Q&A with Violet: Should I Settle?

Question: I have several eligible well educated graduate single girl friends who do not want to settle for less or outside the norm or can't find the push for marriage. Norm as the guy should be older, financially better, taller, holding better job, if he owns property n car, then preferably same type or better than theirs. Would like to hear your advice for them.

Violet: My advice would be, firstly, they are choosing others, others are choosing them as well. These guys that they are looking for are probably the most "eligible" guys in "society standards". As a result, these men are highly sought after and have many choices and might not choose them.

Ultimately, your girlfriends have to ask themselves – what truly matters in a relationship or a marriage? 

Is it the car he drives, the number of properties he owns, the job he holds? Because he can lose his car, his properties and his job.

Or is it a man who stays loyal to you, a man who helps out with the kids and your elderly parents, a man who supports your dreams wholeheartedly, a man who will be a witness to your life journey – the ups and the downs, a man who will look after you even when you are old and wrinkly? These men do not always come in the "package" they expect.

Trust me, if your friends are wise enough to see beyond the superficial dating criteria, they are not settling. They would be on track for a much happier relationship and marriage.

#1millionhappymarriages #betterlifetimerelationships #LunchActuallyGroup

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Thankful that I was Not Born Beautiful

what you doThis post is inspired by some comments on a TV advert that I was recently featured in. Netizens have taken the liberty to highlight my non-beauty by comparing me to 如花, a Taiwanese entertainment personality famous for her “exaggerated ugliness”. Actually, this is not the first time that netizens have said that I reminded them of 如花. A few years ago, when I was featured in an online article on Yahoo! there were similar comments as well.

The truth is if you were to measure my physical appearance by the standard worldly yardsticks, I am definitely not Miss Universe. It has been said that the more symmetrical your face is, the more beautiful you are. If you look closely at my facial features, my left eye is bigger than my right eye. My left eyebrow is also higher than my right eyebrow. Other than having one eye bigger than the other, I also have single eyelids. I also have lazy eyes on one eye. Having always been on the heavier side, I do not recall ever be considered “slim” in my entire life.

Growing up, I remembered struggling with an extremely low self-esteem. I was overweight, had acne all over my face and had a very ordinary or below average face. Boys would usually befriend me not because they want to know me but because they wanted me to introduce them to my beautiful friends. One of my guy friends commented how flat my face was. Another commented that, “If I were a girl and I am not pretty, I would rather die!”

When I was 15 or 16, I recalled feeling really resentful of my beautiful friends. Their beautiful looks were something that they were born with. They did not work for it. I felt that life was really unfair because they did nothing to deserve the love, the adoration, and the attention that they were getting. And I do not deserve being sidelined just because I was not born beautiful. 

Being someone who feels that being a victim is disempowering, I quickly snapped out of it. I realized that there was no point harping over something that I could not change. And I focused on things that I could change. 

I could be a better friend.
I could be a persuasive public speaker.
I could become an impactful writer.
I could be a motivational leader.
I could be a change maker.

From then on, I did not invest too much time on dolling up or making myself look better. I focused on developing my confidence and other skillsets. 

I honed my listening skills. Friends love talking to me because I am a good listener. I joined Toastmasters, a public speaking club. I practiced in front of mirrors, I recorded my speeches, I took videos of them. I perfected my speeches, took part in speech competitions and won. Till today, I am thankful for the comprehensive training that Toastmasters has given me. I learnt how to create a personal blog through HTML and Dreamweaver (when we did not have WordPress yet) and wrote to my heart’s content. I took up leadership positions in school, in college and at university. I joined service clubs like Rotary International and spearheaded many community service projects.

When I first met Jamie, the love of my life at 20 years old, he did not even remember the first time we met. Why? Because I was not the type of girl that he was usually interested in. In those days, he was only pursuing the prettiest girls in school. He did remember the second time we met. When I was delivering my campaign speech to be the President of a students’ society. He was impressed by my speech delivery and my concrete plans for the society.

