I don’t want to believe people are awful or do awful things, but it’s a fact. People are terrible and Malaysians are no different. In fact, Malaysians may be worse because of our cultural inability to say no and set boundaries. I’m aware that I’m Malaysian born and bred, and having lived the last 23 years of my life in our monsoon-ridden country – I can say this.

Stringing a person along is a feat that defies the laws of physics – suspending a person in space for an extended period of time. Do people do this unintentionally or intentionally? Either way, it’s not a good thing.

I’m chalking this up to the quintessential Malaysian pastime of committing to things and freaking out when they realize they’re not up to snuff.  Alternatively, it’s someone enjoying the attention they receive without any intention of reciprocating the emotions behind it.

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Terasa ke? Good. You’re a dick.

Whether you’re replying excessively to texts from that one ex who’s obviously still into you or paying seemingly exclusive attention to someone you’re never going to get into a relationship with: you, sweetheart – are not a nice person.

This is what stringing a person along looks like: your behavior and statements don’t allow for an understanding of what’s going on between the two of you. You don’t let them go, so they can’t move on with their life. You also don’t let them close enough to feel secure about their relationship with you. You appear interested, but you keep it so vague that they’re constantly questioning. You’re ‘in a relationship’ but you feed into their insecurities. Eventually you break it off, citing differences or mumbling some excuse about not wanting to hurt them – but they are going to walk away, resenting you.

Of course, there’s a flip side.

Our cultural inability to say no: there’s this thing, especially among girls – where we have to be nice. Now, in a previous article – I’ve said that nice is a placeholder for an actual personality. However, in this context – we are taught to be submissive, to be polite, to give way whenever possible. We acquiesce to the demands of other people. We don’t stand up for ourselves. What does this lead to?

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There’s no management of expectations here. There’s no clear delineation of boundaries – no proverbial line in the sand. When the boundary of friend and romantic interest is blurred, people get hurt and that’s when people begin lashing out.

Of course, I don’t know if I should blame Malaysia’s lack of sex education or what – but a lot of people have no idea how a standard relationship works. They’re entirely disconnected from what behavior is restricted to a romantic relationship and how far a platonic relationship can or should reach. This differs from person to person as well, and being upfront about boundaries and expectations is an important conversation to have between people – especially when unsure.

So, what do you do when this happens?

  1.       Call them out on it: This forces the person to confront their behavior head on and clarify anything that’s murky. Either way, you get closure and they realize that they need to be clear about their boundaries and expectations from their relationship.
  2.       Leave: If calling them out hasn’t done anything positive, or they constantly avoid the question – I can’t stress this enough. If you’re not happy with the way a relationship is progressing, leave. They’re probably going to continue doing this and leaving is the safest way to protect your emotional well-being. People aren’t going to change unless they want to.

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Have you been strung along? Did you ever string anyone along? What do you think about the Malaysian mindset when it comes to dating? Do we even have one? Let me know in the comments.

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