Blog
Jan 14

What Are Personal Values? Why They Matter in Dating and Relationships

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

What are personal values and why are they important in dating, relationships or just life at large? When I was 19 or so, a friend of mine came to me complaining that she was being emotionally bullied by a close friend of mine. I softly persuaded him to stop it, despite him being a close friend of mine. I didn’t like bullies, for I was in a somewhat similar position once.

You could argue that by me standing up to my friend, I was acting out of my values. I stood up for my values regardless of external circumstances, whether he’s my good friend or not. I behaved according to my values and persuaded him otherwise, risking a potential loss of friendship with him.

So, What Are Values?

Values can be said to be internal compasses. They are the judgment about how important something is to us. There are principles that are held internally regardless of external circumstances. Sometimes, they are principles and judgments that you may even sacrifice and die for. They can comprise of intangibles such as authenticity, accountability, empathy and respect.

Why are Values Important?

In modern society, you may find yourself in a constant struggle to stick to your values as opposed to sacrifice them for an extrinsic result.

For example, authenticity and expressing yourself honestly is a value in itself. Honesty, however, sometimes is uncomfortable, especially when expressed negatively to friends or superiors. Your honesty may not be appreciated. It may involve telling your boss something that he might disagree with but might be better for the company. This may put you at risk of offending him (or losing your job). This can be difficult at times, especially so in the Asian culture.

In your relationships, what if your date you’re interested in treats you badly? What if he or she’s a no show for three dates straight and cancels on you last minute every single time? Are you going stick up for yourself and perhaps call them out? Or are you going smile, and pretend nothing happened?

Can you uphold the value of self-respect? Perhaps through calling her out for her negative behaviour, risk upsetting her and losing the potential benefit of dating someone you’re interested in?

What if your friends are always showing up late and disrespectful of your time? What if you valued your time, and made efforts to be on time for meetups? Do you hold back calling the person out to avoid the possibility of not offending him or her?

Values are researched to higher self-esteem, in the long run, makes you more attractive to women, increase work creativity, and make you a happier person. Positive values are also usually ensued by strong boundaries.

In short, they’re awesome.

Ironically, it’s people that do not have any values going for them that are unattractive and mediocre. They don’t stand for anything. They are people pleasers. Their craving for attention, affection from the world around them at the cost of their personal integrity and values. They’ll never build a strong identity. Counter-intuitively, it’s this constant need for a false sense of acceptance is what repels people away.

In our relationships, it’s the sacrifice of their own personal values that drive needy and unattractive behaviour.

So Marcus, without sounding like your high school counsellor, how can you instil this thing called values in your life then?

Ironing Out Your Values

Ironing out your values can be simple as taking out a piece of paper and writing down what you will and will not accept in your life. This can range from business decisions, relationship values to all other areas of your life. The second step is to commit and be disciplined about it. Note, no one is perfect and it’s OKAY to falter and be flexible. However, just like habits, you just go back to work on it.

  • Your Dating and Relationship Values

So, a couple of years ago, when I started wanting to attract women. The first step was to iron out my dating and relationship values. This means what I will, and will not accept from women, or people in general. This not only helped my self-esteem, but it also made my dating choices much easier.

I stopped texting girls who didn’t want to text me back, I stopped worrying about girls who didn’t want to go out on dates with me. Yeah, I get rejected, however, it saved me the heartache, the smokes and games that people play.

I started out with a couple of simple values. I decided I’ll not hang out with people who don’t want to hang out with me. I’ll not date a girl who doesn’t want to date me. I’ll not text a girl who doesn’t want to text me. I’ll express interest to women only that I’m interested in.

These values played an important role when on a date. Instead of constantly worrying if I match up to her, I’m going to see if there’s a right fit of values. I’m not looking to impress her.

If you’re wondering what I value in women, physical beauty (I can’t lie), empathy, intellectual curiosity, honesty, nurturance and accountability. From personal experience, I’m a lot more motivated, willing to sacrifice a lot more time and effort and to pursue a girl who’s more physically aesthetic If she’s hot but has selfie problem, sure, I’ll be more tolerant of it. If she’s hot but is slightly emotionally erratic, sure, I’ll be patient. I’m willing to give up many superficial nuances that tick me off.

However, I’m not willing to give up my personal boundaries just to pursue someone who is physically attractive. There are values that are non-negotiable. If she constantly disrespects me or is rude, I am going to call her out on it. If she doesn’t alter her behaviour, then I’ll simply drop her.

Note, I hold these values true for all other relationships as well. I also can’t be bothered by people who don’t respect my time or money. If you don’t respect my time or money, there isn’t a friendship in place anymore in the first place.

Business Values

I once worked for a traditional company in Singapore. Whilst the potential monetary prospects were good, I hated it. Why so? That’s because the way the business was conducted went against my values of providing a competitive and ethical service to society.

The business deals were done over drinks, karaoke pubs and mind games with everyone. Everyone was attempting to look rich, attempting to blow smoke up each other asses, instead of actually discussing rational business.

It forced me to iron out my business values. Through the years I decided that I’ll only make an income through ethical products or service to consumers that don’t hurt society. The systems and products have to work without any overt form of bootlicking. I’m not going to work with or for anyone who uses his network or relationships as a ‘stronghold’. I don’t give two fucks if you tell me your father is a billionaire. I don’t want to rely on ‘Guan Xi’ to do business.

Ironing out these values made a lot of business choices down the road much simpler.  Out went the scammy products that prey on delusional or people that are in a bad spot in life, out went the nights of drinking just for the sake of clinching a deal. Since I had these values in place, it freed me up to learn how to do marketing ethically, branding and ethical business practices.

Helpful and UnHelpful Values 

It’s said if you pursue negative values such as popularity and fame, it’s ‘negative’. However, I don’t entirely see it this way and I think negative values can be a good motivator for positive values. I didn’t desire to be with hot women, I’ll not have undertaken this self-improvement process. If not for the desire to be financially free, I’ll not have attempted to be an entrepreneur. This blog wouldn’t exist. I also think everyone is motivated by different intrinsic and extrinsic motivators at a certain point of time.

Negative values are superstitious, immediately controllable and socially destructive. If you value popularity or fame, and how much you’re liked or accepted by everyone that’s not immediately controllable. That’s because you can’t control how people think of you.

If you measured yourself and valued a million dollars in a bank, that’s an external value that isn’t controllable. It’s merely going to drive you crazy daily. Negative values are reliant on an external event such as flying in a private jet, getting threesomes or travelling the world in pursuit of a hedonistic lifestyle (guilty).

Arguably, negative values can be good motivators initially. You didn’t get into self-development if you didn’t want to fuck more girls, make more money and look really awesome amongst your friends right? Negative values can give you a good start, however, for long term happiness, you’ll need to prioritize internal values in the long run.

Positive values are reality-based, immediately controllable, self-generated and are socially constructive. Positive values such as innovation, honesty and vulnerability are immediately controllable and can be self-generated right this moment.

For example, instead of valuing popularity or how much I’m liked by people, I can make an internal value of improving my dating/ social life. That way, just by going out to a bar to meet more women is a win for me, regardless of their reaction to me.

Positive values are always internally achieved and there’s no completion to them. They are also process oriented. Honesty and vulnerability are internal values that can be practised right now and in every social interaction for the rest of your life.

How to Establish Your Values Without Being an Asshole?

So the one thing about values that people get confused is that you got to be somewhat of an asshole when expressing your values.

Having strong values doesn’t mean that you go around calling others out on their ‘poor values’ or ‘lack of values’. It just means recognising that you have different values than them and sometimes it’s just a lack of compatibility. The first step to establish your values is to express it in a matured manner. If the girl you’re dating shows up late, you don’t have to scream at her for showing up late. Just making it known and calling her out on it is enough.

You can always say: “Hey, I hope you won’t be this late the next time we meet.”

In a respectful and assertive manner.

I also want to note that your values should be flexible and based on context. If you have an amazing friendship with someone who’s always fucking late who has many other merits, then it’s perfectly fine to just accept that flaw in that person.

What Happens When You Change Your Values?

When you change your values, it’s normal for your old relationships to blow up in your face. This can be demonstrated by calling out certain behaviours from old friends and possibly ticking them off the wrong way.

Through my own personal growth, I started valuing my time and I started being serious about my life purpose and my work. If you cancel on me without letting me know, I’m sorry, that’s non-negotiable. I’m calling you out.

Your friendships you made through your life probably supported and confirmed the values of yours. However, when you begin to shift your values, you’re going to inevitably experience a lot of friction amongst those old relationships.

In my experience, long term relationships and friendships are the hardest. You may find yourself in a place where your closest relationships no longer understand you anymore. However, do these friendships have to have to go? I don’t think necessarily so. There’s no need to cut out a person because of a difference in values, that’s because, despite a difference in values, there may be overlap in values.

However, if you are constantly bickering over petty behaviours. That merely goes to show that you have different fundamental life values and have completely different priorities completely, then perhaps some time off that particular relationship might not be a completely negative thing.

In my experience, I found out the hard way that people around you are going to have different values from you do at the different point of their lives in multiple areas of their life from relationships to careers.

This is true of your relationship with to your parents, your childhood best friends, your boss, your pet goldfish, and your colleagues. You may have a childhood friend that has conflicting values at some point of his or her life and a loss of friendship is inevitable.

It’s values that ultimately bring people together and tear people apart. You’re going to be what you value. Choose your values wisely.

Works Cited

J, Z., S, S., J, C., & Z, Z. (2009). Social networks, personal values, and creativity: Evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 1544-1552.

W, M. M. (2007). Happiness and Virtue in Positive Psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 89-103.

 

 

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 01
Jan 11

How to Set Healthy Relationship Boundaries – Ultimate Guide

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

You can argue that the majority of dating and relationship problems are a boundary issue in one way or another. Years ago, I was enrapt in a relationship that felt great at times and just dirt poor other times. It was like a rollercoaster ride. It was only years later after knowing the concept of boundaries, that I realized that my ex-girlfriend and I had piss poor boundaries in our relationship.

So other than sparring yourself from rollercoaster relationships, why are boundaries important?

Firstly, strong boundaries are the cornerstone of attractive behaviour. Secondly, they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health. They lead to emotional stability and self-esteem. They are also something you can work on right away.

Okay, before you get into deeper details, let’s take a look if you have a boundary issue.

You May Have a Boundary Issue if You:

  • Constantly feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
  • Feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
  • Find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly
  • Find yourself far more invested or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you’ve known them
  • In your relationships, you feel like things are always either amazing or horrible with no in-between. Or perhaps you even go through the break-up/reunion pattern every few months?
  • You tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it
  • You spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?

If you answered “yes” to even a few of the above, then you probably set and maintain poor boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding “yes” to most or all of the items above, you not only have a major boundary problem in your relationships but you also probably have some other personal problems going on in your life.

What are Relationship Boundaries?

There are many reasons why someone may lack boundaries. Psychologically speaking, people with a lack of boundaries may appear may be motivated by an unconscious need to ‘keep the peace’ because of the fear of getting hurt.

So, what are boundaries and how do they look like?

Healthy Boundaries:

  • NOT taking responsibility for OTHER people choices, actions and emotions
  • Taking FULL responsibility for YOUR own choices, actions and emotions

Healthy Boundaries from the outside:

  • NOT expecting others to be responsible for your choices, actions and emotions
  • Other people should be responsible for THEIR choices, actions and emotions and NOT responsible for YOUR emotions and choices.

Dating and Relationship Boundaries

Examples of Poor Boundaries:

Since I’m Asian, I can use a couple examples from the Asian culture, I’ll chime in a few examples.

“If you go out with your friends tonight and not keep me accompany, I’m not going to give you allowance next month.”

“If you don’t study the subjects as I want you to, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“If you don’t do as I say, you’re not being filial to the family. Hence, you’re not a good child.”

This is an example of a parent’s expectation for his or her child to take responsibility for the parent’s choices and emotions.

In this scenario, the person is taking responsibility for actions or emotions that aren’t theirs or are expecting someone to take responsibility for their actions or emotions. When you set boundaries in your relationships, it can be as simple as saying no to someone and letting the chips fall where they may.

You’re NOT responsible for someone’s else emotions.

Flip that around, it’s also the willingness to take a no from someone else. That’s because if you feel crappy about hearing a no, you’re are responsibility for your own mood and not expect or blame anyone else for your emotions and choices. Ultimately, having strong boundaries does not mean that you don’t want your partners or friends to be happy. It just means that you can’t decide if your partners or friends are happy or choose to behave in a certain way.

The Breaker and Fixer Pathology

People with poor boundaries typically come in two flavors:

  1. Those who take too much responsibility for the emotions and actions of others
  2. Those who expect others to take too much responsibility for their own emotions and actions.

They are called the breaker, and the fixer. Interestingly, these two types of people often end up in relationships together. My first relationship was like that, it felt like it was us against the world. However, in hindsight, it was soul-sucking and emotionally tiring. She and I had pathologies of both the victim and saver, oscillating between both roles at different points of time.

