LoyarBorak features discussions of selected issues in either written, video, or audio formats.

LoyarBorak goes all romantic in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, as thoughts shift to love, relationships, and marriage. This LoyarBorak is moderated by Marcus van Geyzel, and the Borakkers taking part in this session are Edmund Bon, June Rubis, Lim Ka Ea, and Syahredzan Johan.

Please borak along in the comments section below. If you’d like to be a Borakker, email us at [email protected]

Marcus: Have you ever been “in love”? Describe what you think being “in love” means.


As a youngish boy in 2004, I wrote about love, sex and marriage, and I maintain the same views.

“Love” is an illusion.

It — as in whatever the concept one may perceive it to be — manifests itself in different forms that one may mistake as “love”. In many cases, it is a form of escapism from the suffering, drudgery and sadness of life.

Marcus: That’s a fairly depressing worldview. Isn’t it just a matter of semantics? Love is obviously not tangible, but if it’s a combination of emotions/feelings such as joy, compassion, tenderness, satisfaction, etc. — are you saying that those are illusions too? Or are you pushing back at the concept of “love” for the sake of pushing back?


We should always be careful when we use words especially those with emotive baggage. Humans have used the word “love” too easily and too freely.

It’s time to step back and think about what we actually mean.


To me, love is a state of Being. It is always part of us, and it can never be lost. The bonds that we have among each other: mother-child, brother-sister, friend-friend, lover-lover, woman-nature are essentially of a singular bond that is expressed in different ways and intensity.

Once we are born into this world, and start developing meaningful connections with each other, and with nature, then we are in love.

Ka Ea:

Yes, a couple of times.

Being in love means you can’t stop thinking of that person. You continuously seek out for the other person’s attention and his/her approval. You crave to be a part of that person’s life despite knowing that he/she may not be good or right for you [watch The Postman Always Rings Twice (TPART) and you’ll get the gist].

Being in love gives you courage to do things you normally wouldn’t do or think were silly and ridiculous before (again, watch TPART). It makes you lose your mind, time and often weight because all you could think of is whether he/she likes you or thinks you’re too fat.

I think people often over-analyse what being in love means. It’s a state of being and feeling that manifests differently in different people. But I believe the general rule of thumb is when you just can’t stop thinking about that person and everything about him/her matters greatly to you.

When that happens, I’m in love.


Yes, I have been in love.

I am still in love.

If you ask me what “love” is, I don’t think I can give you an answer. But I know what it is to be “in love.”

To me, when you love someone, it is when you care about some more than you care about yourself. When you are in love with someone, there will be this longing for that person, a pain you feel when you’re not with that person or if you are away. Being in love makes you want to lay bare your innermost thoughts to that other person, to be naked of superficialities and personas and for that person to see you as who you are.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Marcus: So it seems like “love” is a personal experiential thing? June, Ka Ea & Syah — what do you think of Edmund’s view that love is an “illusion”?


I agree with him that a lot of people unconsciously use romantic love as an escapism for their current problems. Love becomes a burden when you inevitably start having expectations for the other, and feeling disappointed when they fail to meet your expectations.

What is true love? To love the other person without any expectations? That is so hard, and does it even exist? I do not know.

I hate to say it, but Edmund is being real.

Ka Ea:

I think Edmund speaks like one who has either been in love before but doesn’t want to acknowledge it due to fear or whatever other reasons there are or/and he has been heartbroken before and hence decided that it doesn’t exist. Knowing his personality and character, I’m afraid I can’t agree that he’s incapable of love.

I think most of us have gone through that phase of rejecting love because it has been too painful and we tell ourselves that love shouldn’t be that difficult, that it is just an illusion, etc.

I would be interested to know how Edmund would describe the feelings he have towards his parents, siblings, pets and friends.


Edmund, being Edmund, is looking at love and life as a whole from a pessimistic perspective. Maybe all those years of helping people who have suffered injustice made him develop this worldview that life is a suffering and that any escape from it would be a “good thing.”

So I disagree with Edmund that love is an illusion. In fact, I will use him to support my argument.

He is very obviously is in love and his love is his life in the law. His love can be seen in his many projects — your Human Rights Committees, your MyConstitutions and yes, your LoyarBuroks. Why would he pour his blood, sweat and tears into these projects if he does not love them and love is merely an illusion?


Syah and Ka Ea, kindly not move the goalposts. We are not talking about family relationships or pets, neither are we discussing inanimate activities. Being born into a family and living with family your whole life is not a choice a person has. How would you explain the underprivileged who are children of the streets or drug addicts?


Not moving any goalposts. Love isn’t just about romantic feelings to another person. You can love your family, your pets, your friends and yes, your projects.

Ka Ea:

Edmund, I think you’re the one who’s moving the goalposts. Your argument is moot. Just because there are underprivileged or unwanted children, it doesn’t mean love doesn’t exist.

