Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] This Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love – Elisa Woodward

One moment you are going, “I wish I were still single!”, the next you are going, “I love my kids to death!”. Don’t worry. You are not crazy. As Material Mom Elisa Woodward explains, these conflicting feelings are totally natural. 

elisa1Kids – one minute they are driving you up the wall with their antics, the next, they fill your heart with such intense love. Only a mother can understand that it is perfectly normal to oscillate from one to the next in the same hour.

Hands up if you have friends who openly lament the loss of freedom and personal time, and yet still continue to post up pictures of their kids coupled with public declarations of their love and adoration. Or, what about the colleague who complains how little she’s slept the previous night and proceeds to light up with joy when her kid calls her at lunch? We grumble about the mess our kids create, the toys that never get put away, and yet, the sight of them asleep in their beds makes our heart melt and all resolve to discipline them just vanish into thin air. All you want to do is hug and kiss them.

I think the love a parent has towards his/her child is indeed one of the truest loves of all, and it’s a love even my staunchest non-kids friends cannot deny.

A friend – who has made it more than clear that she doesn’t ever want kids – recently admitted that a child does give you a sense of purpose. “The child creates a purpose in life that goes beyond your career, marriage, and lifestyle. This is someone you are prepared to love unconditionally, someone you are prepared to take care of and nurture throughout his/her entire life. Even after you are gone from this world, you want to make sure they are well taken care of.”

I have no regrets about about having my kids at a young age. They bring to my life joy and completeness – although some days I need to be reminded. No matter how old they are, no matter if they are in university or are married with their own kids, your children will always be children to you.

As parents, we have such huge responsibilities because we bring children into this world not by their choice but our own. How we bring them up, how we teach them about life … everything depends on us. The years between 7 and 12 are particularly important because these years are when they formulate their thoughts and impression on love and human nature. Someone once told me that the only thing he remembers of his childhood was how it was particularly dark and unhappy, and that has somewhat coloured his views of the world and how he sees people. This is why it is crucial to make sure your kids end their day and go to bed knowing they are loved and protected.

Even when I’m miles away from my children, the thought of them brings a smile to my face. Just the thought that I have people to live for and that they are also dependent on me gives my life purpose.

And love is simply just this amazing.


About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older.




We Cannot Fix Each Other – Vanessa Tai

When we find out that a loved one is hurting, it’s normal to want to reach out and solve their problems. However, it’s not our duty to do so, as Vanessa Tai is slowly discovering. 

material world_love2

I don’t know when or how this started but from a very young age, I’ve had a heightened sensitivity to the pain of others. I intuitively knew when someone was hurting, even if they tried to put on a brave front. And if the person was someone close to me, I often hurt along with them and would spend time and energy trying to make them feel better.

One of my closest friends used to suffer from clinical depression. Back then, I didn’t quite understand the disease so I tried all sorts of ways to “get her out of her funk”. I would write long letters to affirm her self-worth, devote hours listening to her grievances and gave her countless pep talks. It was tiring but on some level, I always felt it was my duty to “fix” her.

I’m sure you can relate. When our loved ones share with us their problems, it’s normal to want to find a solution as quickly as possible. Of course, if the problem is something tangible like being unable to find a job or a health concern, the solutions are more straightforward – send them relevant job contacts, recommend them a specialist, etc. However, when it comes to emotional pain, that’s where things get complicated. Because, as much as we want to, we cannot take away the pain that people feel inside.

This is something I’m only slowly coming to terms with. In the past, I used to get terribly frustrated when my efforts to cheer my friend up went to nought. I remember how she would perk up for a couple of days before spiralling downward into misery again. Our relationship soon took on a pattern where I was constantly racking my brains on how to keep her happy. It got to a point where I grew resentful of how she was draining me emotionally, and I found myself keeping my distance from her. However, she eventually sought professional help for her depression and is much better now. Our relationship has also improved.

This experience is one of the main reasons I’ve come to realise we can’t solve the problems of the people around us. Despite our best intentions, it’s impossible to fix each other. We may constantly push aside our own needs to try and meet the needs of those we love, but it’ll never be enough. Nobody can play the role of caregiver forever; the stream of self-sacrifice will dry up eventually and we’ll only end up feeling frustrated or resentful. To be a healthy caregiver, you’ll need to tend to your own needs on top of caring for the needs of others. If you’re emotionally spent, how are you going to invest into the lives of others? It’s just like the safety instruction videos onboard airplanes – in an emergency, adults are supposed to put on the oxygen mask before helping their child.

To be clear, it’s not that I no longer feel empathy for people’s problems or sorrows. When loved ones confide in me, I still experience a strong urge to throw my arms tightly around them to “hug the pain away.” But I know that only serves to soothe the symptoms, not eradicate the problem. We can never solve people’s problems anyway. We can never fully understand what others are going through, and we can never make their pain go away. After all, this is not some kind of magical Utopia. Each of us has a private pain that we carry around with us, and will probably carry with us till we die. If we truly want to help someone, the answer is not to try and “fix” him or her but simply to love and accept them without making any judgments. Hurt and disappointment will always be permanent fixtures in our lives but if we know we have the support of an unshakeable, immutable love, I think we will make it out okay.

material world_love

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Entertainment, Love, Relationships

10 Must-Know Ways He’ll Never Be Boyfriend Material – Matthew Fam

Is he into you? Is he not? And if he is, does he only see you as a one night stand? The madness ends NOW. Whether you’re dealing with someone out of your league, a playboy or complete sleazeball creep, the telltale signs are undeniable. Here, the 10 must-know ways he isn’t boyfriend material.

