What does it mean to get The Answer?

This question crossed my mind one cold and wet evening, as my friend and I sat at the corner table. She was having a plate of chicken teriyaki and I was facing my Fettuccine Alfredo. The old restaurant was surprisingly busy on a weekday. People kept coming through the front door. The last order was just an hour away. I glanced outside the window and made a wish for the rain to stop when we closed our bill, so that we could stay dry as we walked back home.


After several months of lovely and confusing pseudo-relationship, she decided to manage her expectation and guard her heart. And so, she posed The Question. “I am not asking you to do anything. I just need to manage my expectation,” she said, as they sat side by side under a strange sky in a strange country, far away from home and past memories. “I love what we have. And I will want to have it as long as possible. But at the same time, I need to protect my heart, too. I only need to know whether this will go further than a summer fling; or not. That’s all. That way, I can prepare my heart, so I won’t hurt myself again.”

He gritted his teeth and responded right away with, “It’s NOT a summer fling! I really believe in what we have, in what we share. I love the idea of us as much as you do. And I want you to know that from the very beginning.”

She felt her heart leaped a little bit.

“But the fact is, I have a girlfriend,” he went on. “And we’re about to get married at the end of the year.”

Something sunk in her chest. She felt that familiar pain, again. She was not immune to that, no matter how often she had been exposed to such a situation.

So she decided to put an end to it. She knew that they wouldn’t go anywhere. He was about to get married. There was no future in it. She didn’t want to get hurt again. So she bid him what-she-thought-to-be farewell. But he refused to leave her. And she could not deny the chemistry. The signs. The bond. She could not deny her heart. But the clock was ticking. So she posed The Question, again.

“We can’t go on like this,” she said, a bit frustrated. “I need to know where we’re going. You’re about to get married. So why are we here? Why are we doing this?”

“I love you,” he said. The answer almost everyone would want to hear. “I could not betray my feelings, too. I’ve made up my mind. I’ll talk to my girlfriend and her family. I want to be with you.”

And with that, she had The Answer–something most of us want: certainty, affirmation, commitment. She smiled with all of her beings. With The Answer, for the first time after those bittersweet months, she finally found both her official permission and her safety net. To open up. To dream of a future. To be vulnerable. To pour her heart out. To fall in love completely.

Three months later, she received a wedding invitation. From him. She wasn’t the bride.


“So, what does it mean to get The Answer?” I asked myself when she finished her story that evening.

I realized that The Answer could come in many forms: from the three-word I-love-you thing to a reply to your text message; an invitation to watch movies, a “you’re beautiful” whisper, the changes in someone else’s Facebook profile from single to in a relationship, a marriage proposal, a wedding ring, the “imaginary lights” in his eyes whenever he looks at you. And we always think that we need The Answer. To move on. To have a closure. To be sure. To be double sure. To decide on what we want to do. To find out whether we should or should not fall in love completely. I felt this way before, too. There were numerous times when I persevered too much in getting The Answer; to the point that they started to feel like lame excuses.

When we came to think about it, The Answer does NOT guarantee anything. We think that we’ll feel certain when we have The Answer, although we know full well that there’s no such thing as certainty in life.

As I finished my Fettuccine Alfredo and sipped my lime juice, it became clear to me that while a lot of people are trying as hard as they can to get The Answer, getting it doesn’t really matter much. Such is life. People say things they do not mean. People say things they really mean but then change their minds. The heart finds a new object of affection. People grow together and then grow apart. Having The Answer would not make us immune from hurt and pain.

Why do we need to get The Answer from someone else to decide on what we want to do: on whether we want to smile or weep; move on or fall in love? Why do we need to be certain about something when we know that life is full of uncertainties? What is wrong with not knowing and be okay with that? Because even when we have The Answer, we will always find another question to ask.


205 Responses

  1. And on this article in particular, I couldn’t agree with You more. There is no answer, no point in asking, no safety net. The only real answer, is to follow the heart, to love completely; don’t hold back, even if You’re afraid You’ll get hurt. Perhaps especially if You are afraid You’ll get hurt. Because the love We feel does not belong to the other person, it belongs to You. The more We love, the more We realize Our capacity to love, the more fearless We become. When We can fall completely and fearlessly without the need to ask, for the sake of love itself… The wonder and magic can be enjoyed for what it is without fear of consequence. Beautiful post, peace and love!

