Jan 14

What Are Personal Values? – Develop Integrity and Purpose

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

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 learning how 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.

In my own life today, and in my client’s life as a dating coach for men. You can start with a couple of simple values.

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

The 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 Dating and Relationship Boundaries

By Marcus Neo | 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 healthy 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.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself: do you want to constantly be around people that don’t appreciate you for who you are, but also sees all of his relationships (including you) as something that can be manipulated?  Or do you want to be around with friends that doesn’t fuck with your emotions?

I know there are idiots who prefer the former, cause deep down, they don’t relationships as something that can be safe and supportive. They see relationships as something to be earned, bargained or traded. Long term relationships, friendships and romance aren’t built upon memorising lines. You’re still putting on a front in your social interactions instead of engaging your true self.

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 Talk to Anyone – Exact Lines You Can Use

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

You see your ideal partner sitting across the table of Starbucks 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 try start a new 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 hiring manager of your dream job at your dream 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? How do you talk to anyone even if you aren’t naturally “extroverted”?

Talking to anyone and starting conversations is a skillset that anyone can learn.

How to Talk to Anyone – Conversational Mindsets

Firstly, 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 making sure you never run out of words is to lower the bar for conversation.

In my earlier days, I was notorious for being too witty or lost in abstract arguments in my head. It single handedly submarined a lot of social, romantic and business opportunities. Only relying on pure wit or intellect is actually a horrible way to start a conversation, or talk to anyone in general.

The need for serious or deep talk in the first couple of minutes is a narrative from movies you watch growing up where the actors and actresses often come up with witty lines and the ‘perfect moment’ to start talking to someone new. In reality, this is far from the truth. Starting a new conversation is always a little awkward at first, 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. Guess what, people feel the same way as well. Let’s not treat new conversations like an interview, shall we?

In general, statements offer more ‘social value’ and opportunity for the other party to get a conversation going.

Instead of going down the usual route of interviewing someone and asking questions… you can make statements. This way you’re giving your input and giving them a window to respond to that statement.

The trick here isn’t to just stick to statements. It is to mix in statements and questions. However, 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 people asking questions all the time  and haven’t built any social skills to share themselves.

Making statements is a better conversational habit as compared to asking questions and waiting for their reply. Of course, if you were to make both statements and ask questions and they won’t respond, it means that they are not ready to talk to someone new.

Don’t take it personally and move on.

If you’re sticking to questions, you don’t get to express your identity and you don’t really grease the wheels to hep them express themselves. The other party got to take part minimally in a conversation for the interaction to go well.

Mindset 3: Listening Actively 

One of the common pitfalls of learning how to talk to anyone 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 damned 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.

One a side note: 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.

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.

Conversational 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 Anyone

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 and Talk to Anyone

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.

 

Cold reading is a skillset that you can use to make statements. Even simple ones that 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.

How to Keep a Conversation Going with Anyone

Now that you have started a conversation, so how do you keep a conversation going with anyone and how to never run out of words? In new social interactions, you have 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 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.

How to Talk to Girls - Start a Conversation and Connection 03

The Art of Story Telling: How to Tell a Story

Can you come off as charismatic when talking to anyone? Starting conversations is an important skill. However, learning how to continue them in a dynamic manner is also equally important.

Ever know someone who went on and on and on… you can’t help but quietly look away hoping he gets the signal that he’s being too too long-winded? Or maybe you know someone who awkwardly attempts to fit in a joke in his conversations?

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 for men community, memorising 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.

 

Jan 12

Dating an Entrepreneur – Date Poor Marry Rich?

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

Something struck me when a friend recommended that we went to an above-average priced restaurant. I declined in mind about the price of the food. As a budding entrepreneur, I lived most of my twenties trying not to spend too much on expensive restaurants as I kept my expenses low in order to start and grow a business.

For the men and women reading this, the following is an accurate depiction of reality when you are dating an entrepreneur who doesn’t inherit family wealth and is attempting to start a business in his twenties. He/ she is probably going to come from a middle class background and scrounged up some money through the years to afford rent, labour, software and minimal start up costs.

