No Strings Attached?

When I first saw the 'No Strings Attached' trailer, I thought to myself… I would like to watch this show… mainly because I have always enjoyed Natalie Portman's acting. Hence, when OMY Blog Club sent out an email to say that they had 40 preview tickets available, I jumped at the chance to be one of the first to catch the show.

The key question posed in the show is of course… Friends with benefits… does it work? I think most of us know the answer to that. It will never work for long as one party will end up falling for the other, and the other is simply not ready to invest anything more than just sex. It was still fun watching the chemistry between Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher as the plot unfolds…

Even though the plot might be a tad bit predictable, I did glean some interesting tips for all you single guys out there from this show. šŸ™‚

1. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. Ashton Kutcher played the male lead Adam. Adam is such a sweet and sensitive guy, and his friends are always giving him funny advice. However, one thing I have to admire about Adam is that he really dares to just wear his heart on his sleeve and just put himself out there. Upon the suggestion of his friend, he actually visited Emma (played by Natalie Portman) at her work place with a balloon. For you guys out there, you do not always have to come across as macho and aloof. Sometimes, wearing your heart on your sleeve is sweet too. But always be sincere and genuine about it of course.

2. Planning a great first date. Finally after being sex friends for ages, they decided to go on a real first date. I love the fact that Adam dressed up for the date. Gave her 'flowers'. Planned the entire date and even had an itinerary! And they did so many interesting things together, not just your usual dinner. Guys, if you do not know this already, women do not like men who are indecisive. As much as you would like to give her a say or a choice, truth is, we will be extremely impressed if you have taken the initiative to give us a surprise by planning a great date!

3. Standing your ground even when it hurts. In real life, you would think that the guy would be the one who falls for the girl and as a result the whole friends with benefits relationship will break down. However, in the show, it was the other way round. When Adam wanted something more than just sex, and Emma just couldn't seem to reciprocate. Adam finally took the painful decision of putting a stop to it all.

The scene where he told her, "I can't keep doing this. I am not going to see you again…", it was quite heart-wrenching to watch as you know how much he loves her.

The problem with many nice guys out there is… they just simply do what the girls want. They do not stand their ground. And at the end of the day, the girl just tires of them because the girls just feel that they are spineless and cannot stand up for themselves or what they believe in. There's nothing wrong in being nice. But know this, you want her to respect you, to look up to you. And if she's wrong, you have to put a stop to it.

Would I recommend this movie? No Strings Attached might not make it to my favourite romance comedy list like Love Actually, 50 First Dates or While You Were Sleeping… but it's 100% funny enough to have you in stitches, and it's definitely eye candy galore for both the female and male movie goers with two very good looking leads Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. And the bonus… you might even learn a thing or two about dating and relationships!

So what are you waiting for? Go catch it with your special date this Valentine's season! šŸ™‚ Check here for movie times!

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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 Singaporeā€™s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singaporeā€™s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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C2VD14 – Day 4: Being Happy on Your Own

 

“Are you happy?” This is a taboo question. I would never dare ask anybody this question unless he or she is a good friend. It seems too personal. It seems like we are prying or intruding.

It seems that the more we progress as a society, the less happy we become.

In our society where instant gratification is a norm, we are always looking for the next good thing. Happiness becomes short-lived. We attribute happiness to milestones or achievements.

“I will be happy if I am promoted.”

“I will be happy if I get a salary rise.”

“I will be happy if I lose weight.”

“I will be happy if I find Mr Right or Ms Right.”

And the list goes on.

Or worst, we place our happiness on the whim of someone else. In order for that ‘something’ to happen to make us happy, someone else has to do something. For example, “I will be happy if he calls!” And if he doesn’t, what happens? We get disappointed and disheartened. But in the first place, why are we placing our happiness in someone else’s hands? You cannot control what he/she does or what he/she does not do.

People are attracted to happy people. People are not attracted to people who are waiting for someone to come along to make them happy. They see, smell and feel your happiness. And they want to be part of that happiness.

For ladies, forget the image of the ‘knight in shining armour’ coming to save you from your misery. You are hardly a damsel in distress. Even if we were to look at the fairytales, all the Disney princesses, despite their hardship, always have a happy disposition. They are experts when it comes to 苦äø­ä½œä¹ (Chinese saying: Finding happiness in the midst of suffering). Isn’t that already a clue? I don’t think their Prince Charming will be attracted to them if they are depressed and prone to lamenting about how hard life is.

Violet, ok, I get you. So how can I be happy?

Let me share a secret with you… happiness is an everyday choice. You can CHOOSE your emotional state. You can CHOOSE to be happy despite your circumstances.

