Can climate change ignite romance in Singapore's dating scene?

Environmental consciousness may not be a top priority currently, but it could become one in the future, dating experts say.

A climate change-con couple takes a selfie along a river with buildings in the central business district in the background
Michelle Goh, founder of dating agency CompleteMe, discusses the current priorities of singles, highlighting that environmental consciousness, including climate change, is not at the top of the list. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Cavan Images RF)

SINGAPORE — Singapore's dating scene is experiencing a subtle shift as climate change concerns and environmental consciousness become factors in the search for a compatible partner.

As the global issue of climate change gains prominence, conversations surrounding nature, sustainability, and resource conservation are shaping the dating preferences of environmentally conscious individuals like 27-year-old Jennie (not her real name).

Jennie, who has been single for over three years, finds it challenging to find someone who shares her passion for green living. "Even when I'm on dating apps, it is very tough to find someone who relates to my interest in the environment. For example, I enjoy activities like going to nature retreats or participating in tree-planting initiatives," she says.

Although she acknowledges the growing awareness of green dating, Jennie still struggles to connect with like-minded individuals who prioritise sustainable living.

Sustainable living refers to adopting practices and making choices that minimise harm to the environment, promote conservation of natural resources, and support long-term ecological balance for the benefit of current and future generations.

Swipe right for sustainability

Dating apps have also made efforts to incorporate environmental causes into their platforms. For instance, Bumble offers users the option to display badges that showcase their alignment with various causes, including the environment.

On Tinder, users can select the environment as their passion from a predefined list. However, it remains unclear how actively this information is used to facilitate matches or foster connections based on shared environmental values.

OkCupid, on the other hand, employs questionnaires to assess users' compatibility, including their stance on environmental issues. While this approach attempts to delve deeper into users' values and beliefs, it is still uncertain how much weight these answers hold in the matching algorithm.

Will climate change shape the dating landscape of the future?

While environmental consciousness is not currently a top priority for most singles, Michelle Goh, the founder of the dating agency CompleteMe, anticipates a potential shift among those in their 20s and 30s.

With 5,000 active followers, Goh explains that factors such as religion, education, and age expectations typically dominate the criteria for potential partners.

She believes that climate change concerns and sustainable lifestyles may become more important factors for this younger demographic when choosing a partner, particularly as they embrace a more cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Goh commented, "Well, you can see that in the 20s, everything has shifted in terms of lifestyle and various other aspects. So, yes, I potentially see that environmental and climate change might be a concern for them, especially when they are more cosmopolitan."

"Climate change will influence their preferences towards certain countries and also how they live their lifestyle," she added.

Goh emphasises the importance of considering an individual's overall value system when seeking a partner with similar environmental values

The dating expert cites examples of successful couples who have positively influenced each other's lifestyle choices overtime, demonstrating that values can evolve and be cultivated over time.

"I've witnessed successful couples where, after a few months, I noticed the guy went through significant weight loss. He mentioned that the woman he's with is very health-conscious and regularly exercises. Every Saturday, they go for runs together at East Coast Park," Goh said.

"Naturally, he also felt the need to shed some pounds. So, it doesn't imply that if someone is not environmentally conscious now, it means you have to rule him out. Instead, after being with that person, you can be influenced by their lifestyle, which can lead to personal growth. Mentally, this transformation can occur."

Violet Lim, chief executive and co-founder of dating agency Lunch Actually, echoes Goh's perspective on the multifaceted nature of partner preferences.

While physical attributes and hobbies initially form a part in profile preferences, Lim, who has close to two decades of experience in the industry, stresses the importance of compatibility in values as a crucial determinant of long-term relationship success.

Values related to family, finance, and self-improvement are crucial factors that Lunch Actually considers when matching potential partners.

Singles prioritising mental health in a post-pandemic world

Some experts highlight the significance of mental well-being in relationships, as singles prioritise finding supportive partners who value emotional health.
Some experts highlight the significance of mental well-being in relationships, as singles prioritise finding supportive partners who value emotional health. (PHOTO:Getty Images/Westend61)

However, Lim believes that mental health awareness has also become a priority for singles in recent years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has heightened consciousness about mental well-being, prompting individuals to prioritise their emotional and psychological health.

According to a survey conducted by Lunch Actually last year, which gathered the opinions of 500 singles in Singapore regarding dating, approximately 30 per cent of the respondents stated that they prioritise their mental health more after the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said, "It seems that singles are now really proud of taking care of their mental health. It's not just about finding a partner or focusing on one's career. Now, mental health has gained a higher priority. With the whole COVID equation, it has come to the forefront, raising awareness.

"People are just more aware and understand the importance of mental well-being. For instance, if I'm not mentally well, it can affect other areas of my life including dating."

The recognition that mental well-being affects various aspects of life, including relationships, has prompted many singles to seek supportive and understanding partners.

As Singapore's dating landscape continues to evolve, the incorporation of climate change concerns into partner selection signifies a growing awareness about the global challenges of the 21st century.

While environmental consciousness may not yet be a top criterion for most singles yet, both experts suggest that it is an emerging consideration that can shape the future of dating preferences.

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