This got me thinking about relationships and the asymmetry of dating an entrepreneur.

The Asymmetry of Dating an Entrepreneur

For the most part, I never thought like a CEO or a capital allocator. In my former years, I spent my majority consulting, business income away on flight tickets, restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes and convenience. Yes, I did reinvest in my own education and in my own company, but I didn’t do it at the rate that could lead to an exponential growth of capital.

I lacked focus.

I realized the importance of capital preservation and how a small self-funded company should reinvest its earnings into growth.

Technically, if I ate out at a high-end restaurant for $30 a meal, I am giving up four days of chilling out a cafe ($7 per coffee) so I can enjoy the ambience working without needing to rent an office.

Sometimes, my mother sways and she invests small amounts of capital in Ponzi forex or cryptocurrency trading schemes. I used to berate her for it: ‘do you know how many hours of my staff I can purchase with that amount?’ It’s about time I took my own advice.

 

This is why if you’re looking to date an entrepreneur, especially if he/ she is self-funded, it’s difficult.

Now, I’m not saying I am not awash-ed with cash and I’m swimming naked. I’m also not all work and no play. I dropped more than a couple of grand on a Europe solo  backpacking trip and many solo flight tickets in my twenties. I also dropped a lot more than a couple of grand on self-education.

However, I’m saying: let’s be prudent, delay gratification and think of long term end outcomes.

How to Date an Entrepreneur: Cars, Cafes and Condos

Not all money spent isn’t well spent. For example, I am a convenience freak. I outsourced all of my lunches for months at a go and paid premium per meal. I also once hired a freelancer for 8 USD to download all my Facebook photos manually.

On the other hand, I didn’t purchase a car for years and am not intending to. However, I’m more than willing to spend on ride-hailing applications. They are worth it. I figured the cost of owning a second-hand car is 1.2k–1.3k per month inclusive of loans, tax, petrol and insurance.

I also kept my personal insurance premiums to a minimum and berated my parents for purchasing whole life insurance.

I also don’t invest any more than low-cost first dates or attempting to impress the opposite sex through monetary means. I’m against the idea of regularly going out to expensive restaurants, cafes and flaunting them on social media.

If given a choice, perfect dates would consist of walks in the parks, books, philosophical discussions and mind blowing sex. These activities are mostly low in cost, healthy activities and free. In some sense, I am an oddball. I realized this isn’t the case for most millennials in their twenties. For women reading this and still think it’s cool to date a bootstrapped self funded entrepreneur, I’d tell you to think twice.

How to Date an Entrepreneur: Asymmetry 

Let’s look at the short term and long term implications of dating a bootstrapped entrepreneur: for the opposite sex, if our relationship extends beyond a short term arrangement, it is something she has to make a value choice in time: “suffer” alongside with me and give up on signalling a perfect life on social media and reap the rewards years later OR… give it up.

I realized this also translated into my friendships. I can’t go cafe hopping or club hopping every other weekend. It’s much wiser to re-invest the earnings into the company.

Now, as I mentioned, it’s not that I am not awash-ed with cash or swimming naked. It’s just that I’d like to continue swimming with my head well above the water.

Once again this puts a self funded entrepreneur in his twenties in an asymmetric dilemma: attractive women are traditionally used to cash/monetary gifts/ favours from men.

Since I am neither rich nor willing to expend monetary favours. I can only rely on charm and wit. Hence demographically, I am only compatible with women who are financially independent after graduating from school and aren’t looking for a sugar daddy.

The average graduate (or non-graduate) who signs up for median employment in Western culture is bound to find herself with some form of stable disposable income. Her lifestyle choices might not match with an entrepreneur in his 20s or even arguably 30s.

The self-funded male entrepreneur in his 20s is only demographically compatible with prudent and wise women who not only meet his physical criteria but also are able to accept delayed gratification and book dates. (Read: I can assure you it’s a minority).

Let’s just say if every one of her peers got boyfriends as bankers, lawyers and doctors, she is going to feel the social pressure to keep up with the Jones.

In the long run, if a driven entrepreneurial male in his 20s stayed the course and find asymmetric financial success in his 30s, his demographic is now enlarged.