For many years, I have forgotten that I was not "beautiful". Because my beauty or lack-of did not matter as I graduated from law school, did a Masters, landed a job with Citigroup as a management associate and subsequently starting Lunch Actually with Jamie, and then tying the knot a year later.

That was until I started to appear more frequently in the media, and netizens decided to chime in with their comments.

When the first nasty comment surfaced on the Yahoo! article, I cried. I did not understand why people who did not even know me could be so cruel. It disturbed me for days. Eventually, I got used to it and realize that this is something I have to live with if I were to continue to be in the public eye.

Hence, when it happened again recently, I was not as affected. However, it did spur me to write this post.

After going through all that I have gone through, you know what? I am thankful that I was not born beautiful.

If I were born beautiful, I probably would not have met Jamie as I would not value him as much as I did when he spoke to me. I would have found his approach boring because if I was born beautiful, I would have had many other suitors and would not given him the time of the day. Because I was not born beautiful, I treasure each and every encounter, each and every person who took time to get to know me. And I know that he loves me for me and not for my looks. I know that even when I am old and wrinkly at 80, it would not matter. Because that was never the reason why he was attracted to me in the first place.

If I were born beautiful, I would not be who I am today. I would not have spent so much time compensating for my “non-beauty” and honing the skillsets that are now priceless to what I do. I would not have been as good a listener, or as patient a manager or as empathetic a friend. I would not have honed my public speaking skills and I would not have taken up as many leadership positions in my youth. Without these skills that I have spent thousand of hours on, I would not be leading a 100-people organization, inspiring hundreds through speaking engagements and appearing in thousands of media coverage worldwide advocating for happy marriages.

My purpose of writing this post is to share with my young women friends out there – it really does not matter if you are not beautiful by the “world’s standard”. You do not need to be beautiful or slim to succeed in life. It does not matter you do not have a “thigh gap”. It does not matter that you do not have double eyelids. It does not matter that your nose is too flat. It does not matter what others say. Because it is not about what they say, but how you respond.

I could have ended up being a real bitter person blaming my misfortunes on not being born with a beautiful face. I could have continued to secretly resent my beautiful friends for the attention they were getting. I could have continued to suffer from low self-esteem and play victim. Instead, I decided to channel this negative energy into something positive that propelled me to become a better person.

What we make of our life is up to us. I have learnt to ignore those who laugh at me because as long as I continue to focus on doing the right things, one day, I would have the last laugh.

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Born to Fly

Last weekend, I did something I thought I will never ever do in my life – I flew!!!

When presented with the opportunity for sign up for a flying trapeze session at the Trapeze School of New York as an off-site activity, my first reaction was intense fear. Having never been athletic, swinging on a bar, not mentioning hooking up my legs, letting go of my hands and hanging upside down sound downright terrifying. As I listened to the opening keynote speaker at #EOUniNY, and she spoke about living life at the edge and conquering your fear rather than wrapping your comfort zone around you like a coat, something stirred in me. And as she continued on about living up to your “word” which in my case was ‘transform’, I resolved to conquer my fear of heights, my fear of doing something I am convinced I cannot do and I decided to sign up for the flying trapeze. I thank Jamie, my forum mates Hong Ting and Annie as well as Jacob for changing their offsite activity to join me and support me.
When we reached the venue, I started to question what the heck was I thinking when I signed up!!! I was having second thoughts when I was putting on the safety belt. As I climbed up the ladder, I kept praying and visualizing myself completing the entire sequence. Before I knew it, I was off and flying. And the instructor was barking commands, “Knees up”, “Legs up”, “Hands down”, “Arms down”. And before long, I was engulfed in the reassuring safety net. 

It was an amazing and transforming experience. I faced my fear, I conquered it and I had fun in the process. And throughout I was thinking of the experience that 9 year old Corum has shared with me about his own ‘missed opportunities’, where he regretted when he allowed his fear to stop him from trying out something new. I am so glad to come home to tell him that I have been inspired by his story and I wanted to make sure that I would not have a ‘missed opportunity’ like I have had many other times in my life where I would later regret and keep thinking, “I should have done it!”

