A music lover, I remember I used to listen to a very famous Khmer song in the ‘90s. The title of the song is “Don’t love a girl while you’re at the age of learning”, directly translated from Khmer language. The song describes how painful a male graduate student feels after his girlfriend marries someone else because he fails his exam and because the girl wants another man richer and better than he is.
Even though the song is probably no longer listened by any Cambodian student in this new generation, I guess the meaning of the song can be used as a mirror to reflect on the reality of many contemporary students, be them in high school or university, who are playing the game of love.
Personally, I have gone through two serious love experiences—one happened when I was a senior high school student and was a complete disaster, at least for me, when my ex-girlfriend was arranged by her parents to marry a Cambodian American, and second happened when I was a year 3 student at IFL, and this love with my baby (Pagna) has continued until now and future, I believe since we are planning to get married soon.
Based on the two love experiences that I have gone through, I learnt one big lesson about love that while it could be heaven on earth, love could also be a huge liability for students if they aren’t able to manage it well.
Why is love a liability?
As a Personal Learning Coach, I have coached many students who seem to have problems in their learning because of love. I have felt really bad about this because I actually witness young people with immense potentials and capacity being emotionally pulled down and probably never being able to stand up straight again. Because of love they have so bad an emotion that they don’t want to sleep or eat, let alone go to school to learn.
As I think back I guess it was somehow because of love that made me become a gangster and destroyed my life for almost three years. After breaking up with my first girlfriend, I felt devastated and wanted to do nothing, but anything that gave me extreme zest so that I could forget what I did not want to remember. As a result, without even knowing it I became a gangster, gambler, motorbike racer, and drunkard.
Teenage Love in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
When I was in high school from the year 1998 to 2004, it was not really common to see a school boy and girl holding hands and telling others they were in love. Because of the strong influence of Cambodian culture, students—particularly high school students—were just shy or not brave enough to have love.
However, today this kind of teenage love is very common. Maybe because of cultural globalization, media or highly notorious food, Cambodian students even those in primary school easily fall in love or are already in pursuit to find their lovers.
Especially in the warm evening time when the sun starts to set, you can see a boy and girl (in the age of high school study) dressed in fashionable outfits riding on their trendy motorbike. They sit intimately closely to one another that you can instantly know they are not relatives or friends. In some rare occasions, you may also see them hugging and kissing one another in public.
Personally, I believe this trend is not going to back to that in the ‘90s or 80s way of life that teens or young adults are conservative in love game. It only gets more civilized or even outrageous like the way it is going on in the West and other developed and elegant countries.
Whether or not I recommend students to start a relationship or have love
Sometime a short while ago, while I was giving a lecture related to the topic of love, one of my students asked me whether I recommend students to start a relationship or have love. Quite honestly I was surprised to hear such a question asked by a senior high school student because it told me two things (i) love is almost always an interesting topic and (ii) I have to be very careful with my advice about love since it is a highly controversial topic.
To the question my answer was “it totally depends on the student him or herself. If they are confident that they are capable of handling a love game, they may go ahead with the game. But, if they are not sure they can, they should not try it yet.”
I call and consider love a game because I believe that there is winning or losing in it. It is not a game whether a person wins over his or her partner. Yet, it is a game that the couples of the relationship win together, and when they do win, they will laugh, smile and enjoy their life so much. For example, my ex-girlfriend and I lost our game and have had to live with remorse for the rest of our life. But, Pagna and I are now winning our love game, thus enjoying our life.
What should students prepare for love?
Again, love is a game. So, if your partner and you are students and decide to play it, you’ve got to have some preparations as follows:
- Long-term perspective: successful love is not a one-moment thing. It is not a destination, but a journey that two people have got to dive in and live with it. So, think long-term, not short-term. Generally speaking, students do not think far in the future at all. They tend to be impulsive and do not care much about the consequences, which is why they seem to have problems in their relationship. As for you, you should choose to think as far into the future as possible. Think of the possible consequences of any of your action.
- Money: believe me or not, money plays an important role in love or relationship. People usually say ‘true love doesn’t need money’. I disagree with this especially when I think of love in a long-term run. To have a healthy and happy relationship, one must have enough money or wealth to be able to start a family or at least provide for the wedding reception party. For most high school students, I understand they don’t have much money, and because of this, they tend to ignore this. Surely enough, they can avoid discussing it, but they can’t make it disappear and one day it will appear in a way that may destroy their plan of a successful love. In real life, you may have heard two students falling in love for a while and then breaking up maybe because the girl’s family is richer than the boy’s or vice versa.
- Time: for students who are about to get into any relationship, they should consider whether they have enough time to spare. Because they are still students, they need quite a great deal of time for their academic activities including schooling, self-learning, clubbing, and etc. Therefore, without a balanced time schedule, they should not get involved in love at all or else their relationship will cost them their good learning results or their relationship will not prosper since they don’t have much time to water it.
- Love and sex are two different concepts: I don’t know for girls, but for most boys, they usually get into any relationship just to make love with a girl. Personally, I view this as a wrong practice, for love and sex are two different concepts. For students, I strongly don’t recommend them to engage in any sexual activity because it may affect their academics and health. Unsafe sex may lead the doers to STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), teen pregnancy, and etc.
Sex is something generally unavoidable, and sooner or later you will have it. But try not to have it when you are not ready to take responsibility or face with its consequences.Remember, think long-term.
Now, I guess if any student ever asks me whether they are ready to have love or form a successful relationship, I will recommend them to check out the four afore-mentioned points or preparations. If they positively possess the qualities, I guess they are ready. Personally, I kind of have a rather negative perception about high school students’ forming an intimate relationship or having love because as I said, there are many factors determining whether or not a relationship is successful.
Now as for you, I don’t know in what level of education you are. But, if you are thinking of forming a serious relationship with anyone you fancy, make sure you possess certain qualities first before jumping in the game.
Why is this a Self Development for students?
As I said, when I was a student, a student who had a partner (boyfriend or girlfriend) would be the center of attention; people would have looked at them as strangers. However, nowadays that a student has a boyfriend or girlfriend is a common practice even in Cambodia, a very culturally conservative country.
Because love for students is not an alien subject anymore, it’s really great if they learn pretty much about love before they actually form an intimate relationship with anyone they fancy.
As for the love matter, you may find me a bit more bias to girls or women, but I’ve got to tell you that I really am. I’m not underestimating ladies, but I just want to point out that most of them are generally sensitive when it comes to love.
So, if you are a girl reading this article, I strongly encourage you to be extra careful with your forming any relationship. When it comes to love, society is somehow harsher on you than men.
If you girls or ladies have decided to start a serious relationship, be strong in it and always ready to take any consequence possible. Supposed you were not successful in it because of some reasons, I wanted you to be strong and confident in yourself that you’d be sooner or later successful in your pursuit in searching for your true lover. Never ever think of ending your life because of some love matters which are not worth your life.
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