1. The Picture Sender
Rule of thumb: if a guy is totally into you, he’d want to share as much of his life as possible. This means sending snaps of anything under the Sun- his new haircut, the new GoPro camera he’s tricked out with, or even a meal that he whipped up (pssst… your cue to suggest a dinner date!) On the flipside, if your Whatsapp media folder has been flatlining, you know he’s a real dud.


Shut up now.

2. Emoji Overload
And just when you thought emoticons were bad enough. Emojis teeter on the date-defining line between adorable and totally nauseating. So imagine if your sweetie signs off each and. Every. Single. One of his texts with a parade of monkey faces. You’re dating a man- not babysitting a teenage kid.

3. Hanky Panky
Touch is essential for intimacy, no doubt. But having it five steps ahead of the game gives the impression that he’s only in it for your lady bits.

Signs to look out for instead? Eye contact, mimicking of body postures, and his pelvic region facing you (sounds insane, but seriously). Sometimes, subtlety does it.


4. The Phantom Menace
Text. Flirt. Disappear. Repeat.  Sound familiar? Unless you’re settling for a flirtationship, you should find a chap who won’t string you along. Perhaps you could switch things up and make him the one to wait instead! Just remember: no crazy text spamming or instant replies that scream ‘psycho girlfriend’.

5.When the ‘L’ word is said FAR too soon
According to this article, men take 88 days on average to say ‘I love you’ to their girlfriends. And over 39% of those surveyed take the verbal plunge during the first month of their relationship. While this isn’t a compulsory guide, it should give you a fair gauge if your man is just saying romantic mush to appease you.

tumblr_mvocecDQXV1slj24go1_500 2 6. Payment In Kind
Let’s get one thing straight: him paying for your date is NOT an excuse for a free pass at you. And you absolutely shouldn’t feel obliged to entertain his advances. I mean, hello?? It drives home the message that you’re a commodity to be bought… and ain’t nobody got time for that!

7. Repeat Offender
Now, this technique requires some next-level snooping skills (and a sliiight breach of his privacy… just don’t get caught!) If the way he treated his past girlfriends fall into a pattern- same breakup excuse, same bad habits- you know he’s not likely to change his spots anytime soon!

Total. Deal. Breaker.

Total. Deal. Breaker.

8. When He Secretly Films You During Sex!
Ever wanted to be a YouTube celebrity? Well, the only kind of internet sensation you DON’T want to be is this!

Sure, sex is supposed to be fun, but this here is a major deal breaker. Aside from having a total lack of respect, recording lewd acts without consent is just way too creepy. Spot a suspicious red dot floating in the darkness of his room? Congratulations- you now have liberty to go apesh*t on his MacBook.

9. Phone Fiddler
We’re all guilty of the occasional phone checking- even during dates. But if he’s busier than a Bangalore call centre, dump the dude. Actions speak volumes, so if he can’t even commit that little bit of time for you, what more a longer-term relationship? If text replying is a must (could it be that he’s chatting up other ladies too??), how about having a 5-minute timeout instead?

10. Bad Body Odour
Deodorant; cologne; instruct man to scrub pits with Clorox… Or seriously, just don’t go out with him.

So, how do YOU judge if someone is boyfriend material? Share with us in the comments section below!


About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines.


If you liked this post, you might also like:

1. The 8 Times You’re A Total Biatch Without Knowing It – Matthew Fam

2. [Love In Lines] Why You Should Date Widely – Vanessa Tai

3. [Love In Lines] Is It Acceptable To Flirt When You’re Attached? – Tan Lili

Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] What Is Your Language Of Love? – Deborah Tan

Each of us knows just how we like to express our love for our partners, but today, Deborah Tan wants everyone to stop and think about what YOUR partner’s language of love is.

Is this the look your man gives you every time you speak your love language?

Is this the look your man gives you every time you speak your love language?

“What’s your language of love?” I asked my friend one night when she was lamenting to me about her boyfriend.

I got a lost look.

“Well, according to what I learned from Vanessa and Lili (co-founders of Material World), there are five love languages.” I went on to elaborate, “Acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, spending time and gift-giving.”

More lost look from my friend. I sighed in exasperation. “I’m not trying to play relationship counselor here but it seems to me that the both of you are speaking entirely different love languages. Your boyfriend expresses his love for you by buying you expensive presents. You said you’re into gardening, he went out and got you tools sophisticated enough to build a house! So, his language of love is clearly gift-giving.”

I looked at my friend and waited for her to absorb what I had told her. “I’m guessing, yours is words of affirmation?” Her eyes lit up and she nodded vigorously in agreement.

Languages Of Love
As mentioned above, there are 5 love languages. This is a concept first written about by Gary D. Chapman. The idea is that we each express our love differently and we also want love expressed to us in a certain way. If a relationship were to grow and flourish, both partners must be able to speak their partners’ language of love.

Hmm … What’s her love language here?

Language 1: Acts of service
If your partner’s love language is this, it means you need to express your affection by “doing things” for him/her. For example, help her with the dishes after dinner without waiting for her to ask.

