Monthly Archives: December 2018

How to Approach Women 03
Dec 30

How to Approach Women – Empathy and Boldness

By Marcus Neo | Conversation

Countless of us walk the streets and have hundreds of girls and women who fit our physical criteria as a potential romantic partner walk by us. Yet, how many of us end up not nothing anything, day after day, months after months, and years. Let’s be honest here, you and I are guilty of letting these opportunities slip by. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to approach an attractive stranger and the realm of potential possibilities that comes after that?

Is there a system one can follow on how to approach a girl in any given social situation? The answer varies, but the underlying principles are similar.

How to Approach Girls 05

How to Approach Girls – The Ultimate Guide

  • Your First Impression

Psychological research shows humans base the majority of our perception of people on the first couple of minutes we spend with each other. This initial perception extends and influences our relationship to the person for weeks, and even months. So, assuming you approach a girl you’re attracted to, how can you make a good impressing upon her through your first couple of minutes in your approach?

You’ll need to be dressed minimally well. You’ll need minimally a fitting t-shirt, jeans, and shoes. You’ll also need to be well shaved, with your hair is taken care of. You’ll be surprised how many men don’t invest in their daily appearance.

Secondly, factors such as tonality and body language should be taken note of.

  • Body Language, Eye Contact and Tonality

You want to be going for neutrality and coming from a curious standpoint. You’ll also want to have assertive by soft eye contact. Neutral body language and an assertive tonality will demonstrate that you’re comfortable with starting this conversation, that you’re no threat, and you’re also confident with asserting yourself.

  • Understand Social Norms

When you’re approaching a stranger on the streets and hitting on her directly is something that’s out of the norm, and hence: should be recognized as out of the norm.

Going up to a girl and saying you find her cute is quite an unconventional behaviour. It’s not something that happens daily and should be recognized as that. Because I recognize this and I call it out in my own interactions, I rarely creep girls out. Most women I approach are willing to listen to me at least for 30 seconds.

How to Get Over Approach Anxiety

Even when you made a decision to go up to talk to that beautiful stranger, your stomach churns, your heart beats faster and you’re almost always left dumbfounded, unable to utter a single word, much less move your feet to go up to talk to her?

I’m no stranger this feeling called approach anxiety. Up to this day, I still get that crippling feeling of taking my feet off the floor, pointing it at her direction and walking up to her. I have failed to approach girls in shopping malls, nightclubs, parties and social events.

Approach Girls

Are You Going to Talk to Her?

However, compared to the average person, I’m a lot more competent at it.  So how you actually get over your approach anxiety?

Create an Environment of Inevitable Success

Firstly, you’ll need to create an environment of inevitable success. You need to use your surrounding for leverage. The only reason why I bothered to take action in my dating life back then because my ex-girlfriend broke my heart. I had so much leverage on me, that not taking action wasn’t an option.

In my entrepreneurial career, I feared doing something I hate, getting bossed around by someone that I didn’t respect and serving clients that didn’t enjoy serving. I hated all of that so much that publishing long-form guides, editing and blogging to promote myself as dating coach on a daily basis became effortless to me.

In your dating life, what kind of leverage can you use? For me, some of them include deleting all online dating applications. Today, I don’t use Tinder or any of the online dating applications. I don’t hang out with people I don’t like just so hopefully they can introduce me to their girlfriends. I don’t do any of that. I run this business alone. I do not have colleagues, friends of friends that ‘hopefully’ fall through the cracks so that I get to know them.

This is why I have leverage. I have no alternative and created an environment of inevitable success.

Technical Solution – Progressive Desensitization

You can work your way through your approach anxiety through the progressive desensitization technique. I use this technique on myself and multiple other clients.

Progressive desensitization is a psychologically researched technique that is used to help people overcome their anxieties in a step by step manner. Compare this to the flooding technique where most dating coaches force students to approach 20 hot girls in one night at a go. Firstly, it isn’t sustainable. Secondly, you’re not building a sustainable habit.

