One of the biggest things that people do not talk about is peer group, community and support. For someone that values constant improvement in all aspects of my life from business, fitness and relationships… it can get quite isolating to the outside world.
I was having a midnight movie just a couple of days ago with an old friend I knew 7-8 years a go. Back then I was an army enlistee and we would go out, hang out late and break some rules like walk into places we should not be walking into.
Friendship and Personal Growth
Since then, I have changed from a counter cultural individual to a pretty much well adjusted individual. I no longer spend too much time hanging out late. I don’t smoke as much as I did before (just a little if there’s whiskey involved). I am well travelled, read a gazillion books from philosophy to literature, created revenue in my business as a dating coach and multiple industries… the list goes on.
I was looking forward to hang out, discuss our lives and goals looking forward. However, we ended up breaking the rules as much as we did 7-8 years ago. If you asked the 20-year-old me, I’ll gleefully took pride in my actions, however, this time, I instantly felt a disconnect. I instantly knew that we’re on different ‘wavelengths’. He was still trying to break the rules as much as he did 7-8 years ago. Trying to ‘get by’ or ‘cheat’ society.
Everyone that I know of that is obsessed with growth has almost always said that is a somewhat lonely journey.
When I was hitting the clubs weekly 6-7 years ago as a mentee to a dating coach in Singapore at that point of time, all my friends thought I was being weird.
When I started treated my business seriously, started having a lot more personal boundaries after leaving my last formal job, my around me reacted negatively.
Birds of the Same Feather Flock Together
Interestingly, it was the people who were more successful than I was that wasn’t just more empathetic, but also more encouraging to the process.
When I hit my first $10,000 net profit in my business in a month, it was my business coach at that point of time that was doing $20,000 a month that reached out to me and said: ‘good job’ Marcus. He and I continued hanging out and today we’re friends.
It’s interesting how our relationships with the outside world evolves as we grow.
7 years ago, I was an arrogant, rebellious and angry NSF. My friends who around me were also arrogant, rebellious and angry.
I started on my self development journey and met a couple of friends that were also attempting to improve their dating lives with women. Some of them are still friends with me today.
When I took a couple of gap years to dip my toes in business. There wasn’t a single friend in University that could resonate with what I was attempting to do. Their values were different. Nothing against them, it was just different values.
I am 27 years of age as I write this blog post. The majority of my friends are in the corporate world. Unfortunately, that was my peer group. I always half jokingly say that I am the weirdest JC kid. The majority of entrepreneurs I meet didn’t take the JC route.
I’ve been to multiple parts of the world, created revenue in multiple industries, had a dating life that an average man can dream of, and of course some of these values aren’t exactly adopted by the average person out there, much less my peers.
How to Build Your Ideal Lifestyle?
Even though I am pretty damned good at doing things by myself, and I haven’t had a business partner for years. However, it can be quite isolating at times.
These days, I find myself asking myself, who are the people I’ll like to hang out with at this point of my life?
Here are some ideas:
Young and driven entrepreneurs
Young and driven professionals
People that dress well and carry themselves well.
How can I connect with people from such demographics? Where do these people spend their time hanging out? They aren’t certainly hanging out at heartland malls at 12am on a Sunday night (which was what I was doing with a long time friend of mine).
They are probably attending business events, doing Yoga classes, doing martial arts classes or partying at the hottest parties on the weekend. They aren’t 19 year old pick up artists trying to get a free entry into clubs.
So as I teach my clients: draft out the characteristics of the people you’ll like to connect with, find out where they spend their time, invest my time in these demographics, and then connect with them.
Connecting with someone can be as easy as listen to their stories. Successful people often have untold stories that’ll like to share. You can learn a lot from sitting for 1 hour over coffee with someone. Or even so, just connect as a human being. This is how you ‘be of value’ in a social sense.
If your current peer group isn’t ‘resonating’ with you, then you have to be proactive about making steps to connect with new people. Admittedly, I have been pretty lazy in this area. ‘Tiny success’ can get into your head. I started thinking I was ‘too good’ for others after making some headway into my business and my own dating life.