  • The Saver

If you are someone who tends to feel a need to make their partners happy all the time, you may be playing the role of the saver in the relationship. You have a boundary issue. This is because, at the core of it, you’re attempting to decide/ control how your partner acts and feel.

The saver doesn’t save the victim because they actually care about the problem, but because they believe if they fix the problem they will feel loved.

  • The Victim

The victim creates problems not because there are real problems, but because they believe it will cause them to feel loved. If you are that someone who is always creating problems, expecting others to take responsibility for your actions and emotions. You are playing the role of the victim.

The saver and victim commonly end up together in relationships and often lead to unstable roller coaster relationships. In such scenarios, the lack of boundaries leads to needy, co-dependent.

From an attachment theory perspective, victims tend to be anxious-attachment types, and savers tend to be avoidant-attachment types. They both push away secure-attachment types. They may also grow up with parents who had poor boundaries in their relationships that led to their model of a relationship that is based on poor boundaries.

You may ask, Marcus, isn’t it cold and cruel to not care about others and fix their problems?

You see, the saver or the victim don’t ACTUALLY care about each other or the relationship, they are behaving in these ways to meet their own need for self-esteem through other people’s problems. The victim needs to create problems to feel loved whilst the saver needs to fix problems to feel loved. There isn’t any real authenticity or genuine emotional connection with these relationships.

Their behaviors are based on their OWN needs to feel loved and not actual unconditional love itself.

If the victim really cares about the saver and the relationship, he or she would say, “Look, this is my problem, you don’t have to fix it for me.” That would be actually caring about the saver.

If the saver really cared for the victim, the saver would say, “Look, you’re blaming others for your own problems, you should be responsible for it yourself.” That would be actually loving the victim.

The hardest thing for a victim to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and their life as opposed to blaming others. They spent their whole life believing they must blame others in order to feel any intimacy or love.

For the saver, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop fixing other people’s problems and trying to make them feel happy or satisfied. They may have spent their whole lives feeling valued and loved when they were fixing a problem for someone. Hence, letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well. If you see your relationships as economical transactions, only seeing others as beneficial or economical exchanges, not only it’s a form of poor boundaries, it’s also going to tear you apart emotionally eventually.

The Boundary Problem in Modern Culture

Now, I may take some criticism for this, but I’m going to say it anyway. In Asian culture, there’s a cultural belief that children are inherently SUPPOSED to be filial to their parents or grandparents. It’s a common cultural Asian cultural narrative to love, respect and obey your parents JUST because they are your biological parents, not based upon the fact if they are good parents or not.

This often expressed in the value of filial piety.

I had a friend to said that he would give in to demanding/unreasonable requests to his parents just because they are paying for his University fees. His parents are using monetary support as a bargaining tool to get their child to conform.

I’m may piss off some you reading here but listen to me.

That is an unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamic between him and his parents with a lack of boundaries. On one hand, his parents are using money as a means to control their child’s behaviour. Secondly, on his end, he is giving up his self-respect, his honest thoughts, and desires because he’s afraid of not getting the money from his parents.

If your parents only provide for you financially if you give in to their whims and demands. It’s a conditional relationship. The underlying meaning of the relationship would mean: I only love you if you listen to me. I will only provide for you if you listen to me.

Firstly, these are a poor form of boundaries. Secondly, there isn’t any genuine support or affection in their relationship.

From personal experience in the Singaporean culture, there are many that have this perception that if their parents provide for them financially, it’s a MUST to give in to their parents, against their genuine thoughts, desires and beliefs.

Some of the people reading this might say: Marcus, you’re such an INGRATE for speaking out against the age-old values of filial piety. You’re Asian yourself and you SHOULD be filial to your parents.

Okay, shut up.

I AM filial to my parents. However, I act on it as a gift, with no expectations of return, as opposed to an OBLIGATION. There’s a difference.

The act and value of filial piety should be something that’s given unconditionally, rather than demanded or assumed because of cultural or social reasons. 

If you’re forced to visit your grandparents every weekend and you secretly hate it. Then you’re not acting out of a genuine desire to see and care for your grandparents. You’re doing it because you don’t want to piss your Mum and Dad off.

As I argued, acts of affection are only genuine if they’re performed without expectations.

Is It Okay to Sacrifice?

You may ask then, Marcus, what about making sacrifices for people you love? What about going the extra mile for best friends? What if my girlfriend wants me to call her daily? What if my pet cat requires me to stroke his belly 20 times a day?

I SHOULD make that sacrifice right?

Firstly, sacrifices that are made out of obligation aren’t genuine sacrifices. They are actually your inability to say no.

True sacrifice only comes in the form of unconditionally, as a gift, with no expectations of return. One common behavior I noticed during my stint as a dating coach for men is that they compliment women in hopes of getting her attention. Needless to say, they didn’t get far.

Sacrifice is only true and genuine when you desire to do it out of no expectations, as a gift, and not because you should feel obligated to or fear the consequences of NOT doing it.

You can simply ask yourself this: If you stopped doing an X behavior, would it change anything about your relationship with Y? Read: I know, the algebra. I’m Asian, live with it.

  • If I stopped picking her up from her house or sending her home, will she still love me?
  • If I stopped agreeing with her on everything she says, will she still love me?
  • If I told my friend that he should be on time in the future, and being late isn’t cool at all, will we still be friends?

If your answer is NO, it wouldn’t change a damn thing in the relationship, if you stopped doing a certain behavior, then that’s a good sign.

If YES, then you probably have a boundary issue. You’re making a particular sacrifice or behaving in a certain way because you fear to lose the relationship.

How to Set Strong Boundaries

I started off a YES man. I’d say YES to events, business opportunities, introductions, trips and I was the guy that was flexible and easy to get along. Yes, that helped a lot. However, as I grow, I realized it’s so much better to say NO and truly evaluate how and who you spend your time and effort with.

These days, I’m always evaluating how I feel after spending time with someone. If I feel emotionally recharged, listened to or that I learned something from him or her, I’ll continue pursuing that relationship. If I feel disrespected, belittled or unjustly criticized then I’ll stop.

In my business career, I had instances where potential clients waste my time by getting me to draft out long thought out proposals for their digital marketing campaigns and I don’t hear back from them. No, no more. You need to be a good fit to work with me.

I had instances where girls waste my time and don’t show up for a date. That’s on me. That’s MY fault. I didn’t qualify her properly. If I had disqualified and said: ‘You and I are probably not going to get a long because you’re always late’, she’s going to either straighten up or not waste my time by not showing up.

These days, I hold by these standards throughout all my relationships, from friends, family, clients, business partners, and life choices. In that sense, I’m valuing my time and myself. Only by valuing your time and yourself, that you can get others to value you and your time.

Here are some of the lines you can use:

  • I prefer not to discuss them as these matters are private to me’
  • I never kiss and tell’
  • I already stated my opinion and I’m not going to argue with you further.’
  • ‘If you keep doing X behaviour, then I’m going to leave.’
  • ‘This is are my values, and I hope you can respect that.’

Closing Thoughts

Setting boundaries by cutting an acquaintance out or an ever unaccountable friend is easy. It’s as simple as cutting them out from your life or seeing them lesser. However, setting boundaries and maybe even cutting family and best friends out are a lot harder. You can dump your girlfriend, you can’t dump a bad family member. Family relationships are the hardest to deal with. Trust me, I’ve been there.

One time, I stopped driving a couple of my friends around. I realized that if I stopped driving them around, they wouldn’t bother hanging out with me. Tough truth to face, but that’s life. When I go out with a girl on a date and she says something offensive, I don’t just play nice and ignore, I call her out on it. That’s a form of my boundaries. I don’t accept rude or offensive behaviours in my life.

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 03

Someone with strong boundaries isn’t afraid to say no. He or she isn’t afraid of a temper tantrum or getting into an argument. He or she also understands that he may hurt someone else’s feelings at times and ultimately can’t control how someone else feels.

He or she also understands that a genuine relationship isn’t made up of two people deciding on each other’s actions or emotions, but instead, an unconditional relationship is made up of two people supporting each other, without judgment or expectations.

How to Talk to Women
Jan 02

How to Start a Conversation and Talk to Anyone

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

You see your ideal partner sitting across the table of Starbuck having a quiet cup of coffee. He or she is dressed casually. They don’t look intimidating They are attractive. They are also alone. The hundreds of possibilities run through your head. You want to start a conversation with them. However, you freeze and you don’t know what to say, much less how to say it. Or maybe you’re at a networking session are you see the boss of your ideal company standing beside a booth. You’re thinking of what to say in a situation like this.

How many of us experienced similar situations like this?

Starting a conversation with anyone is a skillset that can be learnt.

How to Talk to Anyone – Conversational Mindsets

Firstly, you need to understand that there are good conversational mindsets that can make or break any conversation.

This can be done by adopting conversational mindsets such as 1) using effective language, 2) learning the art of making statements, 3) creating endless conversation threads by actively listening and 5) understanding the mechanics of how to connect deeply with anyone.

Mindset 1: Lower The Bar For a Conversation

The first step to starting a conversation with a stranger and never running out of words is to lower the bar for conversation. I was notorious for being too witty and lost in abstract arguments in my head. It has single handedly submarined a lot of social, romantic and business opportunities. Purely relying on pure wit or intellect is actually a horrible way to communicate in any relationship

It’s a cultural narrative from movies you watch growing up where the actors and actresses often come up with witty lines and the ‘perfect moment’ to strike up a conversation. In reality, is far from the truth. It’s always a little awkward at first when getting to know someone new, just keep it simple.

Mindset 2: Statements Versus Questions

Have you ever had someone who you just got to know ask you repetitive questions? I bet you have. It also felt irritating. People feel the same way as well. When you go interview mode on someone, you’re making the conversational flow one sided.

Instead of going down the route of interviewing someone and asking questions. When you make statements, you’re giving your own input and giving her a window to respond to that statement.

The trick here isn’t to just stick to statements. It’s to mix in statements and questions. In Asian culture, if you were just to stick to statements, most people will not know how to respond. From my experience, they’re just too used to guys asking questions all the time, and haven’t built any social skills to share themselves.

It’s a much better conversational habit as compared to asking questions and waiting for her reply. Of course, if you were to make statements, questions and she just doesn’t respond, it means that she’s not ready to talk and isn’t receptive.

Don’t take it personally and move on.

Statements offer more ‘value’ and opportunity for someone to get continue to a conversation than questions. When you’re just going off on questions with someone, you don’t express your identity, and you don’t really put them in a position to express themselves. The other party got to invest in the conversation for the interaction to go well.

Cold reading is a skillset that you can use to make statements. Other simple ones include making observations about the environment or something that catches your eye. It’s possible to turn every question into a statement. For example, instead of asking what someone does for a job, why not make a statement that they looks like they work in creative line or looks like a teacher and etc.

If you get it wrong, they’ll correct you. If you get it right, they’ll be quite surprised at how intuitive you are. There are no loses to making cold reads.

You can also make statements about your day to day life. Instead of worrying what to ask next, you can just go off randomly on your day or events that interest you: ‘I hate my boss, he just made me do two times the work today’.

It’s better to be random and interesting than to be predictable. However, don’t be too random, as it won’t work in an Asian setting.

Statements done right can inspire someone to find out more about yourself. It can inspire someone to ask more questions about you. This way, it’s a two sided conversation.

Caveat: I’d like to add that questions are alright in an Asian setting, most Asian aren’t really equipped with the social skills to lead the interaction, you’ll be required to do a little bit of babysitting by mixing questions with statements.

Mindset 3: Listening Actively 

One of the common pitfalls of learning social skills is to only talk about yourself and only showing interest in the topics that you yourself are interested in.

One time, I went out with one of my girl friends. She had relationship woes. For three hours straight, she went on was how shit of their ex-boyfriend treated her. That spanned the whole of three fucking hours. Whilst I’m perfectly cool with lending a listening ear, it just got downright exasperating and I felt like killing myself at the end of the session.

Read: if you want to feel better about yourself it’s better to step outside of yourself and empathise with someone else’s problems. Instead of having a self-defeating loop in your mind, merely focused on your own problems, your own trouble or your own pain. It helps, try it.

If you’re genuinely interested in the world of others. It will lead you to a lot more conversational opportunities than just sticking to your own topics of conversation.

Take a good listen to people around you. Everyone’s attempting to jam their point of view down everyone else’s throat. No one’s truly listening. Communication at the end of the day is a two-way thing. Yes, you get to share your story, once they are done listening to yours, do make a point to listen to their story. Part of being interesting is being genuinely interested remember?

How to Talk to Girls 05

Mindset 4: Use Effective Language 

One way to be a great communicator is by using effective language. This means using the shortest number of words possible to in conversation to get your point across. You would rather have 5 minutes of awesome conversation as opposed to 15 minutes of beating around the bush. You will come off as more well spoken and charismatic.

This means removing ‘ahh’ ‘you know’ and ‘erhms’ and other filters when you’re conversing.

This doesn’t mean you speak like a robot either. You can use different tonality and pace to get more emotion across in your conversations. Writing and keeping a journal can help with this skillset.