Okay, here’s an example on how to use progressive desensitization:

Step 1: Remove Headphones in Public and Being more Socially Connected

Firstly, you can remove your headphones when going about your day. I removed my headphones and was shocked at how much difference it made how connected I felt to the social world. You should try it. This forces you to be much more socially engaged with the outside world.

Step 2: Ask For Time and Directions from Strangers

If you’re crippled by approach anxiety, you can start off with total strangers and then work your way from guys, non-threatening girls and then attractive girls. You can also start off by asking for time or directions, moving up to compliments and then eventually the direct approach. You get the idea.

Step 3: Making Small Observations and Compliments

Small observations and compliments can be stacked on top of asking for time and directions from strangers. When you add a compliment: “that’s a nice shoe, you look great in it” in your conversations with random strangers, you’ll not only make their day, but it’ll put you in a better social mood when you get positive social feedback.

You’ll be surprised how much just stopping strangers to ask for time and directions will help in getting the social juices flowing.

The Minimum Viable Action

One tool I find helpful when I find myself stuck when approaching is called the minimum viable action. It’s the one action that you can do other than the direct approach itself. That can be approaching her for time and directions. This not only gets you comfortable stopping attractive girl, but it’ll also help you become more desensitized and get in a more social mood.

Blast Through Your Excuses

Through the years getting into this, I realized that success with women boils down to one key factor. That’s integrity. Not your kind of school integrity, but integrity to push through your social fears. It’s a personal badge of honour you wear to push through your fears.

When you’re pushing against your approach anxiety, you’re bound to fight against your own psychological defence system. They are called psychological defence mechanisms. Here are some common excuses you’ll tell yourself.

  • Avoidance and Procrastination

“I am going to start on this girls thing tomorrow. I’m just not feeling it today.”
“I am going to starting hit the clubs next week.”
“I don’t feel like it today.”

There was once I was practising to approach at the mall and tons of excuses and defences popped up. First I told myself I was tired and had to grab a meal first, then a sweet drink…

I didn’t do any approaches for the first half an hour. I spent the time, eating, drinking and waiting around. It was only when I started paying attention to the monologue in my head that was able to start calling myself out on the excuses that popped out.

Here’s the truth: There’s no perfect night and no perfect mood to approach. Just because something feels absolutely terrible in a certain moment does not mean that it is. It’s only when you get your butt off and start approaching that you feel much better. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve felt horrible and not wanting to get out of the house and then feeling much better after stepping out.

  • Intellectualization

The self-help, dating advice industry is notorious for this. If you consume dating advice and watch videos without taking any action, you’re intellectualizing your problems. I used to do this a lot when I first start out where I would just read, read and read some more. Overloading myself with one theory after another. It’s also a false trap. That’s because reading and watching videos make you feel like you’re doing something. However, it does not.

  • Apathy

‘I genuinely don’t care and it doesn’t bother me.’

If you’re watching porn and telling yourself that you don’t give a fuck about your sex life, you’re running into apathy. You convince yourself that you don’t care about your dating life. I know for sure, I was there. Truth is, I do care about my dating life.  This bled over to my school, life and all other areas in my life. It’s something I’ve had to fight against for the last 3-4 years of my life. It’s a defence mechanism I run even up till today.

  • Helplessness and Surrender

‘I just suck at this.’
‘I’ll never get good at this’.

I found myself running into this defence mechanism sometimes. I get too anxious and then I surrender to the anxiety and just admit that: ‘I suck and have no courage.’

This is the opposite of apathy. Caring too much and acknowledging that you’re powerless to taking action against the anxiety.

  • Blame and Anger

This defence mechanism mostly comes in the form of generalizing and stereotyping chunks of the human population. When I first started out going out to approach girls I told myself this approach thing only works in Westernized cultures. That it’ll never work for Singaporean girls. Singaporean girls are too materialistic, socially retarded, bitchy and emotionally immature.