Language 2: Words of affirmation
If this is the chosen language, you need to break out of your shell, no matter how reticent a person you may be, and make it a point to tell your partner EVERY DAY something that shows how much he/she matters to you. “Thank you for taking the car to the workshop, baby. I really, really appreciate it.”

Language 3: Spending time
If your fights stem primarily from one partner working too hard and being away too much, your partner wants your time and undivided attention. Even if you are away on business, make it a point to Skype with him/her for at least 20 minutes every night.

Language 4: Gift-giving
The price of the gifts doesn’t matter here, and it shouldn’t. If your partner’s love language is gift-giving, it means what he/she wants is the thought behind the action. With a physical gift, he/she is receiving the assurance that you have not forgotten a special occasion that means a lot to the relationship.

Language 5: Physical touch
Hugs and kisses, gently grazing his/her arms whenever you both are talking, having sex often and regularly … physical touch is how your partner wants to be loved so be sure you don’t shy away from him/her because that would be like a slap to his/her face.

In your relationship, do you think you are speaking your partner’s love language? As much as we think we are doing our bit to keep the relationship going, sometimes, we may not be fulfilling our partners’ real emotional needs. One way to find out what his/her love language is is to observe the way he/she expresses his/her love in front of you. Once you have that figured out, make an effort to change the way you show your love.

Of course, it is a two-way street. You need to make sure your partner understands YOUR love language. If you want him/her to know what your love language is, the best way to do it is tell him/her. My female friends overwhelmingly choose Acts Of Service as their language because they just don’t want to be the only ones shouldering the responsibilities of keeping the house in order. “It would make me less stressed knowing that I don’t have to rush home from the office because he will (insert household chore here).”

Rather than just stew in silence and push your partner away every time he/she tries to show his/her love for you because it isn’t the “right” one, I think it’s best to just come right out and tell your partner which love language you speak so he/she can start doing the right thing.

What is your love language? And what do you think your partner’s is?

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. Her language of love is acts of service. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] The Only 6 Words That Matter – Deborah Tan

What is the best thing your partner can say to you when you’re down and feeling defeated? Deborah Tan thinks she may have discovered it on Sunday.

It was a horrible day. I woke up on Sunday with a nagging feeling that I should check my CPF account. I have known for a while that it would be a matter of time before I have to start servicing my mortgage with cash. Being self-employed meant that I haven’t been contributing to my CPF account for a while. With only money outgoing over the last few months for the mortgage, I knew my account is about to be drawn dry.

But I was still unprepared for the harsh reality of seeing the number on the screen. From an extremely healthy number of above $100,000, I now only have $4,000 left in my account. This means that in about 3 months’ time, I would be left with nothing. All that talk about having a Minimum Sum in your CPF account at 55 wasn’t helping either. I felt hopeless, I felt defeated, and most importantly, for the first time in my life, I felt unsure about my future.


Love asks me no questions but gives me endless support – William Shakespeare

At 35, I have only 20 years to build up a healthy retirement account with CPF. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so invincible anymore. The onset of the rainy weather did nothing to lighten up my mood. And it was with an extremely heavy heart that I went to see “A Singaporean In Paris” with Vanessa. I could definitely relate to the theme of leaving home, leaving it all behind, to start anew in another country, somewhere where, perhaps, the pressure wouldn’t be so suffocating.

Back home that evening, I sat on my couch – my super-comfy couch that every single one of my friends have decided is a fantastic couch – and wallowed in a super depressive mood. I was on the verge of an epic breakdown, the only reason I didn’t start bawling my eyes out was because I didn’t want the boyfriend to know what was wrong.

But he noticed and then he asked, “You’ve been in a miserable mood all day long. What’s wrong?”

“In about 3 months, we’d have to start paying the mortgage in cash,” I choked. “I only have $4,000 left in my CPF account.”

“Okay,” he responded. “How much is the monthly payment?”

“About $1,200?”

“Do you have enough?”

“I do …” I replied, “I just don’t like the idea of an empty CPF. It’s a sad sight seeing how little I’ve got!” At this point my eyes had already began to prickle with tears.

Happiness-QuoteHe tried to keep the conversation and the mood upbeat. He went out to buy groceries and made dinner. And although he passed a comment about how maybe I shouldn’t have quit my job, the fact that he wasn’t all doom and gloom kept my semi-suicidal thoughts well at bay. He, along with my army of friends who responded to my Facebook status update about feeling depressed, really kept me afloat.

Of course my mood did not pick up immediately. Thoughts of how I’m basically screwed for retirement kept entering my mind. It’s not the possibility of losing my beloved apartment that scared me, it was the idea that my future seemed so uncertain that sent shivers down my spine. As much as entrepreneurship is an empowering journey, it can still send you a nasty surprise every now and then. On Sunday night, I wavered between staying true to my passion and caving in to my fears.

Just before bed-time a friend messaged me and I stayed up to chat on Whatsapp for a while. The boyfriend went off to bed on his own. When I finally got into bed, he rolled over and pulled me into a embrace. He planted a kiss on my forehead and said, “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

I couldn’t reply. I could only nod my head because if I said anything, I knew I would probably start crying.

Those 6 words, “No matter what, I’ll be here”, hold in them the promise of unconditional love and unwavering support. They spoke of how no matter how much I think I’ve lost, I will always have someone I can call my own. Those 6 words reminded me why I have chosen to marry this man – that come what may, I’m enough and he’s enough.