I would also like to add that people often think that loving someone is an easy thing to do. I personally think that it is harder to love than not to love. It is easier to reject love than to embrace it.

And by the way, there are people who wed their pets in certain culture. Call it crazy or ridiculous but it still doesn’t change the fact that love exists.

From the movie "Lost In Translation"
From the movie "Lost In Translation"

Marcus: What is your view of the concept of “being in a relationship”? Is it necessary?


Human interaction is an imperative. Relationships are always necessary. People need to be part of communities and have friends.

There are different types of relationships though; and it really depends on the nature and intensity of the connectivity.

Marcus: As a man, I’m sure it’s been put to you before that your contrarian views about love/relationships are borne out of a “fear of commitment.” — do you think there’s any truth in that?


I don’t agree with that. I think they are unrelated.

Honestly, look around you and ask if there is a need to live the way we live? The environment is going bust, people are fighting over money, we have groups who can’t even sit on the same table without getting into an argument over ethnicity and religion. We don’t need all this — but since we are on Earth we have to make the best we have and be as happy as we can be.

If happiness is manifested in a commitment then so be it. But I still can’t wrap my head around the institution of marriage.


A relationship with another person that mirrors the same kind of love and intensity that we have for that person is indeed special. I think part of Life, is to create opportunities to experience such relationships.

But sometimes it doesn’t happen the way we envision it, or at all, and it’s ok. I think the point is to keep an open heart and mind, no matter what.

There are many ways to be loved, and to love.

Marcus: Keeping with the theme of “commitment” that I mentioned to Edmund, as a woman, wouldn’t you — realistically — feel the need to require some sort of “commitment” from the man you’re in love with? Whilst not compulsory, this “commitment” usually manifests itself in concepts such as being “in a steady relationship.”


I think it is up to the couple to decide what sort of commitment they would want to have.

If they are completely honest with each other, and can accept the other person in totality for who they are (but also compromise is important at times), then it is a commitment or relationship worth having.

Ka Ea:

Being in a relationship is part of being in love. I don’t think you can separate the two. I bet you that it’ll be difficult to find someone who’s in love and yet refuse to enter into a relationship with the person he/she is in love with.

It’s always important to build relationships with the people you know anyway; your family, friends, colleagues and even your pet. Hence, it is necessary to be in a relationship with someone you’re in love with. Otherwise, you’re just in love with someone you don’t really know and that’s not good at all. Trust me on this.

I think if you want to know someone to the fullest, you need to be in a relationship (Annie Hall will tell you this). Whether the relationship is going to last or not, it’s another matter but I don’t think I can claim to love someone without wanting to know that person at every possible level.

Marcus: Interesting. So, in essence, you’re saying that if two people are in love, they will naturally be in a relationship? As a relationship is a human societal construct, could you describe the difference, to you, between being in and out of a relationship?

Ka Ea:

No, I said if two people are in love, they would want to enter into a relationship. Now, whether they will succeed to be in a relationship or not depends on many circumstantial factors.

I think the difference lies in the intent and will of that specific person and it has to be reciprocal. I doubt you can call it a relationship if it’s only one way.


I do not think that there is a direct co-relation between “love” and “being in a relationship”. You do not have to be in a relationship to be in love and just because you are in a relationship, does not mean that you are in love.

I think whether a relationship is necessary or not really depends on you. Some people need the companionship, romance and stability. Others do not. Being in a relationship is an option. Being in love isn’t and it just happens.


If two people are truly in love with each other, and they have the courage to admit it, then perhaps a relationship could take place. But it’s not always that simple. We all have our own baggage from previous relationships whether romantic, or not and we take this with us when we start a new intense human connection.

It’s scary to let someone into your life, in an intimate way especially when you have no idea how it is going to turn out. To me, at times, the word “relationship” comes with so much responsibility, and in some ways, it can be a burden especially if expectations are not mutual and not communicated to the other person.

Then again, what is a relationship? A relationship is basically a sense of attachment or connection between two people. Whether it is romantic or platonic or familial, a relationship exists when there is a strong connection. How we decide to take it to the next level, is up to the parties involved, and no one else.


I think we can start to discount Syah’s views from this borak because he just got married. (Couldn’t let this go! Had to say this!).


Edmund, don’t be a haterrrr…

The Borak concludes with Part 2 tomorrow!

Edmund is a virgin who believes in free love while tweeting at @edmundbon.

June is a secret romantic who believes in Unweddings and tweets at @j_rubis.

Ka Ea is happy to be in love.

Syah is a self-professed “poyo jiwang” who spends his days listening to The Moffatts and stalking Justin Bieber via @syahredzan. Do not judge him.

