Monthly Archives: January 2019

Dating SIngaporean Women -03
Jan 24

How to Date Singaporean Women – Does Money Matter?

By Marcus Neo | Singapore Series

It’s not uncommon to hear that Singaporean women are superficial or materialistic and are only willing to date men who are well off financially. So, are Singaporean girls really superficial and materialistic? Or are they mere projection of our insecurities?

Can you approach a woman who is a complete stranger in Singapore? Can it be done? You may lament that it’s a close to impossible task to approach girls in Singapore. Is that true? Yes and no, the Singaporean culture is generally more closed off than Westernised cultures. From personal experience, Singaporean women are generally harder to approach if you’re a complete stranger.

From personal experience, Singaporeans, both men, and women, in general, aren’t equipped with social skills to continue a conversation with another stranger. Hence, you’re going to get awkward silences and shifty eyes if you do not know what you’re doing. Singapore, after all, is an collectivistic society with people choosing to stick in highly knit social groups. However, it can be done.

The Singapore Cultural Narratives

How about looks, popularity, intelligence and social status? Do Singaporean women care about them? Fact is, they do. You and I do too, along with all other women and men all around the world when it comes to choosing our romantic partners. You often hear Singaporean men complaining about being insecure about dating up. They don’t feel secure dating Singaporean women who are smarter than them, more qualified than them or earn more than them.

Here’s my verdict: I think that the majority of Singaporean women are able to finance, feed themselves and aren’t exactly looking to date a multi millionaire. Of course, minus the gold diggers, which you should avoid at all cost.

However, it’s because of cultural expectations, namely, the narrative that you need to marry a rich husband in order to have a good life that causes a lot of problems. Some of my girl friends often tell me they expect to end up with a millionaire or a rich man. In actuality, their behavior speaks otherwise and they don’t end up dating a millionaire but an average Singaporean male. In my experience, the majority of Singaporean women (minus the gold diggers) are willing to adjust what they value in a partner if you have an attractive personality and are able to connect with them on a deeper level.

Dating Singaporean Women 03

The Gucci Swag

The Ugly Combination

If I was being honest with you, I was most successful in my dating life when I had no money in my first couple of years in University. It was only in my mid twenties when I measured myself on financial achievement and projected them onto my dating life.

Here are the metrics that I (and many others) measure themselves against:

  • Your type degree I was taking or if you are going to achieve a first class honors
  • The amount of money you are making
  • Your job

Ultimately, you get a mish mesh of both sexes projecting their insecurities onto each other because of these cultural narratives: a traditional culture that emphasizes material wealth as a metric of success.

Here is what you’re taught from day one as a Singaporean male growing up. You want to get a girlfriend? Work hard, earn a lot of money and get a respectable job. Our parents are always telling us to get a job, to get a degree so that you can get employment. I grew up in a traditional Asian, Singaporean culture family where I was told that if I did not do well in school, get a respectable degree or a respectable job, I was considered a failure.

I had a friend who told me she would only consider dating guys from a local University. In Singapore culture, there’s a huge measurement of success based off how financially well off you are. Not to mention the exposure to cultural narratives that influence us everyday. In movies and the drama serials, they all tell us the same narrative: The people with money get the girl.

These beliefs are often the results of the Singaporean cultural narrative: where success is measured by grades, money and social status. Cultural narratives that have been told by our culture and society. Not only these beliefs and worldview hurt us in life, but it also hurt us in our dating and relationship lives.

On one hand, you get an ugly mesh up of Singaporean men projecting their insecurities on wealth to Singaporean women who are… materialistic? On the other hand, you get nice guy behaviours from Singaporean men (parents/people/woman pleasing) that results in… Singaporean women being more spoilt who ‘expected to be treated like princesses’.

You see the pattern here? It’s happens both ways and no one sex is responsible for these problems. Until the Singaporean culture matures and learn how to define itself not through traditional metrics of success, this is going to be the status quo.

Singaporean Women Put on a Pedestal

It’s interesting to observe the language that us guys (I’m guilty of it as well) use when we find success in our dating life. I once heard someone proudly declare: ‘I just slept with this girl. She’s from X University in Singapore. She also studies medicine.’

There are many things wrong with that statement. You’re coming from the standpoint that you’re somewhat inferior to her by being proud of the fact that she studies medicine, hence, she’s a better partner. That’s female sexuality placed on a pedestal. So what if you’re not from a top University in Singapore? So what if you’re not studying medicine? So what if she’s studying medicine? Why should you, a human being who is trying his best in life, feel any bit inferior to just about anybody else?

How to Get Over These Cultural Narratives

So, these are the invisible scripts that influence your behavior. The bottom line is this: what can you do about it?

  • Realize attracting women is determined by behavior and not necessarily assets

This is why I say a lot of this dating advice thing is sorting out your own emotional realities in the first place. When you got your own personal values down, there’s no reason for you to express yourself honestly instead of relying on external metrics of success, degrees or social status in attempt to earn sex or affection with a woman. Someone who’s truly confident doesn’t measure themselves up that way. This is why pick up artist techniques are just a superficial strategy at best. It’s a band-aid that you slapped on when you were bleeding.

