On Love in Hong Kong (1)

My dating life in Hong Kong can best be described as a series of mishaps and ill choices, interspersed with a healthy scattering of bat-shit crazies. I arrived in Hong Kong at the ripe age of 32 – some would say my prime. An innocent Sydney boy arising from the ashes of an immense wreckage, stepping into the bright lights of a big city, where drinks are expensive, the food is fast and the women slippery.

In the four years since stepping foot into the fragrant harbor, life has been more or less good to me. A career change, the discovery of a deep seated passion for writing and journalism, more sex than the preceding years combined, yet Love proves to be elusive.

It’s not like I was really longing for any individual, but after a string of failures, I was beginning to feel disheartened by the prospects of finding a loving relationship in this city. Of course, that is the easy option – to generalize and blame the entire population for something as individual as Love.

I forget what the initial purpose of this post was since I started writing it a few months ago and swiftly abandoned it at the sight of my insecurities reaching out from the pages. Having a few months to further reflect however, I might add that Love doesn’t exactly evade me (us), rather it comes down to our own personal choices. We are given any number of options and opportunities, perhaps too many. I would even go as far as to say that we face the tyranny of Overchoice. Things can get pretty transactional here – and no, I am not talking about hookers – I mean dating or finding a partner can become a process. You meet someone, and each time you tick them off a list of wants and desires that matches your ideal, the image that you see as yourself.

Almost nobody makes the cut.

We are faced with what is known as cognitive dissonance, or the stress or discomfort when we face more than one choice. We try to juggle and balance the sum of options, and then we are paralysed by it. Just like Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes”, we ultimately make every decision based on one reason or another, sometimes it works out, often we settle. One thing is certain though, it is almost always us (the individual) that determines our own mental stasis, sour grapes or otherwise.

It is easy to forget that everyone is fighting their own battle, but if we all just paid a little attention to who we are talking to, and what they are saying, I am certain that we would find it immensely interesting to meet another human being and to try to understand their stories. If we allow ourselves to see their intrinsic value, then perhaps, even in the oftentimes overbearing glow of these Hong Kong lights, we may just find the right one.

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