The only 6 words that truly matter: “No matter what, I’ll be here.”

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. Her retirement plan now involves writing a series of books that’ll, hopefully, make her Singapore’s JK Rowling. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Love, Relationships

What Breaking Someone’s Heart Really Teaches You – Deborah Tan

Lots of articles and blogs talk about moving on from a breakup … from the perspective of the person who got dumped. But Deborah Tan wants you to know that it’s not easy for the person doing the breaking up either.

While many articles have been written about broken hearts, not many have been composed about breaking them.

It is understandable. First, people often assume the one who got dumped is the one who would enjoy the reward of insights and perspective (“Never prioritise anyone  who only treats you as an option”). Second, no one wants to be thought of as a narcissist bragging about leaving behind a trail of broken hearts.

breakup2But there are lessons to be learnt from being the one who does the dumping.

How So?
Let me just clarify here that I’m not talking about breaking up with someone because you have finally woken up to the fact that he’s a jerk. I’m also not talking about the kind of breakups where the guy is too chicken to do it and has left several hints for you to do so.

I’m talking about breaking up with a person who has done nothing wrong, who still loves you.

And, because you are the “cruel” one, people often assume you have moved on and would not be concerning yourself with further emotional trials and tribulations.

This is where they are wrong.

The 5 Things Breaking Someone’s Heart Teaches You

1. You are responsible for your own happiness so you get to choose who you want to work on this project with
You must have a good reason for breaking up, otherwise why would you risk loneliness and the ensuing hostility to walk out on someone who loves you more than anything else in the world? Often, that reason is YOU. It could be that you have outgrown the relationship, it could be that you want something else. You break up so that you can go find what makes you happy.

2. “Soulmate” is not a pre-existing condition; it has to be earned
In my 20s, I often wondered where my soulmate is, the one person who would “complete” me. It was the cause of a lot of angst. There is no ONE person made just for you. A healthy happy relationship has to be built and your so-called soulmate is just the person most willing to work on it with you.

3. It takes more resolve than you can ever imagined.
Many of us entertain the idea of a breakup long before we actually work up the courage to do it. And even then, some of us have to make several attempts before we succeed.

When the breaking up is in process, we have another set of problems to face. First, we have to steel our nerves and not waver in our decision no matter how teary the other party gets. Second, we need to silence the voice inside our head that is telling us that we are doing the wrong thing. Third, we have to make peace with ourselves and decide that come what may, we are never going to regret this decision.

4. You are not going to be ready to throw yourself into the Scene right away
While magazines talk effortlessly about rebounds and casual one-night stands like they are as readily available as toothpaste in supermarkets, the truth is, if you are coming out of a long-term loving relationship, you’ll find it hard to get back into the scene. Life is not Sex & The City and the bars here are not filled with Taylor Kinney lookalikes waiting to chat you up. But you know what? You make the bed, you lie in it until it spits you out and tells you to go put yourself out there.

5.  You’ll also grieve the end of the relationship
Most people think the person who walks away is probably not going to feel anything. How wrong. You’ll grieve the end of a relationship that you have invested time and emotions into. The worst part of it? You have to deal with the guilt that comes with breaking someone’s heart. You have to deal with the accusations and with friends and family jumping to conclusions about you. It will feel like no one really understands that all you want is to be happy and that in order to be kind to yourself and your ex, you have to be cruel.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She wants you to know that one of the greatest pains she’s ever felt was to see the person who loved her walk away after she broke up with him. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Denise Li, Love, Opinions, Relationships

The Last Unspoken Rule of Dating – Denise Li

For heaven's sake, it's just a date. Not a lifetime commitment!

For heaven’s sake, it’s just a date. Not a lifetime commitment!

Having had conversations with numerous female friends about dating recently, the one common thread seems to be that they are all against asking a guy out first. This, while bemoaning the fact that they “never seem to get dates”.

Reasons for not doing so include not wanting to seem desperate, and not wanting to “show their cards first”. Pardon me while I roll my eyes, cos last I checked, we’re living in the 21st century. My friends are all highly capable and intelligent women who have no problems asserting themselves at work, and yet they seem completely unable to apply that same take-charge attitude towards life.

Honestly, there is no shame for a woman to ask a guy they find attractive out on a date, and here’s why.

1. It IS an act of empowerment

You are taking charge of your own destiny instead of sitting around waiting for things to happen. If that’s not an act of empowerment, I don’t know what is.

2. Dating need not be so complicated

Dating is not a zero-sum game, and it’s only as complicated as you allow it to be. You aren’t “losing face” when you ask a guy out; you are making life simple for yourself.

3. You are still the same beautiful you even if you get rejected

Even if the guy says “no”, so what? At least you tried, and at least now you know the feeling is not mutual. While rejection stings, your self-worth should not be based on it. You are no less a person the person you were before you asked him out.

Oh, and ask yourself this: If a guy judges you for making the first move, are you sure this a guy worth dating in the first place?

I don’t believe it when Phil Collins said You Can’t Hurry Love. Yes, you can, and I believe that if you are attracted to someone, you should act on it as soon as possible. Because you can “cut your losses” if the feeling isn’t mutual and move on more quickly.

Anyway, the girls at Material World had quite a lively discussion about this over beers the other day. Here are their thoughts … and it might surprise you which one among us wouldn’t ask a guy out!