    1. I love this. You sum it up in a beautiful way. We govern our own feelings and we are fully responsible for that 🙂 Indeed, the love we feel does not belong to the other person, it belongs to us. Thank you for leaving your traces here, I am humbled. I enjoy your writings very much as well! 🙂 x

  2. Make me think all over again about this kind of “searching”, you are really a true word-smith, thanks teh Hanny :*

  3. I am speechless to find this blog post ;’). This is the awesome moment that I know that you know that we both are here for the same reason. No question at all.
    Thank you Bossie *kisses*

  4. Hi, I enjoyed this article and I can relate. “The answer” is just not always rational. A few years back, I put my boyfriend through a very compromising situation. Though I knew I was wrong, I wanted to be forgiven, I wanted to know that he would not leave. I was very depressed, and still I feel guilty. I looked in his eyes and asked him would he stay, I asked that he stay with me forever and deal with my issues. I asked him to forget what I had done. I asked him to promise to never love another woman. His answer was yes, and that absolutely eased my pain. But, he just can not know that I will always be the only one he loves, that he won’t one day reminicis, and decide that he deserves better. Unless things are written in stone, answers are temporary, and shouldn’t be depended on to subject the direction of your happiness or decisions…

    1. I am so touched by your honesty and openness to share this story here. And I always believe that no matter how painful a lesson in life is, indeed it helps us to step out and see the world differently–if only we receive it with an open heart and an open mind. And today, I wish you happiness 🙂 *hugs*

    2. Nothing in life is permanent. Nothing, not even things that are etched in stone. True they may last for centuries but even stones and diamonds erode. For the most part however, I would agree. An overall good read as I too can relate.

  5. Powerful. Answers, do not always mean there won’t be another question. We need to make the choice for ourselves, not let someone else dictate our lives.

  6. I think we always know the truth anyway, we know it before we seek the words out and it’s the reason we do. To soothe. Because most times when the answer is truly in our favor the words can even be redundant.

    In my opinion, the answer most times, isn’t in the words (though they’re what we’re taught to honor). That’s just articulation.

    If we connect to and respect unspoken truth, we often have it pretty immediately. Then what there is to do, is just take action.

    Waiting on the words of another, is just us trying to buy time most of the time.

  7. Oh this is such a brilliant post! I’ve been thinking about the importance of defining a relationship and came to the conclusion that… it doesn’t matter whether it’s officially defined or not, it’s more important that you know how that other person feels about you. Gia

  8. This is beautiful.. One of those things that everyone knows in their hearts but no one ever wants to confront it or acknowledge it. Something we live with every day but chose to ignore because it is easier to ignore than to face the reality. Very well written, I love this 🙂

  9. Loved this. It’s so true that there will always be another question after finding The Answer. Waiting in limbo is so hard to do, but sometimes waiting is all we can do, and we have to find a way to be okay with that. Great post.

  10. I love this…. Ive faced similar problem (minus the married guy- just a vacant one!) but also found that sometimes I only needed the answer because everything else in my life is unstable such as career/ studies- so I seek for validation, like a kid that needed her father to say its all going to be OK…(well equivalent… otherwise would have been creepy!!!)

  11. We still need The Answer. It allows a person to make those choices. A choice to empower oneself whether to take the path of what the answer has led them. I’d rather have the Answer than not knowing. I think the value comes from knowing what to do after receiving it.

  12. Ooooooooh my. Isn’t that the way it goes. More than once in a lifetime.

    Hey Hanny’s friend! Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes,

    You got the best of that man. You got the cream off the top, the bubbles from the champagne, the day when the mango was super peak ripe, all the niceness.
    And you got rejected, which is Providence stepping in and wafting you over the rocks and shoals safe and sound and off to some other country where the Chicken Teriyaki is good and the rain has stopped by now and you have a cool friend who listens.

