Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] To Thine Own Self Be True – Vanessa Tai

material world_shakespeare

Recently, I read an xoJane article where the writer tried to figure out exactly why she’s been single for the past seven years. Some of the reasons she thought contributed to her long-term singleness included being an “open and self-deprecating book on first dates” (she would bring up her weird clubbed thumbs, or her dependence on anti-depressants ), a propensity for falling for men who weren’t attracted to her, and even the fact that she was overweight. “However”, she writes, “If my weight truly is playing a preventative part in this dating shitshow, it’s probably not the number itself or how it looks on my frame. It’s the insecurity that has come with not feeling I look my personal best.”

In her article, the writer also mulled over whether she should make any changes to her lifestyle/personality in order to get out of this dry spell. While she’s not sure if the reasons she cited in her article are truly the reason why she’s still single, she’s adamant about not deviating from her natural self just so she can appear attractive to someone she’s attracted to.

Misguided Dating Advice 

What I felt like doing to that douchebag date.

What I felt like doing to that douchebag date.

I can certainly relate. Over the years of being single, I’ve come across plenty of (well-meaning or not) people who tried to give me advice on how to better attract the opposite sex. A male dating coach that I interviewed for a story told me I needed to grow out my hair, and behave more feminine-like in order to be attractive to Singaporean men. Another time, I had a disastrous first date with a guy I met online simply because I “made the mistake” of telling him I’m a supporter of AWARE’s work. He went on an anti-feminist tirade, which only got my blood boiling and sparked off a rather heated argument in the middle of P.S Cafe. Needless to say, I quickly wrote both of them out of my life (only to use as fodder for articles like these).

Singletons, perhaps you’ve experienced something similar? Maybe your well-meaning friends have advised you to play down your career achievements when out with men, or your mum has nagged you to lose weight “or you’ll never find a man”. Whatever it is, you’ve been made to feel you’re either “too much” or “too little”, and that you have to work hard to achieve the affections of a man.

Do We Really Have to Change Ourselves In Order To Snag A Man?

My first instinct would be to say, “No, of course not!” Why should you change something that’s so fundamentally you just to get someone to love you? If you change, and that person falls for you, does that mean he’s in love with someone that’s not authentically you? And what happens if you “fall off the bandwagon”, so to speak?

However, as I wrestle further with the issue, I realise it’s not so cut and dry. First, it’s not that easy to effect a change. As someone who’s tried to change the way I speak (I’ve been told that my voice is too low and monotonous), I can tell you it’s easy to fall back into old habits when you’re not consciously making an effort to change. Second, even if you really make a permanent change, there’s no guarantee that men will suddenly come a-knocking. And third, even if they do; if they fell for the quieter, more gentle and feminine version of you, are these really the type of men that you want to spend the rest of your life with? Don’t you want to be with a man who celebrates your true self, foibles and all?

Stay True To Yourself

Let your true self shine!

Let your true self shine!

At the end of the day, the crux of the matter doesn’t lie in why you’re making these changes, but the type of changes you’re trying to make. If you’re trying to improve yourself by exercising more, attending a personal grooming course or learning how to be a better conversationalist, I guess it doesn’t matter as much if your original intention was to snag a potential mate. That’s because you are bettering yourself in the process, which helps to boost your self-confidence.

But what if you’re making changes like dumbing yourself down during dates so as to pander to your date’s ego, or if you find yourself suppressing “negative” emotions like sadness or anger around men so as not to appear “unstable”? I think you’ll soon find yourself tired and frustrated, because you’re not giving your true self the freedom of expression. Even if you eventually find a partner to settle down with, how long can you keep up this charade? And even if you can keep it up, how happy will you be?

Perhaps I’m idealistic. Or perhaps I’m still on the lackadaisical “take it as it comes” side of my 20s. But I don’t see myself making drastic changes to my personality and the way I do things just so it’ll get me more suitors. Men will come and go, but I’ll always have to live with myself, and I don’t think I can settle for anything less than honesty.