  • Invest in yourself: learn social skills

Look, I’m not saying you do not need to get your finances right. However, being sexually desirable is different from long term commitment desirable. You should always try to improve your financial life. However, you should not be reliant on it.

Personal plug: I created an entire course on social skills and personality change based on decades of psychological research and real life systems.

Look, ultimately, you can’t be a slob or a bum. Even though looks aren’t the ONLY determinant if a girl is willing to go out on a date with you.  Good looks help, but not having good looks don’t hurt either. You’ve probably seen countless not so physically attractive males with physically attractive women right?

Hell, it’s one of the factors like people in general look that. If you dress poorly and don’t shower, don’t expect to land any dates anytime soon. If you show up on a date dressed sloppily. It’s not Singaporean women being superficial, it’s YOU being a bum.

  • Develop long term personality and behavioral change

Ultimately, you still got to dig deep into your emotional maps and look at the root of your problems: why you’re so invested in being rich or successful? Why are YOU chasing degrees, cars, the next condominium and all of that just to get the… vagina.

I know of men that are well off financially but can’t land a date for nuts. I know guys that draw a handsome close 5 figure salary, drive a Mercedez Benz but can’t land a quality date to save his life.

There are cultural narratives at best. The misconstrued perception that you need lots of money, a 6 pac abs to attract women is flawed. You’ll also end up in a rabbit hole where you never feel enough. There were months I felt I was never ready to date someone until I achieved a certain body weight. This was despite being in relative alright body shape. The research also backs this up, if you display the behaviors of someone who potentially might become rich, famous, or successful, you’re equally attractive as someone who is already rich, famous or successful.

This was why I was successful in my dating life starting out as a broke, unsuccessful University student because I was so passionate about personal growth that it rubbed off the women I dated. It surely wasn’t because I had money, good looks or anything else, because I can assure I had none of those.

If you’re male and you’re not developing yourself, taking risks and complaining that Singaporean women are spoilt brats and materialistic, then you’re just giving yourself excuses. It can’t that ALL of the women in Singapore are materialistic and spoilt right?

Ultimately, you do not need more degrees, achievements or a million dollars in the bank. You need to take action.

Closing Thoughts on Dating Singaporean Women

I’m not saying Singaporean women aren’t completely at fault here. I’ve had instances where my girl friends say they wouldn’t date anyone from a private University, or that he has to be a millionaire or some naive metric. Some of them rarely bother to go to the gym or develop any personality. It’s also not surprising that the ones with these naive metrics that end of with someone much lower than their expectations.

Lastly, if you’re sacrificing your emotional life for some absurd metric, then good luck to you, you’re going run yourself into the ground.

Photo Credits: Joe Siegel

 

 

Jan 14

What Are Personal Values? – Develop Integrity and Purpose

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

What are personal values and why are they important in dating, relationships or just life in general? When I was 19 or so, a friend of mine came to me complaining that she was being emotionally bullied by a close friend of mine. I softly persuaded him to stop despite him being a close friend of mine. I didn’t like bullies and I desired to stand up for a friend.

You could argue that by me standing up to my friend, I was acting out of my values. I stood up for my values regardless of external circumstances. I stood up for another friend in spite of being a friend of the perpetrator. I behaved according to my values and persuaded him otherwise, risking a potential loss of friendship with him.

Why are Values Important?

In modern society, you may find yourself in a constant struggle to stick to your values as opposed to sacrifice them for an extrinsic result.

For example, authenticity and expressing yourself honestly is a value in itself. Honesty, however, sometimes is uncomfortable, especially when expressed negatively to friends or superiors. Your honesty may not be appreciated. It may involve telling your boss something that he might disagree with but might be better for the company. This may put you at risk of offending him (or losing your job). This can be difficult at times, especially so in the Asian culture.

In the realm of dating and relationships… what if your date you are interested in treats you badly? What if he or she’s a no show for three dates straight and cancels on you last minute every single time? Are you going stick up for yourself and perhaps call them out? Or are you going smile, and pretend nothing happened?

Can you uphold the interval value of self-respect? Can you call her out for her negative behaviour, risk upsetting her and losing the potential benefit of dating someone you’re interested in?

What if your friends are always showing up late and disrespectful of your time? What if you valued your time and made efforts to be on time for meet ups? Do you hold back calling the person out to avoid the possibility of not offending him or her?

So, What Are Values?

Values can be said to be internal compasses. They are a judgment about how important something is to us. There are principles that are held internally regardless of external circumstances. Sometimes, they are principles and judgments that you are willing to sacrifice and die for. They can comprise of intangibles such as authenticity, accountability, empathy and respect.

Values are researched to higher self-esteem, in the long run, makes you more attractive to women, increase work creativity, and make you a happier person. Positive values are also usually ensued by strong boundaries.