Vanessa: “I’m often surprised when women tell me they would never ask a guy out, especially since we’re living in modern, forward-thinking Singapore. They seem to think that asking a guy out reeks of desperation, or makes one appear “too available”. Personally, I find that silly. It’s hard to find people that you can genuinely click with, so if you chance upon someone that you enjoy being with, wouldn’t you find opportunities to spend more time with that person?

Of course, the feeling you get when asking out a platonic pal versus someone you may be romantically attracted to, is very different. If I’m somewhat interested in the guy, I’ll hem and haw for much longer before inviting him out … but I’ll still follow through in the end.

Some people seem to think that the guy should always make the first move. If that’s the case, some women could end up waiting around for a long, long time! I prefer to get to know the guy better as soon as possible, because who knows? He may not be as great as I thought he was, and I can quickly move on instead of pining away endlessly for a guy who may not be deserving of my affections.

And if he is as great as you thought he was, AND he likes you back? Well, then, congratulations! Asking him out paid off, didn’t it?”

Deborah: “When it comes to my heart, I tend to be more defensive than usual. I admit: I am extremely terrified of rejection and would therefore never be the first to ask a guy out on a date. I would rather be lonely than have a guy boast to his friends that I’ve got the hots for him.”

Lili: “Hypothetically, I would ask the guy out I’m interested in to go out on a date – after I am more or less certain the feeling is mutual, that is! Through conversations with guy friends, I’ve learned that guys need that push before they act on their feelings. Personally, if I have asked a guy out on a date, I must have already ‘invested’ quite a bit of emotions into it, and I wouldn’t want to risk getting hurt if I wasn’t at least 50% sure the feeling is mutual.”

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. She’s asked guys out on dates numerous times. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.
Deborah Tan, Opinions

10 Silly Things You May Have Done Because Of A Crush – Deborah Tan

Not sure if you remember this song by a singer named Jennifer Paige, it’s called “Crush”. A couple of days ago, I ran into some guy I used to have a crush on. As we exchanged pleasantries and provided general updates on what’s going with our lives, this super ol’ school song was on loop at the back of my mind. It’s silly, I know. That a woman approaching her mid-30s would still get a little dizzy when she runs into a crush but I’m pretty certain I’m not the only person suffering from this.

I’m also writing this post because two weeks ago, the Material Girls and a couple of our friends visited Tang Music Box again for a karaoke session. Then someone called up Westlife’s “If I Let You Go”. I must have been seriously drunk because I declared to the entire room, “BECAUSE OF THIS SONG, I TOLD A GUY I HAD A CRUSH ON HIIIIIM!” #notmybestmoment

The girls proceeded to ask, “And what happened!?!?!?”

“OF COURSE I FAILED LAH!” Cue fake wailing sounds of distress. “He rejected meeeee! And after that, I swore I would never tell a guy that I like him. HE HAS TO TELL ME FIRST!”

Laughter. Yep. I have known for a long time my friends are not the sympathetic sort.

A crush is defined as a “brief but intense infatuation on someone”. “Intense” is the word I’m going to highlight here. Have you ever done something you thought might increase the chances of your crush reciprocating your affection, only to realise how “silly” it actually was some years later?

I have. LOADS. And as I did a mental checklist of the silly things I had done to “win” the love of a crush, I figured you might have a couple or more in common with me. So here goes:

1. You pretended you were too good for him

tumblr_mvxk7n57Vb1qc06zco4_r1_250Whenever he was nearby, you were suddenly possessed by the need to one-up him. Whatever he said, you retorted with a snide remark, or you just had to say how you knew someone else who was so much better. Yep, pulverising the ego of your object of affection is definitely the way to win him over. Not.


2. You became his twin

tumblr_mr94wj5ICJ1rpm9hyo4_r1_250Sometimes, you didn’t take the “I’m too hot for you” route. Sometimes, you took the “I’m your missing half” road and became his twin. You started to talk like him, you started to like the same things as him … hands up if you have even taken it to the extreme by dressing to look like the female version of the dude.


3. You went for his best friend …

… hoping, perversely, it would ignite his competitive streak and then make him come after you! Obviously a case of too much Channel 8 drama series.

4. You tried to drag Fate into the picture by “accidentally” appearing at the same places as him

tumblr_mwk673IVSf1qj13ofo1_r1_250Ever waited for three trains to go by so you can “happen” to be on the same one as your crush? Then when you got onto the train, you pretended it’s all a “coincident” and tried to get him to believe that Fate really wanted the both of you in the same place, same time … like you were meant to be together?


5. You put on that “I’m looking for a hero” act

tumblr_mgl1oq2ew21rz2cbjo1_r1_400So tough love didn’t work? Okay, let’s go for the “I’m so vulnerable, I need to protection” angle. With this, you hoped he would rise up to the challenge and start taking charge! Inside, your scheming lil’ mind probably thought once he assumed the responsibility of taking care of you, he would want to own you.


6. You decided to adopt the “Lust first, love later” strategy

tumblr_m5mpm884SQ1rpm9hyo2_250You thought, “Yeah. Maybe if he can picture me naked or doing naughty, nasty things, he might be interested in me!” So you began to “innocently” say things like, “When I was getting out of my dress yesterday, the door bell rang! And I panicked a bit cos I was soooo worried I had forgotten to lock the door and the pizza man was going to come in …” Let’s hope we have all grown up and have learnt to respect ourselves a little bit more.