Your First 5 Minutes

You’ll be expected to lead and initiate 98% of the time, and I mean 98%. I’ve lost tens of interactions because I played it chill and laidback. It’s incongruent to the girl if you approached her and expect her to lead. She’ll be wondering what is up. You just approached and you’re playing in chill?

She’s not going to lead the conversation or add to the conversation. That’s because you’re approaching her in an unconventional manner and she’s going to be quite shy and reserved. You’re going have to make statements, ask questions, tease her, and laugh at yourself to put her at ease. You’re going to have to communicate to her within that 10 minutes that you’re an attractive individual that’s socially aware as well.

  • The Approach

The fundamental principles of old approaching girls in nights clubs or day time situations are similar. 1) You need to present yourself assertively and positively 2) you need to be willing to back off. If she’s taken aback, you need to be able to show that you’re willing to back off through your body language. Secondly, don’t touch her heavily when approaching, use hand signals or a light touch to stop her.

If you’re approaching groups, you should also talk to her friends, both male and female.

I recommend beginners to get comfortable with going direct. Going direct puts you out there and let your intentions get known. It’s also time effective method. It’s genuine and authentic for beginners, this is it can work for you. I personally am a huge fan of going direct, however, as you progress, going indirect can be more effective, less socially awkward for her, especially in a conservative culture like Singapore.

These days, I start off by saying “I know this is random”,  followed by: “I think you look interesting (indirect), and just wanted to say Hi”.

The majority of girls are going to figure out what you’re trying to do anyway. The indirect approach simply subtlety conveys: Hey, I’m officially invested in the prospect of getting to know you better.

She can also mostly tell if you approach her for any other reasons than being attracted to her. You should not approach girls to impress your friends, for ‘practice’, for numbers etc. I have approached girls that I am not genuinely attracted to, for ego reasons to impress my friends and it usually doesn’t work out.

Your motivation behind your behaviour is equally as important as the behaviour itself.

  • Questions and Statements

There’s nothing more boring than getting to know someone by asking a bunch of questions. If you’re only asking her questions after questions, you’re putting all the spotlight on her and you don’t get to share your identity to her. The easiest way to have a two-way conversation is to include ‘I’ and ‘you’ in your conversation.

Stop asking questions and turn them into both statements about her, and yourself. If you only ask monotonous questions, you’re severely limiting yourself. There’s no connection and no rough edges. Through the art of cold reading, you turn questions into statements. You can also find out about her occupation, her hobbies in a way that doesn’t come off as being an interviewer.

  • Tease Her about Something She’s Doing in the Moment

Teasing helps ease the interaction between you and her. Old friends tease each other all the time. You do it with your family, you do it with that childhood friend, most of all, you do it about your most embarrassing personality traits. It also adds a man to woman element to your interaction.

One of the easiest ways do it is to tease her about something is doing, about to do or wearing in the moment. If she says she’s an accountant, you can tease her that she probably lose money for the company rather than account it.

For Eg. I was at a beer pong party and she was telling me how good she was at beer pong. I told her that, that playing beer pong was probably her college major, insinuating that, that’s probably everything she knew about life.

  • Qualify

Lastly, you qualify by finding something unique about her lifestyle, job or occupation and appreciate something about her by saying: that’s really interesting, I’ve never met a girl…’

Imagine if someone took the effort to notice how you put in effort something you care a lot about, perhaps your business. Imagine if someone went on to say: ‘you know, I really like the details of your work, there must be a lot of effort and attention that goes into that, not everyone is willing to go through the pain of building a business’. How will you feel about that? You’ll feel amazing. That’s right! Now, flip that around and find something unique about her and appreciate her for that.

Note, you can’t fake it when you say something, you got to mean it. Take this as an opportunity to cultivate a genuine appreciation for others.

It can be as simple as:

‘You’re really friendly for someone that looks pretty young’ (I use it all the time in Singapore because girls here are usually shy and reserved)

‘You seem like a friendly and interesting person to talk to’.