He has money. He has choices.

If he has not found a committed and suitable partner in his twenties who is willing to go through the delayed gratification for the bigger picture. Then let’s just say he is in an asymmetric position of power in the dating game.

Hence, dating an entrepreneur is asymmetric in nature. You get may get extreme pay offs in the long run on either side, or bail out in the short term. This is the reality of dating an entrepreneur.

Dec 22

How to Reject Someone When You’re Not Interested

By Ellen Orton | Relationships , Self Improvement and Social Skills

It’s impossible to create and maintain relationships with everyone we cross paths with. True, being rejected is a bottom-tier feeling, but it doesn’t mean the other party is excited about it. So what happens when someone you’re not interested in starts making advances? How do you reject someone without causing a backlash?

How to Reject Someone When You’re Not Interested

Bring It Up

In most cases, ignoring the situation and your pursuer only tends to complicate and strain the existing relationship. This is because your admirer believes you are yet to notice them or their advances, or you are just shy to reciprocate. Dragging on will only make it worse for them, and there is really no need to torture them with ambiguity. Bring it to an end as early as you can, especially if it’s a friend.

Preserve their Dignity

The goal is to let them down easy, not to tear their heart out or humiliate them. If you’re looking for how to reject someone nicely, it means that they are not bad or shameful people to associate with. If anything, their qualities are what make this tough. 

Even if you once met a boring person, you should not further limit yourself in communicating with others, look through dating sites and risk going on a date. 

Assume Responsibility

This might seem tasking and unnecessary, but when planning on how to politely reject someone, it is only fair you relieve them of any fault. To reject someone is a brutal task, so it would be kind to take fault. If possible, suggest that you share mutual attraction; it’s just that you want to protect their interest and feelings. You just seem to notice the flaws from your standing point should your relationship develop further.

The Friend Zone

Social media has somehow managed to turn friendship into the ugliest bonds, especially when one party harbours deeper feelings for the other. However, offering your friendship means you did not reject them as a whole, and you would like them to be in our life.

Some people make better friends than lovers, and friendship is not a consolation prize. You’re willing to offer more like a friend than as a lover, and that’s the real gift.

Using Cues and Hints

In most cases, not everyone can hold such a conversation or have the guts to be straight up about their lack of interest. So what happens now? If you’re looking for how to nicely reject someone without being upfront, then you should try sending cues instead. There are several things you could do to get your message across. Here are a few tips on how to politely reject someone.

Tips on How to Politely Reject Someone

  • Say You’re Seeing Someone Else

Even though lying about your relationship status is ill-advised, sometimes it is the only way to go. This is especially helpful if your pursuer is insistent on their advances. Telling them you’re already in a committed relationship makes it less awkward and personal. If you’re the witty kind, it won’t hurt to look up funny ways to reject someone, but be careful with your delivery.

  • Suggest Hanging Out in Groups

The last thing you want is someone you’re not interested in thinking you’re going on dates. Inviting other friends to hang out with you means that you are not interested in them that way, and you had not considered going out with them in the first place. If anything, friends act as buffers to prevent awkward situations and topics.

  • Say You Have Plans

Now, you can’t use this card more than twice, but it can really save the situation. Someone who likes you will want to spend time with you, so choosing your plans over them gets the message across. The goal is how to reject someone nicely, so please don’t go posting about how bored and lonely you are.

  • Ask to Hook them Up

It’s only fair you learn how to reject someone over text, especially if you don’t meet often. Thanks to texts, it is less awkward rejecting someone, and you can always change the topic.

Ask to set up your pursuer with a friend. This will prevent them from being hung up, and it also helps to shift the attention away from you. Of course, you want to ask the said friend first to avoid them being rejected twice.

  • Steer Away from Jokes and Sarcasm

The point is to avoid being a jerk, so be very careful with your choice of words. Even when working on how to reject someone funny, be careful about the jokes or quotes you use. They might seem funny or witty to you, while your pursuer might feel insulted.

If you’re trying to keep light on rejecting someone nicely via text, keep your sarcasm in check. It will help from further complicating the situation. Naturally, when someone is being rejected, their response will not be reacting to humor.

