, and on the occasional chance he was running late, he would let me know.

I never met him physically in person, but from our chats, he came across as the most gentle, kindest man, I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s the only man (apart from my first boss) that wasn’t preoccupied with a woman’s looks, a true gent in every sense of the word.

Without question, the most loveliest human being. I don’t get jealous, but in this case, the woman who ends up with him is lucky. He’s one in a billion…

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