The actions we take are a result of the story we tell ourselves over and over again. 

That day, I decided to change that narrative, shed the mould of what had served me in the past and create a definitive breakthrough. Since then, there has been an amazing energy shift and I have not felt more inspired, more uplifted, more alive.

Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” A reminder to ourselves – What is our message and how are we living it out everyday? 

 

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly…

cigonifeIt all started with the "36 questions". Jamie and I were driving back from San Jose to San Francisco. Still suffering from jet lag, i was getting increasingly sleepy. We decided to answer the ’36 Questions’ to help me keep awake. One of the questions was – “If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?" I realised that there was not much that I would really change about how I would live my life. But one thing came to mind – I would definitely write more. I kept a written journal while growing up. And as technology advanced, I kept a blog. Heck, I even learned HTML just so that I could start a blog. I blogged for a while, but as work and life caught up, blogging has turned into a monthly and now (yikes!) an annual affair when I write my Annual Report – a recap of the year that has passed. I no longer find time to write, other than updating my FB statuses. So I thought… maybe I should take up writing again. To document my life. To destress and unload. To share my lessons learnt. If you like to read what I have to share, bookmark my blog violetlim.com and do check in now and then. 🙂

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Turning 35: 10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

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Turning 35 is a big milestone. I am officially middle age! 🙂 Of course not everything are roses and happines, I also started to use a Dim Supplement to counter early menopause concequences. Just like how I reflected when I turned 30, I decided to do a mini reflection now that I have turned 35.

Here are 10 things that I have learnt in the last couple of years.

1. You cannot find your passion. Your passion will find you. Just like any other wide-eyed idealistic youth, I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to find myself, I wanted to know what my passion is. I have learnt that as romantic as it might sound, one cannot find his or her passion by doing “Eat, Pray, Love”. When you have the right mindset, when you are ready, your passion will find you. When I first went into the matchmaking business, did I know 100% that this was my passion? Not really. It was after years of keep going at it that I eventually know that this is what I love doing, and want to continue doing.

2. You cannot be everyone’s friend. You cannot make everyone like you. My DISC profile is high D, high I. I love people. I crave for people’s approval. I used to get very upset when I think some people do not like me. I have even tried all sorts of way to please them hoping that by doing that, I can “buy their love”. I have learnt over the years that – if you were to have accomplished anything in life, you would have your supporters and detractors. Nowadays, I am happy and contented to have a small circle of close family and friends who love me for who I am. And these are the people I know that I can always count on no matter what happens.

3. You should always tell the truth, and not try to be politically correct. When I first started out, I always try to be politically correct. I would sugarcoat my statements. I was afraid that if I were to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, I might hurt others, or I might get complaints. I have come to realize that, it is always better to tell it as it is. People appreciate it when you are sincere, genuine and authentic. Even though the truth might sting, most of the times, they already know it. And they were just waiting for someone to affirm what they know. By being politically correct, we are actually not helping them at all.

4. Happiness is a choice. I have learnt that happiness is the gap between expectations and reality. The closer the gap, the happier one would be. Sometimes, we might not be able to change our circumstances. However, we can always change our expectations. Often, by just making a small tweak to our perspective, our life will be so much happier and rosier. Do not wait to be happy. Do not put your happiness into the hands of others. Choose to be happy. Today. Now.

5. Sometimes it is better to be smart than to be right. I have a strong sense of justice. I have strong principles. Most of the times, I am an easy-going person. Friends might even feel that I do not have much opinion.  I let people get their way on matters that are not important to me. But when it comes to matters of principle, I stand my ground and rarely budge. However, over the years, I have learnt that sometimes, it is better to be ‘smart’ than to be right. By giving way, by taking a step back, there would be more long-term benefits for all parties concerned, why not? I have learnt (still learning, honestly) to put my ego aside for the greater good.