    There is a man out there who is a kind sincere person doing his best. He does not make up answers out of his hat because he is much too busy studying what you need, what you love, what you dream, and how he can get himself and his life in the best shape to give you the most love and certainty that he can. He will be anxious with uncertainty and drift and delay, and he will ask the question. And it will be a good one.

    Best wishes, Mary

  13. @The Answer, getting it doesn’t really matter much. Such is life. People say the things they do not mean. People say things they really mean but then change their minds. Heart finds a new object of affection. People grow together and then grow apart. Having The Answer would not make us immune from hurt and pain…>

    You said a mouthful ! 2 thumbs UP on your write

  14. I realized from reading your blog, that the only ANSWER is to stop deriving happiness from external sources, and that happiness comes from within. There is NO Answer – only choices we make. May we find the answers within – and not wait for one that comes from sources that are beyond our control.

  15. I really really love this. I do need to remember this with how I choose who to love. You are right. We really don’t need an answer. We need our own answer. This is awesome writing.

  16. Wow I love this… I have been trying to get the ANSWER for 3 weeks now. And so what if I get it…what does it change… nothing … so I must move on…..helpful this is ….

  17. I loved this piece of writing – although it’s far easier said than done to be happy on our own terms and not look outside ourselves for validation and certainty. Perhaps we don’t realise when someone else is looking to us for The Answer too.

  18. Your words strike a chord. They remind me of the ending lines of one of the best short stories I have read, The Postmaster, by Rabindranath Tagore:

    “Alas for our foolish human nature! Its fond mistakes are persistent. The dictates of reason take a long time to assert their own sway. The surest proofs meanwhile are disbelieved. False hope is clung to with all one’s might and main, till a day comes when it has sucked the heart dry and it forcibly breaks through its bonds and departs. After that comes the misery of awakening, and then once again the longing to get back into the maze of the same mistakes.”

    The Answer – it makes us wiser, it gives us assurance and hope for the future, and most importantly; it helps us move on. Closure; when denied, it hurts the most. It is only the privileged few who can move on with grace and maturity. The others, ah, we heavily rely and depend on The Answer.

    I admire what you have written. It has provided food for thought.

    Thank you.


    The Girl Who Speaks To Herself
    (Teen writer)

  19. I love your post. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. No matter what one had promised, or even that he had married you, it may not be live long. But we have to move on coz we deserve better. Life is too short to wait for answers.

  20. wow.. this relates so much to what I’m going through right now. I really like this guy and he wants to know that I can commit to him, but I can’t have THE ANSWER right now so we broke it off and now I miss him badly and rethinking my decision..

  21. Love to me is to commit. Since I am focused I can only commit to one at a time. The French way of having multiple situations at the same time is to much drama for me.

  22. This is beautifully written and really strikes a chord with me. It’s true that an answer never really seems as satisfying as we want it to be.


  23. I loved this post. A dilemma far too many women struggle with, me one of them. As a psychologist I see many others struggling with the same thing: The chemistry was so special, it MUST have been real love. Yes, it was. For them. But not for the charismatic man who knows the answers. Thank you for sharing your answer.


  24. Love the article. I think people who constantly seek the answer are those lack of security. I have to say I am one of them. And despite the fact that life is full of uncertainties, my endeavour to get the answer has never wavered. It can be quite pathetic when you knew the answer wouldn’t be the same next day. But still, at least for that very moment, certainty is obtained.

  25. This whole post is just perfect. I am certain that I am not the only immediate follower you have gained from this. Thank you so much for writing. Thank you Freshly Pressed for letting me read this!

  26. Reblogged this on The Will to Make a Difference and commented:
    Just recently, I myself tried to know the answers to my questions. At first, it felt like a simple venture to just know the truth behind her actions and posts but as days went by, I realized that somehow, I needed to know the answers for me to move on and be happy.