7. You became extremely particular about everything. Everything!

tumblr_mpjwmgoEiF1spiuxqo1_250In his presence, you became the one who’s been there, done that, tried everything! You started picking on Starbucks coffee when previously, you were totally okay with Coffee Bean Ice Blended. You wanted him to think you are such a sophisticated, worldly person, and he had to up his game to impress you. You assumed he was up for some kind of game and that he would see you as the ultimate reward.


8. You had to be the first one who has to go, who can’t stay long … and you said Goodbye in strange languages

tumblr_mkt7t9yezY1sn09zoo7_250“Oh! I’d looooove to stay but I can’t! I have other people to meet! Ciao!” You thought maybe if you pretended you had better places to be than be in his presence, he won’t smell the desperation on you. Saying goodbye in exotic languages also might lead him to think you were off to meet some mysterious exotic suitor, that he’d better hurry up and go after you before you leave this country for good. Again, “Damn drama lah!”


9. You tried to be friends with the parents

Yeah. Make the parents tell him who to fall in love with. TOTALLY GOOD IDEA. #pleasenotesarcasm


10. You made him your best friend

Or, became friends with benefits with him. The second type of arrangement might be complicated when things don’t work out, but the first one (the one you guys become best friends) is just downright manipulative. If you have a crush on someone, don’t ever make that person your best friend. Unless of course you are happy just staying best friends, that is.

Have I missed out anything? If so, tell me what was the one silly thing you did when you were nursing a crush on someone? C’mon, share! I told you 10 of mine!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. Her face still heats up whenever she runs into guys she used to crush on. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Who Is The Better Driver? – Deborah Tan

“RED LIGHT! STOP!!!!!!” I cling onto my seat belt and brace myself for a collision. The car slows to a halt. The driver looks at me irritably and says, “What did you think I was going to do? Just crash into the car in front?”

“Yeah!” I snap back. “It didn’t look as if you were going to brake in time! You were speeding!!!”

“I was only going at 70km/h. You are the worst backseat driver in the world!”

This is the type of conversation Simon, my fiance, and I would have whenever he drives. I am convinced I’m the better driver because:

1. I don’t just step on the accelerator and hope the car goes as fast as it can. I prefer to step on it gently, allowing the car to pick up speed gradually.

2. I make it a point to slow down before I take a corner. He, on the other, takes every corner like he’s Lewis Hamilton. Sometimes, it feels as if the car is about to tip over!

3. I totally know which lane to drive in to ensure there is minimal lane-cutting later on. If I know I would be taking an exit or a turn, I would get ready from at least 800m away! He? He just does whatever he wants and hopes for the best.

Women-vs-Men-driverI hate to break this news here but women ARE better drivers. We place a lot more emphasis on the overall experience of the ride, ensuring that our passengers don’t get “thrown about” inside the car just because we want to zoom ahead in front of everyone else! We display a lot more sensitivity towards our car, driving it carefully, treating it well so we don’t tire out the engine or work the brakes too hard.

Men, on the other, don’t care. At the traffic light, they want to be the first off the line, sparing no consideration for the engine. If they are stuck behind a truck or a slow-moving vehicle, they have to overtake it, never mind if it’ll only just make them two minutes faster. They cannot understand why whenever people complain about feeling sick from all that sudden start-stop motions they’ve been causing with their horrible braking techniques.

This is a debate that will also never end. No man will ever, EVER, agree with what I’ve just said.

But what’s the lesson in love to be learnt here?

Simon claims that it’s not that I really think he’s a bad driver. He gathers that I just generally hate it when someone else other than myself drives. “You just want to be in control,” he would say every time I comment about his driving.

Is he right? Absolutely. The chief reason why I enjoy driving so much is because it allows me to be in control of my mobility. I like that I get to call the shots with regards to which route to take. I like being the person behind the wheel because then I can’t blame anyone but myself should anything goes wrong. When I’m a passenger, all I can think about is what lane the driver should take, how fast he should be going, which route is better … etc.

And this, I guess, is how I am in love as well. I don’t like being directed. I don’t like being told what I should do, being told how I should behave. Because if I allow a man to tell me what kind of girlfriend I should be, I’d feel like I’m just going with the flow and not doing my best to build the happy ending that I truly want. It’s not the brush that paints the painting but the artist.

I think a lot of us need to recognise that when it comes to relationships, we need to have a bit of a take-charge attitude. Maybe both Simon and I have too much of it, but I liken it to wearing too many layers of winter clothing – if it gets too warm, just take some off. But if you’re not wearing enough, and it gets too chilly, there’s really nothing you can do.

Whenever friends tell me that they can’t do this, they can’t eat that, or they can’t wear this because their boyfriend doesn’t allow it, it drives me MAD WITH RAGE. I agree that smoking, excessive drinking, eating junk food – anything that you’d be healthier without – may fall under the “Don’t do this” category of things but not being allowed to, say, celebrate Christmas? That is just pure disrespecting the fact that even in relationships, WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS.

You really don't have to follow the GPS all the time!

You really don’t have to follow the GPS all the time!

As with real life, we drivers sometimes depend on a GPS to help us find our way around. But if you know the CTE is going to be jammed at a certain time, you would ignore the GPS, go another way and then leave the GPS to recalibrate the route. Or, if your GPS wants you to turn into a dead end, and that’s not where you want to go, would you still turn into it?