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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1. [Love In Lines] Choosing Not To Worry
2. [Love In Lines] Unrealistic Expectations
3. [Love In Lines] Deadline For Love
4. [Love In Lines] Where Are All The Great Guys?
5. [Love In Lines] The Fear Of Getting Hurt

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Choosing Not To Worry – Vanessa Tai

In a world where seemingly every other person is married or coupled-up, my long-term single status is a source of curiosity for many. Over the years, I’ve had to field questions ranging from, “Don’t you get randy?”to “Aren’t you worried you’re never going to find someone?”

While I always try to deflect these questions – it’s nobody’s business anyway – they never fail to make me take a closer look at my single “situation”. My official party line is that I enjoy my freedom, and it’s true. I’ve never felt sad or incomplete simply because of my relationship status, but when such questions pop up, it makes me wonder if I’m in denial or burying my feelings.

Why do I say that? Because, while I’ve never felt sorry for myself for being single, there are times where I do miss the perks of being in a relationship. Some things I miss include having someone who gets all my jokes, having someone to go on non-awkward dates with (first dates are such a pain), and basically just someone who has my back, whom I can trust implicitly.

However, these are just occasional “relationship pangs”, and it’s never been a strong enough impetus for me to get serious about finding a boyfriend. I’m not someone who aggressively goes on dates or dating events in the hope of meeting someone. Call me naïve or a hopeless romantic, but I believe in letting nature run its course. Some people believe in “making your own luck”, and approach their love life the same way they would a career – strategically, and with goals clearly mapped out. For me, I’ve always believed in spontaneity, whether in life or love. Too much planning and plotting can take the fun out of the whole experience.

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But that’s just me. If you’re someone who believes “dating is just a numbers game”, and that the more people you meet, the higher your chance of meeting someone, then by all means go ahead. In fact, there was a dating consultant in Singapore who openly shared how she went for over 80 first dates before she met her husband-to-be! (Then again, you also have people who marry their first loves, and are no less blissful.)

Whatever it is, I still firmly believe we shouldn’t be viewing marriage as an “end-goal”. For too long, we’ve been schooled that our lives should look a certain way (graduate -> date around -> get married -> have kids). But life is too capricious for us to follow any set templates. Isn’t it infinitely more liberating to take life as it comes, and enjoy every moment, instead of worrying about something that may/may not happen?

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde 

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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1. [Love In Lines] Unrealistic Expectations
2. [Love In Lines] Deadline For Love
3. [Love In Lines] Where Are All The Great Guys?
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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Unrealistic Expectations – Vanessa Tai

Admit it. As much as you claim to be an independent, go-getting woman of the world, there are times where you secretly wish someone will swoop into your life, fall madly in love with you and magically make all your problems disappear … or is that just me?

Maybe it’s a result of watching one too many romantic comedies, but I occasionally daydream about having A Rom-Com Love Story. You know the kind where you meet a stranger on a train and you end up talking for hours (“Before Sunrise”) or where you are the neurotic workaholic who somehow falls into a relationship with the goofy, laidback dude (“Miss Congeniality”, “The Proposal”, “Admission”). Yes, I love my romantic comedies, but does that mean I bring with me a set of unrealistic expectations when approaching love and relationships?

Kissing in the rain ... a must-have scene in every rom-com worth its salt

Kissing in the rain … a must-have scene in every romantic comedy.

In the recent movie Don Jon – written and directed by and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt – the main character, Jon is a womaniser who gets pretty much any woman he wants, including the smokin’ hot Barbara (played by Scarlett Johansson). However, no matter which woman he has sex with, he finds he still prefers the satisfaction he gets from porn. About a month into their relationship, all hell breaks loose when Barbara stumbles onto his porn collection. As they argue, Jon accuses her of having her own addiction – to romantic Hollywood movies. She becomes indignant, and claims those movies were nothing like porn. But is she right?

Just as Jon is no longer able to fully enjoy sex with a real woman, Barbara also harbours unreasonable expectations of the man in her life. For example, in one scene, she is appalled when she discovers Jon does his own housecleaning and insists he hires her housekeeper instead. In her words, “You’re a grown man! You shouldn’t be cleaning your own floors!”

Other scenes in the movie also shows how Barbara not-so-subtly tries to mold Jon into the man she thinks she deserves to be with. So while Jon is wrong in lying about his porn obsession, the eventual breakdown of their relationship can’t be pinned entirely on him. Barbara’s obsession with creating the perfect guy (the rom-com guy), has led to her being overly demanding and controlling.