6. Let go, let God. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5) I have learnt to make plans and commit all my plans to Him. There is no reason to fret, to worry, to be anxious. When the time is right, He will bring it to pass. Since I have started to let go, let God, my life has become a lot simpler, calmer and more peaceful.

7. Leadership is a learned skill. The more you practice, the better you get. I used to worry a lot that I am a bad manager, a bad leader. I swung from being my team members’ best friend, to becoming a tyrant. Obviously, both did not work out very well. I have realized over the years that other than a few lucky ones who are born leaders, for the rest of us, it is about learning and practicing. Read books on leadership and management, practice the concepts and get feedback from others. And one day, you wake up to realize that you have become a much better leader! 🙂

8. When you forgive, you are not doing someone else a favour, you are actually doing yourself a favour. People will wrong us, and we will wrong others. Some do it out of spite and malice; some do it without even knowing and realizing it. We can hold a grudge forever, or we can choose to forgive. I initially found it very hard. Why should I forgive when I am not in the wrong? Why should I forgive when the person has not even apologized? And when I finally mustered the courage to forgive, I realized how much lighter and better I felt. Negative energy weighs us down. By learning to forgive, we free ourselves from emotional baggage and bondage.

9. When you take others’ feedback, it is not acknowledging you are not good enough; you are merely listening and learning from someone else’s point of view. I used to hate getting feedback. Of course, in front of the person giving me the feedback, I would smile and nod, but internally, I am screaming for the person to stop! I realized that I hated feedback because I felt that people are putting me down, and saying I am not good enough. But now, I realized that, feedback is just feedback. Take the good points, and discard the bad. And ever since that, personally, I have grown leaps and bounds, and the business has also been on an upward trend.

10. Life is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Went to Corum’s track and field championship the other day, and was watching the boys run. For the younger boys, they would keep looking beside and behind them, trying to see if anybody is catching up. And in life, that’s normal. Many of us will at some point or other be trying to ‘catch up with the Joneses’ – who has the bigger house, who has the more expensive car, whose kids are doing better? I have learnt that sometimes you are ahead, sometimes others are. But actually, that’s not really the point. The point is – are you a better version of yourself today, compared to yesterday? I have learnt to pace myself. Step by step.

There is still a long road ahead. 🙂

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Is it Possible to Have Rewarding Relationships While Travelling for Work?

ihg internet surveyRecently, I had the opportunity to be part of an interesting project on a topic that is close to my heart and participated as a Relationship Expert to comment on the latest survey by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). It revealed that travellers miss their connection when they're abroad, stating that staying in touch with loved ones at home is of top priority. 
 
As a frequent business traveller, I would have to agree with this as I often find myself getting frustrated if I'm unable to access the internet from my hotel room to get in touch with hubby and the kids back home. The worst thing that can happen after a long and tiring flight is to find out that there's no Wi-Fi in the hotel room! My favourite channel to contact home is either through Skype or FaceTime, much like the rest of the Singapore respondents. I believe that when communicating with our loved ones back home, having a video call is more powerful than a simple text of Internet Message. With video calls, I get to see the kids expressions when I ask them how their day was, and I could even read them a bed time story! 🙂
 
What really touched me among the many findings was that… Singaporeans, being one of the world's the most frequent travellers, actually make it a point to check in with their loved ones daily!!! Singaporeans actually spend more time online (44 mins) talking to our family than those from Down Under (17 mins) proving that the Asian value of 'family first' is still very strongly inculcated in us in today's day and age.
 
At the end of it, it became very apparent to me how important internet connectivity is for business travellers, like myself, to maintain relationships with our partners and kids when abroad. It is great that hotel groups like IHG with hotel brands such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express and InterContinental offer free internet world wide for members of the IHG Rewards Club, a loyalty programme where you may sign up free of charge!
 