In love, our partners serve as a GPS too. They know where we want to go, they THINK they know the best way to get us there … but we NEED to exercise some independent thought too. Like how a painting doesn’t get painted with only a brush, a car’s GPS doesn’t take you to your destination – you have to DRIVE yourself there.

So, as much as Simon and I argue over who is the better driver, and who should drive, I think I’d much rather be in a relationship where there are two drivers, and we take turns to drive, than be in one where the guy tells me where to go.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. So far, the votes for Who Is The Better Driver are in her favour. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

Health & Fitness, Love In Lines, Relationships, Workouts

[Love In Lines] How Love Is Like Running – Deborah Tan

It’s not like me to philosophize about an exercise. I know Denise tends to have these Eureka moments where she would learn a precious Life lesson while punching her sparring partners senseless. However, something Vanessa said this afternoon kinda sparked off a thought inside my head. While discussing if we should run this evening (the conclusion was a No), she said, “We’ve not run for 2 days. I feel like a blob. I don’t feel right.”

Like Love, Running works on your mind, body and heart in many magical ways. Allow me to elaborate.

The Workout: Suicides
Where you sprint to a line like 10m away and sprint back. Then sprint to another line drawn 20m away and sprint back. Then sprint to another line drawn 30m away and then sprint back. The distances and what you do when you reach a line vary with coaches. It is tough because you are forcing your heart and your body to do short, intense bursts of exercise. See video below.

Like Love …
When you go for brief passionate affairs where you go crazy over each other and then let the whole thing fizzle out overnight, you are doing a suicide training in Love. Yes, it’s intense, yes, you feel it in the very core of your being. But it drains you so, so much. Nonetheless, we all NEED to do suicides in love. Falling hard for the guys who work our emotions into a frenzy will make us stronger and fitter for other types of love in the future. Just be careful you don’t only do suicides.

The Workout: Interval Training 
Where you sprint, say, around a 400m track at a hard effort followed by a two or three minutes of easy jogging or walking to catch your breath. The tricky thing about interval training is in being patient enough to take it slow, to allow your body to recover so you can finish the next sprint in more or less the same form as the previous one.

Explosive sprints

Like Love …
Interval training improves your running form and economy, and builds endurance. Many of us tend to think of Love as a quest, as something to look for. But Love is about building a relationship with someone and being in a relationship is very much like doing interval training. You need to temper passion with patience. Don’t just focus on the fun things, pay attention to what would make the relationship go the distance. Work on becoming a stronger, better partner.

The Workout: Fartlek
Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play”. During a fartlek workout, you basically run at different speeds, moderating hard-to-medium effort with easy. It is best done in a group setting where you take turns to be the leader, setting the pace and the distance. Fartlek is great for building mental strength because it is unpredictable and therefore “shocks” you out of your usual running style and speed.


Like Love …
Being in love and working at it means you can’t go ahead and just do whatever the hell you want. You are – first and foremost – partners. Then you work as a team. Sometimes, your team could involve other people like your kids, your in-laws, his friends, etc. When Love is like a fartlek working, it’s best you try to go with the flow and HAVE FUN. Fartlek training is only stress-free if you learn to let other people take control sometimes.

Obviously, all these trainings are aimed at making you a better runner (and lover). You do them to prepare yourself for the ultimate race such as a marathon. For Love to go the distance, for you to run that race and not be burnt out by it, training is essential. You need to mix things up a little and not stick with the familiar for too long, otherwise, you risk hitting a plateau, get bored and eventually you lose interest and decide to give it up completely.

And of course, like what dear Vanessa said, you need to train regularly. Don’t neglect working on Love because if you do, you end up being an emotional blob, too lazy and out of shape to do anything fun, and that’s definitely not healthy.


Love is like Running … work it at and you could be running towards your Happily Ever After.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more! 

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She is very worried about her first half-marathon, happening next Sunday. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet. 

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Deborah Tan, Opinions

I’m A Singaporean Woman And I Don’t Care If I Intimidate You – Deborah Tan

Singaporean women marrying foreign men: everyone has something to say. Singaporean men marrying foreign brides: it’s the fault of local women who think too highly of themselves.

You know what? I’m sick of people blaming US, SINGAPOREAN WOMEN, for anything that has gone wrong with their love life, or the lack of it.

We have been labelled SPGs who love foreign men because of their money. We have been dismissed as materialistic, shallow beings who can’t tell that the foreign men we love are, according to popular urban legends, “losers” in their countries. We have to accept flak for being educated, for being good conversationalists, for excelling in our careers, and for being too independent.

It’s our fault that we try to make something of ourselves. We are so unmarriageable in the eyes of the Singaporean man that we should be crying at home instead of looking at other options! O.M.G!

As Singaporean women, we should feel so ashamed our men don’t want us that heaven forbids we should fall for a foreign man! [Note the sarcasm, please]

I’m not going to launch into a comparison between local and foreign men because that would just take us all into the same ridiculous territory a certain Mr Goh wants us to go into.

I’m not going to talk about why love is more than just about nationality, about money, about jobs, about status. Many people out there marry or date for the wrong reason AND, surprise! It’s not a phenomenon limited to Singaporeans only. Ever heard about schools in China teaching women how to attract rich men? If you are so cynical as to think Singaporean women are incapable of love, perhaps the concept of love is beyond your depth.

