Dating In Singapore

With the number of single women on the rise and the births going down, you can hear the increasingly panicked tone when the topic of childbearing is brought up at each National Day rally.

From personal experience, I swear it’s not that Millennials don’t want to find partners. We love dating apps and aren’t shy about sliding into a stranger’s DMs.

But maybe, we find it difficult to find that special someone because we’re looking for someone who suits us perfectly.

And when we become perfectionists, we become our own biggest cockblocks.

Being a perfectionist sets unrealistic expectations

In kindergarten, my puny 5-year-old brain was introduced to the concept of report cards. It was then I learnt I needed to get ‘A’s because I’m Asian, not Bsian.

For the next 15 years, my classmates and I were pushed to excel in our studies. We were told ranking first in class would bring honour to our families.

Now that I’ve finished school, I realise when you’re trained to see perfect as normal, you learn to fear failure.

There are three options:
A) Carry over this unrealistic standard to other areas of life
B) Become a master procrastinator because if you put things off and never try you can’t fail
C) Say “f**k it” and do whatever you want

Most take option A or B. Choose option A and you lay the foundation for the impossible search of ‘The One’; select option B and you become too afraid to love.

Learning about idealised love prevents us from loving people

At 13, puberty hit harder than an e-scooter ever could and holding boys’ hands stopped being gross.

I gleaned through HTHT sessions in the girls’ bathroom that I should want someone tall, good-looking, smart, funny, athletic, kind…. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I’d see NC16 couple pics and read mushy love stories.

“Find a man who gives in to you”, hairdresser aunties cajoled. “Marry someone rich”, my manicurist advised.

Everywhere I turned, I was taught what ideal boyfriends and #couplegoals looked like. And this shaped how my friends and I chose to date.

Those older would say first loves usually don’t last because the young are inexperienced. But I think teenage love affairs fail because most are only familiar with the idea of a perfect love and not loving a flawed person.

Also read:

7 Singaporean Couples Who Found Love On Dating Apps

Dating apps make it too easy to look for options

When I was 18, Tinder revolutionised the dating game.

Suddenly, finding people to date required almost no effort. I could match hot guys from the comfort of my bed. The gratification of having them match me back was also a boost to my ego.

But stay on dating apps long enough and you start reducing people to how they look and the online dating scene becomes one big meat market. When you’re presented with that many options, you’re also less inclined to work through relationship problems; finding a new bae is a swipe away.

Having been told to always reach farther and higher, I don’t think most truly understand what compromise is when dating.

When our partners disagree with us, we’ll try to meet them in the middle. But how many can say when they adjust their expectations and ‘give in’, they’re doing so without expecting something in return?

More often than not, people are selfish. Maintaining the ‘perfect’ relationship causes us to be hard on ourselves, and even harder on our partners.

Learning How To Love

I’ve loved and hurt people in turn. If there’s anything I learnt from dating is that we need to unlearn the definition of romantic love. I chanced upon a story which changed my perspective.

A boy was at the beach and decided to look for the perfect seashell. Every time he picked one, he’d throw it away thinking, “There’ll be better”. At the end of the day, he returned home empty-handed and realised he had found but discarded the most beautiful seashell.

Our first impression of idealised love is derived from what society tells us love should be. But using another’s measure to define a relationship will never make us happy.

We need to create our own definitions of who and how we want to love. To do so, we need to be in touch with our feelings and understand ourselves intimately. We need to let go of perfectionism and get used to the idea that people will always be a work in progress.

Only then can we decide what we need, not what we want, from a partner. When the illusion of achieving idealised love is lifted, we can begin learning to treasure our partners for who they are.

If not, we’ll always be in pursuit of the ‘perfect seashell’.

So focus on and be kinder to yourself, go out and spend time alone. Once you’re sure of and accept yourself wholly, you’ll attract the right people and realise after all this time, finding the perfect love isn’t so difficult after all.

This article was first published on 8 November 2018 and last updated on 18 February 2024.
Cover image: Unsplash

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