So if you are a frequent business traveller like me, you might want to check them out! 🙂
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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Finding Love in the Right ‘Places’

love magnifying glassIt was time to meet up with our financial consultant to review our insurance policies. Hence, hubby asked if I could help to locate the insurance file to bring along to the meeting. The funny thing was, for some reason, hubby thought that the documents were in a black file. So, he kept asking me to look for a black file. I searched high and low for that elusive black file. 20 minutes later, I still couldn't locate it. Was starting to get rather frustrated. For some reason, a white file on the shelf caught my eye, so I took it down. I opened the file, and voila! There were all our insurance policies!

I wanted to share this story with you because it occured to me that this is what is happening to many singles out there. We keep a checklist. We have a long list of criteria of what we are looking for. He must be taller than me. She must be beautiful and slim. He must be smart and earning a decent income. She must be intelligent yet not aggressive. He must have a sense of humour. She must know how to cook. And the list goes on. We set parameters in our mind on what we are looking for in our perfect partner. And hence, when someone does not seem to fit into the mould we are looking for, without even giving the person a second chance or glance, we swiftly move on.

Because we are so focused on 'what we think is the perfect one', we miss out on THE perfect one. Just like how I almost never found my file.

I am not saying, "Lower your standards!". I am not saying, "Don't have any parameters!" What I am saying is… be more open minded. When you have too many filters, you are limiting your chances. He might be 170cm when you wanted someone who's 175cm. But honestly, 5cm ain't not going to make a huge difference in the long run. He might not seem like the funniest guy in a crowd. But when you get to know him better, he might make you laugh with his corny jokes. She might not be Ms. Universe, but she has the biggest and most beautiful heart. She might not know how to cook, but both of you could bond through some gourmet cooking lessons!

I am glad I have located my file, by looking in the right places. I hope that by reassessing your criteria and parameters, you too will find your perfect someone soon.

Happy Dating! 🙂

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Love in Progress《爱。进行中》Ep 5: Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Episode 5 must be one of the most-discussed episodes to date. The episode has been discussed heatedly by netizens, and even featured on local newspapers.

The key reason?

One of the female contestants, when asked about her dating preferences criteria, mentioned that money is very important to her and money gives her a sense of security. She also stated that she would prefer that the guy earns at least $6000 a month. This has created an instant uproar. Netizens started slamming her for being materialistic. I even received calls from the press to ask me about my opinions on this issue, which I will share more later in this post.

From left to right: Sharon, Jia Xuan, Chen Wei, Vincent, Lance, Ben

There are some interesting lessons that I have picked up from this particular episode.

1. It pays to be gentlemanly. Out of the three guys – Vincent, Lance and Ben, Ben is the one who comes across as most gentlemanly and chivalrous. He would pull out the chairs for the ladies, ask them what they would prefer to drink etc. Guys, even though some might think chivalry is dead, from this show, it is obvious that old school charm does have a part to play. Ultimately, Ben was chosen as one of the two finalists, and eventually became the winner.

2. Do not become too comfortable too fast. Jia Xuan, one of the female contestants is a bubbly, outgoing and straightforward girl. She is very much what I would say is "what you see is what you get". In the initial getting to know you session, she ended up bringing up both her legs, and sat on the sofa as if she's lounging at home. It is good to be authentic and genuine, but we do need to keep certain decorum on a first date.

3. Women like men who take charge. During the rope-jumping segment, Vincent really stood out as he immediately took charge of the situation by allocating job scopes. This was very helpful in this segment, as it was being timed. Many a times, many groups will just stand around and wait for someone to take charge and end up wasting time. What was really remarkable was that he did it in a way that showed his decisive nature yet did not come across as ordering people around. 

4. Speak your mind to be noticed. One of the reasons Lance lost out was because he did not seem to have an opinion. Generally, he is more introverted and quiet compared to the other 2 guys in this episode. However, he should have capitalised on the Q&A session to chalk up some brownie points. However, during the Q&A session, on 2 separate occasions, he just said that he agreed with what Vincent has said, and offered little of his own thoughts and opinions. We do not need to have strong opinions on every single thing. But we do need to have our own opinions, and we need to share them so others get to know us better.