When there’s nothing to say, don’t feel like a need that you have to say something. That’s part of being grounded in your social interactions. There’s no need to fill every silent gap with something to say. In psychology, it’s said that people who can’t help but ramble on to ‘keep the peace’ may be displaying a form of anxious attachment.

When in doubt, ask yourself, ask yourself, are you saying something because you’re afraid of the silence or the slight confrontation? If the answer is Yes, then it’s OKAY to keep to yourself. Remember, you don’t need permission to speak to anyone, or not speak to anyone.

How to Start a Conversation out of Nothing

Skillset 1: Asking Innocuous Questions

I used to think that simple questions sounded stupid and it’s ‘impractical’ to ask someone on such questions. However, I realised innocuous questions are a mere social tool and conversational starter to get some social juices going when talking to strangers.

No one goes deep into their life story in the first few minutes of getting someone new, and no one expects a life story within the first few minutes either.

Some example of innocuous questions:

  • “What are you up to here?”
  • “How’s your day?”

You’ll be surprised how far these innocuous questions can help is starting a conversation with an interesting stranger.

Skillset 2: Making Simple Observations

Secondly, you can also start a conversation with a stranger by making simple observations. You can get creative with this. It can be something in the current environment you’re in, it can be the nicely tailored suit that he’s wearing, or the cute blue toenails she has spent hours on. It can be the weather. It can be the fake tan she has on. (I’m kidding)

  • “Wow, the weather’s pretty hot today.”
  • ‘Those are nice blue toenails you have on, they are really cute.’

Just like asking innocuous questions, think of it as a conversational starter. Once you get small talks like that going, you can follow these observations up with a question, or a cold read.

Skillset 3: The Art of Cold Reading

Cold reading is the art of making an intelligent guess about something about someone. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong or right. The point of it is to get the conversation going. It’s one of the most effective and a bread and butter of conversational tools that you should include in your daily life if you’re looking to improve your social and conversational skills.

Cold reading is done by making harmless neutral assumptions with the people you are talking with.

Examples of Cold Reading:

  • “Hi, you seem to be a really artsy person. Did you take an arts subject in school?”
  • “You look like you’re a school teacher, you must be a pretty bad one, all the kids must hate you”

The thing about cold reading and guessing is that you never go wrong with it. If you get it wrong, he or she will correct you, and perhaps add onto it. If you’re spot on, they’ll likely to think that you’re quite perceptive and may engage with you in conversation because of that. Just last week I got most of my cold reads right by chance by guessing a girl was half Japanese and was studying at the University of London. She reacted positively and was curious how did I know so much. I followed up by teasing that I stalk her daily on Facebook and Instagram.

Through cold reading, you can keep conversational threads flowing and then relate these threads back to your own life with your own experiences.

I’ve personally used this conversational tool thousands of times to spark new conversations or in the middle of dying conversations threads. It works every time.

How to Keep a Conversation Going Anyone

One of the most commonly asked questions in social skills, dating and relationships advice is how to keep a conversation going with anyone, and how to never run out of words?

In social interactions, you’re going to assume to the burden of taking the lead, to start, to continue and to lead in the conversation. Instead of ending your conversations with one-word answers: Yes or No, try to end it with stories, statements and specifics.

  • The Art of Improvisation

There’s a misconception in conversation that people pay attention to words and phrases. However, it’s the meaning of the conversation that people are more interested in. If you just pay attention to to phrases and words, it may result in an unnatural conversation. It’ll seem as if you’re trying to keep this conversation going and you’re afraid of silences.

The secret to creating endless conversational topics is to get good at improvisation. You can only get better with this skill by learning from stand up comedians. I started off studying George Carlin and Louis CK, however, their style of comedy can be quite dark and self depreciating. That’s not really good for most situations. One of the good comedians to check out is Russell Brand and Russell Peters.

The best way to get good at this is to gain an appreciation of language.

  • Penetrate the Ostensible

When you’re penetrating the ostensible, you are take multiple meanings to a word, phrase or intonation and playing around it. This is taking note of little nuances, words that someone says and playfully adding in a tease.

The Art of Story Telling: How to Tell a Story

Ever know someone who went on, and on and on and you can’t help but quietly look away whilst he goes on and on to kind of signal that he’s being too long-winded? Or maybe you know someone who awkwardly tries to fit in a joke in his conversations?

Starting conversations is an important skill. However, learning how to continue them in a dynamic manner is also equally important.

Human beings, by nature, are enrapt by stories. People in power, businessmen, priests (erhem), comedians, and politicians all use the art of storytelling to explain, persuade and influence others to their way of thinking.

In the dating advice community, memorizing stories and routines are popular methods. Whilst this might work in the short run, there’s going to come a point of time where you’re going to run out of words. Hence, I advocate understanding the principles of what makes a dynamic conversation and apply them using your own life stories and experiences.

Learning how to tell a story in a structured, and interesting manner will make you a good conversationalist.

Every great story has a rough three-step process that anyone can use.

  • The Set Up

The set up gives context to the conflict of the story. It’s the general setting, such as the location and brief details of the story. The set up should be as short as possible. But it’s necessary to give the initial context and foundation for the follow-up of the complete story.

If you don’t set up your stories, you’ll come off to others as random in your conversations.

One simple one lined example of the “set up” would be this:

“I was attending my school orientation the other day. Whilst watching the orientation games, there was this girl that tripped and fell. I was an asshole about it and laughed a little.”

It’s descriptive and gives background to the story.

  • The Conflict

The conflict is the part where you introduce the majority of the story. This should be the part that causes tension and expectancy. The content of the story needs to be captivating and hook others into wanting to know what will happen next. If there isn’t much conflict in the content of your stories, you will get the feeling that you ramble on a lot and others are not paying attention to you.

To continue to story from the set up:

“One of the most attractive girls in the whole of the camp took me by surprise and gave me a smack on my arm. I actually froze up! I froze up and walked away like an idiot! I should have just said something out of my mouth or smacked her back. But I didn’t. I retardedly froze up and walked away.”

“However, I never really felt right, that’s because I didn’t want myself worth to be judged on how many girls date, or anything like that. I also felt I wasn’t experienced enough to coach guys that might be twice my age.”

  • The Resolution/ Punchline

The resolution and the punchline are where you insert ‘the moral of the story’, the ‘punchline’ and the ‘joke’ to end off the story, or just closure for a generic story. People who don’t conclude their stories properly will often get blank stares when they’re finished speaking, or people will ask them “Yeah, and…?”

To end off the story with a punchline:

“Lesson learned! Never ever stand beside an attractive woman during orientation games.” (Joke)

“Nonetheless, I’ve decided to give it a shot, as long as I do my research, and stick to my values, and business values, I’m sure it’ll turn out alright.”

These are all true stories by the way.

Learning how to tell stories in a dynamic and interesting manner is a conversational habit has helped me over the years with strangers, sales and persuading others in my business and dating life. Learning how to structure your conversations is going to be helpful for everything from sales presentations, networking events, casual conversations and other forms of social interactions. It can also make or break a romantic interaction when you’re expected to lead in conversation.

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Should You Memorize Lines for Conversations?

Some times, I get this question: should you memorize lines for your conversations? Personally, I never felt right memorising lines. It has never turned out well for me. Furthermore, you don’t want to be some robotic person repeating what somebody wrote on the internet.

There’s no need to memorize anything, I’ve sparked conversations with people all over the world with this simple line: “Hi I’m Marcus, I just wanted to say Hi, you look like…”.

I haven’t had a drink splashed on me yet.

You want to understand the principles of conversations, and use your own unique life stories and motivations. This will serve you much better in the long run. Not to mention social interactions has many variables that are out of your control and cannot be completely boxed and quantified like a formula.

However, if you’re starting out you can memorize one line jokes or some of your own life stories as training wheels. They should come naturally out of you after some practice.

The Art of Qualification: Empathy and Appreciation

Mark Twain was quoted saying: “really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

When was the last time someone took notice of something about you and appreciated that aspect of you? You see, appreciation is as aspect that’s left out in our culture and conversations. That’s because it genuine appreciation requires vulnerability.

The secret desire is that everyone desires to be appreciated and to be admired. The art of qualification is the art of appreciating someone for their values or personality. The  way to get good at this is to step outside your daily judgments and asking yourself why someone behaves the way they do.

I also don’t mean it in a manner where you compliment someone for the sake of complimenting them. You have to convey your compliments in an authentic manner.

For example: The guy who seems fearless in his entrepreneurial pursuits, selfish with his time, demand and uptight about his schedule, isn’t actually being an asshole. He could be working on a huge project that may help his family financially.

Someone who is extremely financially motivated might not be money minded. He might be doing it because he had a negative experience financially when he was young.

I choose to write about social skills, dating and relationships because I essentially care about this area of my life. Writers make choices. It must obviously mean something to me. So does everyone, with whatever they choose to pursue.

The world is mired in advertising, society, family, friends telling you and everyone else that they aren’t good enough. If you’re able to dig beneath the surface, figure out why people do what they do and appreciate them for that, you’ll stand out from the norm in their lives. It’s only when you find that gold in someone, appreciate them for that, and watch them lit up like a Christmas tree.

How to Build a Deep Emotional Connection

Society often shames us for expressing what you really feel or think. Hence all of us grow up to hold back our thoughts, desires, and feelings, whether be it consciously or subconsciously. However, as humans being, we all have an emotional need for connection and significance in our relationships.

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If you’re going to meet someone and merely talk about the weather, gossip on your mutual friends or nerd out about politics, then you aren’t being truly vulnerable. If all you know about someone is merely the superficial facts about someone, then you don’t really know someone at all.

Men tend to converse through information, fact and theories and women through emotions. However, many pay attention to the “WHATs” of life: their job, their cat’s name and where they live. The facts are mere superficial details of the emotions experienced. You want to relate to the underlying emotions behind the facts.

They rarely peer into the WHYs.

Conversing with emotions will not only help you connect to someone in a deeper manner, but it’ll also help you connect on a more meaningful level. Deeper friendships and romantic relationships aren’t just built by the number of experiences two people have together, it’s also built upon opening up to each other.

No matter how different, everyone in the world has gone through some form of success, failure, hurt, disappointment, anger and lost. If you want to connect with someone emotionally, you got to open yourself up and connect on these universal emotions and experiences.

I often tell people that I’m quite a good judge of character and someone else’s motivation. That’s because I pay attention to the undercurrent of what someone is saying, as opposed to the superficial layers of communication. Powerful emotional connection is built upon understanding and relating to each other’s WHYs in life.

You need to pay attention to the motivations behind pursuits and behaviours.

Here’s an example of going into the WHYs:

Her: Wow, what inspired you to be an entrepreneur at such a young age?
Me: I pursue business I want to be financially free because I felt financially suffocated during my teenage years as my family went bankrupt for a period of time.

That is a ‘Why’.

Here’s another way to tell a story in a dynamic way:

I was once a competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and currently I’m an entrepreneur. The feeling before a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition is the same pressure before a giving a business pitch.

They are both some sort of competition in some way. One of them is trying to overcome a physical challenge whilst the other a financial one. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor is risking failure, success, and embarrassment just like how the entrepreneur is.

Never thought how a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion can relate to an entrepreneur uh?

Like I mentioned, everyone on this planet shares a handful of universal emotional realities: ambition, shame, alienation, loneliness, achievement, regret, hardship, friendship, love, heartbreak. You and I have all experienced it. The facts change, but the feelings stay the same.

It’s merely how well you’re able to express yours, which will in turn inspire them to share theirs. This requires some degree of vulnerability. It’s true that many carry themselves in a superficial manner in order to fit in with society. However, everybody has it somewhere in them. It’s your job to dig it out and connect with that part of them. That’s where the gold is. That’s where the real magic happens.

  • Be Aware of Your Own Life Stories and Motivations

The rule of thumb here is to always go first. If you share a vulnerable part of yourself, it’ll inspire them to share about theirs.

However, to do that, you first have to be firstly aware of your own emotions, motivations and life story.

This includes:

  • Your passions and favourite things to do
  • Your dreams, ambitions, life goals
  • Best/worst thing that has happened to you
  • Your childhood, family life and upbringing

You can initiate these conversations by a simple cold read: you look like you’re close to your family.

This is where majority of people (especially men) fail at this. Men tend to discuss technical know-hows and superficial details rather than be introspective about their own emotions. The majority of guys suck at talking about themselves. They think it’s ‘weird’ in some ways. Women, on the other hand are super engaged when they are talking about themselves (or each other). This is why women enjoy gossiping, creating drama or people watching.

Here is an example:

I always wanted to be a psychologist growing up because I had a lot of problems growing up as a rebellious teenager. I was always angry, apathetic and under performing. I ended up being hooked onto self development due to a horrible break up with my ex-girlfriend. I was addicted to the fact that I could have a control over my dating life and social interactions.

Through years of failure, today, I feel much more in control of my dating life. I took an interest in psychology that partially inspired my entrepreneurial projects.

However, if you talk about how you FEEL about your experiences, then you can relate to how she FEELS about her experiences. It’s never the experiences themselves that make the difference, it’s the similar underlying emotions of those experiences that you relate to someone that makes a difference.

