Hanoi is not the place for love. At least not if you're a woman. In fact, i can't think of many worse places to move to if ones goal is to meet a man and fall in love.
When I first moved here, I was in a four year relationship so this didn't bother me in the least. Over the course of my time here, my relationship ended and I found myself suddenly bothered by the lack of options and resources that this city can offer in terms of eligible men.
I found myself reaching out to ex boyfriends via skype so that i could maintain a level of attention and affection. I let myself develop "feelings" for guys out here that i normally never would because I simply didn't know how to live my life without a partner. I started having major panic attacks that I made a big mistake letting my incredible and perfect boyfriend go (Jax-I know you're reading this and I still think you're the most wonderful man. iwaly) I seriously thought that I'd move back to New York or London and be an old maid, that all the men would be taken and I'd be alone. It depressed me beyond belief.
I was just in Sapa and while on the long hikes and train rides I had a lot of time for self reflection and I started wondering why I was letting this bother me so much. Why I was allowing this fact define my happiness and who I am as a person. I look for happiness in all the wrong places and use security in a relationship to fix my insecurities. I realized how sad it is to be in this position. I should be confident and happy with who I am and not let a man or relationship affect that. relationships are supposed to enhance ones life, not define it. Once I stumbled upon this (incredibly obvious) revelation, I decided that I wanted to change.
That's easier said than done.
Very recently, I had a negative experience with a guy that I don't even care about...yet his caitiff behavior had a jarring effect on me. I was disquieted to the point where I almost let it affect and ruin my evening.
I think that's when the turning point occurred. As I was storming out of the bar I was at, determined to go home and lick my wounds, I suddenly stopped and thought, "Why am I going to let some miscreant (that I am phlegmatic towards) mar my evening?"
I turned around, walked back into the bar and genuinely had one of the best nights I have ever had in Hanoi.
The single, simple move of walking back inside had such a profound effect on me. It was the first time that I allowed myself to take control of the situation, to not let someone or something dictate how I was going to feel. I realized that I DO, in fact, have the power to create my own happiness and circumstances, and that all these years I've just been giving the reins to others. I've been letting people let me feel a certain way rather than being confident and secure enough to be the driver behind my destiny.
I've learned it's EASY to not care what people think, and I've wasted far too many hours concerned about something silly and pointless.
I also learned that I have been so busy putting an emphasis on the romantic relationships in my life that I haven't given enough value to the platonic ones. I am struck, on almost a daily basis, by how truly incredible my friends (both here and in the Western world) are. That, along the way, I have amassed a collection of supportive, loyal, kind and true friends, ones that I wouldn't trade for the world. My relationships with THEM are a huge part of what makes my time in Hanoi (or anywhere) so special. They have been an integral part of helping me see my value and worth and showing me that there's more to life than whether a guy is interested in me. They've given me the tools to build a new perspective, one oozing with confidence and the ability to see myself the way they/the world does. I am forever indebted and eternally grateful for them.
So I've revisted my stance on Hanoi, it's not the place for romance, but it is the place for love. Love of culture, food, experience. Love for the friends that I am learning and growing because of. And most importantly, Hanoi is the place that is teaching me to love myself.