'I come from a line of divorced women, and I think I'm not meant to be happy in love'

Figurine of couple with man upside down, woman in cafe touching her ring
Does a family history of divorce affect the way a person looks at a relationship? (Photos: Getty Images)

For years, *Stella, 33, has been worried that if she ever gets married, her relationship will end in a messy and bitter divorce. Stella is engaged and is set to marry in 2024. This is her story, as told to Arika Kim. Names have been changed and details have been modified upon request.

Growing up, some of my favourite films were romantic in nature. I revelled in anything created by Disney, and dreamt that one day I’d be swept off my feet but some gorgeous man looking to rescue me.

As a kid, I envisioned a perfect life for myself once I met the love of my life.

Fast forward 20 years into the future and after multiple heartbreaks, failed relationships, and everything else in between, I’ve learned that I might not be as lucky as those Disney princesses and life really isn’t like a romantic comedy at all.

Add this to the fact that I come from a line of divorced women, and I’m starting to think that maybe I’m just not meant to be happy in love.

Divorces in the family

You see, my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother have all been divorced.

To add insult to injury, my mother has been divorced twice. Since their final divorces, none of them ever remarried or dated anyone else.

After her second divorce, I remember my mother telling me that she’s given up on love.

“I’ve closed my heart and mind to the possibility of ever finding someone,” she once told me.

My siblings? Of the three I have, two added their marriages in divorce, both of which ended badly. My sister is now devoted purely to raising her only child.

In some ways, she’s given up on finding anyone, too.

“Unless they’re rich and about to die soon, I think I’m done with dating,” she once joked.

As a teenager, my mother’s words didn’t quite bother me.

When I was first introduced to boys, it was a field day. The first time I got into a relationship, I was giddy with excitement, thinking that my first boyfriend was going to be the love of my life.

When the relationship ended, I was jilted but remained positive at the prospect of falling in love once again.

To me, falling in love is the best feeling in the world, and it’s a feeling that I wish everyone has the chance to experience at least once in their lives.

Dating around was always exciting to me because it meant I got to meet new men and all the possibilities that came with them.

Not knowing a healthy relationship

However, after multiple disappointing dates and relationships, I’m starting to think that I really should be alone.

Looking at my family’s history with relationships and divorce, I’m beginning to believe that my family’s sort of cursed, and that any marriage I get myself into will result in a bitter end.

In fact, in some ways, I think my belief in this curse has allowed me to self-sabotage and ruin good things because I think they’re too good to be true.

Every single time a relationship ends, I sink deeper into believing this.

Deep down, I know it’s an irrational fear but I can’t help but actually believe it.

Growing up in a single-parent household also means that I’ve not actually seen what a healthy relationship looks like, or what it’s even actually meant to be.

My closest friends, who know how I feel about this, have all called me insane.

“Just because it’s happened to them, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you. Don’t let what you think you know become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said a wise friend.

After meeting my fiancé, I’ve allowed myself to let go of that nagging feeling that this relationship won’t work out.

However, I’ve seen how I can get too in my head sometimes and I’ll start to self-sabotage.

The odd thing is that my fiancé and I don’t have any actual problems.

Lately, I’ve started thinking that this relationship can’t be as good as I think it is and the slightest thing that happens will mean the end for us.

It’s strange just how much a trend in my family could influence my views on relationships and push me to entertain the thought that something like this could happen to me, too.

When I’m not so in my head with my thoughts, I often think about my future children (if any) and how I hope they never even begin to feel this way when they come of age and have relationships of their own.

Till this feeling finally goes away or till I finally learn to deal with this emotion, I’ll have to contain and manage my thoughts so it doesn’t actually get the better of me.

A Millennial's Dating Diary series explores real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series features the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

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