Category Archives for "Dating and Relationships"

Feb 23

How to Dress Well For Men

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

Mark Twain was quoted saying that individuals that don’t dress well don’t have any influence on society. I’m going to paraphrase Mark and say that men that don’t dress well have any influence over the opposite sex. Learning how to dress more masculine for men is one of the quick fixes you can get when improving their dating and relationships life. Fashion is the closest you’ll get to a magic pill in your dating life.

So how can you dress better, not just to attract women, but also portray a more masculine identity?

How to Dress More Masculine to Attract Women – The Ultimate Guide

  • Make Dressing Well a Habit

Firstly, dressing well is something you, as a 21st-century male, should cultivate in your daily behaviour and habits.

It doesn’t just help you become more attractive, psychological research also shows that dressing well increases a person’s self-esteem. Ever felt good in a suit? That’s what I meant.

Clothes should not only be seen as an outlet for expression but the actual building of an identity. How can you express an identity from the way you dress? From observation, in Singaporean culture, many guys, whether young or old, don’t purchase their own clothes. They are happy to let their parents do the shopping and choosing for them.

Your parents are 2 generations older than you, how is their fashion sense going to be suited to your generation? Furthermore, if your parents are still making choices for you, then you’re probably a big baby that has no ownership of your own life choices.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Principle 1: Fit is King: Choose Fit over Brand

Fit is king. Starting out, this rule applies to all of fashion advice.

I always choose fit over every other factor when shopping for clothes. This includes design, price and brand.

Going for something more fitting that will show off your body contours. Choose fit over brand or how expensive the clothes are. Women, in general (minus the gold-diggers) won’t be looking at the brands of your clothes, they’ll be looking at the fit, the patterns and how well put together your outfit is.

I have survived well with 10 dollars Uniqlo shirts from H&M. You can get black, blue, white and grey basic tees.

Remember, fit is king.

Principle 2: Quality Over Quantity

I always aim to make my wardrobe as minimalistic as possible. Focus on quality over quantity.

The strategy here is to purchase a couple of quality outerwear such as jackets and blazers and you can mix them with v-necks or crew neck tee shirts underneath.

You achieve this by investing a little bit more on quality pieces, and then mix them with cheaper basic pieces.

Quality pieces include your blazer, formal pants, a leather jacket, raw denim jeans and your bags.

You’ll come off as well dressed, sophisticated by blending these high-quality pieces with cheaper basic ones. You can also accessorise with necklaces and chains underneath them. Personally, I like my style quick and easy, hence I don’t use any accessories. However, it’s up to you.

  • How to Build a Wardrobe without Burning Through Cash

You don’t really require much much cash to build a wardrobe. I recommend getting your cheaper pieces such as the basic tee shirts from Uniqlo. The material isn’t that all bad and the basic Tee shirts fit well and are affordable.

Then get a pair of high quality blue fitting jeans from Levis.

It won’t break the bank, and you’ll look like a million bucks.

You should also invest in a pair of formal wear: a blazer and pants. You can then use these pieces to leverage a smart casual look with your neutral coloured Tee shirts. It’s malleable and can be used for many events.

You’re now good to go for many occasions both formal and casual.

Shoes wise, you got to invest a little and get a quality pair from Zara or Pedro.

I’d like to add to take into account the weather. You’ll want to take that into consideration when choosing your clothes. In Singapore, it’s hot and humid all year round. I don’t own any winter clothes and I also normally don’t wear out my blazers and jackets unless I’m out at night.

Learning how to fit pieces together and keeping your identity flexible will open up your options to many.

  • Picking Neutral Colours

If you stick to neutral colours like white, grey, light blue, navy, green, olive. You’re going to find yourself easier to match and fit clothes.

However, you’re going to give up a little variety with such a wardrobe. If you’re passionate about fashion, then you should further your research about colours.

I don’t really care for the variety of colours as I’m always on the go and I prefer my wardrobe to be easy and quick. I literally own 5-6 basic tee shirts of different neutral colours, and I blend them with other pieces in my wardrobe.