Here are some examples:

She studies really hard to get into law school because she was brought up by a single Mum and she wants to be self-reliant and independent. That’s driving her. You can relate to her by saying that you had a distant upbringing with your family and you always had to rely on yourself emotionally to get by.

When you open up about yourself and can relate to each other’s emotions and experience, you’ll elicit them to to open up about themselves. The more this goes on, the more personal stories become and the deeper the emotions you connect with. The harder it is to talk about it as a subject, the more genuine and attractive it potentially can be. For example, topics such as childhood, upbringing and family life are often hard for someone to express, especially so in Asian culture.

Here’s a reframe: by being alright with sharing any part of yourself with anyone, you’re truly confident. Emotional connection occurs only through exposing yourself to a certain degree. It cannot be faked.

Confrontation and Boundaries

Lastly, confrontation is necessary to build a deeper emotional connection. Think of it as a parent who sits you down, says something that you don’t want to hear, but know that you should hear. You hate it at first, however, you appreciate that after awhile because deep down you know they are saying so because they care for you.

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Confrontation can be painful and vulnerable. The majority of people avoid confrontation in the fear of imploding the relationship. However, it is necessary. Confrontation was something I started to get more comfortable with as I grew older. This is especially so with close relationships.

Recently, I confronted two good friends. I was feeling really upset for their unreliability and a host of other issues. I kept it in for months. However, it finally felt inauthentic to be around them without expressing those issues. It didn’t feel like a genuine friendship anymore. It felt like I was holding back my thoughts and desires in fear of losing the relationship.

Confrontation from a dating and relationships aspect can be as simple as calling a girl out for being half an hour late into a date to confronting your boyfriend about those weird late night calls to his ex. These conversations are almost often downright uncomfortable, but necessary. However, that’s how an authentic and deeper relationship is formed over time.

Putting it all Together

When you combine these conversational skillsets of cold reading, making statements over questions, storytelling, improvisation, deep emotional connection, you’ll eventually find yourself in being able to direct and control the flow of any conversation. This is actually easier than it sounds. You probably already are using different parts of these skillsets time to time. Now, you just got to do it consistently with anyone you are intending to converse with.

When I was 17, and I was the biggest countercultural hippie. I listened to John Lennon, proclaimed that all you need is love and just felt that life was all too short to be worried about you know the practical stuff. I sat at the playground near my house I was with my ex girlfriend who I was dating at that point in time. I sat and both of us chatted for hours.

I went off about how societal expectations were ridiculous and gave a mini-lecture if the universe existed or not. I told her how amazing was to exist as a tiny speck of the universe. I ranted passionately for a good hour. She listened. She listened well.

I then caught myself rambling and stared into her eyes.

I said: “Were you even listening, did you understand what I just said?”

She said: “No, I don’t, but I just love the way you say it.”

I got annoyed because I wanted her to understand all of that hippie stuff. She didn’t. However, years later, looking back, she probably loved how I expressed it. It my passion, my values and story telling at it’s finest. That was because those stories demonstrated my vulnerability, my authenticity.

Fast forward years later and I found myself dating this other girl at this bar near my home. That point of time, I was also a competitive martial artist and was preparing for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament. I ended ranting off on about how Jiu Jitsu is similar to the game of human chess. I told her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was akin to facing death.

I explained to her that by being submitted in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match, it is the equivalent of dying. You’re either choked out, or risk suffering a major limb broken, which will lead you to a huge disability continuing the fight. I then went on about how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches everyone to be humble because getting into a physical altercation in reality always pans out differently.

Guess what? She loved it. She just stared at me like my ex girlfriend did, mesmerised at how I went on passionately about something I cared about.

Complete different people, and completely different stories. Nonetheless, the same universal emotions.

The facts often get shifted around, however, the feelings are always same.

 

Sep 28

How to Get Out of Depression

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

Our decision making in all areas of life comes from unconscious aspects of our minds. If there’s something you are overly anxious or numb about, there may be an underlying emotion that you’ve repressed or are unconscious about. If you’re constantly unhappy, or constantly in toxic relationships with your friends and family members, then perhaps there’s something there as well.

Or perhaps, you may be facing some form of depression.

Struggling with Depression

I once completely flunked my examinations and got dumped by my ex girlfriend over a text message in a timeframe of a couple of weeks. I was due for military enlistment in a couple of weeks and needless to say those chain of events lead to a minor depressive period.

I looked to friends and family for advice but mostly they ended up giving me superficial or judgmental advice:

‘Just don’t think too much’
‘It’ll need to be more spiritual. That’s the problem with you Marcus’ 
‘You’re over thinking it’. 

I read the research on psychotherapy, I knew the benefits and I jumped straight. I didn’t really cared about what others would think. Stigma? Good. Unconventionality? Even better. I never bought all that unscientific NLP, superficial self help advice, in fact, I hated it. I need something more concrete, something that is based on the scientific method. Okay, psychology isn’t a hard science. I’m aware of that. However, it’s the closest bet.

I checked myself into psychotherapy at the age of 21. However, in hindsight, I didn’t take the benefits of psychotherapy seriously until my third year into it. That was because I went into my sessions with the Mr Know It all attitude:

‘Yeah, I’ve read the research behind it. I know my issues.’

However, intellectualising and/ or verbalising your issues are one thing, but processing them and grieving through them are a different other ball game.

Do You Need Therapy?

Now, if you’re wondering if you need therapy, here is a simple, helpful checklist I stole from Mark Manson’s article.

  • You have emotional or sexual impulses you don’t have control over angry outbursts, fear of intimacy, sexual anxiety, bouts of depression, etc.
  • You come from a difficult childhood, had absent parents or a poor relationship with your parents.
  • You’ve suffered some major traumas in your life (death of loved ones, abuse, major health problems, etc.).
  • You have compulsive behaviors which interfere with other areas of your life: i.e., drug/alcohol abuse, etc.
  • The majority of your relationships in your life are dysfunctional and/or unhealthy (always fighting, lots of blame/guilt, etc.). This includes friendships, significant others, family members.
  • You are overly pre-occupied with one aspect of your life. Common examples include an obsession with being “cool” or popular, obsession with impressing others, a constant need for approval from others, even obsessing about improving yourself (feeling like you’re never good enough), etc.

How to Get out of Depression: The Benefits of Psychotherapy

I’ll argue that many people struggling in different areas of their lives from relationships to personal finance have emotional stories that are out of touch with from their past. They often experienced past traumas, difficult childhoods and negative experiences that they themselves have not confronted and/or are completely unaware of. Yet, they go on years after years of chasing superficial fixes and are oblivious to their own emotional realities.

For example, through the years, I could always be charismatic with girls that I wasn’t emotionally invested in. It didn’t matter if she was hot or not, as long as I wasn’t emotionally invested, I could ‘perform’. However, when it came to a woman I actually felt something for, I would screw it up in the multitude of ways possible.

Through therapy, you’re forced ask better questions:

  • Why do you get nervous around that attractive person who is a complete stranger?
  • Why are you so invested in what others think of you?
  • Why are you avoidant of commitment?
  • Why do you feel unworthy of dating someone you’re genuinely attracted to, but feel completely worthy of dating someone you feel so so about?
  • Why do you measure yourself and base your self-esteem with certain achievements/ sexual conquests?

There’s also a catch 22: If you’re constantly wanting to better yourself, doesn’t that stem from the belief that you aren’t already good enough?

Psychotherapy can help you:

  • Understand how past traumatic events determine your attachment style, that determine the quality of your relationships
  • Why you may be overtly critical or judgment of yourself (could it be because you had an overly critical parent?)
  • The root of your lack of motivation, your anger or apathy in life
  • Help you be aware of your subconscious negative beliefs, the subconscious ways you measure yourself with others, and other unconscious drives
  • How you self sabotage yourself (not studying for exams and partying the night before) This might be rooted in a fear of failure from childhood

There are tons of other benefits, however, these are the main ones that helped me in my life.

Through therapy, you start digging into your past, your emotional development, your childhood. Perhaps you always find yourself in toxic romantic relationships in your life or get uncontrollably angry when someone criticises you on something minor, then perhaps there’s an unresolved emotion or belief there that you aren’t conscious about.

Perhaps, you had an absent father, and you’ve been resentful against him for all these years. That unconscious resentment causes you to be lack in sexual confidence with the opposite sex. Maybe, you’ve avoided commitment throughout your life because your ex girlfriend committed suicide. Maybe you lack confidence in your social life because you’ve been teased and bullied growing up.

There are multiple connected reasons and our psyche doesn’t work like an algorithm, but you get the rough idea.

In my experience, I always thought psychotherapy is a process where you cry it all out on a couch. However, I eventually found out that uncovering and working through negative emotions such as disgust, shame, anger, rage, ice cold bitterness, contempt and hatred is part of the therapeutic process as well. Psychotherapy helps you process the anger and the hurt in a safe environment. When you become more aware of those emotions, you are able to exert a great control over your behaviour.

Psychotherapy and the Stigma in Modern Culture

From personal experience and research, especially in the Asian culture, mental illness, depression is still stigmatized in culture in general. Modern culture stifles open conversations on emotions, depression, isolation, sex and relationships.

Ironically, the things that matter in life.

In fact, the word ‘client’ is often used by psychologists who think of psychological disorders not as illnesses but as problems in living.  

Unfortunately, our culture stigmatises getting help from a clinical professional. I’d even go as far to argue that if I had access to therapy earlier on in my teens, it would do so much better than those boring counselling sessions from the school counsellor (who no one gave a real fuck about her advice anyway).

Whenever I openly discuss therapy with my Asian friends, it gets kind of touchy. I know they’re afraid of how it’s perceived.

If you think about it, it’s similar to getting a personal trainer if you’re serious about getting really good at bodybuilding. You’re just getting one for your mind and emotions. I also have adviced some of my friends and clients who face repeated problems and patterns in their life. The majority of them ignored my advice due to the stigma surrounding it. However, if you look at me, I’m probably a pretty alright individual. I travel regularly, write kickass awesome articles like this. Yet, I work with a psychologist and intend to continue doing so.

Celebrities, multi-millionaires, successful entrepreneurs, athletes, top performing people, musicians, artists and people who are influential in society have used psychotherapy to help them in their lives.

Secondly, if you really are strong, then if you can’t discuss a ‘touchy topic’, that would merely imply that you’re actually weak.

I’ve used therapy for years already in my own life and it’s has helped me in all areas of my life from taking steps towards building a business, bettering my academic performance, fostering better relationships with my parents and to building better self awareness.

There’s no shame about it. If you need it, consult one.

The Different Forms of Psychotherapy

Okay, now let’s get to the different forms of psychotherapy.

When most people think of therapy, they think of going into a room, lying on a couch and crying your heart out after some sort of hypnosis. That’s entirely untrue. The majority of therapies don’t involve hypnosis and it’s often a two-way interaction between the therapist and the client.

Here are the basic forms of therapy that’s most commonly practiced:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

(CBT) is primarily a short term treat that takes involves you challenging your own unhelpful thoughts and beliefs when facing a difficult problem in our day to day life. This is more surface level and it’s often focused on changing the way you think in a situation.

Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) is a branch off CBT. It’s focused on being mindful, being accepting of your negative thoughts. It does not attempt to directly change or stop unwanted thoughts or feelings but instead encourages you to develop a new compassionate relationship with your negative thoughts and feelings.

  • Psychodynamic Therapy

However, psychodynamic therapy is an insight style of therapy. The focus of it is to reveal unconscious content of your psyche in an effort to alleviate psychological tension. Psychodynamic therapies focus on the client’s motivation, either conscious or unconscious.

  • Humanistic Therapy

Whilst psychodynamic therapy focuses on conflicting motives. The humanistic therapy model believe that mental issues arise from low self esteem, misguided goals and unfulfilling relationships.

College students who seek therapy showed symptoms such as feeling of alienation, failure to achieve all they feel they should, difficult relationships and general dissatisfaction with their lives. Psychologists often refer to these problems as existential crises.

In the view of humanists, someone is motivated by growth and psychological well being. This differed from Freud’s assumption that a personality is divided into conflicting parts, dominated by a selfish id, driven by hedonistic instincts and pressed conflicts.

  • EMDR

EMDR is a form of therapy that emphasize the role of distressing memories in some mental health disorders, particularly (PTSD). The goals of EMDR is to engage the brain’s natural adaptive information processing mechanisms, hence reliving present systems. It’s used to treat both PTSD and trauma.

There are many other form of psychotherapy, however, I’m pointing out the general ones that most psychologists use.

The Limitations of Psychotherapy

Okay, is hiring a therapist a cure all for all of your life problems? No, psychotherapy, isn’t a cure-all. Ultimately, you have to be responsible for your life and problems.

  • Taking Responsibility

Like all life improvement tools, you still have to take full responsibility for our own issues and problems.

Showing up to a psychologist and expecting him or her to just fix your life is not going to work out. Psychotherapy should be seen as a supplement, as opposed to a crutch.