Violet, it is not that I do not want to be happy. But I have a very stressful job where my clients are very demanding. I have a nasty boss. I do not get along with my mother.

I understand. Many of us lead very stressful lives nowadays. And we are constantly interacting with people who expect split-second replies. In the past, if people wanted to reach us, they could only call us at home.  But today, they can call our mobile phones, leave us voice messages, send text messages, email us, chat online with us, drop us a message in our Facebook account, or tweet us on Twitter. If you think about it, it’s really crazy! We feel constantly overwhelmed because we are trying to keep up with all that is happening around us.

Nevertheless, we have a choice.

When someone screams at us, we can choose what emotional meaning and significance to give to his or her actions. And we can choose how we would like to respond.

I used to get all worked up when I receive complaints from demanding clients, especially when their claims were totally baseless. I sometimes even wondered why I bothered helping them when all they wanted to do was to bite my head off. And I got depressed and disillusioned.

Now, I take a step back and analyse why a person did what he or she did. Well, it could be that he was having a bad day, and just needed someone to take his frustration out on. She could be getting increasingly worried as age is catching up. I can either respond in a very defensive manner, or I can invite these people for coffee and a chat!

Happiness is a state of mind. You can either spend the rest of the day being happy. Or being unhappy.

The choice is yours! šŸ™‚

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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 Singaporeā€™s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singaporeā€™s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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C2VD14 Day 3 – Spring Cleaning Your Dating Checklist

 

One thing I strongly recommend to my clients is to put some thought into those characteristics and personality traits they most desire to find in The Right One. This is a good thing because it compels you to identify those things that are most important to you and to use this information to avoid dating people who don’t fit into the description. It’s a checklist, really, designed to help you sort through potential dates and put your time and effort only into those who are most likely to be compatible with you.

The problem, though, is that it’s easy to get hung up on your checklist. Yes, it’s a good idea to know what characteristics are most important to you, but when you become inflexible about those criteria, you end up missing out on many interesting people. Why? They don’t match enough of the must-have items on your checklist.

I call this ‘Checklist Syndrome’ and it’s something you can easily avoid if you’re careful and alert. Start by keeping track of how many potential dates you consider. How many of them do you end up rejecting because they don’t fit your checklist exactly?

The best way to deal with this problem is to re-visit your criteria, paying special attention to how many of them are flexible and how many of them are inflexible. If you’ve been rejecting a lot of potentials lately then perhaps some of your criteria are too inflexible and need to be adjusted. 

Don’t reject potentials so soon

Every time you hear about or are introduced to a potential date, you automatically start to go through your checklist of criteria. Sometimes this is a deliberate process and other times it is almost a subconscious process, making judgments about suitability in a reflexive rather than a deliberate manner.

It’s perfectly understandable, really. However, the assumptions we make about the opposite sex and their individual characteristics are often inaccurate, flawed, or based on stereotypes and judgmental beliefs.

Some of the most common areas we make assumptions about quickly and sometimes unconsciously include the following:

·         First impressions;

·         Social skills;

·         Physical attributes;

·         Your vision of the ideal man or woman;

·         Character, intelligence, and ambition;

·         Status, wealth, and social standing.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is to develop a better, more productive habit of dealing with potential dates, a process that is slower to reject a person based on these kinds of common assumptions.

In fact, I tell my clients.

“The yardstick on whether to go on a second date is not ‘how much you like the person’, but ‘how little you dislike the person’.”

If there is nothing you do not like about him or her, or if you are ‘on the fence’, my advice is, go for it! As much as you are giving the other person a chance, you are also giving yourself a chance!

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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 Singaporeā€™s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singaporeā€™s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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C2VD14 Day 2 – Finding a Way Back into Love

 

Hanging on to emotional baggage is one of the worst things you can do if you are looking for The Right One. It is also one of the things many singles are likely to do. 
What is emotional baggage?
 
There are lots of different ways to define it, but for our purposes we’re going to describe emotional baggage as those past experiences, feelings, emotions, and thoughts that linger in our minds and affect our current situation. These are the things that we carry around with us that end up creating difficulties in our current lives. In many cases, they actually can re-create themselves in a way that causes us to live them over again as if they were brand new.
 
The term “emotional baggage” has long been used to describe this situation, and it’s actually a very good term for this purpose because it creates the picture in our minds of physically hauling stuff around with us. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to picture yourself lugging a huge suitcase (or two, maybe three) at every step.