5. Always be prepared for a first date with a 'cheat sheet'. Both Vincent and Ben are comfortable conversing in crowds. They are funny, they are witty and they are popular. However, during the one-on-one date, they both seemed nervous and at times there were some awkward silences. The reason is probably they both liked Chen Wei and they wanted to make the best impression impossible (and not screw up!). As a result, they seemed more self-conscious than they usually are. In these circumstances, I would suggest that guys prepare some interesting icebreakers, openers or even topics that they can fall back on when their palms start to sweat.

6. Head vs. Heart. Based on the various scenes captured on TV, it is evident that both Chen Wei and Vincent are smittened with one another. The shy sidelong glances, their body language, the way they spoke about each other… I think many must be surprised when Chen Wei chose Ben over Vincent. She probably chose with her head and not with her heart as she rationalized that Vincent is out of her league. I am not saying that Chen Wei has made the wrong choice when she chose Ben. Because, it might well be the right decision. However, I think it is important that we have enough self-confidence to know what we want and work towards it. In love and relationships, there is no guarantee that if you work on it, you will get your desired results. However, if you do not even try, then you are going to fail for sure.

Personal Story: When I first got to know Jamie, the right thing to do was probably not to pursue the relationship. He was sending me all the signals that he was not ready to start a relationship since he was graduating in 3 months' time, and I still had another year to go. What that meant was we would end up in a long distance relationship when we do not even know each other too well. I am glad I followed my heart. We eventually got together, had a 2.5 years long distance relationship, and the rest they say is history. 🙂

7. Some things are better left unsaid (especially on a first date). Honestly, we all have our dating criteria and preferences. Men generally place a lot of importance on good looks and physical appearance. And women are generally looking for some one who is confident, carry themselves well and financially stable. We understand these biological attraction markers, and when we match at Lunch Actually, we would also look out for these criteria and match accordingly i.e. if the lady earns $75,000 per annum, we would not match her up with someone who earns $35,000 and below unless she has specifically mentioned she does not mind. The reason is, they probably come from very different backgrounds and circumstances and would usually not be very compatible (of course, there have been exceptions). However, for someone to spell it out so clearly how much they would like the guy to be earning, it is definitely a put-off for guys.

Some of our well-off guy clients have also mentioned that they do not want to be matched with ladies who have specified that they only want to date guys of a certain income range. The first question in their head will usually be, "Do you like me or do you like my money?"

Earning big bucks can definitely be a shared objective and common goal if money is important to you. However, to disqualify someone because he or she does not earn $6000 is not the best dating criteria in my opinion. 

Ultimately, the best matches are those where you share common values and common life goals. 

The contestants in Episode 5 are all young and good-looking. To watch this episode, click here for catch-up TV

Till my next episode commentary, happy dating! 🙂

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Love in Progress《爱。进行中》Ep 1: The Importance of Sincerity & Thoughtfulness

A few months ago, I was invited to be one of the 'consultants' on a local dating reality show. As I have heard so much about dating reality shows abroad, I was really interested and excited to be part of a local dating show. The show turned out to be 'Love in Progress'!

I will be featured as a dating consultant on 5 of the 10 episodes, where I will be giving dating tips and advice to the singles prior to their first date, as well as during the date. This is actually something that is fun for me, as we do not get the chance to observe or 'spy on' the dates that we arrange for our clients at Lunch Actually. In this filming situation, I actually get to 'eavesdrop' on the date, and give constructive feedback as we go along! 