  • Be Careful With Your Lies

Naturally, a poker face will complement your lies perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you have to lie about everything. Keep it minimum – it is easier to sell a smaller lie. You can be blunt with your lies as well, especially if your pursuer is insistent. You can use your religion/culture card to get out of most situations. Some lies might be petty, but they will get the message across.

  • Don’t Leave Room for Uncertainty

Lastly, you will want to ensure that you leave no wiggle room in the situation. Redefine your boundaries, and check how you behave around them. Some people make advances because they misinterpret your actions and behavior, meaning you might be sending out mixed messages. In short, act out what you are willing to offer.

Conclusion

Rejecting someone is not a pleasant activity, and some will want to put it off as long as they can. Be sure that this will make it any easier for the people involved, so be done with it as soon as possible.

Dec 02

The Virtues & Downsides of Online Dating

By Joseph Bryson | Relationships

If you think about it, the fact that a huge number of modern relationships start on an online dating app isn’t really that surprising.

The internet has allowed for us to be more connected than ever before. We’re using it for business, we’re using it to shop and we’re using it to communicate with our friends and family, so why wouldn’t it also be used for romance? It makes sense considering it motivates out actions perhaps more so than anything else.

It’s not a new thing anyway when you think about what the actual function of it is. The internet has made it easier, but this sort of thing has kind of been around for over 300 years.

Even some 17th Century newspapers had personal ads for those seeking romance, and is that really any different from modern online dating? So really, it’s an entirely expected result of the internet becoming more advanced and more widely used.

Some people think it’s the best thing in the world and has made finding someone much easier, and others think it’s a waste of time and some believe that only the most desperate among us would resort to that.

Now, those who call it desperate are obviously just being jerks, but there are points to be made from both sides of the argument. Let’s have a look at some virtues and some downsides to online dating.

 

Virtue: The Options are Endless

You know the feeling when you’re single and you walk into a bar expecting to find someone you could potentially date or at the very least go home with for the night. Even if you’re confident, there’s only so many women there.

Even among the ones that are actually single and are looking for someone to meet that night, there’s still going to be many that you’re not compatible with. And as for the ones you are compatible with, are you going to talk to them that night?

How can you be sure that’s going to happen? Are you going to talk to every single woman in the bar? You won’t be able to, and that will turn what should be a fun night into a very stressful one. Online dating is not like a bar that has fifty women in it.

Now, there are over 30 million people in the United States alone using online dating sites and apps. That’s three times the population of Sweden. Let’s throw out a rough estimate here and assume that in your area, there are 5-10 thousand women on dating sites that you could potentially talk to.

That’s more people than you’ve spoken to in your entire life. And even if you are only genuinely compatible with a fifth of that number, that’s still a thousand women. Under what other circumstances are you going to find a thousand potential partners?

Online dating is unquestionably the path that will give you the most options.

Downside: Face to Face Communication is Always Better

It’s great that we are well past the days when if we wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t in our immediate vicinity, we had to send them a letter and not hear a response for possibly weeks. We can now write a message and have someone on the other side of the world respond in a matter of seconds.

Nobody will deny that this level of connectivity is indispensable and very useful for making new potentially romantic connections, but humans communicate most effectively when we are actually face-to-face.

This probably dates back to the earliest humans who could only communicate in person but it’s not like we’ve evolved past that, body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are still a huge part of how we express our thoughts and feelings.

And you get none of that in text form and even if you’re talking on Zoom you’re still not getting it entirely. So if you spend a lot of time communicating with someone through text before actually meeting them, you won’t know what they’re actually like.

You might end up with unrealistic expectations of them that they can’t fulfil. Or conversely, you might think that someone isn’t right for you, when you would feel the opposite way if you had initially met them in person.

Virtue: More Upfront information

Whilst it does generally depend on the app or site that you are using, you are going to have access to more information about the person you’re talking to. Some people will say that this is actually a downside, but I personally find it difficult to agree with.

Yes, there is a certain excitement to mystery and if you already know a lot of stuff about someone then it leaves you with less to talk about and discover, but at the same time, the more you know the better you can judge the likelihood of you actually being compatible.