Fashion caveat: You’ll tend to notice the trends in fashion and dressing amongst your peers and society. There’s a minority (in Singapore culture that I grew up in) that’s obsessed over the feminine Japanese rock band look. They’re the ones opting for a Korean-POP or Japanese look. In my opinion, these trends look really feminine and will work against you if you’re attempting to be dress more masculine to be more attractive to girls. The masculine look comprises of more monotone dressing styles.

It may seem more popular or trendy to follow the trends, but if you’re gunning for is dressing more masculine and being more polarizing to girls, then you’ll need to go for a more masculine style. You need to stick out more in social situations and sometimes you may almost come off as a rebel or a ‘bad boy’. This attracting women thing is by nature polarizing and controversial by nature, so deal with it.

In my late teens and early twenties, I kept my wardrobe towards the lighter side choosing to go with brighter colours such as light blue, pink and purple. However, I remembered one of my girlfriends commented that I should change to a darker colour.

It may be good to play around with more ‘feminine’ colours such as brighter colours when you have a masculine look already. However, I have a ‘babyface’ so darker colours such as grey, black and navy blue help me project a more masculine look.

Ultimately, learning how to dress more masculine isn’t difficult. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Fashion, just like any other skillset, comes with time and practice. More importantly, you don’t want Mum dressing you. She wants you to look like a good proper kid that makes the grades in school. You want to look edgy and sexual.

Principle 3: Dress to Your Demographics and Personality

Some may encourage the idea of going over the top and showing up with necklaces and fanciful hats. However, what it fails to point out is that what you wear should be to tailor to your personality and your daily life. If you’re a rock star like Johnny Depp, then, by all means, you can go over the top with all the accessories. However, if you’re a University student, then you should reconsider showing up to class with a suit.

Some times I see guys showing up in slippers in my University classes. You’re not going to be attracting any attention from the ladies with that outlook. Put in some effort. Get a pair of raw denim jeans, a basic belt and a pair of sneakers. That will do. It’s not that hard. On the other hand, you’re a student, then showing up in business suits to classes is not going to make any sense. It’s important to dress to your personality and the social event you’re showing up for.

Playing around with The Different Masculine Archetypes

I chanced upon an article by Masculine Style a couple of years ago that talked about masculine archetypes and fashion sense. I found the archetypes and identities described in the article interesting and useful. I could relate to these masculine identities played out in my own life.

Let’s take a look at the three types of masculine archetypes. These are all archetypes that are attractive to women.

  • The Rugged Archetype

Men at their core, by virtue of our genetic makeup, have this element of rugged masculinity in us. In a high commercialized culture that focuses on economic growth at all costs tends to forget the physical. Our culture is one of standing behind computers, screens, and phones. We’ve often forgotten what it feels like to build and move.

The rugged is the sportsman, the athlete, the fighter. The one who prides himself on his physical attributes. He is willing to get down and dirty. He’s able to fix spoilt pipes, climb up ladders and work the drill. He’s able to bend the surroundings by his pure physical will.

  • The Rake Archetype

He is the musician, writer, marketer, and entertainer. He is also highly emotionally intelligent and gets what he wants from the world through social competence. The rake is the outlaw, the Casanova, and isn’t too concerned about social standards than the standards he sets on his own.

You’ll be known as the social guy, the guy that gets along well with everyone. The guy that’s able to blend into social situations, identities, subcultures effortlessly.

That is the Rakish archetype.

Traditional Asian values emphasize on a career, a family, and playing by the rules of culture. The rake is also often frowned upon by traditional (read: outdated) Asian values.

  • The Refined Archetype

This archetype is the high powered executive that works in a corporate environment. He draws a reasonable salary and can afford the minimal luxuries of life such as clubs, spas and the yearly holiday. He also prides himself on corporate achievements in his corporate ladder.

The refined archetype establishes power in their domain. He’s perhaps a powerhouse in finance. He spends years cultivate authority, respect and power in that particular domain. The refined has less influence outside his own arena, however, he has absolute authority and power in his own circles.

The refined archetype is also commonly known as the tribe leader. The tribe leader is often respected and known for his external status. The nice suits, the house, the business connections, political power and influence.

Closing Thoughts on How to Dress More Masculine

I personally have never ventured too deeply into any three the archetypes. There is a trade-off between all of them, being too refined makes you boring and standoff-ish, being too rugged makes you a square and being too rakish gets you outlawed in your culture.