  27. Reblogged this on A Thrift to Beauty and commented:
    I was waiting for THE ANSWER several months ago. Whether my boyfriend is true to his words, or not. But then, I realized that all those searching and waiting will only waste my time and energy. That’s why I ended up enjoying every single moments that we get to have. Dismissing the fear and anxiety from my thoughts as I believe I will only invoke it all the more by thinking and worrying about it.
    As long as I believe in my own strength I know I’ll survive. (Of course, I believe my bf too.)
    We are currently enjoying our open and honest relationship 🙂

  28. Beautiful post. I sighed several times, looking for “the answer” too. That is the thing about love and its accessories – nothing really changes about ’em – the questions, answers, the dilemmas, the longing of a safety net..and perhaps, that is what makes love so desirable.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  29. Loved this post, your writing, the message. It’s a situation that’s very similar to one I avoided not too long ago. This post was like that confirmation I’ve been waiting for to let me know I did the right thing. You’ve gained a new follower here. Stay fabulous.

  30. this is so sad and brought the same pains from seeking an answer and certainty that i had gone through the past months. it’s like i am the one in the story, one way or another.
    i agree that an answer does not guarantee that we wont be hurt and be pained anymore.

  31. Beautiful Berdadisini! Waiting for someone or something else to give me “the answer” is the answer. Pyschologists call it codependency. Religionists call it idolotry. I call it pain. Your beautiful prose reminds me of Shakespeare who once said “to thine own self be true”. Thanks for telling your truth. We are better off by it.

  32. Reblogged this on kelalisha's Blog and commented:
    I love this writing. It perfectly sums up the truth – sweet & bitter. I have not found the Answer but his actions are enough to prove that I should just move on. I guess this is what ‘actions speak louder than words’ really meant. But to be honest, I prefer the verbal way as guessing is just too draining physically & mentally.

  33. Reblogged this on Curly Bookworm and commented:
    “People say the things they do not mean. People say things they really mean but then change their minds. Heart finds a new object of affection. People grow together and then grow apart….”

    I think, it’s about time to ask, so I could get The Answer. 😀

  34. this is amazing writing !! <3 made me think on why I had ask this friend of mine why he called it off all of a sudden , there must be a reason , i wanted to know why why? but he just said no reason just want to. That made me want to know more answers.. what isnt he telling me? Now I don't want to know anymore , life moves on ..

  35. In general men don’t want to commit, but nowadays it has become impossible even to get a guy to talk to you…that’s how allergic they are to serious relationships. Our Italian magazines are full of this same topic. Italian women are now going abroad to find guys. It used to be the me who did this.

    1. i don’t evening think its just that… Guys these days care about their ego … its frustrating that you can’t even find a decent guy who’s willing to support your ideas.. Its just crazy what happened to all the men are they hiding?

  36. I love this. Thank you for writing it. Made me realize that I’m always searching for “the answer” in my sometimes difficult relationship. I’m going to try to start living in the moment instead of asking the unanswerable….

    Thank you.

  37. I need ‘The Answer’. Not from their uncertainty but from my heart. It knows when it’s ready to commit, to make the sacrifice, to fall free. When there’s just a tiny glimpse of doubt, or fear, or insecurity, then there might be a chance that the heart is not giving ‘The Answer’. We can only hope That Answer lasts a lifetime, and happens only once in a lifetime 🙂 *hugs* Oh, totally in LOVE with the blog’s new look!!

  38. Reblogged this on A French in US and commented:
    I will just quote this excerpt: “People say the things they do not mean. People say things they really mean but then change their minds. Heart finds a new object of affection. People grow together and then grow apart. Having The Answer would not make us immune from hurt and pain.”

  39. I can totally relate. *tears I just hope when people say things they don’t mean, they ‘tell’ (literally) you soon enough that they really didn’t mean it so you won’t have to suffer from false hope.

  40. I read this a few times; first on the phone, from my inbox, and later when you were “Freshly Pressed” (Gawd, that sounds a little, umm…nevermind. Ahem).

    And this time, as I sat down by the computer, rereading it again, I feel tears welling up, because, too often, I have been where you described–wanting to know, needing to know…The Answers. But the truth is, often times, I realised, even when I knew “The Answer” to some of those questions, things do no change. At least not to the way I want them to be. That one who left without any explanation? He’d still be out there, and not with me, even if I knew why he did what he did.

    Nothing is certain in this life, and as that old saying goes, the only things certain in this life is…unpredictability. Uncertainties.

    Guard your heart, for sure, but when you are in that moment, love like you’ve never been hurt before. Because, you’ll never know where it would lead.

