I am in love with a girl. I never expected this to happen. I’ve dated guys before, but most were superficial relationships. I mostly just toyed with them till I got bored, then break off the relationship.

I always thought, especially with the Asian expectations for me, that I’d find a middle-class foreign guy to marry and put up with him, and move overseas. Because that is what I’m good at doing. And what my parents would prefer as well.

However that’s not at all what has happened. I have fallen head over heels in love with a girl from the Philippines. I’ve never felt this terrified of losing someone than this person whom I have been in a three-year happy relationship with.

This has obviously turned my immature life path upside down. I have given my mother little clues of this relationship and she is completely against it. I feel prepared to work hard and be the breadwinner of the family by staying in this relationship. But there is the nagging feeling that I could do better or I’m not making a wise decision, only because my friends and family frequently push me to accept offers from white men that I’d break up with.

I am very confused. I don’t know what to do. And I feel like this is a very specific situation that I can’t talk to anyone about because everyone has their own biased views.

Thelma, could you tell me what you think would be wise?

Prosperity burger girl

Dear Prosperity burger girl,

Wisdom lies in doing what is best in the long run. And as marriage involves making your bed and lying in it, I think the best thing would be to discover what you want and need. This involves asking yourself a few questions.

First, you say that you have always had this vision of your life as “putting up with” a white man and moving overseas. I have to ask: what exactly is in your mind here?

If you are very poor and uneducated, then I totally get it. Under those circumstances, a desperate person might use marriage to a person blessed with material wealth in order to advance her fortunes and that of her family’s.

But your letter indicates that you are educated and erudite. So I’m going to assume you’re capable of working. That means you can forge your own career and be financially independent.

If you think marrying an ang moh is a ticket to the good life, I urge you to think again. To be purely practical, you may marry for money but what happens if five years down the road your meal ticket decides to dump you? You’d be back to where you are now.

Or do you believe that being overseas will somehow be different in a wonderful way? Because I can tell you with certainty that it is not.

Being in a strange country without friends and family to support you is a challenge. It’s easier if you’re with someone you love. When you’re with someone you only tolerate, it can very easily be a misery.

My opinion: If you marry for money and status only, there is a big chance that you’ll regret it. A safer strategy to ensure wealth and status would be to build up your own. Once you own those things, they can’t be taken away from you. Empowerment is the way to go.

Also, reading between the lines, you don’t seem to like yourself very much. I strongly suggest you take some time to consider who you are. You might also read up on self-esteem and work on that in order to boost your overall personal happiness.

Now about your present love. You’ve met a girl and you’re head over heels. But in all the limerence or infatuated love, you are having doubts and your family aren’t keen.

Love is nice but it’s not always very reliable for long-term happiness. That’s why anyone who is contemplating marriage should ask: what do I want and expect from a lifelong relationship?

When it comes to the big picture, do we share the same values, attitudes and life goals? When it comes to daily living, do we communicate well, are we fair and just, do we support each other, and do we make each other happy?

Nothing in life is certain, but if you are compatible, you have a good shot at happiness. Mismatches in attitudes and goals tend to result in problems, if not immediately, then further down the road.

In your case, you also have to consider the legalities of your situation. At present you can’t marry in this country or the Philippines, so how will the nuts and bolts of your relationship work? Before you commit, please think about how you see yourself in five, 10 and 20 years from now. Do you see your long-term relationship as viable?

I do understand your family’s disquiet. This is a conservative country, and so there will be difficulties for a same-sex relationship.

However, sexual compatibility is very important in marriage. Feelings from the bedroom inevitably carry over into the rest of the relationship. If they are neutral, it can still be fine – especially if you see eye to eye on everything else. But if the feelings are negative, it can spell real trouble.

My concern is that you speak of toying with men, and appear to have very little interest in them. If you believe you cannot be happy with an intimate relationship with a man, then a traditional marriage would be extremely difficult.

My advice is not to be hasty. Think everything through carefully. Then discuss it with your mum and the relatives and friends who truly matter to you. It won’t be easy, and so you should be prepared for some difficulties. However, keep talking and keep an open heart and mind.

Now, if your family’s objection to your girlfriend is that they think she’s not a good person, then you should take their warning. Love can really scramble your mind, and sometimes family and friends can spot a predator when we are blinded by our emotions.

Also, you say you are young. Sense says that it’s better to wait until you know your own mind rather than rush into a lifelong commitment you’ll regret. Please, don’t make any impulsive decisions.

Finally, you have an awful lot to think through. If you need help, there are LGBT-friendly therapists you can talk to. Look for someone who is willing to model pros and cons of your options. The more you think this through, the better you will discover what you need and want.

Good luck and let me know how you go on.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Write to Dear Thelma, c/o Star2, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor or e-mail star2.thelma@thestar.com.my. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.