While I’m not in a relationship, this movie was a reminder not to be so nit-picky when it comes to the men I date. As much as fantasies are fun to indulge in, ultimately it’s still way more satisfying to make the best out of what you have and embrace everything about your partner, both the good and the not-so-pretty bits. Life may not be a Hollywood production, but as Joseph Gordon-Levitt said in an interview for Don Jon, real life has so much more nuances that cannot be captured on celluloid film. And that, makes your love story so much more beautiful than any romantic comedy.

What do you think? Share with me your thoughts/experiences/suggestions in the Comments section below!

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Her all-time favourite rom-com is “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Deadline For Love – Vanessa Tai

Recently, a good friend of mine told me she had just signed up for a package at a dating agency. While I know she’s always planned to get married and have kids, I was surprised that she was taking such active steps to get there. Why now, I asked. She says she plans to get into a serious relationship by next year and hopefully be married by the following year.

“Wow, isn’t that putting a lot of pressure on yourself?”

In response, she said, “With a deadline in mind, it will motivate me take more decisive actions instead of dragging my feet on matters of the heart.”

After we parted ways, I started thinking about what my friend said. Was she right, I wondered. After all, in all other areas of our lives, we map out clear goals and plans to reach said goals … why not for love? Was I being naive to think that love would find us, and not the other way round? But I guess what she’s doing makes sense for her, especially since she knows for certainty that she wants to have children.

We just need to know where to find it.

We just need to know where to find it.

According to Dr Elaine Loh, a resident physician at Dr Tan and Partners, “fertility rates decrease with a woman’s increasing age and starts reducing rapidly in women over 35. There is a variety of reasons for this, including a decrease in egg quality and decline in sexual activity.” In addition, studies have shown that as age increases, the risks of other disorders that may adversely affect fertility such as fibroids, tubal disease and endometriosis also increase.

Sounds grim right?

But what about those among us who know we don’t want kids, or are still unsure? And surely we shouldn’t be getting into a relationship simply because of a ticking biological clock! However, even if you know that being a mother is not your thing, it’s still undeniable that most, if not all of us would like somebody we can return home to, someone who makes our lives that much brighter.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with setting goals and drawing up a game plan to get yourself into a relationship. As my friend said, it puts you in a state of mind where you can make more decisive actions. But before we do that, it’ll serve us well to keep the following two things in mind. First, our intention. Are we gunning to get into a relationship because we are hoping for someone to “complete us” or to fulfill our dreams of starting a family? If so, we might want to rethink our intentions. Being in a relationship is not just about what we want; are you willing to work around each other’s needs to reach a happy equilibrium?

Second, we need to remember that goals are not set in stone. Life is unpredictable; what you may have wanted so badly at 16 may be something you can’t even remember at 26. It’s important to always check back and ensure you’re not chasing after an empty goal, a goal that no longer holds any meaning. Perhaps when you were younger, you may have been pressured by the people around you to get into a relationship. But as you grow older, you may discover that you actually prefer being alone. Don’t let guilt or pressure from anyone else cloud your judgment. Only you can know what’s best for you.

Do you think we should set ourselves a deadline for love? Tell me in the Comments section below!

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She suspects she may be a closet hopeless romantic. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

[If You Like This Post, You Might Also Like]

1. [Love In Lines] Where Are All The Great Guys?
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4. [Love In Lines] Singlehood and Self-Pity

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] The Fear Of Getting Hurt – Vanessa Tai

Just before New Year’s Eve 2011, I sprained my ankle while playing netball. It was my first time encountering such a debilitating injury (forgive the dramatics, but I really couldn’t walk properly for close to a month!) Even after I recovered, I still shied away from wearing high heels for fear of hurting myself again.

I know what you’re thinking – what has this got to do with love and relationships? Well, when I was much younger, my heart was also subject to debilitating pain. Anyone who has gone through a heartbreak – or is going through one now – will know just how crushingly painful it can be when love turns sour. The ache of a failed relationship can feel almost as painful as an actual physical blow. So, just like my ankle injury; even after I healed from those broken relationships, I avoided emotional entanglement as much as possible.

