23 January 2019, by Nicholas Quek
It’s not often that I get asked about my dating life. Even during Chinese New Year, my relatives have long moved past interrogating me and my siblings about finding a partner.
So to be asked ‘Is it hard finding a girlfriend in Singapore?’ while seated in a farm cabin sipping a cup of homemade kombucha – a type of fermented juice made using yeast culture – came as a surprise.
My family was up in Windsor, Canada visiting some friends, and we were chilling in the living room after a hearty supper when Kris – a middle-aged Canadian woman with 5 (yes FIVE) children – dropped the question to me and my sister.
She was worried that her eldest son, now 28, would not get married. He had been on several dates, but had yet to find someone he liked.
So she decided to turn to the two foremost experts in the realm of dating in a small Canadian town – two Singaporeans, neither of whom had ever been attached.
To be fair, her question seemed to come from a place of curiosity regarding dating in the Singapore context, as opposed to a plea for advice. Windsor, Canada is hardly a parallel to Singapore. Yet as our conversation progressed, it became clear that there were several parallels that made dating, if not harder, more complicated than before.
Perhaps the clearest parallel – the one I am focusing on – is that the term ‘dating’ has become lost in translation.
Dating can mean, ‘let’s just text every day and see where this goes’. It can also mean, ‘let’s call ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend, but keep our Tinder accounts’.
Kris summed it up well, ‘You meet a lot more people, but there are so many different kinds of ‘meeting’. When does a meeting mean something? When does it not?’ What does a text mean?
How long should we be talking before I ask if it’s serious? Is it healthy to be texting someone every day if we’re not ‘dating’?
I wouldn’t say I’ve decided not to date. Aside from the fact that it sounds more like a convenient way to explain away the lack of attraction women might have for me, the absence of romance in my life has more to do with the fact that dating can be confusing.
What is dating? Maybe I am dating someone and just don’t know it!
As ridiculous as that may sound, the reality is that there is now such a huge range / types / forms of emotional commitment that might fall under the umbrella term ‘dating’.
The only kind of dating I am interested in is the kind that has marriage in mind. To be clear, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting a casual dating relationship with no clear future in mind; I have plenty of friends who not only have had those relationships, but have ended them amicably.
As for me however, I’m not particularly interested in a dating relationship that doesn’t look toward some sort of committed future together.
I am in no way prescribing this sort of philosophy for anyone. This however I do prescribe, that whatever sort of relationship you pursue with someone else, remember that they too are people who have their own sets of expectations and ideas of what ‘dating’ is. Clarifying that will save you from a world of heartbreak.
I don’t foresee myself dating for awhile. But then again I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow. Some things are better left unfixed.