I plan to give my comments and insights on each and every episode so that it would give my readers as well as the viewers who are single on how they can maximise their chances of finding Mr or Ms Right. As I am quite busy with work and business travel, my blog posts might not be as frequent as I would like them to be. Please do bear with me. 🙂

My First Impression of The Contestants

Madelyn: Her first appearance on the TV screen was quite striking. She was wearing the shortest dress among the the girls, and her dress is quite low-cut as well. Coupled with a confident strut, she comes across as a girl who knows what she wants. My advice: For ladies, it is better to go for a more feminine and elegant look for a first date. Revealing too much skin on a first date is not such a good idea as it might give the guy a wrong impression. It is good to be straightforward rather than beat around the bush. However, if the girl comes across as too aggressive and always needing to have the last say, guys would find that off-putting. Remember, you are on a date, not a debate.

Chanel: Chanel might not be the prettiest, but she came across as friendly and approachable. Her dressing is also chic and trendy. Even though it was an asymmetrical top that reveals her shoulder, it is not overtly sexy. My advice: It is not necessary true that the most beautiful girl will finish first, and the plain girl will finish last. So, if you have always felt like a plain Jane most of your life, do not dismay. Often, it is about being kind, friendly and having a ready smile. 

Siew Jing: Among the three ladies, Siew Jing comes across as the most gentle and feminine, which should work in her favour as men in generally prefer ladies who are not too aggressive. However, Siew Jing is so quiet in most of the show that she ended up being like a wallflower. My advice: First impressions are made in minutes if not seconds. It is important that you make a lasting impression to your date. You can either make a good impression, bad impression, or worse… no impression. You do not need to hog the conversation, but you do need to speak up to get noticed.

Zi Han: He came across as someone who is stable, matured and knowledgeable. As a guy, this is a good impression to convey on a first date as women like men who are driven and know where they are heading. My only gripe about Zi Han is his choice of shirt during the initial meeting. He was wearing a mustard yellow shirt that does not complement his skin tone at all. It made him look very sallow. My advice: One of the best investments we can make for ourselves is to find out the colours and styles that suit us best. The easiest way is to work with an image consultant. This does not only help us in our dating journey; it would also help us in our career as we would be making the best first impression every time.

Albert: At first glance, Albert seems like the most eligible out of the three male contestants. He is tall, he has a corporate look and he was dressed in a light jacket. (Note: Albert was eventually not chosen as the final two due to other factors.) My advice: I know that in Singapore and Malaysia, the weather is really hot, and we do not have a 'jacket culture'. However, men always instantly look smarter in a jacket, and just by putting on a jacket, you would be perceived as having a better career or have a higher earning potential. Hence, invest in a casual jacket that you can pair with your slacks or your jeans when the occasion calls for it.

Kok Liang: My first impression of Kok Liang is that he is rather skinny, and he tends to hunch. In terms of his dressing, his style is young and trendy. Generally, he comes across as someone who is very young and not very confident, which is not an advantage when it comes to dating. However, Kok Liang makes up for it by coming across as someone who is friendly, sincere and down-to-earth. My advice: For younger guys, you can appear more matured by choosing dress shirts that are thicker, wearing glasses or even just by changing your hairstyle. It is also about how you speak and the way you carry yourself. By speaking in a lower and deeper voice with a more measured pace, you instantly come across as more matured and confident. 

One-on-One Date: Chanel with Zi Han

I thought Zi Han's choice of gift for Chanel was really refreshing. Rather than just buying flowers or chocolates which are typical presents for a first date, he actually presented her with a Princess Barbie Doll in addition to a small bouquet. It was a brave move as some girls might not be into dolls at this age. But Zi Han made the right choice as Chanel absolutely loved it, and you must see her swoon when he said, "I want to treat you like a princess…"

Zi Han shared with me that he actually prepared a magic trick to surprise Chanel with. However, he did not manage to practise it as much as he would like to, and he was worried that he might make a fool of himself, hence at the end he did not show her the magic trick. 

My advice: Girls in general like surprises. We want to know that you have been thinking about us, and you are willing to make an effort to make us happy. When you buy presents, put some thought into it, just like Zi Han did. 🙂 And also, girls are generally quite forgiving. I think Chanel would have appreciated the magic trick even if it had turn awry, because it is really the thought that counts. 🙂

One-on-One Date: Chanel with Kok Liang

Kok Liang made a good choice with the setting up of an outdoor date. From the beginning, you could see that both Chanel and Kok Liang were feeling very relaxed and happy.