You could have a conversation with someone and not realize until you’re an hour deep that they have a view which you find bigoted, or go on a couple of dates before realizing that you want completely different things out of a relationship. Online dating makes this less likely.

Downside: Cat fishing

You meet someone in person, you can see them and hear their voice. Online they could be anybody. They could be a different gender who is afraid to openly admit their sexuality or someone old and lonely who feels like they’ve missed their chance at love.

Sometimes cat fishing is very sinister and predatory, and sometimes it’s just a case of someone using older pictures of themselves or lying about their age, career or level of fitness. Either way, you don’t truly know who you’re talking to until you’ve met them.

That’s a downside for sure. Hell you might even be tempted to do this on some level yourself. But that’s not fair, you should be truthful and the stuff you feel compelled to lie about probably isn’t as big of a deal as you think anyway.

But if you do feel like you’ll get more responses if you were more in shape, get some exercise equipment and get to work. Or if you feel like you’re in the wrong line of work, start exploring your options. Don’t waste your time lying because the truth will come out eventually.

The most important thing to remember, is that online dating is not the only option. If you feel like the downsides are more significant, then meeting someone in a bar or through your friends or a hobby hasn’t gone away. You can still take that path.

These days, millions and millions of people are using online dating, and you can basically guarantee that you’ll be able to find someone through that method. So even if you are skeptical, it’s worth looking into.

Dec 01

Why I’ll Never Ask Her to Be My Girlfriend Before Sex

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

Every modern dating problem starts off with the proposition that women are the gate keepers of sex and men are the gate keepers of commitment. We are brought up by modern culture to equate love with sex, and sex with commitment and passion with unconditional love.

Some people swear by commitment, the ideals of traditional loyalty, asceticism and marriage. They proudly thump it on their chest their badge as a moral badge. Others go against it, swearing off traditional norms of mating. They wish nothing but for polyamory.

Yet how we have driven ourselves senseless. To the point to equate long term emotional attachment to celebratory moments of passion, and vice versa.

One must consider the proposition that traditions such as traditional labels of a relationship or even marriage are nothing but societal constructs. Or maybe they are merely evolutionary means to keep the human species going.

The hundreds of couples of getting together to appease social norms. Only to find themselves displeased, dejected after weeks, months or years of habitual living. Are we only going to celebrate love and affection only after certain conditions are met? What if we were doing too much to fulfil these conditions? Or maybe expectations? What if our intentions were not the purest and only means to an end?

One must not conflate lust and unconditional love.

Yet, on the other hand, isn’t it a life of moral goodness to live a life of commitment to one partner. Yes it is. However, how many do it from a standpoint of moral goodness? If we desire for commitment before engaging in physical affection, then we must remember that if it’s traded commitment for affection, then it’s not unconditional after all. It’s only a temporary trade.

Nov 18

The Difference Between Love and Affection

By Joseph Bryson | Relationships

Love and affection are two words that are intrinsically linked. They are of course similar in many ways: they are both feelings that we harbour for those of us in our lives who are most important to us. 

The Difference Between Love and Affection

Most of us don’t really think too deeply about it when it comes to these kinds of words, and we do have a tendency to just use them interchangeably. But they are actually quite different from each other in definition.

Although they are just words and we can kind of use them as we choose and be a bit liberal in our personal definitions, but when we look a bit more deeply into these actual sensations, we can see that there are two distinct feelings and that the different words are warranted.

This doesn’t mean that you are using the words wrong or that you should alter how you express your personal feelings, but it is interesting to note why we feel a certain way towards certain people and differently towards others.

Both of the words are expressions of endearment, and positive sensations which are based around strong relationships, so what exactly is it that differentiates the two from each other?

It’s somewhat complex:

Love is perhaps a word that we all use a little bit too liberally. We throw it around like it means absolutely nothing, when in truth, love is a feeling that means a whole lot, and that should be reserved for our deepest inclinations.

There are different kinds of love of course. The one we think about most is the love that we have for romantic partners, and the interesting thing about that is it’s the only one with which the use of the word is deemed very important.