The more people are leaving therapy, the better it is. That means that it’s working. I would also add that your therapy sessions should be challenging and not fall into a comfortable pattern. There was a period where I found myself repeating myself in 2-3 sessions and I requested for a switch of topics just to mix things up.

If you’re looking to better other aspects of your life, then learning conversational skills such as cold reading, making statements and actually taking action are equally if not more important. There isn’t any therapy in the world can get rid of your social or romantic anxiety. You’ll still have to put in the work, go out and take action.

  • Treat it Like Hiring a Trainer

You got to treat hiring a therapist like hiring a trainer for you. He or she is there to spot you, however, you need to do the heavy lifting yourself. They are not there to be your friends or validate your problems. They are for a professional service: to help you better your emotions.

Therapy should challenge you, it should feel uncomfortable.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, there’s research suggesting that the majority of people come out better from therapy. There’s also research suggesting that people that commit to therapy for a longer period of time, 5 years, come out better.

There are influential reads that led me to take psychotherapy a lot more seriously: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Volk, and Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller. They are written by clinical psychologists. These books both give me insights into how psychoanalytic repercussions can run deep.

It might sound far fetch, but no one is perfect, and I believe everyone, rich famous or successful should get some form of therapy of another. You may be good at academics but shit poor in your relationships. You may be good at fitness but overspend your pay on the weekends. There’s always a behaviour that you can seek to be more in control of. I personally belief that hiring a therapist and using it as a tool is going to be a norm half a century from now. It’s going to be where everybody shows up, work through their issues and get more control over individual behaviour.

In my own life, I’ve seen considerable improvements and I consider myself a successful client.

Works Cited

Campbell LF, Norcross JC, Vasquez MJ, Kaslow NJ (2013). “Recognition of psychotherapy effectiveness: the APA resolution”.

Knekt P, Lindfors O, Sares-Jäske L, Virtala E, Härkänen T (Feb 2013). “Randomized trial on the effectiveness of long- and short-term psychotherapy on psychiatric symptoms and working ability during a 5-year follow-up”.

Denise D. Ben-Porath, (2002). Stigmatization of Individuals Who Receive Psychotherapy: An Interaction Between Help-seeking Behavior and the Presence of Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology:

 

 

Sep 28

How to Build Self Esteem – The Guide to Healthy Self Esteem

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

I’ve been on both ends of human performance. I’ve been last in class and first in class, in multiple disciplines in my life, from academics, martial arts, business, relationships, and pursuits. Through the years, I always wondered what are the key principles of high performance. Is it motivation, is it discipline or is it willpower?

Secondly, I also wanted some research behind it. I didn’t want to be one of those self-help writers that write another cheesy post on ’10 steps to feel better about yourself today’.

How is genuine self-esteem is actually generated? Why do some people feel like a fraud and why some people feel like a king? Why some people feel deserving of things in their life, and some people struggle with it? Why do some people boast of things they never did accomplish, and are perfectly fine with not doing so?

Initially, I bought the idea of willpower, after all, with psychological studies that showed that the environment shapes behaviour, as opposed to willpower. However, I, later on, bought into the argument of childhood development: the Freudian approach.

I’ll argue that high performance boils down to multiple variables, from the environment and your childhood experiences. I’ll also argue that self-esteem is a key fundamental of all high-performance behavior. Your behaviour boils down to one’s self-esteem. How much you believe you’re worth, deep down. Self-esteem leads to courage and eventually leads to an expanded life.

If you believe you’re worth it, you’ll have higher expectations of both of yourself, and others, you’ll have stronger boundaries, you do not take shit from anybody, including yourself.

The student who believes he’s smart is going to put in the work, whether he’s really actually smart or not. I found that to be true in my short Summer stint at Berkeley. I traditionally wasn’t a good student in Singapore. However, for someone reason, because I had the freedom to explore another aspect of my identity in another culture. I ended up performing academically.

In my entrepreneurial career, I quadrupled my price point overnight, that’s because I believed that my product and service was worth that price. Yet, it sold. Of course. Yes, a higher price comes higher pressure, intensity and a willingness to make it work. It goes to demonstrate that a of our decisions and success in life is based on self-esteem.

The Freudian Idea: Self Esteem Derived from Childhood

It’s hard not to notice the parallels between self-esteem and childhood experiences. It’s also not uncommon to find people with problematic childhoods growing up with self-esteem issues: self-sabotaging in academics, career, and relationships.

The issues also come often in two main spectrums: you either had it too tough or had it too easy. Hence, you lack true self-esteem.

It’s also hard not to notice that most parents have high expectations for their children, yet, they didn’t and are unable to replicate similar expectations and behaviors in themselves in the past or present. This is the similar of leadership, your troops only follow you when you’re able and willing to execute upon similar tasks. If a sales manager isn’t able to make a sales call and only makes his employees do it, he’s not going to be a manager for long!

Self Esteem and Relationships

Self-esteem or the lack of can also be expressed in our relationships. If you choose to be with someone because he or she makes you feel confident, a sense of comfort or confidence that you can’t internally generate on your own, then you may lack genuine self-esteem.

However, if you choose a partner who has personal values that you admire, for example, intelligence, confidence, and strength, then that says about your security as an individual, of a feeling of your own self-worth.

In an idealistic world, your employers, friends, and family are going to recognize the best virtues in you. However, in the real world, these often pans out in the opposite. I’m not going to bore you on the cliché that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. However, it’s true.

To name an example: your self-esteem maybe compromised if you’re attempting to lose weight and the people around you don’t believe that you are capable of that. Yet, these are the exact people that you define as ‘friends’. It’s weird that many loosely define friendships as people that subtlety put you down.

If you studied the philosophers from Plato to Socrates, friendship to them is defined as a constant open debate, growth and an introspect discussion into their lives.

I remembered 8 months ago in my formal employment where I borrowed a couple of books from the little office library and finished it overnight. My colleague thought I was bullshitting him. That I couldn’t have possibly finished it in one-night right? Yet on the other hand, in one of my last projects for them, he demanded that I finished a 2000 words sales page for them in a short period of time. I managed to produce it within a day.

I knew deep down that they didn’t see me the way I perceived myself. Every day that I stayed there was a detriment to my self-esteem.

How to Build Genuine Self Esteem

Self-esteem is the judgment you pass on yourself, and by the standards by which you judge yourself. If someone lacks self-esteem, they will feel driven to fake it, to create the illusion of self-esteem.

It has two interrelated aspects: it entails a sense of personal efficacy and a sense of personal worth. It is the conviction that one is competent to live, and worth living.

The sense of efficacy is defined by an individual choosing his goals and action. That one has to be right in the conclusions one draws and choices and make. However, not demanding or expecting omniscience or infallibility.

What he needs is that which is within his power, the conviction that his method of choosing and making decisions is right in principle.

This can come in the form of sharp mental focus, seeking to bring one’s understanding to an optimal level of precision and clarity as opposed to a focus on the level of blurred approximation, in a state of passive, goalless mental drifting.

This is also through the performance of an independent thinking, independent judgment. You weigh the truth or falsehood of any claim or the right or wrong of any issue with the ability to accept in uncritical passivity and assertions of others.

It isn’t the conviction that one can never make an error. It is the conviction that one is competent to think to, to judge and to know and to correct one’s errors.

You Must Place Values Above Emotions  

You can argue that his or her character is the sum of the principles and values that guide his actions in the face of moral choices. If you default on the responsibility of thought and reason, hence undercutting your competence in living, you’ll feel unworthy. If you betray your moral convictions, you will not retain your sense of confidence.

If you don’t respect yourself, you’ll never be able to respect others. These are the people that constantly show up late, say something, and do otherwise.

Every individual has an innate sense to understand to the best of our intellectual capabilities. Sometimes, this defaults in childhood through irrational parenting, authority figures, and societal norms. If a person develops healthily, and acquires a set of values, his mind and emotions achieving harmony, he won’t be chronically torn between knowledge and desires.

The difference between a well-adjusted individual and avoidance is that one is fleeing from reality, and the other is taking proper cognizance over it.

For example, it feels good to be drunk. They can be said the same for our emotions. However, being drunk on emotions is often followed by the misery of a hangover. However, when you place values above emotions, emotions are your reward and not your nemesis. However, if you do not have values or standards of your own, you accept whatever values offered to you by society.

Through setting standards and values of your own, you’re rejecting other values and standards. You’re building your own personal boundaries and values.

Develop a Sense of Life Purpose

Self-esteem is also ostensibly tied to one’s feeling of purpose. It is the desire to grow in knowledge and skills, in understanding and control. The opposite is stagnant passivity.

On any level of intelligence or ability, one of the characteristics of self-esteem is an individual’s eagerness for the new and the challenging, for which he’s allowed to use his abilities to the fullest extent.

In the realm of productivity, a primary desire of an individual of self-confidence is to face challenges, to achieve and grow. Productive achievement is the cause and not the result of healthy self-esteem. People who based their self-esteem on existential achievements don’t really have self-esteem at all.

False and Pseudo Self Esteem

The lack of self-esteem is often expressed by people who desire to escape consciousness and the ability or need to form rational thought. This is often expressed through sexual pleasure, money for the sake of money and common vices in society such as drugs or alcoholism: the pleasure received from temporarily feeling helpless.

This pleasure is different from the man who uses his faculties properly, and of actual values in reality.

Self-esteem is confidence is one’s ability to achieve values and not the external achievement of it. The former is ‘I Can’, and the other is ‘I Have’.

The rational, self-confident man, on the other hand, is motivated by a love of values and a desire to achieve them.

Pseudo self esteem is an irrational pretense at self-value. It is an avoidance of anxiety and it provides a temporary sense of security. To the individual of authentic self-esteem, there is no clash between his recognition of the facts of reality and the preservation of one’s self-esteem, since he basis his self-esteem as his ability to act accordingly with the facts of reality as he understands them.

However, to the man of no self esteem, reality appears to be a threat, as an enemy. It’s always a choice between reality or his self esteem.

The determinant of a man’s self-esteem is the motivation between fear and love. You can be motivated by confidence, or you can be motivated by terror. To a man that lacks self-esteem, he lives negatively, defensively and extensively. His life is always in psychological danger. He is always in anger, psychologically. He never reaches normality.

He takes on the values and judgment of others, and never takes ownership of his own life. He has always counted on others to solve the problem of his own survival and chooses values appropriate to this manner of existence. He has always counted on others to solve the problem of his own survival and chooses values appropriate to this manner of existence.

This can take the form of:

  • The man who never makes independent thought or judgment on his own
  • The man who obsessed with being popular, who feels driven to win the approval of everyone he meets
  • The woman who has no sense of personal identity, and who seeks to lose her inner emptiness in the role of a sacrificial martyr for her children, demanding that her children do the same for her.
  • The man is aggressively masculine, whose concerns are entirely subordinated to his role as a woman chaser, who derives less pleasure from the act of sex, as opposed to boasting about it to other men

People That Experience a Crisis of Self Esteem

People experience pathological self-esteem crises when their values clash internally. There are often absolutes in this equation: ‘I must not’ and ‘I am willing to’ Hence, this engages your sense (or lack) self esteem. Thus, one experiences a crisis of self esteem.

This can come in the form of a girl who has been brought up in an over religious childhood. She then finds herself engaging in overtly sexual activities. There’s a clash in internal values. On one hand, sex feels good. Yet, one the other, she was brought up to belief otherwise.

Sigmund Freud, in one of his final theories, maintained that anxiety is triggered by forbidden sexual desire that breaks through the barrier of repression and causes the ego to feel overwhelmed and threatened. The unblocking of one anxiety is also known to unblock stir up other conflicts, which are anxiety-provoking.

How to Build A Positive Sense of Self Esteem

Ultimately, a positive sense of self esteem is the product of two things: the ability to form independent judgment and thoughts, and the cultivation of an integrated set of values.

For everyone, the responsibility of thought and judgment is different for everyone. The responsibility and judgment required from a child are different from one of an adult. One has to accept one’s responsibility to choose a set at values, pass judgment, define goals, at some point in his life.

The acceptance of responsibility is a choice, and it’s not automatic nor wired into one’s brain by nature. It is a challenge to which you how you can respond, with acceptance or rejection. To be motivated by terror or love.

The result of being motivated by love and challenge is a positive sense of self esteem. The result of running away from responsibility thought and judgment will be a sense of pain and a lack of self esteem.

It’s a man’s values that determine his values as an extension of himself, as an integral part of his identity. The individual’s self is a cumulative result of year and years of irrationalities, failures, successes, actions, values and etc. When you have self esteem or the lack of it is the reputation a man acquires with himself.

There’s No Such thing as ‘High Self Esteem’ or ‘High Confidence’

Finally, there’s no such thing as ‘high self esteem’ or ‘high confidence’. Self-esteem is basically an opinion about the person you are. Ultimately, self-esteem is a mere bunch of thoughts about whether or not you’re a ‘good person’. It’s NOT a fact, it’s just an opinion.

The problem comes in is when you constantly have to justify and prove to yourself that you’re a good person or that you have high self-esteem. You constantly have to justify the ‘you’re good enough’ opinion. All these proving and justifying of these takes a huge amount of time and effort.