Valu-ing Community and Support
Quality relationships contribute a lot to our happiness and emotional health. I can’t stress this enough. Take this from someone that enjoys working alone and is quite a lone wolf in how he works.
This is why I value community and support. This is why I also created an in person monthly support meet up group for all my clients not only for them, but also myself. The majority of my clients become my friends after awhile (if they continually show up for the meet up sessions).
Since I teach social skills, I should really take my own advice sometimes. Community and like minded peers are PRICELESS. It’s no wonder that a huge part of my clientele are skewed towards people who also entrepreneurial, looking to better their dating and relationship lives.
Question is, how are you going to construct your ideal life? Who are the people you’ll like to spend time with, what are they characteristics and where do they spend their time? How are you going to connect with them?
I remembered pouring through heaps of books, theories on how to text a girl, analysed text messages and even went as far as to get my friend to text a girl for me. Understanding how to text a girl was one of the biggest problems I had when I first started out.
I don’t enjoy texting as a means of communication. I often lament that I am much more confident in person than behind a mobile screen and tend to say something obnoxious over text. I also don’t enjoy texting as it’s time-consuming.
When you’re facing the screen, you can’t read expressions. You can’t figure out what she’s feeling, whether she’s shy, interested or bored. Or if my joke has come off the wrong way. This doesn’t help for someone who enjoys dark, sarcastic humour that can come off the wrong way.
However, in certain cultures such as the Singapore dating culture, texting is part and parcel of everyone’s social life. Through the years I accepted the fact that texting is a staple in modern dating life and that everybody does it.
How to Get Her Number/ Ask Her Out: The Art of the Soft Close
Getting her number shouldn’t be a big deal and should ONLY be done after you built a genuine connection. This is part of having standards, and being more optimal. I try to set up specific plans during the first interaction. This helps her to differentiate you from a stranger to a friend. The goal of getting a girl’s number is to re-initiate mutual contact, demonstrate that you’re not a creep whilst texting her and go for the meetup.
You need to also pay attention to the context you’re in when going for her number. Sometimes, asking a girl out for coffee in front of her friends works well in Western cultures, whereas, in Singapore, it’s going to put a lot of social pressure on the girl.
I recommend going for the soft close when asking for her number and asking her out through text.
‘Hey, are you adventurous’. ‘How do you feel about drinks or coffee with a cute a Singapore boy?’ ‘What’s your schedule like?’ ‘You seem like a nice/interesting person to talk to (insert your qualifier), let’s grab coffee sometime next week.’
The Psychology of Texting
If you’re constantly worried about her not texting, you back. You should ask yourself this: what would an attractive man have done?
He wouldn’t feel the need to be texting all the time. He’ll only text back when he has the time to. He’s living life on his own values. He is living life based on his own values, not on how the other person responds to him. He doesn’t worry so much about what the other person is going to think, or reply, or respond.
One of the core tenets of attracting women is to be self-invested. Being self-invested means valuing your time, having a life, working and filling your days with stuff that you care about and being too hung up if some cute lass isn’t texting you back.
It’s said that a character of a person defined when no one is looking. You shouldn’t be too hung up if a girl isn’t texting you back. If you have shit to do, you won’t be too hung up on her replies.
How to Start a Conversation and Flirt with Her on Text
Here’s a general rule of thumb: your texts should where the social interaction was left off.
If you’re rushing to work, approached her and only had a two minutes’ interaction, then you’re expected to text a little bit more before asking her out for coffee. If you’ve already built a great connection with her during the first time you met her, then it’s not expected for you to text a lot.
Questions to ask yourself: Is she attracted to you already? How well do you know each other? Which part of the interaction are you at? What are the underlying assumptions in your interaction?
Call Back Humour
You can stand out through your first text by referring to something funny you had during your initial interaction with her when you first met. It commonly referred to as the call back humour.
“Rachel the Chinese teacher! Don’t stay out too late, you have more Sun Tze philosophies to brainwash unwilling teenagers.’
How to Flirt and Tease
Check out my guide on flirting, you should be able to get creative with roleplays, push-pull and misinterpretations.
