First off, happy Valentine's day to everyone.
A lady classmate asked me to do an article which summarises how I view the current dating climate in Singapore. I promised that I will do something to the best of my ability but first off - May God have mercy on her soul !
Some of the ideas I have today are based on how little I know about social science and evolutionary psychology. To temper my propensity to troll, I would have to consider whether this article would be practical if I were to instead give this advice to my daughter. So far, I think it passes that test.
So here are some of my pointers:
a) There aren't a lot of eligible of men to go by.
Men may fail to be marriage material quite easily. A small proportion are not interested in women at all. A larger number are stuck in jail. Even more struggle to support themselves because the world economy is slowly but surely destroying the middle class. Even the category of men who have decent jobs may not marry because technology has provided many alternatives through game consoles and social media.
So the first point is that this is not a good time for an eligible Bachelorette.
b) Men in the 70th income bracket should be good enough.
I think women are not out to spend men's money. Their men's income is a signal of their own self-worth. It would be hard to justify their boyfriend's salary to their relatives, parents and colleagues, if it is significantly below their own. This is a significant defect in Asian society. Women are not fully liberated yet but they are starting to outperform men in schools and the workplace.
As my classmate will be a lady lawyer in the future, she would expect a fairly high salary on her own. My concern is that she may reject many men who make less money than she does.
My advice is not to look for a guy who can match her income, but to find someone who can hold his own at 70th percentile on the income scale which is about $80,000 a year. I also think that men at above $80,000 a year can look after themselves and should not have a psychological hangup if their lawyer wives make several times more than they do ( Just go for better holidays lor ! ).
c) Go for the men who can give you a stable marriage
Personality science has given some pointers on how to choose men for the most stable marriages.
The most important trait if you cannot assess a man's career potential is his conscientiousness. Conscientious men are neat and orderly. They are ambitious, have a set of goals for themselves and can plan for the future. You can see hints on how conscientious a guy is from his icon arrangement on his home PC but you need a certain level of conscientiousness to get into higher education and the highest-paid professional jobs.
The second trait is agreeableness. Whenever possible, go for a guy who is friendly and warm. I know some women find jerks and trolls irresistable, but you should try to avoid men who put you down.
But the economy makes this a difficult bargain - the most financially successful men are conscientious and disagreeable, so good luck sorting this one out as most divorces occur over money issues !
d) Play for keeps while you are young
Despite what feminists say, men remain stubbornly visual creatures. You will need to do something to ensure that you look presentable, but more importantly, as looks depreciate over time, you need to aggressively play for keeps in your twenties and early thirties.
Biologically, it does not make any sense for women to delay marriage if the right guy comes along ( That is, itself, a rare event these days ). Shows like Sex and the City send out the wrong message to women that there is a Mr.Big waiting for time when they hit their 40s. Mr Big will probably go after his hot secretary who is 15 years younger than him.
Worse, there is a train of thought started by Apple that a woman can freeze her eggs to be used the future so that she can work. I would agree that the technology can work, but do ensure that you freeze your appearance as well unless you are only looking for a donor and not anything else.
A Milennial's biggest mistake is thinking that there is a period of their lives in their 20s that they can dedicate for self-reflection and intellectual masturbation. They are wrong - they need to get their career's right, save for retirement and start a family if they can find the right person.
Leave the intellectual masturbation to uncles in their 40s who study in SMU and run financial blogs.
Your time will come later.
e) Choose the venue for your battles
I can't emphasize this more but choosing a venue to find a conscientious and agreeable man can itself be a science rather than an art. I never understood why some folks in my generation think that they can settle down with someone they meet in a discotheque or a bar. These places are not exactly the kind of place you will find guys who are conscientious. And sadly, neither are organized dating events, many guys are there because they lack the conscientiousness in the first place !
In that sense, the ladies in my class have come to the right place. Places of higher learning has plenty of conscientious guys who are out there charting a better future for themselves. I would also like to add that religious organizations are also full of guys who are high on the agreeable scale.
f) Prepare to fail. And maybe win big as a result of that.
My heart goes out to my lady classmates. I worked with them and confirm that they are no more neurotic and disagreeable than other women I worked with.
I think female lawyers may face some discrimination in the dating world. Asian men are intimidated by their intelligence and one or two neurotic women may inadvertedly tar the entire profession. So it is entire possible that some professional women may not find the right person in their lifetime which is not their fault.
Maybe that is is why they may have won the game of love. Their married peers have diapers to change and husbands who refuse to share in the house work. They can make their own money and travel several times a year.
At the end of the day, professional women in Singapore have a tough juggling act. Eligible men are getting distracted by technology and find it impractical to start families with so many viable alternatives. Society still have a traditional view on marriage and gender roles in the household while women's incomes and career potential speed ahead as the economy becomes more globalized.
That is why, in the end, with better education and economic prospects, professional women are stuck in the role of being daughters of a better age.
It is so much tougher to be wives and mothers in this better age as a consequence of this.