As a woman, I refuse to be blamed for not being “attractive” enough to men who find my education, my career, and my personality too intimidating. As a Singaporean, I’m disgraced by this continuous whining and moaning about why you are forced to remain single because you are too poor/uneducated/unsuccessful/disadvantaged/[insert whatever other crosses you bear as a local man]. People everywhere in this world struggle against bigger issues every day and still they continue on with life with dignity.

You know who else blame women for their problems? The same people who forbid their daughters to go to school, the same people who think women who go out by themselves deserve to be gang-raped, the same people who throw acid on women who refuse to marry them.

Are you like that? If not, then stop writing shit about Singaporean women who are dating, or married to, foreigners. We are dating HUMAN BEINGS. We are marrying men who appreciate us for who we are.

Maybe if you can drop your feudalistic ideas that women today still marry for green cards and a condo, you would be able to – FINALLY – appreciate what makes us Singaporean women special and desirable.

On behalf of all Singaporean women, I say STOP pretending you know how we conduct our relationships, how we live our lives. Instead of bitching about why we are NOT the ideal wives, try and be the men we want, for once.

Note: I reserve the right to delete any RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL comments about me, my friends, my fiance, and any women in relationships with foreigners. Just like how you have taken the right to state your unhappiness, I’m taking the right to protect myself and the ones I care about from xenophobic, misogynistic and racist comments anyone may make in response to my post.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. And yes, she’s engaged to a foreigner. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

Deborah Tan, Love, Marriage, Opinions, Relationships

“Why” Is The Question To Ask Here – Deborah Tan

At what point does cheating happen in a relationship?

Is it when you catch your boyfriend/husband in bed with the other woman?

Is it when you see suspicious SMS messages in his phone?

is it when you hear from other people that they have seen him out and about with another woman?

Is it when you see flirtatious messages on his Facebook Wall?

Or, is it when he has decided that he’s going to try his luck and look around for someone to cheat with?

coupleonbedThe reason for my asking is obviously to do with news that a dating website targeting married people may be launching in Singapore and this has given rise to debates about whether the presence of such sites contributes to the erosion of family values and whether starting this service in Singapore undermines the trust between husband and wife. This contentious website is

Like there isn’t cheating happening in marriages and relationships in Singapore as we speak.

Off the top of my head, there are a number of ways I could cheat on my boyfriend, and he on me:

1. How about adding strangers on Facebook and Instagram and start exchanging “friendly” messages with one another? After all, 1 in 2 Singaporeans are apparently okay with adding complete strangers as “friends” on their social networking sites.

2. How about me resurrecting my partying habits and hitting the clubs at Clarke Quay every Saturday night? I’m sure with adequate alcohol and appropriate lighting, it is possible to find someone attractive enough to have a one-night stand with.

3. How about I sign up for dancing classes and start developing feelings for my dance partner or instructor? With the close proximity and sexy dance moves, I’m sure it’s quite easy for people to find love again under such circumstances.

4. What about just going to work and meeting new people every other day? Like, maybe I should start looking for a job in a male-dominated industry like finance and find myself a rich man to have an affair with.

My point is … ANY CIRCUMSTANCE and ANY OCCASION can lead to cheating. And whether or not a website that serves as a “conduit” for adulterous activities is allowed to launch in Singapore isn’t going to alter the fact that a CHEATER IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE ABLE TO FIND A WAY TO CHEAT BEHIND HIS PARTNER’S BACK.

I’m not condoning the use of here. I’m not saying it’s OK to use a website to cheat. I’m not saying it’s alright to cheat as long as you do it discreetly.

What I’m saying here is there are deeper issues as to why people are cheating on their partners in Singapore and it’s been happening for a while. Hello? Have you seen the bus with the ad that says, “”?

If someone wants to cheat, he or she can do it just about anywhere.

The bigger question to ask here is WHY would someone cheat? Why would someone put their marriage, family and reputation on the line for a brief affair?

club dancingThey do it for the thrill. An overwhelming number of people are most likely to quote this as a reason why they would cheat. Many years of marriage have led to boredom, to your spouse taking you for granted. Sex becomes routine, predictable … and that is if you even have sex at all. The excitement of getting back into the “game” again makes a person feels attractive and desirable.

They do it for the connection. Often, people cheat with their co-workers and their bosses. Time together leads to emotional and physical connectedness, and given the amount of time we in Singapore spend at the office, I would posit that the OFFICE is a more conducive place for cheating than a website.

They do it because they have no respect for their partners. It’s easier to blame something or someone when a partner strays. But really, the crux of why they do it is because they have NO RESPECT for their other halves. They feel they are entitled to abuse the trust someone has invested in them, they believe they can get away with it because they are (1) successful (2) rich (3) good-looking and that their partners will stay with them for these very reasons.

At the end of the day, cheaters need validation. They do it to feel wanted, to feel desired, to feel loved, to feel special. Sometimes, it involves a change in attitudes and habits, sometimes, it involves you walking away from them. The fact is, once they have taken that first step to stray, they will find a person to do it whether it’s via a website or at the office.

Stopping a website from launching in Singapore isn’t going to stem the problem at its roots. It’s merely taking one option out of the many available to those who are serial cheaters, and delaying the inevitable for those who are toying with the idea of cheating. The website is not introducing into Singapore a new concept called cheating and that is what we need to be mature enough to acknowledge.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and thinks cheating is actually more tiring than it is thrilling. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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