In short, they’re awesome.

Ironically, it’s people that do not have any values going for them that are unattractive and mediocre. They don’t stand for anything. They are people pleasers. They often crave attention and affection from the world around them at the cost of their personal integrity and values. They’ll never build a strong identity. Counter-intuitively, it’s this constant need for a false sense of acceptance is what repels people away.

In our relationships, it’s the sacrifice of their own personal values that leads to needy and unattractive behaviour.

So Marcus, without sounding like a boring high school counsellor, how can you instil this thing called values in your life then?

Ironing Out Your Values

Ironing out your values can be simple as taking out a piece of paper and writing down what you will and will not accept in your life. This can range from business decisions, relationship values to all other areas of your life. The second step is to commit and be disciplined about it. Note, no one is perfect and it’s OKAY to falter and be flexible. However, just like habits, you just go back to work on it.

  • Your Dating and Relationship Values

So, a couple of years ago, when I started learning how to attract women. The first step was to iron out my dating and relationship values. This means what I will, and will not accept from women, or people in general. This not only helped my self-esteem, but it also made my dating choices much easier.

In my own life today, and in my client’s life as a dating coach for men. You can start with a couple of simple values.

I stopped texting girls who didn’t want to text me back, I stopped worrying about girls who didn’t want to go out on dates with me. Yeah, I get rejected, however, it saved me the heartache, the smokes and games that people play. I decided I’ll not hang out with people who don’t want to hang out with me. I’ll not date a girl who doesn’t want to date me. I’ll not text a girl who doesn’t want to text me. I’ll express interest to women only that I’m interested in.

These values played an important role when on a date. Instead of constantly worrying if I match up to her, I’m going to see if there’s a right fit of values. I’m not looking to impress her.

If you’re wondering what I value in women, physical beauty (I can’t lie), empathy, intellectual curiosity, honesty, nurturance and accountability. From personal experience, I’m a lot more motivated, willing to sacrifice a lot more time and effort and to pursue a girl who’s more physically aesthetic If she’s hot but has selfie problem, sure, I’ll be more tolerant of it. If she’s hot but is slightly emotionally erratic, sure, I’ll be patient. I’m willing to give up many superficial nuances that tick me off.

However, I’m not willing to give up my personal boundaries just to pursue someone who is physically attractive. There are values that are non-negotiable. If she constantly disrespects me or is rude, I am going to call her out on it. If she doesn’t alter her behaviour, then I’ll simply drop her.

Note, I hold these values true for all other relationships as well. I also can’t be bothered by people who don’t respect my time or money. If you don’t respect my time or money, there isn’t a friendship in place anymore in the first place.

Business Values

I once attended a slimy internet marketing business program. Whilst the potential monetary prospects were good, I hated it. Why so? That’s because the way the business was conducted went against my values of providing a competitive and ethical service to society.

I figured that instead of marketing slimy products to people in need of psychological help, I rather figure out the hard and longer route of building an ethical product and service.

This forced me to iron out my business values. I decided that I’ll only make an income through ethical products or service to consumers that don’t hurt society. The systems and products have to work without relying on psychological manipulation. Secondly, I’m not going to work for anyone who uses his network or relationships as a ‘stronghold’.

Ironing out these values made a lot of business choices down the road much simpler. Out went the scammy products that prey on delusional or people that are in a bad spot in life. Out went the nights of drinking just for the sake of clinching a deal. Since I had these values in place, it freed me up to learn how to market products and services ethically.

Helpful and UnHelpful Values 

It’s said if you pursue negative values such as popularity and fame, it’s ‘negative’. However, I don’t entirely see it this way and I think negative values can be a good motivator for positive values. If I didn’t desire to be with attractive women, I’ll not have undertaken this self-improvement process. If not for the desire to be financially free, I’ll not have attempted to be an entrepreneur. This blog wouldn’t exist. I also think everyone is motivated by different intrinsic and extrinsic motivators at a certain point of time.

Negative values are fundamentally superstitious, immediately uncontrollable and socially destructive. If you value popularity or fame or how much you’re liked or accepted by everyoneThat’s not immediately controllable. That’s because you can’t control how people think of you.

If you measured yourself by a million dollars in a bank, that’s an external value that isn’t controllable. It’s merely going to drive you crazy. Negative values are reliant on an external event such as flying in a private jet, getting threesomes or travelling the world in pursuit of purely a hedonistic lifestyle (read: guilty).

Arguably, negative values can be good motivators initially. You didn’t get into self-development if you didn’t want to date more attractive partners, make more money and look really awesome amongst your friends right? Negative values can give you a good start, however, for long term happiness, you’ll need to prioritize internal values in the long run.

Positive values are reality-based, immediately controllable, self-generated and are socially constructive. Positive values such as innovation, honesty and vulnerability are immediately controllable and can be self-generated right this moment.

For example, instead of valuing popularity or how much I’m liked by people, I can make an internal value of improving my dating/ social life. That way, the mere act of taking action to go out to a bar to meet more women is small win for me regardless the end outcome.