I thought it was a bit corny that Kok Liang cut out the crust of the bread from the sandwich, and told Chanel that, "You eat the bread, and I will eat the crust…", but it actually worked! Haha! 🙂 Chanel was actually really touched. I applaud Kok Liang as it is evident that he has put in a lot of effort into preparing for a 'mini picnic'. Kok Liang might not be as highly educated as the other two (he is an ITE grad), but his sincerity and his earnestness really shone through.

The theme of photography throughout the date was also a brilliant move. Chanel was all giggly and had lots of fun during the date as she wanted to learn more about photography from Kok Liang.

My advice: After the initial meet up, when planning your next date, do consider going for an outdoor date. It would immediately put both of you at ease, and you can also learn more about each other in a different environment. For guys, learn to play up your strengths or talents. Back to Kok Liang… during the date, he would share with Chanel about photography, and you could instantly see Chanel being more attracted to him as she saw him as someone who is knowledgeable and someone whom she could look up to.

So the big question is of course… who did Chanel choose at the end? 

Well, you have go watch the show to find out! 🙂

Click here to watch Episode 1 -> http://video.xin.msn.com/browse/catch-up-tv/love-in-progress#

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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The Choice is Yours

Told a friend,

"You think you know what you are looking for. But you know something? Your choices do not show that you know what you are looking for. In fact, you are actually deceiving yourself thinking you are looking for what you think you are looking for."

Are you confused? 🙂

Well, to cut the long story short, this is someone who told me that he does not mind whether the girl is pretty or not, is young or not, is slim or not. He is just looking for someone whom he can share his life with. Someone whom he can connect with. Sounds like the perfect guy, and perhaps the only guy who is not biologically driven (or some might say shallow)?

The only problem is… his choices in girls show otherwise. Just like most guys out there, he chooses the 'sweet young things'. And when presented with ladies who are not that young, not that slim, and not that good looking, he is nice to them, but he simply is not that interested. And he would cite reasons such as, "We do not have that much in common," or "She is not my type…"

I don't know what's worse. A guy who is biologically driven and knows it, or a guy who thinks he is not biologically driven but in actual fact, he is.

It is so important to know what we are looking for in an ideal partner. And the reasons why we make these choices.

My hubby Jamie like most guys out there used to be extremely biologically driven. He only pursued the prettiest girls in school. Given his height and brooding good looks (in my opinion, haha!), he was quite popular in university. The funniest thing was, he never knew that he was 'shallow' until one of his friends pointed it out to him one day. And then he suddenly realised that he actually did not have much in common with some of these pretty girls that he was pursuing. And that was when he started to ponder on what mattered to him most when it comes to a long-term relationship.

It is an 'open joke' in our relationship that Jamie did not even remember the first time he met me. (I know…) Let's just put it this way… my physical appearance has improved leaps and bounds since Jamie and I first met. I used to have bad skin, frizzy hair, bad makeup skills and poor dress sense. The only reason why our relationship progressed beyond the first meet up is because in Jamie's words,

"We connected very well!"

We could talk for hours. (We can still talk for hours.) And again, in his own words, "She became prettier and prettier as I got to know her!" (Yes, makeup and a good hair cut does do wonders!)

In the end, Jamie chose friendship that blossomed into romantic love. However, most men would choose love (or lust) and hope that friendship will eventually blossom.

We all have a choice. Whatever your choice is, just remember that you will be spending the rest of your life with him or her. Depending on what age you marry, that could be 40, 50, 60 or even 70 years, and that's a long long time. As for people who tell you… marriage has 3 rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering, well… you know what they might have chosen. 😉 Or you could be like some of us who would say on our wedding day,

"Today, I will marry my best friend. The one I laugh with, live for, love."

My dearest friends, please choose wisely…

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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