Make Future Plans on the Spot 

Here’s the deal when attempting to get her number. Only ask for her number after a positive interaction and you can tell that she’s minimally interested. Secondly, get straight to the point by asking her out for coffee or drinks right then and there.

Through making future plans right there, you’ll solidify yourself as someone she’s potentially going to see again. You can also add in a little qualification before asking for her number. Let’s say you found out that she has quite an upbeat personality, you can say:

‘That’s awesome, you seem like a fun and adventurous person, let’s hang out and go bungee jumping together some day.’

Or, if you just find her pleasant to be around with. You can say:

‘You seem like a cool person to be around with, let’s party someday together. Do you have WhatsApp?’ 

Note: If she’s only willing to give you their Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, then she probably isn’t attracted. I don’t buy that, I’ll just treat it as a rejection and move on.

Bench Mark: Staying in a Cold Interaction Longer than Half a Minute

The rule of thumb is this: IF you are able to hold a conversation and stay a cold social interaction for longer than a minute, you’re approaching correctly. If you are getting blown out interaction after interaction in less than 30 seconds, then you’re not approaching correctly.

You need to look at the basics: your body language, your dress sense, your vocal tonality and your intentions. Girls aren’t stupid, in fact, they are a lot more emotionally intuitive than men. If you are approaching her with the wrong intentions, she’ll figure out.

Note on Crazy Pick Up Moves

There are many pick up artist techniques popularized like spinning girls off the approach and outlandish behaviours from Youtube videos produced other dating advice companies. Here’s my verdict on them: they aren’t sustainable. I’m sure those instructors are good, however, they are only showing the tiny fraction of the interaction. They are also showing these flashy techniques for marketing purposes. It also rarely works when approaching girls in conservative Asian cultures like Singapore. Secondly, if you can’t even get a girl to stop and speaking to you for half a minute, then don’t even bother about all the other techniques.

There were times I ran around the club like a headless chicken approaching girls just for the sake of it. I was relying on ineffective dating theories and not approaching from a place of effectiveness. They are also socially uncalibrated behavior. Needless to say, I got rejected repeatedly.

Ultimately, you can’t really completely objectify or quanitfy social interactions. However, if you aren’t getting results then it’s time to put some metrics into action. How long are you staying in an interaction? Is she smiling at you? What does her body language say?

Results and Success

The majority of your approaches are not going to go anywhere. It’s the name of the game. There are just too many external circumstances that cannot be controlled. EG. She has a boyfriend, the last guy that approaches her on the streets freaked her out etc. The better you get, you’ll be able to point out the interactions that aren’t going to get anywhere and you’re going to spend a lot less time on time sinks.

If you want to get optimized results, you get good at the fundamentals: intentions, relaxed body language, eye contact and conversational skillsets. Lastly, remember that it’s your responsibility to approach her. It’s always your responsibility to move the interaction forward. It’s always your responsibility to spark an interesting interaction between you and her. Cause if you don’t, she’ll never do it for you, ever. 

Dating in Singapore 01
Dec 23

Singapore Dating Culture – Sex, Love and Economics

By Marcus Neo | Asian Culture

Over the years, I figured that Singapore’s dating culture is unique and flawed in it’s own special kind of way. Singapore is an Asian cultured society that is sandwiched between Westernized and Asian values simultaneously. This weird sandwich often results in a clash of values, beliefs in our dating lives.

I’m a Singaporean male bred and born from the heartlands in Singapore. I’m not born into a privileged family. I stayed in a HDB, a public flat the majority of my life, received a typical Singaporean education. I grew up in a conservative Asian family setting. You know, the typical conservative Asian family. If you don’t get a 101/100 in school, you get disowned and aren’t allowed to come home. 

If you were somewhat like me, you probably aren’t equipped to talk about openly about sex, intimacy and relationships openly. 