Positive values are always internally achieved and there’s no completion to them. They are also process oriented. Honesty and vulnerability are internal values that can be practised right now and in every social interaction for the rest of your life.

How to Establish Your Values Without Being an Asshole?

So the one thing about values that people get confused is that you got to be somewhat of an asshole when expressing your values.

Having strong values doesn’t mean that you go around calling others out on their ‘poor values’ or ‘lack of values’. It just means recognising that you have different values than them and sometimes it’s just a lack of compatibility. The first step to establish your values is to express it in a matured manner. If the girl you’re dating shows up late, you don’t have to scream at her for showing up late. Just making it known and calling her out on is enough.

You can always say: “Hey, I hope you won’t be this late the next time we meet.” In a respectful and assertive manner.

I also want to note that your values should be flexible and based on context. If you have an amazing friendship with someone who’s always late but has many other merits, then it’s perfectly fine to just accept that personal flaw in that individual.

What Happens When You Change Your Values?

When you change your values, it’s normal for your old relationships to blow up in your face. This can be demonstrated by calling out certain behaviours from old friends and possibly ticking them off the wrong way. In my own personal growth, I started valuing my time and I started being serious about my business and my work. If someone cancels on me without letting me know, I’m sorry, that’s non-negotiable. I’m calling you out.

The friendships you made through your life probably supported and confirmed the values of yours. However, when you begin to shift your values, you’re going to inevitably experience a lot of friction amongst those old relationships.

In my experience, long term relationships and friendships are the hardest. You may find yourself in a place where your closest relationships no longer understand you anymore. However, do these friendships have to have to go? I don’t think necessarily so. There’s no need to cut out a person because of a difference in values, that’s because, despite a difference in values, there may be overlap in values.

However, if you are constantly bickering over petty behaviours. That merely goes to show that you have different fundamental life values and have completely different priorities completely, then perhaps some time off that particular relationship might not be a completely negative thing.

In my experience, I found out the hard way that people around you are going to have different values from you do at the different point of their lives in multiple areas of their life from relationships to careers.

This is true of your relationship with to your parents, your childhood best friends, your boss, your pet goldfish and your colleagues. You may have a childhood friend that has conflicting values at some point of his or her life and a loss of friendship is inevitable.

It’s values that ultimately bring people together and tear people apart. You’re going to be what you value. Choose your values wisely.

Works Cited

J, Z., S, S., J, C., & Z, Z. (2009). Social networks, personal values, and creativity: Evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 1544-1552.

W, M. M. (2007). Happiness and Virtue in Positive Psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 89-103.

 

 

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 01
Jan 11

How to Set Healthy Dating and Relationship Boundaries

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

You can argue that the majority of dating and relationship problems are a boundary issue in one way or another. Years ago, I was enrapt in a relationship that felt great at times and just dirt poor other times. It was like a rollercoaster ride. It was only years later after knowing the concept of boundaries, that I realized that my ex-girlfriend and I had piss poor boundaries in our relationship.

So other than sparring yourself from rollercoaster relationships, why are boundaries important?

Firstly, strong boundaries are the cornerstone of attractive behaviour. Secondly, they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health. They lead to emotional stability and healthy self-esteem. They are also something you can work on right away.

Okay, before you get into deeper details, let’s take a look if you have a boundary issue.

You May Have a Boundary Issue if You:

  • Constantly feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
  • Feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
  • Find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly
  • Find yourself far more invested or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you’ve known them
  • In your relationships, you feel like things are always either amazing or horrible with no in-between. Or perhaps you even go through the break-up/reunion pattern every few months?
  • You tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it
  • You spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?

If you answered “yes” to even a few of the above, then you probably set and maintain poor boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding “yes” to most or all of the items above, you not only have a major boundary problem in your relationships but you also probably have some other personal problems going on in your life.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself: do you want to constantly be around people that don’t appreciate you for who you are, but also sees all of his relationships (including you) as something that can be manipulated?  Or do you want to be around with friends that doesn’t fuck with your emotions?

I know there are idiots who prefer the former, cause deep down, they don’t relationships as something that can be safe and supportive. They see relationships as something to be earned, bargained or traded. Long term relationships, friendships and romance aren’t built upon memorising lines. You’re still putting on a front in your social interactions instead of engaging your true self.

What are Relationship Boundaries?

There are many reasons why someone may lack boundaries. Psychologically speaking, people with a lack of boundaries may appear may be motivated by an unconscious need to ‘keep the peace’ because of the fear of getting hurt.

So, what are boundaries and how do they look like?

Healthy Boundaries:

  • NOT taking responsibility for OTHER people choices, actions and emotions
  • Taking FULL responsibility for YOUR own choices, actions and emotions

Healthy Boundaries from the outside:

  • NOT expecting others to be responsible for your choices, actions and emotions
  • Other people should be responsible for THEIR choices, actions and emotions and NOT responsible for YOUR emotions and choices.