General Rule of Thumb
In your text messages, you need to keep it playful, light-hearted in the beginning and see how things flow from there. You should not try to make plans too early on, avoid going into interview mode, such as asking logical questions. Only go for the meetups using the soft close if there’s she’s flirting with you to and fro on the phone.
One important philosophy when it comes to texting is to keep in mind that time is your ally. One mistake I often make is to go to the meet up too early. This might work in Westernized cultures. However, in some cultures, especially Asian ones, girls love to text and going for it is merely going to get you rejected.
You also need to calibrate in accordance to context, a lot of the material you find online can be quite ‘Westernized’ and you can come un-calibrated in an Asian setting.
To Text Her or Not to Text Her and How many Hours/ Days?
Is there a right way to text? What about the length of the text? The time of the text? How about the fucking number of blue ticks?
I’ve had tons of interactions that seemed to go well in real life but didn’t turn out into anything. It is something that is out of your control. Ever made out with a girl in the club and she ignores the exact next day? You start worrying and start thinking to yourself if she’s playing mind games. You then start playing mind games on your end… and she doesn’t reply once again… and you think she’s still playing mind games.
There’s no need the play mind games through text. I’m not a huge fan of waiting X number of hours/days to text You’re pursuing girls from your own values.
Texting a girl is a two-way dance. If you’re always pushing from one side and she’s replying plain, boring and dry responses, she’s just not interested. There should be some sort of reciprocation or qualification from the girl.
Closing Thoughts: Do The Heavy Lifting in a Real Life
In general, you should just ask her out as soon as possible. I usually ask a girl out after I get some sort of a to and fro interaction going. If she’s not willing to go out with me there and then, she’s probably not interested. I much prefer to do the heavy lifting in person. You should be much stronger in a face to face interactions. However, being poor on the phone is something is going to hurt your results. For some reason, girls need to know that you’re a cool guy over text.
It’s noted that some demographic of girls do react positively to cutesy lines you come up with over text. It’s just something I don’t bother putting too much effort into. It usually also doesn’t work out well for me if I get too creative with it.
Then there’s the last question: if she agrees, do you still continue texting her over the phone, to keep yourself in the loop. Of course, you do, however, you don’t need to text as much since plans are set up. I also find that dates that actually go through are dates set up no longer than a week after she agrees.
I’m not a huge fan of building a connection over the phone. There are more important things in life than being her text buddy. There’s a rarity that a girl’s schedule is so packed that she can’t squeeze a date in. If she mentions a packed schedule, then I’m sorry, she just doesn’t like you enough to put you a priority in her life.
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?
Initially, I bought the idea of willpower, after all, with psychological studies that showed that the environment shapes behaviour, as opposed to willpower. I also looked into argument taking into account of childhood development: The Freudian approach.
I’ll argue that high performance boils down to multiple variables, from the environment and your childhood experiences. Dan Pena makes an argument in his content that self-esteem is the key fundamental of all high-performance behaviour.
Ultimately, your behaviour boils down to your self-esteem. How much you believe you’re worth, deep down. If you believe you’re worth it, you’ll have higher expectations of both of yourself, and others, you’ll have high boundaries, you do not take shit form anybody, including yourself.
I currently run a dating consulting business and manage advertising projects for a couple of companies and individuals. In this small sample size of pursuits, it’s hard not to notice some of the self-sabotaging behaviours and lack of accountability of individuals that come through my way.
Self-esteem is how you perceive yourself and how the world perceives you.
In an idealistic world, everyone is going to see the best virtues in you. However, that’s not to be, in fact, real-world often pans out in the opposite of our ideals.
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 superior 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, they demanded that I finished 2000 words sales page for them in a short period of time. I managed to produce it within a day.
Other than a couple of quips that they wouldn’t give in to my requests for a more flexible working arrangement, 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.
You could say this is true for all of friends and family.
Your self esteem is going to be compromised if you attempting to lose weight and the people around you don’t believe that you are capable of that.
In my entrepreneurial career, I quadrupled my price overnight, that’s because I believed that my product and service is worth that price. Yet, it sold. Of course. However, a higher price comes higher pressure, intensity and a willingness to make it work. It goes to show that a of our decisions and success in life is based on self-esteem.