If you stopped exercising for a few days, your mind says: ‘see? I know you wouldn’t last. If you lose your temper with a friend or make a slight mistake at work, there goes your ‘high self-esteem’.’

Early on, during more immature days, I was constantly worried about how confident I was on a day to day basis. The truth is that some days I feel confident, some days I don’t. It’s just human to feel that way. You’re already enough, as I commonly mention to my clients as a dating coach.

The more you try to justify your high self esteem, the need for perfection. The more it kills you inside. The better approach is to let go of the idea of high self-esteem altogether. You don’t need high self-esteem. Here’s what you need is mere: self-esteem. Plain, and simple.

How to Build Self Esteem: Closing Thoughts

If you feel like you ‘lack self-esteem’ here may be why: 1) you probably lack standards for yourself 2) the people around probably lack standards and expectations in themselves and standards and expectations for you.

Ultimately, your expectations and standards you set for yourself is going to largely fall to the quality of people around you. For a lot of us, you’re going to spend most of your time with your family and close friends.

This is why getting a role model can be a possible solution. Some that you look up to and potentially a role model. This can come in the form of a formal paid relationship, a friend, an older brother or perhaps your boss. Self-esteem is the foundation of all success, and also for one to become a better human being. He or she first must respect him or herself, build fundamental self-esteem, which leads to personal integrity and accountability.

Works Cited

Branden, N. The Psychology of Self Esteem – a Revolutionary Approach to Self-Understanding That Launched a New Era in Modern Psychology.

Harris, R. The Happiness Trap

 

Jun 20

How to Deal with Rejection – Compatibility and Chemistry

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

No matter how much charisma you think you have, or how you alter your behavior, a good portion of people you meet isn’t going to be interested or available at that point of time. Unfortunately, there are ton’s of dating and relationship advice out there that sells you a foolproof technique to get around dealing with rejection. Unfortunately, that’s just marketing. It doesn’t happen in real life.

It’s no surprise that the person who fails or get rejected the most often gets the most results as well. This doesn’t happen by chance. To get good at rejection, is to simply reframe your lenses on being rejected: your job is to get to the point whether someone either is going to move forward with us or not, in the shortest time possible. Instead of seeing a rejection as a negative, you can view it as a time saver. To save you hours, days and years of time sink.

How to Deal with Rejection

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, a revered politician, stated that he thought love at first sight is foolish. He also famously defied Asian traditional by marrying a girl who is smarter or more successful than he is. He married his academic competitor, who topped his cohort, beating him to second place when he was studying in Raffles College. What Mr Lee Kuan Yew was gunning for was the filter of relationship compatibility.

You and I spend our time painting ourselves as social chameleons, attempting to make the best pitch to just about any human being with a pair of legs, hoping that they accept the pitch without questioning if they are the right dance mate for us. You spend all your time worrying about the person across you without thinking if he or she is compatible to us.

Compatibility and chemistry are concepts left out by majority of dating and relationship advice. Not because they aren’t important, but because these are concepts that can’t be optimized, scripted or changed.

Chemistry

Studies that show that people are attracted to the emotional make up of their parents. It’s suggested you can’t differ the love you once received from your parents with the love you are receiving from your partner.

Chemistry is defined by a high degree of sexual and emotional attraction. It happens on a subtle level and felt immediately by both parties equally.

Chemistry is the warm fuzzy feelings you feel when you’re around her. It is when you can’t get enough of him or her. The whispering of sweet nothings, the constant need to be with and see one another. They monopolize your thoughts day and night. You find yourself irrationally organizing your scheduling around him or her. You find yourself wanting to share with him or her about your daily events

Ever went through a roller coaster relationship, where you’re hitting new lows and chasing new highs every couple of weeks.

There’s research suggesting high levels of chemistry may come from opposite yet complimentary traits. Introverts usually have a high chemistry with extroverts. People who are orderly and organized may work best with people who are spontaneous and unorganised. Someone who is laid back with a wider perspective works best with someone who keeps a tight schedule and routine.

On the other hand when there’s a lack of chemistry, there’s a lack of emotional intensity. There’s basically a lack of mutual attraction. There’s no spark and no desire to jump on each other. There’s no long stares in each other eyes, there’s no rationalizing she’s an angel that descended from the heavens to save you.

You and I are influenced by psychological biases as human beings. Some of these biases may work against you. For example, in the mis-reaction tendency, a wonderful woman with terrible parents may marry a man who would be judged satisfactory only in comparison to her parents.

There’s also a quote that goes: “When I’m not near the girl I love, I love the girl I’m near”.

Compatibility

Compatibility is an intellectual construct on how well your lifestyle and worldviews fit together. You can have high levels of chemistry with someone, but poor compatibility. That’s when your lifestyles and values differ. In the long run, the relationship is most likely going to fall apart. Compatibility is key to long term relationships.

Compatibility and chemistry don’t always occur together. This is the law school professor dating a stripper. This is the rock singer in a band dating a hard-core Christian girl who goes to church every Sunday morning while he’s recovering from a hangover from the previous night’s gig.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do you want in a partner?
  • What are the feelings you expect to feel when you’re with them, how do they perceive the world?
  • Their goals in life and what they expect out of it?

You can have the best conversational skillsets in the world, however, at any one point of time there is going to be a large pool of partners that aren’t going to be attracted to you. Then there’s going to be a pool of partners that are attracted to you, who aren’t going to end with you because of their current life situation.

Navigating Compatibility and Chemistry

High compatibility but lack of chemistry is akin to dating someone who looks good on paper but is dry and boring. Having compatibility without chemistry is akin to ticking the boxes on someone’s dating resume saying that she’s the one because of X, Y, Z. When you’re together it feels like you’re pursuing her because it makes ‘sense’, as opposed something you look forward to. Sadly, this sort of arrangement happens a lot.

Compatibility is a also prerequisite I look for in a long term, committed relationship. I mean, my mental health is at stake here right?

Chemistry without compatibility on the other hand, usually leads to roller coaster relationships that entails a lot of drama. It’s the person you know is bad for you but can’t stop seeing. These relationships often begin quickly and passionately. You suddenly see yourself rationalizing away the fact that she has a track record of drugs. This when your friends stare, give you the same repeated advice, but you choose to continually go against their point of view. After all, love conquers all right?

You can’t have one without another. You need both chemistry and compaibility for a fulfilling, passionate long term relationship.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t choose to be with someone in the long run just because the sex, emotions are amazing, you should choose someone because you have similar life values and worldview. You also shouldn’t cut yourself short by being with somebody just because she or he looks great on paper.

How to Reframe Rejection: Incompatibility

Some times my clients ask me what should they do when people flake on them on dates. Should they chase them? Come up with a fancy text message to get their attention? Personally, I made a value of not dating/ associating with anyone who doesn’t value my time. The people that flakes on me immediately become incompatible. If you’ve drawn the line of not going out with people who don’t value you or your time, then you’ll no longer need to play the chasing game.

  • Life Circumstances

In my experience, most of the time (assuming you’re a well rounded individual) you get rejected not because you did something creepy or obnoxious, but because of life circumstances.

There is a ton multitude of external factors that prevent someone from moving things forward romantically or sexually with you.

External factors can range from being already attached, the number of days you have left within the city, her cat dying, her friend’s opinions on how you look like the ex-boyfriend that cheated on her. This is when are conversing with someone who looks at your longingly and deep into your eyes but holds back giving you her number. She probably has a boyfriend or a husband. These are factors that you can’t control.

These are perfect examples of the limitations of attraction and how most men and women at any given time won’t be available to you no matter what you do or say, or how attracted he or she is to you at that point in time. There’s nothing you can do when if you’re out with a virgin that has sworn off sex till marriage. It’s not about your ability to be charismatic anymore, it’s not about ‘persuasion’ anymore. No expert, line or ‘frame’ can help you. It’s a simple incompatibility.

It’s only when you reframe rejection and invite rejection by exposing your values in the shortest period of time possible. You cut out the mind games, you expose your needs, desires and you establish clear boundaries. You stop wasting time and moves things forward efficiently.

No matter how much you alter your behaviour, you’re going to reject a certain demographic of romantic partners. There’s no other way around it. The bolder and polarizing you become, the more people you’re going to attract and reject. Psychological research also backs this up, people of similar self esteem end up dating each other.

  • Psychological Projection

Projection occurs when someone projects one’s own unconscious judgment onto others in everyday life.

This often comes in the form of character judgments. In dating and relationships, it can occur when you meet partners who for whatever reasons, are uncomfortable with their own sexuality and they lash out at you for having attempting to move the interaction forward sexually.

These people may harbour trust issues or are completely uncomfortable with their own sexuality or the sexuality of the opposite sex. They may have a history of some sort of emotional, sexual abuse or had a string of disappointments or anger from the opposite sex.

Their belief systems on sexuality are negative and when confronted when with a sexually confident individual, they end up lashing out. They may accuse you of being demanding, sexist, overbearing, horny, untrustworthy and etc. They aren’t lashing out for a lack of attraction, but because they are attracted and that attraction scares them.

These accusations usually have little to no connection to reality and a truly confident individual will simply ignore these accusations. The more forthright and authentic you make yourself, the more polarizing response you’ll invite from others.

Redefining Rejection and Success 

How do you define yourself as someone successful in your dating life? By having three romantic partners at a go? By committing to one partner? Who’s more successful? The guy who dates 10 strippers at one go or the guy who commits to a long term relationship with one girl who he really enjoys being with.

It’s easy to get sidetracked into the ego boost or validation. After all these years, I’m still amazed at how poorly I choose my romantic partners at times, after all, our minds are filled with unreliable biases.

Take the average guy improves this area of his life by learning social skillsets. Not before long, he understands that dating and romantic relationships can be generated through his own actions and it’s not something that’s left to luck or fate.

“Self-development” is working out for him.

Through his newfound social skills, he goes around pursuing women who he isn’t genuinely interested in but for the sake of bragging rights. Is it an improvement after all right? He went from zero dates to many dates that he’s shit bored of. Forget about the fact that he isn’t really enjoying himself on these dates.

Unfortunately, this, is a failure in itself, although he went from not dates to dates with girls that he feels “meh’ about. He’s still avoiding feeling vulnerable and at risk of being rejected by women that he’s genuinely interested in. The avoidance of this feeling is a failure it itself.

“It’s better to fail on a date with a potential partner you desire, than to sleep with someone you don’t enjoy being around with.”

 – Marcus Neo Kai Jie

You and I have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators when it comes to our dating and relationship lives. External motivators such as physical beauty cannot be the only metrics of success. In the long run, internal values such as respect, trust and empathy make healthy and meaningful relationships. Even though I value physical beauty, it is not the only metric that I hold in my dating life.

This is why it’s important to define your own metrics of success in dating and relationships, not some arbitrary metric defined by society or other ideologies.

The Power of Demographics – How to Get Rejected Less

Contrary to common belief, dating and relationships aren’t solely a numbers game. You CAN optimize your approach. You can narrow down your ideal partner.

Firstly, you can control the quality of people you converse with. Secondly, you can control how you dress, your conversations and how you present yourself. In general, the more empathetic you are, the more varied the demographics of partners you’ll be able to date and connect with. This is especially useful in Singapore, where you are exposed to a mixture of Asian and Western demographics with many subcultures with different value systems.

If you’re a hot shot engineer who is brilliant with physics and you want to date beautiful women, let’s just agree that a lot of them aren’t spending their time in libraries attempting to understand intricate systems. However, if you make the effort to cultivate a fashion sense, get competent at the ability to meet women in different demographics, you’ll have an advantage by being unique.

You can get closer to meeting your ideal partner by niching down the physical and personality traits of your ideal partner, finding her demographics, and putting yourself in front of social opportunities that’ll increase your chances of meeting someone similar.

Here are questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do you value in a partner? What personality traits and values are you looking for?
  2. How does you ideal partner looks like? The way they dress to their education level?
  3. How can you put yourself in demographics to meet someone that fits the image of your ideal partner?
  4. How you can develop social skillsets so you can start a conversation he or she in that demographic?

You’re not going attract one that comes you way. If you behave in a certain manner, you’re going to reject other demographics. That’s just life. On the other hand, if you attempt to be accepted by everyone, you’ll find yourself altering your identity and personality day after day, ultimately attracting nobody.

The more well read I become, the more I reject women (and people) who don’t read or aren’t interested in personal growth. I also can’t get along with women who aren’t capable of communicating on a deeper level: normally those that are solely focused on looking good on Instagram. Going on dates with them is an equivalent of social waterboarding.

Whilst I can force myself to lower my standards (and have done so), it’s no surprise that I find myself more compatible with girls who value intellectual curiosity.

The key here is finding overlapping values. If I am somewhat a nerd and enjoy reading up on psychology she enjoys debating human right issues. That’s an overlapping value.

The Art of Presenting Your Ideal Self

All of us share one common experience of obsessing over this one girl or guy at work or school. You probably do not dare to ask him or her out… and it has been months. You start dreaming of a perfect scene… you and her walking down the wedding aisle and you so desire that ONE person as your boyfriend or girlfriend.