Dating and Relationship Boundaries

Examples of Poor Boundaries:

Since I’m Asian, I can use a couple examples from the Asian culture, I’ll chime in a few examples.

“If you go out with your friends tonight and not keep me accompany, I’m not going to give you allowance next month.”

“If you don’t study the subjects as I want you to, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“If you don’t do as I say, you’re not being filial to the family. Hence, you’re not a good child.”

This is an example of a parent’s expectation for his or her child to take responsibility for the parent’s choices and emotions.

In this scenario, the person is taking responsibility for actions or emotions that aren’t theirs or are expecting someone to take responsibility for their actions or emotions. When you set boundaries in your relationships, it can be as simple as saying no to someone and letting the chips fall where they may.

You’re NOT responsible for someone’s else emotions.

Flip that around, it’s also the willingness to take a no from someone else. That’s because if you feel crappy about hearing a no, you’re are responsibility for your own mood and not expect or blame anyone else for your emotions and choices. Ultimately, having strong boundaries does not mean that you don’t want your partners or friends to be happy. It just means that you can’t decide if your partners or friends are happy or choose to behave in a certain way.

The Breaker and Fixer Pathology

People with poor boundaries typically come in two flavors:

  1. Those who take too much responsibility for the emotions and actions of others
  2. Those who expect others to take too much responsibility for their own emotions and actions.

They are called the breaker, and the fixer. Interestingly, these two types of people often end up in relationships together. My first relationship was like that, it felt like it was us against the world. However, in hindsight, it was soul-sucking and emotionally tiring. She and I had pathologies of both the victim and saver, oscillating between both roles at different points of time.

  • The Saver

If you are someone who tends to feel a need to make their partners happy all the time, you may be playing the role of the saver in the relationship. You have a boundary issue. This is because, at the core of it, you’re attempting to decide/ control how your partner acts and feel.

The saver doesn’t save the victim because they actually care about the problem, but because they believe if they fix the problem they will feel loved.

  • The Victim

The victim creates problems not because there are real problems, but because they believe it will cause them to feel loved. If you are that someone who is always creating problems, expecting others to take responsibility for your actions and emotions. You are playing the role of the victim.

The saver and victim commonly end up together in relationships and often lead to unstable roller coaster relationships. In such scenarios, the lack of boundaries leads to needy, co-dependent.

From an attachment theory perspective, victims tend to be anxious-attachment types, and savers tend to be avoidant-attachment types. They both push away secure-attachment types. They may also grow up with parents who had poor boundaries in their relationships that led to their model of a relationship that is based on poor boundaries.

You may ask, Marcus, isn’t it cold and cruel to not care about others and fix their problems?

You see, the saver or the victim don’t ACTUALLY care about each other or the relationship, they are behaving in these ways to meet their own need for self-esteem through other people’s problems. The victim needs to create problems to feel loved whilst the saver needs to fix problems to feel loved. There isn’t any real authenticity or genuine emotional connection with these relationships.

Their behaviors are based on their OWN needs to feel loved and not actual unconditional love itself.

If the victim really cares about the saver and the relationship, he or she would say, “Look, this is my problem, you don’t have to fix it for me.” That would be actually caring about the saver.

If the saver really cared for the victim, the saver would say, “Look, you’re blaming others for your own problems, you should be responsible for it yourself.” That would be actually loving the victim.

The hardest thing for a victim to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and their life as opposed to blaming others. They spent their whole life believing they must blame others in order to feel any intimacy or love.

For the saver, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop fixing other people’s problems and trying to make them feel happy or satisfied. They may have spent their whole lives feeling valued and loved when they were fixing a problem for someone. Hence, letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well. If you see your relationships as economical transactions, only seeing others as beneficial or economical exchanges, not only it’s a form of poor boundaries, it’s also going to tear you apart emotionally eventually.

The Boundary Problem in Modern Culture

Now, I may take some criticism for this, but I’m going to say it anyway. In Asian culture, there’s a cultural belief that children are inherently SUPPOSED to be filial to their parents or grandparents. It’s a common cultural Asian cultural narrative to love, respect and obey your parents JUST because they are your biological parents, not based upon the fact if they are good parents or not.

This often expressed in the value of filial piety.

I had a friend to said that he would give in to demanding/unreasonable requests to his parents just because they are paying for his University fees. His parents are using monetary support as a bargaining tool to get their child to conform.

I’m may piss off some you reading here but listen to me.

That is an unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamic between him and his parents with a lack of boundaries. On one hand, his parents are using money as a means to control their child’s behaviour. Secondly, on his end, he is giving up his self-respect, his honest thoughts, and desires because he’s afraid of not getting the money from his parents.

If your parents only provide for you financially if you give in to their whims and demands. It’s a conditional relationship. The underlying meaning of the relationship would mean: I only love you if you listen to me. I will only provide for you if you listen to me.

Firstly, these are a poor form of boundaries. Secondly, there isn’t any genuine support or affection in their relationship.