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 stint in America. I traditionally wasn’t a good student in Singapore. However, for someone reason, I had the freedom to flex my identity in another culture. I ended up performing.
Your Parents Fucked You Up
Unlike 99% of personal development material that’ll try to play nice. I’ll give it straight. In fact, my thoughts are a lot influenced by Dan Pena and psychology itself.
Your parents fucked you up. It’s as simple as that.
It’s hard not to notice the parallels between self-esteem and your childhood experiences.
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 behaviours in themselves in the past or present. To quote Dan, children don’t see what you tell them to do, they see what you do. 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!
I truly believe that one of the best things an upwardly mobile individual can do is to leave home. To detach himself from his family and strike out on his own. It’s one of my priority within the next 12 months (assuming I do not fall into default behaviour).
First, your family is your detriment, second, it’s your friends. I’m not going to bore you on the cliche that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. However, it’s true.
It’s weird that the majority loosely define friendships as people that subtlely put you down, or let step over you. 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.
There’s one occasion where I took part in a football match where there’s one bully that has gotten away with unruly behaviour in the group for years: physical and verbal. Yet, that group defined themselves as ‘friends’. It took an outsider (me) to set him straight. It took a couple of scuffles, but I do think there’s mutual respect after those!
Over the last couple of years, I have been increasingly tough on the people around me. My Mum says I’m too tough on people. Some of my friends say I am too tough on myself. However, let me tell you something about being tough: it works.
I have single-handedly travelled to multiple cultures all over the world solo, built profitable ventures and am armed with multiple real-life skillsets. I did it all as a one-man team. How did I do it? I was tough on myself.
People ultimately do not lack knowledge, they lack accountability and self-esteem. The majority of my friends are much more formally qualified than me. They have master degrees from finance to technology. I am currently a private Diploma graduate from a private University.
Yet, I have actual skin in the game through a real-life stock portfolio (unlike many financial ‘advisors’) and am able to be profitable in most business pursuits I get into (proven by my track record inexperience in the financial education industry, dating advice industry and music industry).
I have also approached hundreds of women in cultures all over the world. I’ve had a dating life that the average man can dream about. I’m not writing this to boast, I’m writing as a reminder myself and impress upon you that self-esteem leads to courage and eventually leads to an expanded life.
The Solution: Mentors
Your expectations and standards for yourself are going to largely fall to the quality of people around you. For a Singaporean, you spend most of your time with your family and close friends. Unless you have high-performance parents and friends, the majority of them are also going to be your detriment.
If your family and friends feel like a detriment, then drop them and go off by yourself. Eagles fly alone. To quote Dan Pena: ‘Buffet only has one friend: Charlie Munger. Gates only has one friend: Melinda.’
I did it by myself for the first 6 years, from 21 years of age. I spent my first year mostly by myself writing articles like this one attempting to figure digital marketing out whilst everyone was with University.
I also understood one major principle about most friendships. They come and go in accordance with the current 1) social setting and your 2) current self-image.
That’s why I am able to hit the gym by myself, fly to countries by myself, run the business by myself. I learned the business skillsets from web design, copywriting, paid to advertise, SEO all by myself. I learned from people who were more experienced than me, but not ‘friends’.
If you feel like you’re stagnating here’s why: 1) you probably lack standards for yourself 2) the people around probably lack standards and expectations in themselves and this bleeds through their social interactions with you.
The best person you can have around is a mentor, someone who is upwardly mobile. You either are lucky to have one or pay up for one. Through the years, I’ve procured mentors both online and offline, by PAYING THE FUCK UP for it. Ridiculously, I have met entrepreneurs who aren’t profitable AND REFUSING to pay for knowledge or guidance. Yet they proudly brand themselves as ‘CEO’ on their social media profiles.
Better Human Being
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. I once told a friend that if he couldn’t respect a dollar from my pocket, I didn’t give a fuck, I told him I wouldn’t lend it to him. It’s non-negotiable I didn’t. He kicked up a fuss and today we aren’t on speaking terms. Today he’s broke, and I am in a much better financial position.
Self-esteem is the foundation of all success, and also for one to become a better human being. I truly believe that he or she first must respect him or herself, build fundamental self-esteem, that leads to integrity and then accountability.
