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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Marriage Does Not Need To Be So Hard

"Marriage is really hard," someone who has recently separated from her husband said to me.

"We need to work at our marriage, but it is not supposed to be so hard. Not when you marry the right person," I said.

"There is no right person," she said. "There are no guarantees. No matter who you marry, your marriage can still break down. Maybe not in the first few years, or the first 10 years. But after that, nobody knows…"

I agree that marrying the right person is not a sure-win i.e. a guarantee that your marriage would not break down. But marrying the wrong person or marrying for the wrong reason is definitely a sure route to a unhappy marriage or a failed marriage.

So, who is the right person?

I don't believe in the concept that there is only one soulmate for every one of us. Because, if there's only one person that's suitable for you, and you happened to live in Greenland, and the other person in New Zealand, both of you might never ever meet in your lifetime, and that's rather sad. What I believe is that, there are people out there whom we are more compatible with. We might share similar values, similar life goals, similar background. And we are more likely to be able to spend hours and hours talking to each other, and not get bored talking to each other even after ten years of marriage. 

The problem is, many of us are looking for the wrong things when we are looking for a marriage partner. 

She must be pretty.

He must be at least 1.75m tall.

She must be slim.

He must be outgoing, confident, the life of the party.

And the list goes on…

I would know.

I too had a list when I was looking for a boyfriend. I called them my 3 golden rules. "He must be taller than me. He must be smarter than me. He must love me." And till today, I feel rather ashamed that my list had nothing to do with compatibility but everything to do with superficial and selfish criteria. I know I am extremely blessed that despite walking around with such a checklist, I found my Jamie, who is not just my husband, but also my best friend.

Looks do not last. Guys, you know that right? In another 30 or 40 years, no matter how pretty your girlfriend of wife is right now, she will age, and she might even put on some weight. Many men who marry for looks will eventually get frustrated in their marriages. Because after the initial passion dies down, they suddenly realise, they do not really know their wives, or worse still, they do not even like their wives. And honestly, they have nothing to talk about with their wives. And they find themselves spending more and more time out of their homes to avoid the 'silence'.

And my dearest ladies, it does not matter if he is 1.75m or 1.7m. It has no bearing on the type of person he is, the type of husband he can be, or the type of father he will be. I always feel sad that shorter men tend to overcompensate for their height because shorter men just have it so much harder when it comes to dating. And his sloppy dressing and presentation? Of course, we wish our other half will look as dashing and well-dressed as David Beckham or Andy Lau, but again, it says nothing about the person he is, and the type of relationship you would have. 

Just recently, I observed a married couple who is having dinner at the same restaurant as us. And throughout the entire meal which lasted about an hour, the couple did not say a single word to each other. I am serious. Not a single word. They did not seem angry with each other either, in case you wonder if they might be in an argument. The lady spent most of her time on her phone Facebook-ing, and the guy just looked plain bored. 

What do you do when you find yourself in such a marriage? Some say, "The solution is to have kids. Then, at least both of you have something in common – the kids." It is not too bad an idea under such circumstances as you will have a common topic for the next 18 years. But when the kids grow up, and move out, then what? Perhaps that's the reason for the rising divorces for couples in their 50s.

My dearest friends, if you are still single and finding love, you do not need to be in such a marriage. You have a choice. Choose wisely. Do not be tempted by short term pleasure and instant gratification. Choose compatibility. Choose common values. Choose ability to share a conversation.

Of course, it is cooler to have a drop-dead gorgeous trophy wife to impress your friends. Or maybe, your friends all have trophy wives, and you may feel like a loser if your wife is not as pretty, or if your wife is slightly plump.

Of course, it's impressive to have a husband who's tall, handsome, successful and well-connected. We might even feel that we will 'lose face' when our friends carry a more expensive handbag, drive a bigger car, live in a posher neighbourhood… finer things that our boyfriend from a more humble background or humble circumstances is not able to provide for us.

But you know something? All of these do not matter in the long run. Choose the right person, marry for the right reason, and you will have no regrets.

Don't get me wrong. Jamie and I have our own set of challenges in our marriage. We fight, we argue, we quarrel. But most of the times, we are happy, we are contented. We enjoy each other's company – be it having a good laugh, being silly, growing the dating business together or walking the journey of parenthood together.

My dearest friends, really… marriage does not need to be so hard. 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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Is Your ‘Value’ Holding You Back?

I was invited to speak at a public seminar a few weeks back, and one of the other speakers shared,

"Wherever you are right now in life is a result of a value that you hold dear to."

When she said that, I immediately reflected on my own life.

Jamie and I wouldn't be able to build our business from zero to where it is right now, if we did not strongly believe in self-improvement. We have spent close to a hundred thousand dollars on self improvement courses and materials. Many people think we are crazy. We chose to invest in our personal growth rather in luxuries such as cars and plasma TVs. Yes, we still have one of those boxy TVs. :)

If I did not hold dear my family values, I would not have settled down at 25 and have our first child at 26, when most people my age are still clubbing and having fun.

And… If not for my 'value' of deriving pleasure from eating good food, I would not be constantly struggling with my weight!!!