From personal experience in the Singaporean culture, there are many that have this perception that if their parents provide for them financially, it’s a MUST to give in to their parents, against their genuine thoughts, desires and beliefs.

Some of the people reading this might say: Marcus, you’re such an INGRATE for speaking out against the age-old values of filial piety. You’re Asian yourself and you SHOULD be filial to your parents.

Okay, shut up.

I AM filial to my parents. However, I act on it as a gift, with no expectations of return, as opposed to an OBLIGATION. There’s a difference.

The act and value of filial piety should be something that’s given unconditionally, rather than demanded or assumed because of cultural or social reasons. 

If you’re forced to visit your grandparents every weekend and you secretly hate it. Then you’re not acting out of a genuine desire to see and care for your grandparents. You’re doing it because you don’t want to piss your Mum and Dad off.

As I argued, acts of affection are only genuine if they’re performed without expectations.

Is It Okay to Sacrifice?

You may ask then, Marcus, what about making sacrifices for people you love? What about going the extra mile for best friends? What if my girlfriend wants me to call her daily? What if my pet cat requires me to stroke his belly 20 times a day?

I SHOULD make that sacrifice right?

Firstly, sacrifices that are made out of obligation aren’t genuine sacrifices. They are actually your inability to say no.

True sacrifice only comes in the form of unconditionally, as a gift, with no expectations of return. One common behavior I noticed during my stint as a dating coach for men is that they compliment women in hopes of getting her attention. Needless to say, they didn’t get far.

Sacrifice is only true and genuine when you desire to do it out of no expectations, as a gift, and not because you should feel obligated to or fear the consequences of NOT doing it.

You can simply ask yourself this: If you stopped doing an X behavior, would it change anything about your relationship with Y? Read: I know, the algebra. I’m Asian, live with it.

  • If I stopped picking her up from her house or sending her home, will she still love me?
  • If I stopped agreeing with her on everything she says, will she still love me?
  • If I told my friend that he should be on time in the future, and being late isn’t cool at all, will we still be friends?

If your answer is NO, it wouldn’t change a damn thing in the relationship, if you stopped doing a certain behavior, then that’s a good sign.

If YES, then you probably have a boundary issue. You’re making a particular sacrifice or behaving in a certain way because you fear to lose the relationship.

How to Set Strong Boundaries

I started off a YES man. I’d say YES to events, business opportunities, introductions, trips and I was the guy that was flexible and easy to get along. Yes, that helped a lot. However, as I grow, I realized it’s so much better to say NO and truly evaluate how and who you spend your time and effort with.

These days, I’m always evaluating how I feel after spending time with someone. If I feel emotionally recharged, listened to or that I learned something from him or her, I’ll continue pursuing that relationship. If I feel disrespected, belittled or unjustly criticized then I’ll stop.

In my business career, I had instances where potential clients waste my time by getting me to draft out long thought out proposals for their digital marketing campaigns and I don’t hear back from them. No, no more. You need to be a good fit to work with me.

I had instances where girls waste my time and don’t show up for a date. That’s on me. That’s MY fault. I didn’t qualify her properly. If I had disqualified and said: ‘You and I are probably not going to get a long because you’re always late’, she’s going to either straighten up or not waste my time by not showing up.

These days, I hold by these standards throughout all my relationships, from friends, family, clients, business partners, and life choices. In that sense, I’m valuing my time and myself. Only by valuing your time and yourself, that you can get others to value you and your time.

Here are some of the lines you can use:

  • I prefer not to discuss them as these matters are private to me’
  • I never kiss and tell’
  • I already stated my opinion and I’m not going to argue with you further.’
  • ‘If you keep doing X behaviour, then I’m going to leave.’
  • ‘This is are my values, and I hope you can respect that.’

Closing Thoughts

Setting boundaries by cutting an acquaintance out or an ever unaccountable friend is easy. It’s as simple as cutting them out from your life or seeing them lesser. However, setting boundaries and maybe even cutting family and best friends out are a lot harder. You can dump your girlfriend, you can’t dump a bad family member. Family relationships are the hardest to deal with. Trust me, I’ve been there.

One time, I stopped driving a couple of my friends around. I realized that if I stopped driving them around, they wouldn’t bother hanging out with me. Tough truth to face, but that’s life. When I go out with a girl on a date and she says something offensive, I don’t just play nice and ignore, I call her out on it. That’s a form of my boundaries. I don’t accept rude or offensive behaviours in my life.

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Someone with strong boundaries isn’t afraid to say no. He or she isn’t afraid of a temper tantrum or getting into an argument. He or she also understands that he may hurt someone else’s feelings at times and ultimately can’t control how someone else feels.

He or she also understands that a genuine relationship isn’t made up of two people deciding on each other’s actions or emotions, but instead, an unconditional relationship is made up of two people supporting each other, without judgment or expectations.