However, you can mix and match. You can also pour through guides like this one or magazines and invent your own style.

For business meetings, you can dress towards the refined archetype. You can take on the identity of someone who gets down to the numbers. At a social event or on a date, you can dress down towards the rakish element by putting on a leather casual jacket and raw denim jeans. When hitting the gym or a mixed martial arts workout, you can dress to the rugged element.

Once you start to expand your social circles, you might start participating in different demographics, expanding your demographics, looking to date different girls from multiple demographics.

However, as you progress, you may start thinking about commitment, business and building your own tribe. You may realize that if you’re going to build a business and be committed to a single demographic, for a longer period of time, you may move towards the refined archetype. Instead of moving freely in and out of social groups, you decide to start your own.

So, are you a free loving rake or a dominant CEO styled tribe leader? Who are you at your masculine core? Perhaps it’s a little balance of both. They are all different expressions of masculinity. There’s no right or wrong. It’s up to you to paint your canvas in the minds of the women of this world.

 

Sep 28

How to Get Out of Depression

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

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

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

Struggling with Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Need Therapy?

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

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

How to Get out of Depression: The Benefits of Psychotherapy

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

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

Through therapy, you’re forced ask better questions:

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

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

Psychotherapy can help you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psychotherapy and the Stigma in Modern Culture

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

Ironically, the things that matter in life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Different Forms of Psychotherapy

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

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

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

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

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

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

  • Psychodynamic Therapy

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

  • Humanistic Therapy

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

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

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

  • EMDR

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

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

The Limitations of Psychotherapy

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

  • Taking Responsibility

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

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

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

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

  • Treat it Like Hiring a Trainer

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

Therapy should challenge you, it should feel uncomfortable.

Closing Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

 

 

Sep 28

How to Build Self Esteem – The Guide to Healthy Confidence

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Freudian Idea: Self Esteem Derived from Childhood

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

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

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

Self Esteem and Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Build Genuine Self Esteem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Must Place Values Above Emotions  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Develop a Sense of Life Purpose

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

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

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

False and Pseudo Self Esteem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This can take the form of:

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

People That Experience a Crisis of Self Esteem

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

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

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

How to Build A Positive Sense of Self Esteem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Build Self Esteem: Closing Thoughts

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

Harris, R. The Happiness Trap

 

Jun 20

How to Deal with Rejection – Compatibility and Chemistry

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

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

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

How to Deal with Rejection

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

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

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

Chemistry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Compatibility

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

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

Some questions to ask yourself are:

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

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

Navigating Compatibility and Chemistry

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

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

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

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

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

How to Reframe Rejection: Incompatibility

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

  • Life Circumstances

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Psychological Projection

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

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

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

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

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

Redefining Rejection and Success 

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

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

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

“Self-development” is working out for him.

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

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

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

 – Marcus Neo Kai Jie

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

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

The Power of Demographics – How to Get Rejected Less

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

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

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

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

Here are questions to ask yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

The Art of Presenting Your Ideal Self

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

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

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

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

Closing Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

 

Jan 14

What Are Personal Values? – Develop Integrity and Purpose

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

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

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

So, What Are Values?

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

Why are Values Important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

In short, they’re awesome.

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

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

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

Ironing Out Your Values

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

  • Your Dating and Relationship Values

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Values

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

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

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

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

Helpful and UnHelpful Values 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Establish Your Values Without Being an Asshole?

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

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

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

In a respectful and assertive manner.

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

What Happens When You Change Your Values?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

 

 

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 01
Jan 11

How to Set Healthy Dating and Relationship Boundaries

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

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

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

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

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

You May Have a Boundary Issue if You:

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

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

What are Relationship Boundaries?

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

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

Healthy Boundaries:

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

Healthy Boundaries from the outside:

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

Dating and Relationship Boundaries

Examples of Poor Boundaries:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Breaker and Fixer Pathology

People with poor boundaries typically come in two flavors:

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

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

  • The Saver

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

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

  • The Victim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Boundary Problem in Modern Culture

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

This often expressed in the value of filial piety.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, shut up.

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

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

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

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

Is It Okay to Sacrifice?

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

I SHOULD make that sacrifice right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Set Strong Boundaries

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the lines you can use:

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

Closing Thoughts

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

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

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 03

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

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