What’s in the suitcase? Whatever it is you’re not yet willing to let go. Maybe your emotional baggage is just like mine—the memory of a previous relationship where you thought you found The Right One but he turned out to be something else; or perhaps it’s a pattern of interaction from your past where you’ve not had very healthy relationships and you’re continuing with that pattern. Other things commonly found among our emotional baggage include fears, worries, disappointments, behaviour, dreams, fantasies, hurts, anger, and much more.

It is important to let go of emotional baggage for a number of reasons, chief among them being that it is the only way for you to be emotionally healthy and stable. The more baggage you carry with you, the less you are able to be emotionally strong, capable, and steady. Why? Because your time, energy and effort are consumed with that baggage, lifting it, carrying it, preserving it, looking through it, remembering it, living with it, and generally keeping it with you through all you other daily activities.

And when your entire focus (consciously or unconsciously) is on keeping that baggage with you, nothing else matters. Nothing else can break through and come into your life, and that includes The Right One.

If you doubt the impact of carrying emotional baggage around with you, try this little experiment.

Fill a handbag or briefcase with a few rocks or something else that’s heavy enough to make it challenging to carry around with you. Now carry that handbag with you everywhere you go for a full day. And I do mean everywhere. Carry it around the house, when you go shopping, as you run errands, as you work, as you drive, as you do absolutely everything.
It won’t take very long for you to get really tired of carrying this heavy handbag or briefcase around with you. And that’s exactly what it’s like to carry real emotional baggage around with you.

Once you let go of emotional baggage, though, everything changes. You feel lighter in a whole host of ways—physically, spiritually, and yes, emotionally. For many singles this feeling is something they have never experienced before and so they get a bit scared and maybe even start to pick up their baggage again. For others, though, the tremendous sense of freedom and liberation that comes from letting go is practically intoxicating and they never look back or even pause from then on.
 
There are no 100 per cent guaranteed ways to let go of emotional baggage because each person is different and each “bag of stuff” is different as well. There are a few excellent things you can do, though, to help you through this process and get you well on the road to being baggage-free.
  1. Let go of assumptions. Just because you have had a particular experience with a partner in the past, don’t assume you’re going to have the same kind of experience with other partners in the future. Start each day with a fresh and open mind, and especially let your mind be open when you meet a person who could potentially be someone you might date.
  2. Stop the loop. It’s easy to play the ‘loop’ of past experiences over and over again in your head, much like rewinding and playing a video over and over again. When your mind starts to play that loop , just press ‘stop’ and switch it off, even if you have to do this several times in a row.
  3. Don’t give up. Just because your past relationships haven’t worked out the way you wanted them to doesn’t mean future ones will be the same way, so don’t give up on dating or trying to find The Right One. You have to stick with it, no matter what.
  4. Break old patterns. When emotional baggage is rooted in past patterns of thought or behaviour, the best way to get rid of it is to break those old patterns. Start by identifying what your previous patterns have been, and then watch for signs of them in your current relationship behaviour. If you find a pattern starting to repeat itself, simply stop, take a deep breath, and make a different choice. Taking my case as an example, when I heard that my boyfriend went out for lunch with a group of female colleagues, and I could feel myself going crazy and wanted to accuse him of being interested in one of them, I took a deep breath, and instead asked him how it went, whether I knew them, and so on.
  5. Embrace vulnerability with protection. This might seem like odd advice because vulnerability and protection generally don’t go together. In the case of emotional baggage, though, they can indeed go together in a way that will help you in the long run. Remember to take care of yourself emotionally so that you stay healthy, but at the same time don’t ‘shut down’ your heart completely. Let yourself open up, even if it’s just a little bit, when you meet someone you really like. It’s that vulnerability that will allow you to create greater closeness in your new relationship.
The bottom line is, hanging on to emotional baggage might feel safe and secure to you, but it only seems that way. The reality is that the more you hang on to your ’stuff’, the more you carry it around and drag it around with you, the more it blocks you from finding The Right One and recognising him or her when he or she does actually come along.

    

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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 Singaporeā€™s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singaporeā€™s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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C2VD14 Day 1 – What’s Right and Wrong About You?

If you have read my book "Lessons From 15,000 First Dates", you would know that I am not the type who will white-wash my advice or just say things that your well-meaning mother, best friend, or colleague have been saying to you. Don't get me wrong… I believe in being positive and encouraging. However, I don't believe in telling you things that you would like to hear, but at the end of the day, not helping you at all in your dating journey. Hence, if you are looking to read politically-correct advice, then I would advise that you stop reading right now. šŸ™‚

Before we embark on our journey of finding love, I think most important of all, we should find ourselves. Like they say, like attract likes! Just like we are looking for Mr. Right or Ms. Right, we should reflect if we are Ms. Right or Mr. Right to begin with!