Couple alone in a restaurant
Jan 02

How to Start a Conversation with a Girl (Even if You are Shy)

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

You see your ideal girl sitting across the table at Starbucks having a quiet cup of coffee. She is dressed casually. She looks kind of intimidating. She’s also attractive. She’s also alone. The hundreds of possibilities run through your head. Or maybe you are at a networking session are you see the hiring manager of your dream job standing beside a booth. You want to try start a new conversation with her. However, you freeze and you don’t know what to say, much less how to say it.

How many of us experienced similar situations like this? The question begets: how do start a conversation with a girl even if you aren’t naturally “extroverted”?

This is a skillset that anyone can learn.

How to Start a Conversation with a Girl – Conversational Mindsets

Firstly, there are good conversational mindsets that can make or break any new conversation.

This can be done by adopting conversational mindsets such as 1) using effective language, 2) learning the art of making statements, 3) creating endless conversation threads by actively listening

Mindset 1: Lower The Bar For a Conversation

The first step to starting a conversation with her and making sure you never run out of words is to lower the bar for conversation.

In my younger days, I was notorious for being too witty or lost in abstract arguments in my head. It single handedly submarined a lot of social, romantic and business opportunities. Only relying on pure wit or intellect is actually a horrible way to start a conversation, much less connect deeper with a woman.

The need for serious or deep talk in the first couple of minutes is a narrative from movies you watched growing up where the actors and actresses often come up with witty lines and the ‘perfect moment’ to start talking to someone new. In reality, this is far from the truth. Starting a new conversation is always a little awkward at first. Just keep it simple.

Mindset 2: Statements Versus Questions

Have you ever had someone who you just got to know ask you repetitive questions? I bet you have. It also felt irritating. Guess what, people feel the same way as well. Let’s not treat new conversations like an interview, shall we?

In general, statements offer more ‘social value’ and opportunity for the other party to get a conversation going.

Instead of going down the usual route of interviewing someone and asking questions… you can make statements. This way you’re giving your input and giving them a window to respond to that statement.

The trick here isn’t to just stick to statements. It is to mix in statements and questions. However, if you were just to stick to statements, most people will not know how to respond. From my experience, they’re just too used to people asking questions all the time and haven’t built any social skills to talk about themselves.

Making statements is a better conversational habit as compared to asking questions and waiting for their reply. Of course, if you were to make both statements and ask questions and they won’t respond, it means that they are not ready to talk to someone new.

There’s no need to take it personally and move on.

If you’re sticking to questions, you don’t get to express your identity and you don’t really grease the wheels to help her express herself. She gets to take part minimally in the conversation.

Mindset 3: Listening Actively 

One of the common pitfalls starting a conversation is to only talk about yourself and only showing interest in topics that you are interested in.

One time, I went out with one of my girl friends. She had relationship woes. For three hours straight, she went on was how shit of their ex-boyfriend treated her. That spanned the entirety of three damned hours. Whilst I’m perfectly cool with lending a listening ear, it just got downright exasperating and I felt like killing myself at the end of the session.

One a side note: if you want to feel better about yourself. It’s recommended to step outside of yourself and empathise with someone else’s problems. This is much better than ruminating through a self-defeating loop in your mind, obsessed over your own problems, trouble and pain. It helps, try it.

If you’re genuinely interested learning about others, it’ll lead you to a lot more conversational opportunities.

Take a good listen to people around you. Everyone’s attempting to jam their point of view down everyone else’s throat. No one’s truly listening.

Conversations at the end of the day are a two-way thing. Yes, you get to share your story, once they are done listening to yours, do make a point to listen to their story. Part of being interesting is being genuinely interested remember?

Trying to get a girl's attention

Mindset 4: Use Effective Language 

One principle of being a great communicator is by using effective language. This means using the shortest number of words possible to in conversation to get your point across. You’ll rather have five minutes of succinct  conversation as opposed to fifteen minutes of beating around the bush. This way, you’ll also come off as more well spoken and charismatic.

This means removing ‘ahh’ ‘you know’ and ‘erhms’ and other filters when conversing.

This doesn’t mean you speak like a robot either. You can use different tonality and pace to get more emotion across in your conversations. Writing and keeping a journal can help with this skillset.

When there’s nothing to say, don’t feel like a need that you have to say something. That’s part of being grounded in your social interactions. There’s no need to fill every silent gap with something to say. In psychology, it’s said that people who can’t help but ramble on to ‘keep the peace’ may be displaying a form of anxious attachment.

When in doubt, ask yourself, ask yourself, are you saying something because you’re afraid of the silence or the slight confrontation? If the answer is Yes, then it’s OKAY to keep to yourself. Remember, you don’t need permission to speak to anyone, or not speak to anyone.

How to Start a Conversation with a Girl

Skillset 1: Asking Innocuous Questions

I used to think that simple questions sounded stupid and it’s ‘impractical’ to ask a girl such questions. However, I realised innocuous questions are a mere social tool and conversational starter to get some social juices going when talking to strangers.

