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What young Singaporeans want in love, and why do they find dating hard?

Increased self awareness and “draining” dating apps are some of the reasons individuals choose to remain single

Singapore couple on a date eating ice cream
What young Singaporeans want in love and why they find dating hard (Photo: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Love, don't we all want to find it? Yet, with the concept of romance evolving constantly, many of us are uncertain of how to navigate the way to a romantic partner's heart.

Gone are the days of long phone calls, and the rush of preparing for a face-to-face date. Now, with the swipe of a finger, you can connect with a slew of matches through dating apps, and even go on multiple dates.

What do young Singaporeans today think about finding love? Yahoo Southeast Asia chatted with individuals under the age of 30 on their thoughts about relationships, and the world of dating apps.

Why dating is a lot harder these days

Violet Lim, co-founder of dating agency Lunch Actually, describes modern dates as "commodities".

Through dating apps and social media, a single person can be chatting with many others at once, giving rise to the "paradox of choice".

Lim recalled a story shared by a friend, whom had gone to the bathroom on a first date, and came back to find her date already swiping on a dating app.

The rise of dating scams, has also made Y (not her real name), a senior executive in advertising, suspicious of the people she meets online.

"Are they real or a scam? Are they putting up a front? That really detracts me from getting to know anyone further," she said.

Y added that it has been a struggle to find someone who would compliment and value-add to her life.

No rush into relationships

Prioritising self-care, and a higher sense of independence, are some reasons why young Singaporeans are not rushing into relationships.

In a Tinder survey released in May, 80 per cent of 18 to 25 year olds agree that self-care is a top priority when dating, while 79 per cent want prospective partners to do the same.

"Since we’re more aware and have the chance to work on ourselves, we know that the chances of meeting that one person that can satisfy all our needs is hard to find. We won’t settle until we find that," said C (not her real name), 27.

Liz (not her real name), who is recovering from a recent breakup, cites focusing on herself as the main reason for not jumping into another relationship.

Radio deejay Nat Koh, 28, noticed many of her friends learning how to enjoy time alone, otherwise known as "me time". The company of a date or partner should be equal to, if not better than solitude, she said.

Full-time national serviceman Qayyum Lukman realised that most of his friends in his age group are not ready for a committed relationship.

As someone who is ready, the 25-year-old finds it annoying that peers in his circle are mostly looking for fun, or friends with benefits. "They don't want to commit to anything because of personal beliefs, or they don't want to get hurt."

Why dating apps are not ideal

Although C uses dating apps, she takes breaks from it every once in a while. Since using dating apps, she has met only one genuine person, whom she later befriended.

"Dating apps are basically like social media. I feel that people are trying to show the best versions of themselves, and it is setting us all up for failure," C said. "I just want to get to know someone fully for who they are, and then decide if that’s what I want."

Qayyum finds dating apps "draining", even though he relies on them to meet new people.

A common pain point is that the apps tend to be used by people who are "bored" or looking to waste time, which might not be the ideal place to look for a committed partner.

Liz, on the other hand, has stopped using dating apps altogether, after trying it out for a couple of months. She cites push factors such as stress, overwhelming number of individuals to engage in conversation with, and dates not amounting to anything.

Meanwhile, Y thinks dating apps are a good tool for casual dating, but questions the quality of people on these apps.

"More often than not, dating apps in Singapore feel like a last resort," she added, noting how rare it is to find people with long-term dating potential.

While Koh finds that being on dating apps has given her a clearer idea of what she wants out of a relationship, she warns that people can get caught up with the "fantasy of romance".

"Many of us go in with the preconceived notion that we’re gonna find 'the one', that we can neglect to see the person for who they truly are," she said.

Woman looking for date via mobile app on smartphone. (Photo: Getty Images)
Woman looking for date via mobile app on smartphone. (Photo: Getty Images)

What young Singaporeans look for in a romantic partner

The interviewed profiles shared that companionship and stability are key factors they look for in a partner.

C, for instance, wants someone she can fully be herself with. Her prospective partner should be her "biggest cheerleader", where she feels accepted and free to be the person she is.

Other considerations include ability to jump from deep and meaningful conversations to stupid and nonsensical ones in seconds, and traits like kindness, selflessness and respect.

"When I love someone, I really give it my all. I realised recently how much I need someone who can do the same for me. I want a man of action, not just words. Someone who does what they say they’re going to do," C said.

On the other hand, Y wants someone who is both mentally and financially stable, with a good sense of humour. Her partner would be her best friend and companion, and someone she can rely on to share life with.

Liz is on the search for "a good teammate", whom she identifies as someone domesticated, rich and whom she can be the best version of herself with.

While there can be personality differences, alignment in core values is a consideration Koh has when it comes to a partner. She would like someone she feels safe and respected with, who is also able to keep life fun.

Qayyum is actively searching for someone who embodies both passion and kindness. Given his preference for words of affirmation as his love language, he desires a sweet-talking individual who also complements their words with decisive actions.

Having the right mindset to be in a relationship

Lim's advice to approach dating is to know yourself, and what you want. A good way to do so is through personality tests. "Knowing who we are gives us a stronger foundation to work from," she said.

She pointed out that the criteria of a boyfriend or girlfriend, compared to a life partner, is different. Traits of someone who is ready for a relationship include being able to trust someone, and the ability to be vulnerable, she said.

All interviewed profiles agree that being self-secure and complete on your own is a prerequisite, before the search for a life partner.

"When you’re unsure of who you are, and try to enter a relationship, you could be settling without realising it," said C.

A key sign to know you are ready for romance? "When you start thinking about your future," said Y.