Sure, I went out with various guys and even allowed myself to have ditzy crushes on some of them, but I never gave it my 100 percent. I always put a wall between myself and the guys I dated. They only got to see “Date Face Vanessa”, who quite frankly, can be quite an uppity bore.

material world singapore-sad girl

It’s not that I deliberately set out to be this way. I know that being in a meaningful, well-adjusted relationship can be a truly fulfilling experience. But I also know it takes a lot of hard work to reach a happy equilibrium, and I’m not sure if I have what it takes to achieve that. I’ve seen too many of my friends and loved ones invest everything into their relationships, only for it to amount to nothing. 9 times out of 10, the relationship ended and both parties emerge worse for wear.

However, the strange thing is, these brokenhearted folks may appear battered and even a little bitter, but they don’t seem to have given up on love. After a period of mourning, they get right up again, their eyes and hearts always on the lookout for love. I guess you could say love really is a drug, but to me, their resilience is admirable. It amazes me how people can spring back from horrifying train-wrecks of a relationship and enter healthy, loving couplings. The same can’t be said for me. There seems to be a part of me that lingers in a state of PTRSD (Post-Traumatic Relationship Stress Disorder.)

In “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, there’s one line that goes, “I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all,” which is the antithesis of my personal party line – I’d rather feel nothing at all. However, I’m slowly learning to push aside my walls of anxiety and be more open with my feelings, especially with the people I care about. This beautiful quote from CS Lewis played a part in illuminating my once-closeted heart:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Wise words aside, a major defining moment for me was watching great partnerships in action, where both parties genuinely love and respect each other, and constantly had each other’s backs. It made me think, “If I could have a relationship where we made each other better people, why the hell not?”

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m ready to rock those high heels again 🙂

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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more! 

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She’s partial towards tall, scruffy men with sleepy eyes and a talent for music. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Singlehood and Self-Pity – Vanessa Tai

Single people reading this, when do you feel the most alone? Is it during the festive season when loved-up couples are canoodling under the mistletoe? Or during Valentine’s Day when Orchard Road seems to be spilling over with starry-eyed girls clutching overpriced flowers from their beau? Or is it after a particularly rough day when you grab your phone to call someone and you realise there’s nobody you really want to talk to (or if you’re really honest, nobody who cares enough to listen to you whinge.)

Or is it all of the above?

We all have moments where we feel particularly lonely. For me, I feel my singleness most starkly when I invite a friend out and he/she asks if their partner can come along. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I feel gutted whenever that happens. It makes me wonder if my company is so insufficient that they have to invite their partner along to fill up whatever void it is that I’m unable to fill.

Don’t get me wrong though; I’m not an unreasonable person. I can understand if for some reason or other, my friend doesn’t get to see her boyfriend much so she tries to include him in as many outings as possible. In fact, I encourage it! What I don’t understand is couples who see each other all the time but still insist on being joined at the hip. For some reason, that makes me feel pronouncedly alone. Maybe because it reinforces the fact that there’s nobody (that I know of, anyway) who wants to be joined at my hip.

Lest you think I’m your stereotypical morose single woman gagging to get attached, let me just set the record straight: these moments of self-pitying loneliness are few and far between. However, when they do occur, I’ve discovered a great way to tackle it. Introducing my self-devised 3-Step Process For Snapping Out Of Self-Pity:

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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 Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more! 

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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2. [Love In Lines] Sharing 101

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Infographics, Love, Relationships

[Infographic] How Social Media Affects Your Chance At Love – Deborah Tan

Today, Lunch Actually released the results of a regional dating survey. The survey was done with 1,900 singles in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, with 788 of these in Singapore. The most interesting discovery of this year’s survey is that more and more people are opening up to the idea of finding love online.

Fifty-one percent of the respondents in Singapore have tried online dating while more than 70 percent of them have admitted to checking out their potential dates online. Founder of Lunch Actually Violet Lim attributes this phenomenon to the pervasiveness of social media and smartphones.

To learn more about how social media can affect your chance at finding The One, check out our infographic below:

Love and social media

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 hopes to meet Steven Tyler in person one day.

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