13 replies on “LoyarBorak #5: Love & Marriage (Part 1) #LoyarBerkasih”

  1. thoughtful discussions.

    curious that one thing didn't come up though, it's often thought that love is something "natural", but I think it's something that actually needs to be learned. (much like sex and one's sexuality ;)

    it's not just about emotions and feelings, for they come and go (and can be renewed), it's about the mindful choices we make too when we're in love. to learn to trust and rely on each other yet remain independent and respect each other's spaces when need be. to be able to communicate calmly to resolve conflicts but also scream and cry hysterically at each other to release the emotional tensions at times if one needs to…nobody is born with such skills, they need to be learned and honed, though I do believe everyone is born with the potential to love.

    And so I think love is an evolving concept for learning lovers, we think about and learn what is love (and how to love) as we enter into relationships, make mistakes, get hurt, hurt others before going on to become great lovers.

    Happy valentine's!

    p/s: I almost snorted when I read edmund is a virgin, then I realised it was because he's a 37-year-old guy. (If it was a woman, I would probably more readily believe she's a virgin.) So it was my stereotype about middle-age guys at work. I dunno if he intentionally wrote that to challenge others' assumptions about 37-year-olds' virginity but you got me!

  2. Syazwina,

    it's funny that you would think Annie Hall is a weak reference to real life relationships. I thought it is closer to reality than many other Hollywood chick-flick movies which only idealise romance with happy endings to all relationships and often lack substance nor intelligence.

    The relationship between Annie Hall and Alvy Singer did get dull eventually. They went through the mundane motion of what most real couple would go through; from making love three times a day to once in every 3 days, so on and so forth.

    The ending of the movie sums it up pretty well when Alvy tells a joke:

    "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken."

    And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?"

    The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs."

    Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us… need the eggs.

    p/s: I'll try to watch Everybody Says I Love You.

  3. THANK YOU T-boy. I did feel quite an element of privilege happening with Edmund's view but it turned me off enough to not want to continue reading.

    Can we not bring underprivileged children and ZOMGS THE POOR here? There's still plenty of love, even without the access to resources that we enjoy. It's utterly arrogant to assume that love and relationships – romantic and otherwise – are a middle-class luxury. If it wasn't for love, many wouldn't have the motivation to survive.

    It's love for the country and the people that motivates what's going on in Egypt now.

    It's love for family that gets mothers to walk miles to get water for their children.

    It's love, one way or another, that gets people like me waking up every day even when some days we just want to lie down and die.

    Look beyond the candy hearts and the roses and look at how love manifests.

  4. I don't think Edmund's position is "contrarian" at all.

    I think it's utterly pedestrian and incredibly dull, the same kind of immature crap privileged boys playing at being intellectual and clever push. Next thing he'll say is that My Chemical Romance is totally relevant to his pain, and that Simple Plan's songs speak deeply to his soul.

    In his response to the statement that "Love is illusion": Yes. Yes it is. It stems from emotions provoked by a series of neurochemical reactions inside the human brain, bolstered by societal convention and is often seen as a driving force in human relationships. There is no compelling material and physical reason to why we should consider love "real".

    You know what else is illusory? Justice, civilization and knowledge. Grind the world up with the finest gears and you will not find a single particle that will respond to justice, or one that will change its course for the ideal of civilization, and one that will transform merely because of knowledge.

    Those things are as illusory as love — more so, because at least love can claim to benefit the human species in its perpetuation (you can't say the same about knowledge and civilization, not after the 20th and 21st century, and humanity marches on with or without justice).

    And yet we forge on with the illusions in our heads, making the best out of our stupid, pointless lives. Or maybe, just MAYBE, those illusions do have purpose and use, and meaning is something you make, not something intrinsic to the universe you try and fail find to find before you write some damn article in the Malaysian Bar Council decrying how foolish love is and over-rated marriage is.

    Irony. Writing about the illusoriness of love in a website (that is merely made of of electrons, that make symbols, that only make sense in the minds of human beings) of a group of human beings who banded together to represent a profession (i.e. a role — read: illusion one places over oneself and others to fit in a economic system that works around the transfer of "value") that makes a living in the business of justice. Ha ha ha! Hilarious.

  5. Ka Ea:

    While I appreciate your choice in film references (Annie Hall is a sly touch), don't you think that using them as references or analogies of love sort of weakens your argument? Romance in film are just analogies or screenshots of the whole package – Annie Hall is fine as a throwaway reference to the whole chaos of being in a relationship, but reality is a lot duller than that, isn't it? 'Happily ever after' is more like 'relatively not so exciting but okay enough as to be content'. I prefer Allen's one and only musical "Everybody Says I Love You", which, asides from having Natalie Portman and Ed Norton singing (on and off-key), also explores the superficiality of romance and how expectations differ from reality, and how the latter suffers the former.

    Love is a dizzy feeling and seldom rational, but even after all the fireworks have sputtered away, still manages to elevate the mundane. Just not in a, you know, singing "On the Street Where You Live" kinda way.

  6. good arguements/opinions from all the parties.

    but im sure everyone has their own views on what's love and relationship.love is subjective right?

    looking forward for PART 2!! :)

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