When it comes to love that we feel for our family, our friends, or even for things that aren’t human or aren’t living, we don’t make any kind of big deal about saying it. We tell our family we love them from the first moment that we can speak.

We tell our friends that even if we don’t necessarily mean it, and that’s okay because a friend isn’t really a lifelong commitment or an obligation. We even say it about food. “I love Peking duck, even though I only tasted it for the first time five minutes ago.”

And that’s all fine, nobody really questions it, and if they do they’re kind of just being a pedantic jerk. But for your partner, when you choose to say the words “I love you,” it’s intended as a turning point in your relationship.

It’s the moment that it goes from something that’s primarily based around discovering shared interests and personality traits, going on dates, doing fun things together and probably a whole lot of sex, to a genuine commitment and an expression that you’ve fond something you want to last.

And all of us are capable of feeling that, though for some of us it takes a bit longer to find it. That all depends on a few different factors, like maybe it’s just because you like playing the field more than you like settling with one person and that’s absolutely fine.

Or maybe it’s because you are more guarded with your emotions and you struggle to let people in and that’s also not something to be ashamed of. But regardless of any of that, it’s a word that has power in romantic relationships.

Unconditionality

And why is that? Well that brings us to what I believe sets love apart from other feelings such as affection, and that’s that it is reserved for something that is unconditional. What are you really saying when you say that you love your partner?

You are telling them that you want to commit to them, that you feel strongly that if you share your life with them, you will be happy. And going a little deeper, you are acknowledging their flaws, insecurities and whatever differences you have and accepting that you can look past them.

Love takes you over those hurdles, it gives you strength to resolve problems that you might face in the future which you may not be able to resolve if you didn’t feel so strongly for the person. It is constant and impossible to shake no matter how hard you try.

And you can feel this for your friends in a way that’s non-romantic and built on a foundation of trust and companionship, and you can feel it for a piece of entertainment or a work of art in a way that makes you feel like you can appreciate the beauty and enjoyment of it over and over again.

So in a way that is unconditional, but it doesn’t have the responsibility of a romantic relationship. You can drop friends you thought you loved if you don’t feel like they’re a positive presence in your life anymore, but that’s not as easy with someone you have a family or a home with.

In that way, it’s understandable why the word love is so much more powerful when it’s attached to romance than it is when used in any other context. And this brings us back to affection and what differs here.

Because affection is not unconditional. Affection is what you feel in those early days of a relationship that we discussed above when it’s not about all of the commitment and compromise that comes with a truly loving, romantic union.

Affection is light and fun. It’s hugs, it’s flirtation, it’s a one night stand after a few too many drinks and it doesn’t have to mean anything. That initial attraction you feel when you’ve been talking to her for a few hours and you want to reach out and hold her hand or make a joke so you can hear her laugh.

That’s affection, and that’s not unconditional. You want to hold her and kiss her but if you leave the next morning and never see her again, you won’t be hurt by that. And if you have an argument, you don’t feel an incentive to work through it. 

That’s the real difference here, and it’s important for you to be able to separate these two feelings in your own mind. Love is lasting, patient and resilient in the face of adversity, whereas affection is spontaneous, energetic and can slip through your fingers with little consequence.

Oct 28

How to Get Your Ex Girlfriend Back without Being Desperate

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

I get a lot of: “how to get my ex-girlfriend back” questions and requests. The majority of them don’t eventually end up being a client. The majority of these clients coming in, they’re actually looking for a short-term solution when they are outrightly asking “how to get your ex girlfriend back”. I’m going to address this in this article of firstly how to get your ex-girlfriend back, and secondly to have the right mindset about this.

How to Get Your Ex Girlfriend Back without Being Desperate

These clients probably got dumped out of the blue and now they’re trying to get their ex-girlfriend back. There are solutions to this, short-term solutions that will rely on game theory and short-term psychology tactics. The first short-term strategy you can use is actually using the pick up artist concept of: changing the frame. When you change the frame, you are changing the underlying meaning of the interaction between you and her.

So firstly right, let’s assume that you are the one being dumped.

