Having realistic expectations for yourself and relationships can help ease the stress of finding ‘the one’

By Li Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/6 19:18:40

Experts warn people about "expectancy anxiety," a mental disorder caused by frustration and overly high expectations in relationships and marriage. Photo: IC


About two weeks ago, Fang Hao (pseudonym), a 33-year-old financial worker based in Beijing, scared away a second girlfriend by proposing. They met on a blind date in June.

"I just want to get married as soon as possible, because I am not young anymore and I am worried," Fang said. He used this same line when he proposed to his girlfriend at the time. He has already bought an apartment and a car in Beijing, and used that to persuade his girlfriend in his proposal speech as well. However, his strong desire to get married is actually repelling women, and his ex-girlfriend left the restaurant before he finished the speech.

Fang's eagerness to get married has ended with him being single again. However, others less focused on marriage, just have had success.

Ruby Lin, a 40-year-old Taiwanese actress known for enjoying the single life, who claimed a woman does not have to marry someone, was married to her old friend Wallace Huo, a Taiwanese actor, in August.

The latest news sensation occurred on September 3 when 40-year-old Taiwanese movie star Shu Qi, who is also known for living a happy single life, posted wedding photos on Instagram and announced her marriage to Hong Kong actor and director Stephen Fung. The announcement went viral and there have been more than 4.7 million comments on the topic of her marriage on Sina Weibo. It is said that the two, who have been friends for years, were shooting a movie in Prague,  the Czech Republic, when Fung proposed and she said yes.

"I feel like the more I want to get married, the more difficult it gets for me," said Fang. "My ex-girlfriend told me to see a psychiatrist, and I began to wonder if I should."

Feng Kun, a psychologist based in Beijing, said that among people in their 30s and 40s, marriage and relationships have become a major source of anxiety, depression and other mental problems.

"When people want something badly and cannot get it, they may have negative emotions; when people do not place such importance on things, no matter how it goes, it doesn't affect their mood," Feng said. "That is why singles who are less focused on finding a spouse often find the one sooner."

A relaxing, optimistic and natural attitude helps single people live a happy life. Photo: IC


Stop stressing

Fang said he does not have a specific type of person he wants, only certain characteristics.

"I want to find someone I am attracted to and someone who comes from a good family," Fang said.

Fang is also quick to act in other areas in his life. He does not like to wait and wants to get everything as soon as possible. He took his first job offer and two weeks after signing the contract, he bought an apartment without taking any time to search around for other options.

According to Feng, he thinks Fang may suffer from a disorder called expectancy anxiety. This type of anxiety disorder, when applied to relationships, tends to cause trouble. Feng said people who suffer from this type of anxiety are also at risks of an inferiority complex and paranoia. These issues could affect their ability to socialize, mental and physical health and problems with sleep and immune deficiency.

Fang was not extremely upset when the relationship ended because he was not 100 percent sure she was "the one" for him. However, the failure in this relationship caused him to focus on other negative aspects of his life. Trivial matters, such as poor quality coffee at the office cafe and a minor water leak in his apartment, started to increase his anxiety. He has become more frustrated and started to doubt himself and his ability to make choices and pursue happiness.

"People suffering from this kind of anxiety often make the mistake of settling with someone they are not compatible with because they want to be in a relationship so badly. This can cause strong negative emotions when they realize the person they are with is not what they were looking for," Feng said.

 "Maybe I rushed, and I should take time to think about my decisions before I make them," Fang said. "Some of my single friends are living happily but I just do not know how to adjust my mentality."

Patience pays off

Wang Shanna, a 39-year-old sales manager in an international trade company based in Beijing, recently got engaged. Like Lin and Shu, she agreed to marry her former high school classmate. They have known each other for over 20 years and have dated for almost a year.

"I was in a group of people called 'teenage women,' consisting of independent girls not in a hurry to find someone to marry and who enjoy the present to the fullest," said Wang.

When she saw the news report on TV that Shu got married, it resonated when Shu told the media that she thought no one could anticipate what would happen in the future and life is full of new things and surprises.

"I did not want to get married just for the sake of getting married. I choose to take my time and it finally paid off," she said. "I have always been easy-going and unselfish and so is my fiancé."

Wang said she also saw Shu's marriage photos, which she and Fung took in Prague. In the photos, Shu wore a very simple white wedding dress compared with other female stars' complicated and expensive dresses.

"To my amusement, she wore a pair of sport shoes to take the wedding photos," Wang said. "How casual and natural she is, and I think I could do that, too."

Wang said when she announced her marriage decision, many friends called to congratulate her.

"Most of them said they thought I would never get married and that I seemed relaxed and happy, as if I did not need a life partner," she said.

"For a while, I thought about being single for life, but after all this time I knew I wanted to be with him when I saw him again; I waited for the right one."

What to do

Wang Di, a professor and sociologist from Peking University, said in a February 2014 People's Daily report that the relationship issues with people in their 20s and 30s reveal a new trend of social mentality and values.

"Many modern young people are becoming more and more materialistic when it comes to relationships and marriage," Wang Di said.

"Through marriage, people are asking for more, besides a happy life with a partner, they want a higher social status, to be viewed highly among peers and a more enjoyable and materialistic life."

Feng and Wang Shanna both shared Wang Di's view. Feng said this materialistic view makes people's mentality increasingly unhealthy in relationship issues. "In a psychological perspective, this type of person will have difficulty in realizing their self-value and becomes increasingly harsh in requiring others to validate that value, which is a vicious circle."

As a result, Feng suggested that one must have a sense of security.

Wang Shanna said she noticed that women who are obsessed with marriage suffer more because of the norms in society.

"For women who are single in their 40s, there is more pressure for them than single men of the same age," she said. "I think women should act like Lin and Shu, make themselves beautiful in appearance, strong in mentality, successful in work and the right one will come along."

Feng suggested that single people in their 30s and 40s take a more relaxed attitude toward relationships and marriage. "Do not think of every date you go on as a chance to get married and do not think of every person you date seriously as 'the one,'" he said. "When you relax and keep optimistic, you will attract people who are similar, and you can get to know yourself better. You can take time to figure out what kind of person you like and what kind of person you would like to spend your life with."

Wang Shanna said she is thankful for her failed relationships because they helped her understand  what she wants for herself.

"We should look at things in a different perspective," she said. "The time I spent being happily single was worth it, even though I did not know that I was even waiting for anything."


Newspaper headline: The marrying type

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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