In the last 6+ years, I have come across many singles who have the right attitude, the right mindset as well as the right skill set to be in a relationship and make a relationship work. Hence, they are the ones who sail into our doors, and sail out rather quickly after a few dates. Some might say they are simply lucky, but luck as we know is when opportunity meets preparation. As they have been preparing themselves all these while on being 'The RIGHT one', when given the opportunity of meeting suitable and hand-picked matches, the pair off very quickly!

On the other hand, I have also met singles who have gone for many dates, but at the end of the day, nothing much come out of it.

Some even lament that we are intentionally matching them with duds. Of course, there have been times that we ourselves thought it's a close-to-perfect match (and we get very excited in the office!), and the clients upon meeting up think otherwise. But for us to intentionally make bad matches does not make business sense. Why? Other than the obvious which is… the client would then go out there and bad-mouth us, we actually DO want to 'get rid' of our clients as soon as possible by making good matches. Because if we find someone a good match on say their 5th out of 10th date package, and the happy couple decides to pair off and get married, our work is done! We can then move on to help other singles who need our help more!

So actually, as matchmakers and dating consultants, we are motivated to find as good a match as possible, every single time!

Now that we have established that we are on the same side and working on the same team, let's look at how we can do a self-assessment of what's right and wrong about ourselves.

1. Make a list. Take out a piece of paper, and make a list of what you believe your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to dating. There's no right or wrong answer. Just write down whatever that comes to mind. Think from a multi-dimensional level – your profile attributes such as age, education level, earning capacity, your physical attributes – your appearance, your height, your dressing, your personality attributes – the way you interact with people, your outlook in life… any thing that comes to mind.

2. Make a date with 3 of your guy friends and 3 of your girl friends. Think of 6 of your friends, 3 girls and 3 guys who are most candid and you believe genuinely want to help you succeed in love. Once you have come out with the list of friends, make a date with them. It could be a coffee date, a lunch date, a dinner date… make sure you have sufficient time to have a heart-to-heart talk.

3. Prepare yourself for the 'date'. Understand that this could end up being an extremely painful exercise. However, psyche yourself up to be open-minded and to take a positive approach to this as this exercise can help you greatly improve your chances of finding love and meeting the right one.

3. Find out the 'goods' and the 'bads'. On the 'date', share with your friend that you are on a journey of self-discovery and you would like to seek his or her candid and honest opinion about you so that you know where your blind spots are. Ask your friend to share their opinions on your 'dateability' factors. Ask them to rate you on a scale of 1-10 on areas such as physical appearance and dressing, communication skills and positivity vs. negativity. This is also a great time to ask your friend why he or she seemed reluctant to introduce you to that 'great guy' or 'great girl'. 

4. Take down notes. On each and every one of these 6 dates, write down what your friends have said. Of course not everything that they have said is 100% right. Everybody are entitled to their personal opinions. However, before we start judging what they have said, let's just write them down.

5. Calibrate the notes that you have taken. After you have heard of all 6 of your friends, on another piece of paper, start writing down each item that has come up, and take count of how many friends have said the same thing. If 3 or more friends have said the same thing, then it's probably something that's true and consistent. If it's a good attribute, then that's great! If it's a not-so-good attribute, then this is an area that you should take note of and work on.

6. Compare others' perception of you and your perception of yourself. Then, compare the 2 lists – the one that you have written down earlier (item 1) and the ones that your friends have shared (item 5). Some of you might have 2 very similar lists, that's wonderful as that means you have great self-awareness. For others, you might realize that your self-perception is slightly different from what others perceive you as.

Looking at these lists, please do not be too hard on yourself as the purpose of this exercise is not to bring you down. The reason for this exercise is for us to come face-to-face with what's stopping us from finding the love that we deserve. 

Now that we know what's right and wrong about ourselves, we can work on the areas that we might not have scored so well in so that we can be an even better version of ourselves. For some of you, it might be physical appearance, for others, it might be conversation skills and confidence level. And for others, it could simply be your mindset and attitude. 

All the best with this exercise, and please do leave your comments on how it went! Do also let me know if you face any difficulties or challenges while embarking on th exercise so I can help you out!  šŸ™‚

Stay tuned for Day 2 – Finding a Way Back into Love.

***

Note: This is the first part of the Countdown to V-Day 2011 Series (also known as C2VD14)

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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 Singaporeā€™s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singaporeā€™s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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