Let assume you are the one chasing her, trying to get her attention back, trying to get her back in your life, and almost pleading with her. The underlying frame of the interaction is you are being dumped and you are chasing her back.

So Marcus, what do you mean by changing the frame? When you change the frame you’re actually reversing the rules. This means, demonstrating that: we have broken up, I’ve moved on with my life and I have better things to do, and I’m going to lead a life with or without you. This is what I mean by the underlying meaning behind changing the frame.

This can be demonstrated when you’re texting, this can be demonstrated on social media, this can be demonstrated when you speak about each other within your social circle assuming that you have mutual friends.

Of course you know in Asia it’s pretty … a tightly knitted society so news do get around. So yes, one of the most simple ways is to actually, you know, demonstrate that you are actually doing well in life without her. So that can be easily demonstrated on social media unless she blocks you (read: which is a pretty smart thing to do.)

I know so many couples that have broken up, they still text each other for some inane reason, and normally there is always one partner that’s trying to get back the other. Or there’s like some level of resentment and they are still trashing things out. Or both sides are being really reactive and there’s a whole, you know, rollercoaster dynamic right there, so one of the best ways to actually change the frame through a texting perspective is to actually give neutral responses, right?

Instead of pleading or trying to get her attention or trying to bribe her over with money, compliments and all of that. It’s better to give neutral responses in your text messages.

For example, if she’s trying to get some validation from you or she’s trying to initiate the conversation, or maybe she’s asking you:”do you ever see us getting back together?” You can actually reply by giving a neutral response which would entail something like, “I don’t know, but I wish you the best and you know, I’m pretty busy with this, I’ve actually tried out this new thing,”

It’s actually kind of going back to the days where you just met and trying to kind of demonstrate value again. Let’s be honest, a lot of people break up for different reasons, and one of the reasons is because the male or the female has actually, you know, gotten lazy in maintaining that relationship.

Compare this to the time when you guys first just met and both sides are actually putting in effort to put your best foot forward so that you can get her as a girlfriend or she can get you as a boyfriend. Hence, the short-term solution is change the frame, change the underlying meaning of the interaction between you and her.

However, I want to talk a little bit about the long-term solution, I want to talk about something that is not commonly talked about. This is the psychology of getting over your ex girlfriend. That’s because if you do not apply these processes, after the breakup, you’ll find yourself chasing that approval, your old traumas are being triggered, your abandonment issues are being triggered.

5 Stages of Grief and Loss: How to Heal from a Break Up

It takes time to heal from an affair and completely understand your ex’s infidelity. Unlike all other dating coaches that tell you to just ‘man up’, I am going to tell you it’s very normal for everyone, men or women, to go through a grief process of loss. This is researched in psychology: the five stages of grief.

The five stages are anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These five stages literally roughly mean those words. They do not come one after another and are an interconnected process where you can jump stages or you can experience this stage before that stage.

This was true for me from my own experience. When I was a teenager and I got dumped over just one text message. I was in denial. I was in denial for months until when I enlisted into the Singapore military and that’s where it all hit me. I was angry and I was sad all at one go. It all hit me and I broke emotionally. So this is why we need to heal. We need to grieve.

This grieve process is not spoken about. This isn’t addressed properly enough in especially Asian culture where the “man” is supposed to actually just be the tough guy and just take the loss. “Just take it on the chin”, and just move on! Let’s not address it, repress it and push it down. Only to find it boiling up after three months, half a year, or a year. Then you might end up going  into a fit or do something silly.

The Psychology behind 5 Stages of Grief and Loss

It’s that psychological loss will only heal if unnecessary containment such as unreasonable guilt and resentments can be worked out through. This plays out by trashing it out with your ex and achieving closure. This is why initially when you first break up, it’s quite important to trash it out and to lash it out.

Yet again, there are cultural narratives that says; “you’re not supposed to show your emotions”. You’re not supposed to feel, you’re not supposed to trash it out. Let’s not be angry, right? It’s very evident in Asian culture. How many times have you heard growing up: “just be the good kid, do not throw a fit, behave yourself!”