Singaporean Dating Culture: Shame and Honour

If you were like me, you were brought up to think that good grades equal a good job, a good job equals nice girlfriend, a good girl friend or wife equals success in life. You were brought to be ‘useful’ to society. You had to excel in anything you laid your hands on, rejection and failure meant death.

There’s a reason why the dating advice community is much smaller in Asia compared to Westernized cultures. One thing the dating advice community did right was the concept of self-reliance. 

If you take full responsibility for your own behaviour, you can change your love life and not everything is left to fate or genetics.

It’s the most difficult thing to admit to themselves, their families, and other loved ones that they have a problem and need help. The mere acknowledgement of an Asian person having a problem is going against cultural norms because it sends the implicit message to others that you have let them down.

– Psychology Today

It’s quoted by Emerson that society is a conspiracy against self reliance. Asian cultures are collectivistic by nature. The idea behind collectivism it’s that it’s culturally acceptable to rely on groups, stay in groups, rather than rely on oneself.

Collectivism promotes the idea of giving up your individual needs for the ‘greater good’ of society. Giving up your needs is also known to be selfless and considered a ‘good’ moral value in Asian cultures.

However, altruism also be debated philosophically. Our human actions are inherently selfish. You can argue that giving up your needs for the greater good is still selfish because you’re deriving pleasure from the action of giving up your needs. Look, I’m not here to debate if collectivism or individualism is better, there are helpful and unhelpful values in both value structure.

One huge part of Singaporean culture believes that success from dating and relationships will ensue from success in external metrics such as your career, job, academic success or monetary wealth. There’s a common cultural notion that if you’re rich, hold a high paying job, you’ll automatically attract women, or are deemed successful in life.

From my experience as a dating coach, the majority of Singaporean (and arguable Asian) man goes through his whole life believing he needs a lot of external successes to be successful with women. 

You also not suppose to talk about your emotions, you’re not suppose to feel sad, you’re not suppose to swear, to be pissed off. You’re suppose to be that good Asian kid that goes to school and get good grades.

This is also why psychotherapy, mental illness, is much more stigmatized in Asian societies, with the majority of Singaporeans suffering from it not seeking help.

Dating in Singapore 08

Sexual shame inflicts not just Singaporean men, but men all over the world, it’s just more so in Asia. 

I remembered that the topic of sex, relationships and emotions were NEVER discussed when I was growing up. Needless to say, I was piss poor with my relationships with women and that single-handedly inspired my dive into the dating advice community.

This lack of emotional depth and sexual shame may lead to us Singaporean male being perceived as ‘boring’ and ‘unexpressive’.

From personal experience, many Singaporeans actually pride themselves on these metrics of success, without questioning if that’s the best way to measure success in life.

It’s no surprise that Singapore has been reported for being a soulless, unhappiest, longest worked culture.

Blurring the Lines Between Love, Lust, and Sex

If you’re a Singaporean male, you probably feel judged or ashamed of bring a woman back home by your parents. Sex is often seen as “immoral and unethical”. This, ultimately, is a source of sexual shame. It’s no surprise that people that has trouble with attracting women often feedback to me that they have got extremely strict parents.

One of the traditional Asian cultural beliefs is that you have to have a great connection with a woman before you can have sex with her. There is unsaid rule that it’s a must for marriage or a long term relationship before you can have sex.

This is why girls complain that guys only want sex and why guys complain why girls are needy. In the end, causes a lot of manipulative and nice guy behaviors where you the male end up buying gifts and spending time, effort and attention in hopes at the end of the day receiving sex.

It’s basically saying: I’m going to buy you this dinner/gifts/bags so that you let me fuck you later.

Here’s a truth: Sex is not immoral or unethical when it’s consciously agreed between both parties.

Here’s the second truth: sexual desire should not be in the only reason why you get into a relationship. Ultimately, a long committed relationship should only be pursued if there’s a long-term compatibility in the relationship.