I get many different kinds of clients coming to me, attempting to better their dating life. Some have even taken programs from mainstream big names companies overseas. Some of them even attempt to give me dating advice during my free consult sessions. Some request for only a specific area of coaching. Some disregard theory. Some are committed and some are not.
Here’s my take on clients that eventually get results. They are humble enough to put in the work and learn all aspects of social dynamics. I recently had a client go out cold approaching almost every single day. He’s only a month old into the program, and he has gone out on two dates. That’s a good outcome, considering he’s completely new, and he’s tackling the completely cold market. I have clients that don’t come for classes or are inconsistent in making this a priority in their life. To get good at shit, you need to stretch yourself.
It’s no different for me either. I had to stretch myself to grow the business. I had to stretch myself in school to get the grades I desired.
The Value of Social Dynamics – Philosophical Rant
Teaching dating dynamics in Singapore is a weird thing. I think I’m one of the only guys that might have successfully normalized it. I’m not a pick-up artist. I don’t label myself like that. I’m just a guy that is able to talk to strangers if I found her attractive. That’s it. In fact, recently, I’m a lot more open in stating that I’m a dating consultant in Singapore in my personal life.
I get clients that perceive me as a pick-up artist. They are usually obsessed about mass approaching. I can usually figure out a couple of minutes through the phone. I guess the quantity problem is larger than I expected. That’s because they aren’t able (or willing) to use other aspects of their life to meet women. I can empathise with that.
Now, I’m not disregarding that approaching isn’t a skillet to get down, or that you should not be technical in how you approach dating as a skillset. There are certain concepts such as a frame that is extremely useful to understand where you are at in any interaction. However these days, I don’t put too much value on trying to objectify every single interaction. There’s a ton of value in getting other areas such as self-esteem, emotional issues sorted out. It also saddens me when clients aren’t taking exactly the holistic approach in getting figured this area of their life figured out.
Getting good at dating as a skillset is getting good at your emotions. I recently adjusted to a more technical approach in my own dating life. However, I quickly found out it’s pretty exhausting if you’re always putting up a front or if you’re trying to say something in order to be smart or witty. This is where vulnerability comes it. There are no more smart or witty things to say, just emotions to express through actions. This requires you to be good at pushing through despite feeling the fear of rejection. Trust me, no amount of money, achievements or good looks is going to help you in this area.
This is why it’s difficult. This is why it’s also a life long process or getting good at emotions. This is why most people don’t do it.
To sum up this short rant, I am at a strange point in my life. I desire to be a 100% open with my profession and not have it perceived as a negative thing. I don’t do so because of the possibility of ridiculous expectations that come along with this industry. The guru business especially. I am not a guru. I am not a master. I hate to be called either. In fact, I’m the most anti-guru guy you might come across. I don’t identify or hate to perceived as a player or pick up artist. So don’t call me that. I’m just an average guy that rationally figured out how to get more choice and control in your dating life if you’re not in some extra privileged position.
In the last 6 months, I explored different modes of living and learning by 1) leaving my 9–5 job, one which I felt extremely restricted in terms of mobility and creativity 2) by making academic pursuits in Singapore a priority and 3) growing my business a lot more aggressively that resulted in quite a good result.
Okay, disappointingly, I decided that I didn’t enjoy sitting in classrooms learning psychological theories. I didn’t enjoy one bit having to memorize and regurgitate theories for examinations, that makes up a huge percentage of the grading system. I learn a lot better by trial and error, by doing my own research, according to my needs at any one point. I learn the best by having skin in the game. Something that I’ll talk about later in this article.
Kantian Values Don’t Scale
I remembered reading a dating advice book, Models by Mark Manson at a tender age of 22–23. That book introduced me to a basic philosophy. Like it or not, dating and relationships are closely related to basic life philosophy. To name a couple: how you handle rejection and how you choose your life values, ethics and virtue.
Mark proposed the idea of vulnerability as a central theme in his book. He’s also an advocate of Kantian values and proposed that one should act towards everyone universally as a means and not an end.