    Beautifully written, my dear. Mwah!

    1. Hey, pretty thing! :’) I can’t say anything right now–maybe later when we meet; but I just want to give you a tight hug! 🙂 And thank you so much 🙂 LOL on the “freshly pressed” 😀

  41. Trying to hold back the tears so I could read. I’m needing The Answer so I can have closure. Such a painful fork in the road place to be and your post struck a nerve for me. Now off to process it. Love it, just what I needed.

  42. I have no answer too.. But I know the fear of missing a part of myself while making the life challenging decisions… Beat it, life is all about making decisions for our future memories, without knowing.

  43. Hello Beradadisini,

    You’re right, you know. One doesn’t always need answers. And I’m beginning to learn that the hard way. Thank you for this piece and the affirmation that sometimes, it’s okay to stop thinking and just be. 🙂

    1. Happy to hear this! 🙂 *hugs* I believe that the best answer comes from within ourselves–not from the people around us 🙂 I always ask myself, if I don’t need to get anyone’s approval for this situation, what would I do?

      1. 🙂 And I always ask myself, what’s the worst that can happen? I’m amazed at the courage that brings me, sometimes.

        Anyhoo, now that I know where you live on the blogosphere, I will pay you a visit often. 🙂

        Here’s to more travels and stories!

  44. Hello there 🙂
    Well this is the first time i read an english blog ~~ I use wordpress to read novel and talk to the translator so its rarely to read something about life (beside novel/movie ect).
    About ‘english’ part, you can see my english is not too good, so its not a good idea to read an unfamiliar language when you are headache huh xD
    Back to the main topic, i love you post , i have no idea if its a made-up story or yourself experience but its nice.
    Sometime people ask for ‘the answer’ but its not always the real one anyways ~~
    They say what other want to hear, they say what they want to hear, they say what people think it should be ‘the answer’ .
    Im not emotional one, and worse not many thing can affect me, even if there is, it will only last few day and then i wont care about it anymore, just sometime suddenly think about it, still , itsnt a nice personality to other . They said im cold, said that i never feel sad, i dont agree with that im glad that i can easily forget about something and hard to care about anything, i rarely get hurt or feel down. But sometime ‘the answer’ is still important
    Once you want to end something, once you dont want to have any relate with it , that time , you need the answer. No matter its what you want to hear or not, it can lead you to a new road, not just standing at one place and asking yourself.

    “Why do we need to get The Answer from someone else to decide on what we want to do: on whether we want to smile or weep; move on or fall in love? Why do we need to be certain about something when we know that life is full of uncertainties? What is wrong with not knowing and be okay with that? Because even when we have The Answer, we will always find another question to ask.”

    Reading this part , its like a yes and a no for me at the same time.
    My relationship isnt always nice, its tiring to keep continue sometime~~ i believe its tiring to both who on the relationship ( if the other one also like you ah~ )

    But well , i dont care about the answer, i just need to ask to tell the person, and i do as i like, so its doesnt matter.

    Confusing huh ? :))
    hehe anyways, i like you post neh xD

  45. You know what Han, when I read this I thought I already fall in love with someone. She already answer that we can’t be together. And I still fall in love and learn to being in love without possession feeling ^^

    I will be surprise if I can pass this one nicely hihihi~

    *jadi pengen curhat sama Hanny mode on* =))))

  46. I need to know “the answer”, but I am not asking the question… I just give signals until the boy will tell me the answer to my not asked questions himself 🙂

  47. Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. (Rainer Maria Rilke – Letter to A Young Poet)


  48. You are an impeccably avid blogger. I read it twice. I just don’t understand how can anyone have such a deep insight about such an obscure thing and moreover express it so lucidly! You are unique , you are different , remember it.

If you made it this, far, please say 'hi'. It really means a lot to me! :)

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Legs and Apples
Do it because it’s fun. Because it brings you joy; because it’s meaningful to you. Do it because it gives you simple tiny pleasures. Do it because it makes you smile.
The view from De Klok
I took another digital detox this weekend—I limited myself to a 5-minute screen time on Saturday and Sunday to quickly check my business account. I closed my social media account for the rest of the days.
Hanny illustrator
I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.