Wanting to have sex with someone and desiring a committed relationship are two separate issues. Emotional attachment/commitment doesn’t automatically/ shouldn’t come after or before sex. Sex doesn’t mean automatically mean emotional attachment/commitment. There are many a times both parties sexually attracted to each but are actually incompatible and differ in life values.

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Throughout the majority of history, sex was a strictly controlled good. If you dated up in social classes, you might find yourself beheaded or shot. Now, you’re living a modern world where you have the knowledge and freedom the choose your sexual partners and relationships with lesser repercussions with the invention of condoms and pills. It’s a gift in itself.

Lastly, sex shouldn’t be seen as a huge deal. It isn’t something that you should hold on to like a badge of honor. Sex, love and intimacy isn’t something that you can earn or objectify.

The Singaporean Culture Ties Economics to Long Term Commitment

One of the cultural nuances of Singapore is that public housing is only purchasing upon marriage or what we call registration of marriage. This can cause a problem, a blog post by MoneySmart.Sg claimed that one of the top reasons Singaporeans cancel their flat purchase is because they break up before collecting their keys.

Singapore is great economically. I have nothing wrong with that, however, when economics is seen as a means to relationships, that’s where people make decisions they are not ready to make.

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If you are more interested and worried about public housing instead of the quality of the relationships when it comes to marriage, then you’re dug your own grave from the start. The purchase of public housing (or anything for that matter) should not be a determinant of whether or not you should stay in relationship.

More often than not, relationships are treated as economical assets in Asian culture. Namely: Guan Xi in Chinese.

If you’re only loved for some extrinsic benefit you provide to someone else instead of mutual support and affection. (and at times, your parents) then you’ll always base your self worth on the things you can provide to others, and not who you actually are as a person.

For example:

  • You’re only accepted and loved if you’re getting full marks for your Science examinations.
  • You’re only accepted and loved if you attend piano classes.

Not this is a conditional form of relationship, it also fucks with your self esteem. It also screws up your perception of love and intimacy.

Ultimately, the healthy dynamic of a relationship shouldn’t be solely measured by externals like achievements or social status. If you sacrificed your personal values, just to be with someone, then there’s actually really no relationship at all.

Singaporean Women Materialistic and Superficial?

There are a couple of articles floating online that suggests that Singaporean women are spoilt, have an inflated sense of self worth and expect to get treated like princesses.

For every stereotype, there’s a small dose of truth. I generally do find the average Singaporean women ‘spoilt’ in the sense that a lot of them aren’t able to hold down a meaningful conversation (which is ironic for being educated in one of best education systems in the world). You also could argue that the majority of Singaporeans can’t hold down a fucking meaningful conversation.

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I did some Googling around, found a Quora thread, another one and some research.

Surprise, surprise, there’s actually an article with data points that goes to show 

YES, Singaporean girls are do account for finances when choosing a long term partner, most of them stating that they account for finances when looking for a husband or a long term relationship. There’s also a survey that says that Singaporean women aren’t willing to date someone who is shorter than them.

You can argue that from an evolutionary standpoint. Females want to be with males that have wealth and resources so that they are able to care for their offspring. Just like how males want to be with physically attractive females that has positive indicators of the ability to give birth: nice hair, wide hips and etc.

However, people also choose mates not just because they want to fuck each other brains out or give birth to a healthy offspring, but also other factors such as personal values, emotional attachment, lifestyle compatibility and etc.

So what gives?

It’s difficult not to ignore the demographic of local Singaporean women dating foreign men in Singapore. 

Every couple of months, I go to the popular drinking night spot club street in Singapore. Whenever I’m there, I’m flooded with the expat crowd from the central business district. It’s hard not to notice the Asian woman wrapping her hands around a Caucasian male.

I did some Googling on the internet’s general sentiment on state of Singaporean masculinity.

I found out our popular blogger Xia Xue’s opinion on how Singaporean men needs a certain amount introspection, start adding value to society, stop whining about the government, stop posting on forums and stop reference colloquial sexual terms when it comes to sex.

Spoiler: She ended up marrying a foreigner.