I, like you, and millions out there once spent the good part of my teenage life fantasising over ONE partner. Taking months to speak to her, and then taking years to ask her out.

The better way to tackle this is not to obsess over one partner but to constantly present your ideal self. It is to constantly focus on becoming the ideal version of yourself. That’s where self-improvement comes in. When you focus on presenting the best version of yourself to the world, something that is immediately controllable, when the right person at the right time comes into your life, you’re more than prepared.

When you’re out on a date, instead of worrying if they like you, sit back and evaluate if he or she has the values and traits you’re looking for. This way you relieve pressure on yourself. You get to enjoy your dates and don’t have have a need to impress him or her.

Closing Thoughts

Ayn Rand said love is the expression of one’s values: it’s the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.

Throughout the years, I find myself compatible with partners that are curious, intelligent and patient. I’m not bragging here or anything. I’m pretty disorganised, impulsive, unstructured and I’m not really good dealing with authority figure. . I can be quite blunt and forthright. Some times I say things that I don’t mean. For Eg: I like making fun of overweight life coaches and authority figures that take themselves too seriously. If she’s too caught up with me spouting unintended stuff instead of laughing it off, then needless to say we’re not going to get along.

Opposite qualities of being structured, detail oriented compliments mine. I find myself seeking out longer term relationships with partners who are working in fields that are making a contribution in some sort meaningful way. They can be doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and social workers. They also aren’t limited to the medical or scientific fields. She could be running a business to better the agriculture system of a third world country and I’ll find myself admiring her ambition.

I can’t date women whose main concerns are taking a hundred selfies a day and overly concerned about how she looks like on social media, it’s akin to social torture. If I get rejected by someone who has an attention span of a goldfish, I don’t perceive it as a rejection, I see it as incompatibility. This is the way I deal with rejection, by viewing it as a simple incompatibility, how about you?

Works Cited

Geher, Glenn.  “Perceived and Actual Characteristics of Parents and Partners: A Test of a Freudian Model of Mate Selection,” Current Psychology (Fall, 2000), vol. 19, no.3, 194-214.

Markey, P.M.; Markey, C. N. (2007). “Romantic ideals, romantic obtainment, and relationship experiences: The complementarity of interpersonal traits among romantic partners” (PDF). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships24 (4): 517–533.

 

Feb 22

3 Issues Singaporean and Asian Men Face in Modern Dating

By Marcus Neo | Singapore Series

It’s not difficult to draw parallels between social stigma, the concept of shame, Asian values such as honor and issues that Singaporean Asian men face in modern dating when doing research for a couple of commentaries. I’m born and bred Singaporean male, and as someone brought up in the heartlands of Singapore, went through the typical Singaporean education route, I’m pretty sure I have a good context on the issues some of us men face in our dating and relationship lives.

1. The Asian Shame: Saving Face

Sex, emotions and relationships are hardly discussed around the dinner table when you’re growing up. If you’re a traditional Singaporean son or even woman, these topics aren’t really openly discussed or addressed. The majority of us aren’t primed to openly discuss these issues in from young, and it’s no wonder that you feel awkward communicating intimately to a woman you’re interested in.

Look, I’m not here to discuss collectivistic or individualistic mindsets. Not openly communicating in your relationships isn’t healthy regardless of collectivistic or individualistic cultures. This brings me back to my next point on shame.

In many Asian cultures, including Singapore, you’re brought up to not show any signs of negative emotions from resentment, anger and sadness. In a culture that emphasizes honour, you’re taught to suppress emotions and personal inadequacies as a means to ‘save face’. This is why some men spend years not going after a woman they are interested in in the name of saving face or the fear of rejection.

There are a host of issues that go with this, from anger, disappointment and sadness that comes along with poor grades, relational difficulties, bankruptcy, addictions and sexual issues. They are all covered up in secrecy and shame.

If you’re constantly worried about what others think about you, you’re never going to make that first move on a woman you desire in fears of upsetting others or people in the group. If you’re constantly attempting to save face in front of your girlfriend or partner, you’ll never get the support from them on the problems that you may be facing in fear of being shamed or shamed.

2. The Endless Paper and Status Chase

If you’re Singaporean, you’ve probably brought up to follow the rules, get a safe degree and get that swanky 9-5 corporate job. Follow the rules, make no mistakes and the women will come. Unfortunately, attraction doesn’t work like that, and it’s no wonder that foreign ex-pats find themselves having an easier time with certain demographics of Singaporean women.

Now, you throw in the heavy emphasis on academic results over social skills, you get years of training attempting to solve math equations as opposed to developing communication skills, something that’ll determine real-world success in life, a lot more than your academic grades. You’re conditioned to base your relationship success on performance such as academic grades, your job status and other objectified metrics in your life. Unfortunately, functional and healthy relationships don’t work that way but are borne out of boundaries and values such as mutual respect and empathy. Shit that school or your parents never talked to you about.

3. The Lack of a Role Model 

Singapore’s immense focus on economic drive resulted in a technologized and industrialized economy since gaining independence.

So instead of having fathers playing around their sons, you only see them after school (long hours) and you go to bed and the routine repeats itself. I like to point out that this isn’t just an issue faced by Asian cultures, but Western cultures too alike.

How to Redefine Ourselves and Our Dating Lives?

So how do you step out of the norm and define yourself as a sexually attractive individual, in hopes of bettering your dating life?

  • Independent Choices and Leadership

It’s not surprising that I naturally get along better with entrepreneurs, doers and people that served off the beaten path as opposed to students, undergraduates in my academic pursuits. Leadership and independent choices are some of the traits of an attractive individual. You don’t have to be extremely unconventional, but making tiny choices like speaking up for yourself and others can make you a good leader.

Investing in yourself through self-education, upgrading your skillsets, or even pursuing passion are all forms of self-leadership that sexually attractive Asian males behave in Singapore. They aren’t merely a blind rules follower, are willing to break some of them to a certain extent, hence, are seen as natural leaders. That’s attractive to women.

  • Be Comfortable with Sexual Topics and Intimacy

I was primed to be a macho, show no feeling sort of individual throughout my teens. I did martial arts, football, and all that manly activities that a ‘man’ should do. However, no matter how manly you are, every individual has needs for intimacy, and to be sexually confident, you need to be comfortable with sexual topics and intimacy. I can’t tell you the number of friends I know who are great with women aren’t the ‘macho’ types but leaned towards the sensitive types.

It’s no wonder that clients report to me that they can’t find any like-minded individuals to get better with and alongside in this area of their life. This is why I extend community support in all of my dating coaching programs.

If you find yourself suffering from high levels of anxiety or face certain issues, I then recommend consulting a psychologist. There’s no shame about it. Good therapy can do positive things for your emotional life.

Closing Thoughts

Us Singaporeans men didn’t really have a choice and were a product of our circumstances when growing up. However, the responsibility to take control of your emotional, dating and relationships life is in your hands. You may find yourself the off beaten path, as I have in this area of life, however, the fulfillment of being aware of these issues and making better choices in one’s relationships is a price not too steep to pay.

Dating SIngaporean Women -03
Jan 24

How to Date Singaporean Women – Does Money Matter?

By Marcus Neo | Singapore Series

It’s not uncommon to hear that Singaporean women are superficial or materialistic and are only willing to date men who are well off financially. So, are Singaporean girls really superficial and materialistic? Or are they mere projection of our insecurities?

The Singapore Cultural Narratives

How about looks, popularity, intelligence and social status? Do Singaporean women care about them? Fact is, they do. You and I do too, along with all other women and men all around the world when it comes to choosing our romantic partners. You often hear Singaporean men complaining about being insecure about dating up. They don’t feel secure dating Singaporean women who are smarter than them, more qualified than them or earn more than them.

Here’s my verdict: I think that the majority of Singaporean women are able to finance, feed themselves and aren’t exactly looking to date a multi millionaire. Of course, minus the gold diggers, which you should avoid at all cost.

However, it’s because of cultural expectations, namely, the narrative that you need to marry a rich husband in order to have a good life that causes a lot of problems. Some of my girl friends often tell me they expect to end up with a millionaire or a rich man. In actuality, their behavior speaks otherwise and they don’t end up dating a millionaire but an average Singaporean male. In my experience, the majority of Singaporean women (minus the gold diggers) are willing to adjust what they value in a partner if you have an attractive personality and are able to connect with them on a deeper level.

Dating Singaporean Women 03

The Gucci Swag

The Ugly Combination

If I was being honest with you, I was most successful in my dating life when I had no money in my first couple of years in University. It was only in my mid twenties when I measured myself on financial achievement and projected them onto my dating life.

Here are the metrics that I (and many others) measure themselves against:

  • Your type degree I was taking or if you are going to achieve a first class honors
  • The amount of money you are making
  • Your job

Ultimately, you get a mish mesh of both sexes projecting their insecurities onto each other because of these cultural narratives: a traditional culture that emphasizes material wealth as a metric of success.

Here is what you’re taught from day one as a Singaporean male growing up. You want to get a girlfriend? Work hard, earn a lot of money and get a respectable job. Our parents are always telling us to get a job, to get a degree so that you can get employment. I grew up in a traditional Asian, Singaporean culture family where I was told that if I did not do well in school, get a respectable degree or a respectable job, I was considered a failure.

I had a friend who told me she would only consider dating guys from a local University. In Singapore culture, there’s a huge measurement of success based off how financially well off you are. Not to mention the exposure to cultural narratives that influence us everyday. In movies and the drama serials, they all tell us the same narrative: The people with money get the girl.

These beliefs are often the results of the Singaporean cultural narrative: where success is measured by grades, money and social status. Cultural narratives that have been told by our culture and society. Not only these beliefs and worldview hurt us in life, but it also hurt us in our dating and relationship lives.

On one hand, you get an ugly mesh up of Singaporean men projecting their insecurities on wealth to Singaporean women who are… materialistic? On the other hand, you get nice guy behaviours from Singaporean men (parents/people/woman pleasing) that results in… Singaporean women being more spoilt who ‘expected to be treated like princesses’.

You see the pattern here? It’s happens both ways and no one sex is responsible for these problems. Until the Singaporean culture matures and learn how to define itself not through traditional metrics of success, this is going to be the status quo.

Singaporean Women Put on a Pedestal

It’s interesting to observe the language that us guys (I’m guilty of it as well) use when we find success in our dating life. I once heard someone proudly declare: ‘I just slept with this girl. She’s from X University in Singapore. She also studies medicine.’

There are many things wrong with that statement. You’re coming from the standpoint that you’re somewhat inferior to her by being proud of the fact that she studies medicine, hence, she’s a better partner. That’s female sexuality placed on a pedestal. So what if you’re not from a top University in Singapore? So what if you’re not studying medicine? So what if she’s studying medicine? Why should you, a human being who is trying his best in life, feel any bit inferior to just about anybody else?

How to Get Over These Cultural Narratives

So, these are the invisible scripts that influence your behavior. The bottom line is this: what can you do about it?

  • Realize attracting women is determined by behavior and not necessarily assets

This is why I say a lot of this dating advice thing is sorting out your own emotional realities in the first place. When you got your own personal values down, there’s no reason for you to express yourself honestly instead of relying on external metrics of success, degrees or social status in attempt to earn sex or affection with a woman. Someone who’s truly confident doesn’t measure themselves up that way. This is why pick up artist techniques are just a superficial strategy at best. It’s a band-aid that you slapped on when you were bleeding.

  • Invest in yourself: learn social skills

Look, I’m not saying you do not need to get your finances right. However, being sexually desirable is different from long term commitment desirable. You should always try to improve your financial life. However, you should not be reliant on it.

Personal plug: I created an entire course on social skills and personality change based on decades of psychological research and real life systems.

Look, ultimately, you can’t be a slob or a bum. Even though looks aren’t the ONLY determinant if a girl is willing to go out on a date with you.  Good looks help, but not having good looks don’t hurt either. You’ve probably seen countless not so physically attractive males with physically attractive women right?

Hell, it’s one of the factors like people in general look that. If you dress poorly and don’t shower, don’t expect to land any dates anytime soon. If you show up on a date dressed sloppily. It’s not Singaporean women being superficial, it’s YOU being a bum.

  • Develop long term personality and behavioral change

Ultimately, you still got to dig deep into your emotional maps and look at the root of your problems: why you’re so invested in being rich or successful? Why are YOU chasing degrees, cars, the next condominium and all of that just to get the… vagina.

I know of men that are well off financially but can’t land a date for nuts. I know guys that draw a handsome close 5 figure salary, drive a Mercedez Benz but can’t land a quality date to save his life.

There are cultural narratives at best. The misconstrued perception that you need lots of money, a 6 pac abs to attract women is flawed. You’ll also end up in a rabbit hole where you never feel enough. There were months I felt I was never ready to date someone until I achieved a certain body weight. This was despite being in relative alright body shape. The research also backs this up, if you display the behaviors of someone who potentially might become rich, famous, or successful, you’re equally attractive as someone who is already rich, famous or successful.