No girl is going to go deep into their life story in the first few minutes of getting someone new, and no one expects a life story within the first few minutes either.

Some example of innocuous questions:

  • “What are you up to here?”
  • “How’s your day?”

You’ll be surprised how far these innocuous questions can help is starting a conversation with an interesting stranger.

Skillset 2: Making Simple Observations

Secondly, you can also start a conversation with her by making simple observations. You can get creative with this. It can be something in the current environment you’re in, it can be the nicely tailored suit that he’s wearing, or the cute blue toenails she has spent hours on. It can be the weather. It can be the fake tan she has on. (read: I’m kidding)

  • “Wow, the weather’s pretty hot today.”
  • ‘Those are nice blue toenails you have on, they are really cute.’

Through asking innocuous questions, think of it as a conversational starter. Once you get small talks like that going, you can follow these observations up with a question, or a cold read.

Skillset 3: The Art of Cold Reading

Cold reading is the art of making an intelligent guess about something about someone. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong or right. The point of cold reading is to get a new conversation started. It’s one of the most effective and a bread and butter of conversational tools that you should include in your arsenal.

Cold reading is done by making harmless neutral assumptions with the people you are talking with.

Examples of Cold Reading:

  • “Hi, you seem to be a really artsy person. Did you take an arts subject in school?”
  • “You look like you’re a school teacher… with that crazy hair you must be a pretty bad one, all the kids must stare at those crazy colours…”

The thing about cold reading and guessing is that you’ll never go wrong with it. If you get it wrong, she will correct you, and perhaps add onto it. If you are spot on, they’ll likely to think that you’re quite perceptive and may engage with you in conversation because of that. One time I got most of my cold reads right by chance by guessing a girl was half Japanese and studied at University of London. She reacted positively and was curious how did I know so much. I followed up by teasing that I stalk her daily on Facebook and Instagram.

Through cold reading, you can keep conversational threads flowing and then relate these threads back to your own life with your own experiences.

I’ve personally used cold reading thousands of times to spark new conversations or in the middle of dying conversations threads. It works every time.

Cold reading is a skillset that you can use to make statements. Even simple ones that include making observations about the environment or something that catches your eye. It’s possible to turn every question into a statement. For example, instead of asking what someone does for a job, why not make a statement that they looks like they work in creative line or looks like a teacher and etc.

If you get it wrong, they’ll correct you. If you get it right, they’ll be quite surprised at how intuitive you are. There are no loses to making cold reads.

You can also make statements about your day to day life. Instead of worrying what to ask next, you can just go off randomly on your day or events that interest you: ‘I hate my boss, he just made me do two times the work today’.

It’s better to be random and interesting than to be predictable.

Statements done right can inspire someone to find out more about yourself. It can inspire someone to ask more questions about you. This way, it’s a two sided conversation.

Caveat: I’d like to add that questions are alright in an Asian setting, in some Asian cultures, people in general aren’t really conditioned to lead a social interaction, you’ll be required to do a little bit of babysitting by mixing questions with statements.

How to Keep a Conversation Going

Now that you have started a conversation, how do you keep a conversation going with her and never run out of words? It’s best to assume to the burden of taking the lead to start, to continue and to lead conversation. Instead of ending your conversations with one-word answers: Yes or No, try to end it with stories, statements, emotion and specifics.

  • The Art of Improvisation

There’s a misconception that people pay attention to words and phrases. However, it’s the meaning of the conversation that people are more interested in. If you just pay attention to to phrases and words, it’ll result in an unnatural conversation. It’ll seem as if you’re trying to keep this conversation going and you’re afraid of silences.

The secret to creating endless conversational topics is to get good at improvisation. You can only get better with this skill by learning from stand up comedians. I started off studying George Carlin and Louis CK in attempting to better my chances with women, however, their style of comedy can be quite dark and self depreciating. That’s not really good for romantic situations. There are other good comedians such as Russell Brand and Russell Peters.

The best way to get good at improvisation is to gain an appreciation of language. Improvisation is impertinently important in learning to tease and build a sense of camaraderie. Old friends tease each other. Lovers tease each other. You can break the ice by being good at improv and teasing.

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How to Ask For Her Number

If you strike up a conversation with a woman and there’s a good feeling between both of you, then you can ask for her contact details. I generally find interactions that last lesser than 5 minutes don’t go anywhere. However here’s the thing. If she likes you and assuming you’re generally a friendly non threatening looking individual. Your conversation is going to naturally last more than 5 minutes.

Once you feel like you’ve gone from stranger to acquaintances, you should ask her out for a coffee right there and then. I always do that. You can also frame the way you ask her out.

“You’re nice to talk to, you seem like an interesting person, let’s grab coffee some day.” 

Only when she agrees, then ask for her number. There’s no perfect line to ask for her number. Just say:

“Let’s keep in touch and let’s exchange contacts.”

I say this all the time, the words are superficial, it’s the intention underneath it that counts. If she says no, then it’s alright as well. Just wish her well and move on.