The second method suggested is to help the individual be prevented from feeling isolated and help to feel connected to others.

The third one is having a positive outlook.

So let me expand on these two last methods. So assuming that you’re going through a breakup process, you are still in the process of healing, of grieving. It’s important to get support. This can come from your community, from friends, from coaches and from therapy: through a clinical psychologist or through a licensed therapist.

I recommend therapy because especially when we’re young, our friends are not actually matured enough to actually guide us to the correct direction or to actually feel with us or sympathise or empathise with us.

This was true for me when I was a teenager. I remembered that after I broke up like for two weeks, my friends were at that point of time having a meal with my ex-girlfriend and posting it on social media. I felt butthurt about it. Getting psychologically support from friends might not be the best option.

The thing with relationships and breakups and psychology is that a lot of things can get messy. There’s a lot of nuances and weird things. The opposite party across you might be judging on it. Relationships are messy, people break up for all sorts of reasons, for irrational reasons, for weird reasons.

This is why I actually recommend looking into psychotherapy, into getting a therapist to actually guide you through the process. These people are usually much older than you, they are licensed, they have six years of clinical training to actually practice as a psychologist. You’re also dealing with science in a clinical setting and decades of research. Sometimes, I would pick that over having friends’ advice or friends’ support. Unless you have a really good friend who’s highly empathetic and highly sympathetic, and is able to truly empathise with you without judgment.

The Long Term Solution to Getting Your Ex Girlfriend Back without Looking Desperate

Here is where I want to get into the long-term solution.

Some clients when they come through my marketing funnel when they’ve just broken up, they’re actually looking for a short-term solution which is trying to get an ex-girlfriend back. Trying to find out a strategy, a way, or learn game just to get a ex-girlfriend back, as a control strategy against hurt and abandonment trauma and emotional growth.

The long-term solution is to actually understand the psychology of your breakup, of why you ended up breaking up in the first place. For one, rollercoaster relationships are a huge reason why people break up in the end, because you were leading an unhealthy relationship with her.

I recommend looking at attachment theory. There’s decades of research on anxious and avoidant attachment. The dynamic between anxious and avoidant attachment is where one person is chasing and the other person is avoiding and it just flips to and fro. This is an example of a relationship that I somewhat experienced when I was a teenager. I was avoidant and she was anxious and then we just flipped around where I chased her and she chased me and it was never ending to the point where it just got too frustrating for both sides.

Psychologists theorise we experience romantic love similarly to how we experience love from our parents when we were a kid, and we tend to confuse the two where we think that the love that we are getting from our partner is akin to our parents.

This is why when you break up you’ll feel super triggered and you’ll feel like your life is ending. That’s because as a kid it’s your interest to survive and you need that love from your parents. Now that you’ve grown up but your psychology is not matured enough and now that your girlfriend or your boyfriend has dumped you, this is akin to your parents abandoning you and going against your needs for survival.

You’ll require emotional awareness to actually differentiate the two.

Hence, a long-term solution is to actually understand rollercoaster relationships, understand the psychology of why you guys actually broke off right. And whether it is a healthy relationship in the first place.

Closing Thoughts

I was in a mess after my ex-girlfriend dumped me over one text message. I remembered spending the next three months in a living hell in my head trying to get her back, trying to get her on the phone. I emotionally broke down all alone on a military island. That was the point where I realised that I really didn’t have it down right.

I used to think I was a tough guy. I did martial arts in my teens, I got into street fights, and I used to think I was tough. That was what got me to repress my break up. I could tell you exactly what I felt at that point in time, I was like: “screw that bitch I’m going to go into the military. I’m going to be an military officer. I’m going to achieve my way through this pain”.

On the contrary, within eight days into the first 14 days confinement in the military, I broke down and everything just went haywire. I wasn’t even motivated to actually achieve in the military. This is why I want to stress: emotional health, understanding the psychology of relationships and dating is extremely important.

Lastly, this concept isn’t addressed enough in Asian culture. It’s something that’s not spoken or actively discussed in Asian culture. I hope everyone reading this took something away something and actually maybe start valuing your dating and relationships life and understanding your own psychology.

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