There is also another long article by a foreigner living in Singapore titled: ‘what’s wrong with Singaporean men’. 

He argued that 1) Singaporean men aren’t independent because they don’t move out of home 2) Singaporean men are sexist and are stuck in the last century 3) Singaporean men are stingy on dates 4) Singaporean men dress poorly and put no effort into their appearance 5) Singaporean men look great on paper but are poor dates.

Unfortunately, being a Singaporean male myself, I agree with some of their points.

However, does that mean that Singaporean women aren’t choosing Singaporean women as dating partners at all Interestingly, I found statistics that the majority of Singaporean women are still marrying Singaporean men.

However, you could argue marriage doesn’t really demonstrate the sexual desirability of Singaporean men. There are even evolutionary theories that suggests that women choose long term commitment with men because of long term safety, security/ economics.

I’m not going to debate you on the multiple of evolutionary theories on this, but you get the rough drift.

From my experience, Singaporean men are a great at putting in the hours and grinding it out. However, I think a lot of us measure up pretty poorly in other areas, especially when it comes to certain traits: being outspoken and having independent thinking.

Here’s my critique.

Singaporean men are ‘boring losers’ when it comes to standing up for their own ideals and values. This is the opportunity cost of a relatively conservative Asian culture.

Emotional Independence from Our Parents

In Singapore culture, it’s a cultural norm to stay with Mum and Dad all the way till 35 or till you are married. Look, I’m not against staying with your parents, however, there are tons of benefits from gaining independence from your parents.

However, our emotional dependence on our parents often lead to issues in our dating lives.

It’s also common to hear the phrase: you’re not marrying the girl but you’re marrying the family.

I completely disagree. It’s an outdated traditional belief that shouldn’t hold true today. It’s a piss poor form of boundaries. In any long term committed relationship, including marriage, you and your partner are going to start a life together. Your life choices should be independent of what your parents expect of you.

I’ve dated girls that are always worried about what Mum and Dad thought of her. This is despite reminding her constantly: “Hey look, I’m dating you, and I’m not dating your parents.”

Our life choices are often dictated by the judgment and opinions of society. This includes our friends, our family and society expectations in general. We never bothered to differentiate ourselves in a manner that might be different from a societal norm. This plays out in our career choices as well. 

Singaporean men often choose the more ‘safe choices’ of being an accountant, a lawyer or a doctor as their career choice. You often also hear people lament that the arts, music scene in Singapore is a dead end, and there’s no money in art of music.

There is also a huge cultural pressure of males to be financially successful. Hence, we often sacrifice our own ideals and values for the sake of financial success. When you adjust your behaviour to follow suit with society with the fear of being seen as different, or standing out, those aren’t exactly bold traits.

It’s a cultural norm in Singaporean culture to stay with Mum and Dad till you’re married. That’s because rent is known to be expensive in Singapore and almost everyone I know stays with their parents (including me). That’s a problem many Singaporean men face.

Freudians believe that the defining emotional struggle for men is emotionally disassociating from the safety and care of the emotional attachment of their mother. 

However, in Singapore, a lot of us still live with Mum and Dad and are emotionally dependent on them. Even the Singaporean billionaire, Min Liang Tan is proud of living with his parents

Personal experience backs this up as well, I always notice a stark difference in motivation whenever I’m back home with my parents as compared when I’m travelling alone abroad. I always felt more free and motivated to pursue my own endeavors when I’m living alone.

The Singaporean Metrics of Success

There’s a pervasive invisible script that a Singaporean male has to go to a good University, please Mum and Dad, get a respectable job, purchase a HDB, pump out 2.5 kids and retire by 65 or some age that the government decides. This model used to work for our parents. That’s because that was what it was required economically for their generation at that point of time. 

Dating in Singapore 06

So what is the result of this cultural script?

Hundreds of Singaporean men working in jobs they don’t enjoy, just to keep impress people they don’t like, to earn money they don’t need and splash it on the common Singaporean 5 Cs: Condo, credit card, car, cash and country club membership.