This was why I was successful in my dating life starting out as a broke, unsuccessful University student because I was so passionate about personal growth that it rubbed off the women I dated. It surely wasn’t because I had money, good looks or anything else, because I can assure I had none of those.

If you’re male and you’re not developing yourself, taking risks and complaining that Singaporean women are spoilt brats and materialistic, then you’re just giving yourself excuses. It can’t that ALL of the women in Singapore are materialistic and spoilt right?

Ultimately, you do not need more degrees, achievements or a million dollars in the bank. You need to take action.

Closing Thoughts on Dating Singaporean Women

I’m not saying Singaporean women aren’t completely at fault here. I’ve had instances where my girl friends say they wouldn’t date anyone from a private University, or that he has to be a millionaire or some naive metric. Some of them rarely bother to go to the gym or develop any personality. It’s also not surprising that the ones with these naive metrics that end of with someone much lower than their expectations.

Lastly, if you’re sacrificing your emotional life for some absurd metric, then good luck to you, you’re going run yourself into the ground.

Photo Credits: Joe Siegel

 

 

Jan 23

How to Get a Girlfriend in Singapore – a No B.S. Guide

By Marcus Neo | Singapore Series

How to get a girlfriend in Singapore? Or rather, how do you get your ideal girl as your girlfriend? One thing was clear when I started out: if I wanted to date the girls I desired, I had to do something about it, I had to become someone worth dating myself. That’s the simple and ugly truth. I read a ton of books, got a mentor and went out night after night, failed a lot and developed myself as a person.

How to Get a Girlfriend in Singapore – The Ultimate Guide

Firstly, recognise that dating and relationships are a skill set that can be learned. It’s not something that is left up to luck or fate. It’s also something consciously worked on day in and out. Social skills can be learned and personality can be developed. If you’re not good looking or rich, don’t worry, I’m not either. However, you should be playing a game that nobody else is playing, a game that you can actually win and one that is a lot more fulfilling in the long run.

If you worked on your social skillsets, develop an attractive personality, go to the gym, dress well, you’re going to be far more successful in the long run. It’ll put you in a position of power and choice in your dating life. Furthermore, social skills is a life skill that will ripple through other aspects of your life.

How to Get a Girlfriend in Singapore

In my experience, Singaporeans facing issues problems in their dating life that spend years single won’t make the effort to step out of their comfort zone. They’d complain all day but never put in any time or effort in this area of their life. They also end up with prostitutes, Thai discos, dating agencies or online dating applications. You have a choice here, you can visit Geylang, maybe Sammyboy forum, go to Thai Discos and blow $50 to ‘Tiao Hua’, meet a random somebody through a dating agency, matching making agency, swipe right and hope someone swipes you back on dating apps.

OR,

You can take control of your dating life in your hand through building social skillsets (example: approaching a girl in Singapore) and it’ll also help in all other areas of your life.

When I started off, I’ll be honest with you, for a period of time, I obsessed on a single goal: to attract women. That single pursuit slowly morphed to entrepreneurship, personal growth through travel and leading a more varied life at large. I also developed an interest in subjects such as self-awareness, psychology, and emotional fulfillment.

The Problem with Dating Agencies: Economics, Demand and Supply

Now, can dating agencies or matchmaking services work for you?  Personally, I think signing up for a dating agency is a form of courage as well. You’re still putting yourself out there on the dating market again. That takes courage. This can be helpful for the recently divorced or heartbroken. It takes a form of humility and courage to sign up for a matchmaking service. You’re essentially saying: look I’m willing to get help from someone else. If lady luck is also on your side, who knows? You might meet someone amazing.

However, let’s take a look at the economics of going through such platforms. Firstly, you’re limiting yourself to only a certain demographic. Look, I’m not here to be politically correct, you’re free to send me the hate mail. You’re meeting women who aren’t successful in their dating lives as well.  However, you’re highly unlikely to meet your ideal woman through these avenues. Not to mention that there’s absolutely zero excitement when you’re submitting a paper written by yourself to some stranger who presents it to another stranger. Romantic love doesn’t occur on a resume.

Ultimately, you’re still not solving the root of the problem.

If you don’t treat dating and relationships as a skillset, you’ll never know how to make new connections on the go and you’ll be dependent on the same group of friends you knew since you were 13 to hopefully introduce you to someone. You’ll never be in a position of power of your own circumstances.

To quote a cliche: If you give a man a fish for a day, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.

You are constantly relying on dating agencies, you won’t build the required knowledge and skillsets to be independent in increasing your dating opportunities, much less build lasting and passionate relationships. You’ll also be severely limiting your dating pool. This is how millions end up with someone they are not really excited about… and call it ‘reality’.

So what happens if your arranged date doesn’t go the way you want it to go? You’re going to go back to the dating agency to pay for more dates or ask for a refund? Even if she marries you right there and then on the spot, do you know how to keep the relationship ongoing and exciting? Do you know what entails a healthy, affectionate and respectful relationship? No, you don’t.

How to Approach Women in Singapore – Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking to better your dating life and assuming you already have a strong network in your social circle, you don’t really have to go out meeting women on your daily routine or the clubs. However, you’ll still require social skills and the ability to start a conversation, express an awesome personality, get her out on a date and leverage of your current demographics.

You can participate in University activities, use networking sites such as Eventbrite or Meet up, join interest groups or take part in after work drinks. There are many avenues. When I was in full-time University or working for a company, I barely bothered approaching girls. That’s because there were many social opportunities around me there was no need to go cold.

However, when I became an entrepreneur, the ability to meet girls on the go became extremely useful and important for me. You may also be stuck with friends who’ll don’t actively introduce you to other females, then you’ll need to master the get this shit down and actively be able to meet girls on to go.

How to Get a Girlfriend in Singapore

Are you going to talk to her?

The Cold Opportunities

How do you approach women in Singapore? Can it be done? Yes, the Singaporean culture is generally more closed off than Westernized cultures. From personal experience, Singaporean women are generally harder to approach if you’re a complete stranger. From personal experience, Singaporeans, both men, and women, in general, aren’t equipped with social skills to continue a conversation with another stranger. Hence, you’re going to get awkward silences and shifty eyes if you do not know what you’re doing.

Singapore, after all, is an Asian value-based society with people choosing to stick in highly knit social groups. However, it can be done.

Step 1Look Like a Friendly Stranger

First, should ONLY approach women that you’re genuinely attracted to, that’s because your intentions, authenticity and emotions will rub off in your interactions.

You’ll also need to dress well. The Singaporean culture is already a conservative one. You should ALWAYS try to make it as comfortable for her to talk to a stranger. Whilst most pick up artists obsess over fanciful lines or techniques when picking up girls, you should focus on making her feel comfortable.

This is non-negotiable.

You don’t have to go overboard and go walking around shopping malls in suits. However, you got to have a minimal sense of fashion. This means clean shirts, jeans and shoes that fit. You can go up lightly to a girl and say:

“I know is this kind of random, but I thought you’re really cute and I just had to say Hi.” 

Notice the extra social sentence: ‘I know this is kind of random’

  • Body Language

Note: don’t go up to her abruptly, don’t approach her from behind. If you’re a beginner, it’s best not to touch her at all. Just walk up beside her and plant yourself in front of her. This isn’t a hard or fast rule, as you get better you’ll be able to socially calibrate according to the social situation.

  • Should You Be Direct or Indirect?

I know of friends that are more comfortable with going the indirect route, by asking her random questions or talking about the weather. I’m quite impatient by nature and I like getting my message across, so going direct is more congruent to my personality. It also depends on different situations. Sometimes, I go indirect. It can be making an observation on the book she’s reading while at the library, or making a cold read: an observation about something or someone in the environment that you’re in.  

Step 2: Empathize with Her

When most people ask me how do I go about talking to beautiful strangers. I simply say it’s ’empathy’. They often give me confused look. Empathy? What’s that? How does it even work?

Basically, empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagining how he or she feels in that particular situation.

Imagine this, she’s going about her day, rushing off to meet her friends or some meeting, and you, an unknown stranger, rolls up to her, stops her, and tells her in her face that she’s cute.

You’ve just signalled that you invested in the prospect of dating her within a couple of minutes. That’s a lot for a girl who barely knows you. This is especially so if you’re doing it in a public setting, or when she has her friends/ her parents around. You have to be empathetic in such situations and put yourself in her shoes.

So, before you actually tell her the actual reason why you’re approaching her, you should say:

  • ‘I know this is really out of the blue’
  • ‘This can be quite upfront… however…’
  • ‘I know you’re feeling nervous…’

These are statements of empathy.

Secondly, you should also mirror her body language. If she looks shocked and slightly taken aback, you can take a tiny step back and give her more personal space. Here’s a tip: a light smile helps a lot. Such subtleties are different for everyone. Some guys have to be more aggressive, others got to be less aggressive. It’s also different for different girls you approach. Girls who are shyer are going to be a lot more taken aback from girls who get approached regularly.

When starting out, you’re going to be really worried about lines, techniques, your body language, tonality, eye contact and etc. That’s normal. However, as you progress. You’ll see approach a beautiful lady on the streets similar to being a big happy puppy talking to her. You’ll also find that getting rejected isn’t that bad after all. The majority of girls aren’t going to slap you in the face when you talk to them.

How to Get a Girlfriend in Singapore 05

The millions of possibilities

Step 3: Have a Solid Interaction and Lead in Conversation

One caveat to approaching women in a collectivistic culture in Singapore is that you’re going to have to lead in conversation 99% of the time, whether be it in a day time setting or in the club. That’s because the majority of Singaporeans aren’t equipped with social skills to deal with a conversation with a stranger.

I’ve lived here for most of my life. I’m pretty sure I can give a well informed insight into this. She’s going to be dumbfounded that you approached her and she’s going to freeze up.

This means being able to generate conversations out of mid air that doesn’t make you look like you’re an interviewing her and simultaneously encourage her to open up and talk about herself.

This can be accomplished by learning the skillset of cold reading. Cold reading is the art of generating statements out of cold air. Cold reading can also help you avoid looking like an interviewer. Over the years, I realized questions are inevitable in the Singaporean culture. Just making statements isn’t going to help. The general rule of thumb is to make a statement before asking her a question.

Cold reading isn’t just enough to form a deep conversation with a stranger, you’ll need to know how to:

  • Tease her and make the situation light hearted on the spot
  • Phrase your conversations in a dynamic way
  • Connect emotionally with her on the spot

“You look like you’re on the way to school. Nice shoes by the way. Let me guess, you must be a business student.”

She’s going to either correct you or agree with you at this point of time. It doesn’t matter. It gives you conversational material to work with.

“I study accounting, I don’t really enjoy it, but the practical side of me says that I got to do it, what about you, you’re passionate about business or you’re just following the path of a Singaporean girl?”

You should also attempt to tease her early on in the interaction to lighten your interaction up.

‘You’re probably going to lose money for your company. You totally don’t look like a business student.’

Note: do it with a smile of course.

This is an example of a direct approach, coupled with the cold reading skillset, sprinkled with a light compliment. Light compliments and teasing help ease the interaction.

Following up from her response, you can continue asking her questions or statements to relate to her. Free association and conversational improvisation skills are required to generate a continuous conversation. This requires practice. You can’t script or prepare humour, it’s practised by free association and improvisation. I find it useful to stick to general principles such as teasing her about her stereotype that she fits into.

I recommending practising and learning these conversational skillsets and make it a habit in your life. I do cover these skillsets in my courses and programs. However, for brevity’s sake, I’m not going to include all of this for this article.

How to Get a Number in a Non Cheesy Manner

There’s then the age-old question of how to get a girl’s number? I say this all the time, the words are superficial, it’s the intention underneath it that counts. If she says no, then it’s alright as well. Just wish her well and move on. Rejection is part of the game. Secondly, only ask for a woman’s number if you can tell she’s invested in the potential of meeting up with you again. Finally, you are going to get rejected a lot in this process. However, it’s doable, and rejection is actually a good thing.

You can ask her out for a date right there and then. Since you’ve already expressed interest upfront, it’s OKAY to ask her out for coffee. I always do that. You can make a simple statement:

“You’re nice to talk to, let’s grab coffee some day.” 

When she agrees, you can then ask for her number. There’s no perfect line to ask for her number. Just say:

‘Let’s keep in touch and let’s exchange contacts.’

Start Improving

Here’s my point, go out, develop social skills and put yourself out there. This shit can be learnt. Not only can it be learnt, but it’s also going to play a huge role in your success in other areas of your life.

Show me a job that doesn’t require you to communicate effectively to another human being? Here’s your answer: none. No matter what you do, even if you’re a low-level executive, you’ll need to communicate with your boss, your colleagues, clients, your suppliers, distributors and the list goes on. I built up my entire communication skillsets solely from learning how to talk to women.

Ultimately, to get a girlfriend or fix your dating woes it all about self improvement. It’s about holding yourself fully responsible for their dating life. There are tons of research that show that relationships contribute to a huge part of happiness in your life. Hence, putting in time and effort to understand how this dating and relationship thing work is a positive thing. It’s also the more fulfilling route of self development.