I bought that philosophy for half a decade. On the dating side of things, it worked out alright, In fact, I accredit a lot of my motivation and success in my life by chancing across books such as The Game by Neil Strauss and Models by Mark Manson.
However, as I got deeper into the ‘self-improvement’ world, you can’t help to think that some of the philosophies that work nicely on paper or theory, don’t scale in real life.
For E.G. Mark argues that in relationships, the best way to change your relationships is to change yourself. That’s also loosely based on the ‘assortment theory’, a psychological researched theory that suggests that your behaviour determines other people’s behaviour. Yes, that sounds nice on paper. Yes, you should change yourself for a better outcome. However, no matter how much you ‘change yourself’, there are going to be assholes in the world. One should be more careful when interpreting such advice, for he may fall into a mode of constant self-blame or criticism.
There came a point in my life where I decided I didn’t need to be ‘a better person’, more virtuous or a ‘better version of myself’ to anyone. I simply decided that some people are just assholes and that the majority of human beings (including myself) are self-centred creatures.
No matter how virtuous or moral, you can’t be universally nice to everyone. No, let’s put it another way, you aren’t universally nice to everyone.
The former is a belief, the latter is an observance. Kantian values don’t scale
If psychological theories suggest one way, then why does one have adverse results in real life?
Enter Nassim Taleb — a Clearer Way to Do and Think
Enter Nassim Taleb and his work: Skin in The Game. Like all good books, I went through it a single setting. Like all good books, you can relate to them in real life, hence taking your full attention for the next couple of hours (or days).
Taleb argues that the majority of the social sciences from economics to psychology in general lack real-world application. He argued less than 40% of psychology studies are replicable. In simple terms: they don’t work, or may even work in reverse in the real world.
He also proposed the central idea of skin in the game. The idea that one should be connected to reality and take be made to take up a proportionate amount of risk for their actions and decisions.
Skin In The Game
In academia, there’s no difference. In the real world, there is.
You take this heuristic and apply it across all of the self-help, fitness, business, motivational advice industry. How many of them operate within the skin in the game?
For one, I never liked business students that used buzzwords such as ‘venture building’ or bankers attempting to sell me on financial jargon that I can explain better than them. I never liked employees that get paid regardless of performance. I never liked women that demanded everything to be served to them on the first date. I liked people that operate with skin in the game as I have attempted to operate (or get others to operate) in my life.
You start studying up on evolutionary psychology theories only when you’re interested in bettering your chance with the girl next door. You take statistics and probability a lot more seriously when you’re option trading with real cash. Concepts like statistical significance suddenly click when you run a digital advertising campaign and you have to make decisions based on data such as 100 uniques.
You don’t hire a fitness coach who is overweight. You don’t hire a dating consultant that can’t talk to women. You’ll rather have a business partner that has done 700 deals compared to a student with first-class honours in a Harvard business degree.
Academia in Singapore
I found out really quickly that academic pursuit in Singapore is dry and mechanical, both academically and culturally. Everyone goes to class, nods their head, goes home and attempts to memorize for examinations. The students are more interested in scoring for assignments as compared to having an active discussion of the course material.
Not to mention that the examinations are structured in a way that promotes regurgitation as opposed to real-world application. Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed reading the research in academic textbooks. However, I found myself refusing to memorize and regurgitate content for examinations. Content that can be Googled in a couple of minutes. I don’t disagree with Universities, however, the heavy emphasis on examinations in Singapore that are based on rote learning, essays assignments that promote style over substance makes my eyes bawl.
Now that I’m a lot older (hence, giving less of a fuck) I’m persuaded that the education system and education culture in Singapore aren’t equipped for real learning. It’s no surprise that a huge percentage of successful Singaporean entrepreneurs that I know of didn’t come from stellar academic backgrounds.
I didn’t learn my lesson. The academic system and culture in Singapore never worked out for me since I was a teenager. Perhaps ac-ing and b-ing my grades in a Summer program in Berkeley persuaded me otherwise, I naively thought that the Singaporean and US education system (and culture) are similar. I’m currently deciding if I should put the books to rest, go to Russia, get drunk with Russians, have skin in the game and finish up a pursuit I quit on a couple of years ago (solely for bragging rights).
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.
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.
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.