You get a generation of successful men who are pushovers, don’t assert themselves, can’t get a date and end up embroiled with sex with mommy issues.

Historically, men attached their entire identities to their careers and professions. That’s where we’ve always derived our sense of self worth. That’s how men asserted their emotional autonomy.

However, Singapore has evolved to a society of financial luxury. This is true for many Western cultures and in Singapore. Not to mention that women have equal opportunities, work harder than men, and there even cases of women outperforming men in Math and Science

In my experience, many Singaporeans are afraid of making independent valued judgments of their own, especially when it comes to life choices.

It’s no surprise that the alternative media in Singapore often expresses that Singaporeans are often politically silenced and generally are afraid to express their opinions. 

There’s societal pressure of financial success as a commonly used metric of success in Singaporean culture. If you’re rich, that meant you’re successful. Why is academic performance and wealth such a huge metric of success in Singaporean society? What happened any sense of meaning?

Thirdly, the Singaporean education system doesn’t really encourage you to stand up for yourself or think outside of the box either. 

Since day one, you are spoon fed and told to just follow the system. It felt stupid to me that the sole purpose of going to University of it isn’t the actual role of learning but to get the highest grade in your examinations. Curiosity is sacrificed for the sake of extrinsic rewards. You’re memorizing that periodic table in chemistry class not because you give a fuck about chemistry itself, but so that you can pass your examinations. 

Whilst many may think that NOT out rightly or directly expressing their opinions help with harmony, it may not always be the case. There’s a difference between harmony and conformity. Through the years, I often had friends and family criticizing me for voicing out my personal opinions. However, it was these controversial opinions generated long term trust and meaning in my relationships.

Yes, you want to be secure. Yes, your Mum and Dad wants you to be ‘successful’. However, don’t just slave away at some career that you aren’t interested in. I’m no different from you. I was shit scared of not finishing my accounting degree. I’m shit scared of failing financially in life. Hell no, I am even more afraid than you are. I was brought up to think that I was an absolute failure if I didn’t achieve these things. I was brought up to believe that only a ‘well respected job’ meant ‘success’.

The Old Metric of Success Isn’t Helpful Anymore

These cultural narratives that are instilled in us growing up in Singapore are no longer helpful anymore.

There’s no particular party to be blamed here, it’s merely an evolution of economics and culture. Here’s my theory: back then Singapore needed rapid economic growth, hence the government pushed for it. That was required in my parent’s generation. However, things are different now. Singapore is an economically advanced country and we’re still measuring success in the same way as we did back then.

The result?

The meaningless pursuit of financial success.

Countless reports and cases have stated that Singaporeans are one of the unhappiest people in the world. Our Singaporean forefathers focused heavily on economic growth for the last 50 years. It’s also researched that Singaporean workers are constantly the highest worked, workers in the world, beating even the industrious South Koreans. Singapore is also reported to have low fertility rates.

Dating in Singapore 04

Research shows that economic growth in a competitive capitalistic economy is related to this low fertility rate. There’s a popular argument that suggests when people have more disposable income, people are more willing to put off marriages and courtships.

Have you sacrificed the other aspects of life in this mad chase for economics? Have you dug a hole so deep economically that you have to constantly pile up on it to keep it going? It’s no longer enough to define ourselves through our unhelpful metrics such as our pay check. You and I find ourselves as the first generation of men that must create our own.

This isn’t easy. In a multitude of ways, we’re ill equipped. However, you can be the first of Singaporean men that take a different step.

Just like how our founding fathers did half a century ago.

Works Cited

Health, I. o. (2016, September 23). Latest study sheds light on the state of mental health in Singapore.Retrieved May 29, 2018, from Institute of Mental Health: https://www.imh.com.sg/uploadedFiles/Newsroom/News_Releases/SMHS%20news%20release.pdf

Photo Credits: Joe Siegal