If you are single, and have been single for most parts of your life, is there something within your value system that holds you back from finding love? Consciously, you think you want to find a partner. But subconsciously, are you telling yourself something else? I met a client recently who after a lot of probing, confessed to me that she thinks that she might have been sabotaging herself when it comes to love. And perhaps that is the reason she still has yet to find the right one despite being a pretty, confident and pleasant lady. Sometimes, we might be telling ourselves, "I am doing very well on my own!" or "Why do I want to compromise on what I already have? I am very comfortable with my lifestyle." or "Marriage will tie me down." 

You are in a no-win battle. You may take one step forward by joining a dating service to enlarge your social circle, but your value that you hold dear – "freedom" takes you two steps backward. And hence, no matter how many potential matches you meet, nothing ever works out because there will ALWAYS be something wrong with the person. You will always nitpick on something to squiggle your way out of a potential romance.

What is holding you back from finding your Mr. or Ms. Right? Very often, it is not just the external factors, but also the internal factors. 

Isn't it time we free ourselves from the bondage of values that do not serve us? Happy soul-searching! :)

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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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When was The Last Time You REALLY REALLY Laughed?

Dearest Readers,

Disclaimer: The following post might offend you. If you are not able to keep an open mind, or read it with a pinch of salt, I would suggest that you stop reading right now. Thanks, and have a great day ahead! :)

I met up with a business associate for lunch the other day, and he shared with me his observations about the fairer sex here on our sunny island of Singapore. He is not from Singapore. He has lived here for close to 20 years. 

As this is the first time we are meeting, at some point in the conversation, I said, "Oh, I am not Singaporean, I am Malaysian." He replied, "I could tell!" I was quite surprised. "Really? How?" One of the key reasons I was rather puzzled is because we were conversing in English. In the earlier days when I first came to Singapore, the taxi uncles would ask after a few minutes of conversation, "You are from Malaysia, right?" And that was because I spoke with a different Mandarin accent. Now, I think my accent has completely changed, and I never get that question any more. 

Anyway, back to questioning my friend. He said, to my surprise, "Singaporean girls do not laugh. They only laugh from the throat, but not from the belly." He went on to share, "The word to describe them is 'constipated'."

I immediately jumped to the Singaporean girls' defence. "I am sure that it is just some of the Singaporean girls that you have met. It cannot be all." He said, "Come on, I have been here for close to 20 years! I have met many Singaporean girls…" I said, "I still think it is a generalisation!" He gamely challenged me, "Well, you just go and observe from now on…!" Just in case you are wondering if he is single, he is happily married with teenage children. 

The above is my friend's personal opinion. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and that's his. Whether his opinion is true or not, it did set me thinking. I think Singaporean or not, male or female, we probably come across as 'constipated' at some point or other in our lives.

I love to smile, I love to laugh. I usually get these comment a lot. "You smile a lot!" or "You love to laugh, don't you?" or "Is it really so funny?" The last question came from a Singaporean guy friend of mine. Perhaps it is because my Chinese name has the word "Laugh". I am not sure. If Chinese name has a part to play, I sure am glad that both my kids have the word "Happy" in their Chinese name.

When I hear something funny, I do not worry about looking silly or looking 'unladylike'. I will just laugh. And when I laugh, I would really vibrate with laughter. Not very 'glam' I must say. But I do love a good laugh. 

One of the key advices I always give to my clients or even blog readers when going on a date is, "Be happy! Smile! We all love to be around happy people!" Perhaps I should change my advice to,

"Do not be afraid to laugh! Laugh with your date, laugh at yourself! Even if nothing comes out of it, at least you have had a good laugh!"

In my humble opinion, think it is definitely better to come across as 'unglam' than 'constipated'. :) And like the saying go, "Laughter is the best medicine!" According to Wikipedia… Laughter has been shown to lead to reductions in stress hormones. When laughing the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. Laughter also leads to a stronger immune system!

My dearest readers, so when was the last time you laughed? Like really, really laughed? What are you waiting for? Go and have a good laugh at my expense! :)

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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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Ask Violet: Am I Unwanted, Ugly and Worthless?

Dear Violet,

My experiences in dating has been nothing but a complete failure. I read your success stories on how couples have found true love on net dating sites or through social events or other avenues. 

I tried being more socially active since many years ago when I was an undergraduate. I tried net dating, attended parties etc to know more individuals from the opposite sex but it always turned out to be hi-bye affairs. However, despite the strings of failures, I have never stopped trying. I began to evaluate the reasons of failure, "Why no guys were ever remotely romantically interested in me" I thought it was because of my physical appearances and presentation.  I worked hard in improving my looks, and even read up on books on dating and communication. But time and time again, with every attempt of meeting new guys from dating sites, or social events, it always turned up to be yet again a hi-bye affair or guys simply ignored me during social events, choosing to chat with other ladies.

My strings of failures really set me back. I have tried improving my looks, changing my social and communication skills but i always end up with failure. To be honest, I am totally hurted and rejected. Year after year, my attempts in trying to foster even friendships with the opposite gender have failed…  I can't help feeling rejected, unwanted, ugly and worthless while I see ppl getting attached one after another. I have also received my fair share of criticism about my looks from guys who have participated in these social events. I just met a guy this year and he tells me once again, he is not looking for a special one. I think im being written off again because of my looks.

I'm getting depressed. should i give up? It seems like a hopeless and endless situation.

Sincerely, P

Dear P,

Thank you for your email, and I would like to commend you for picking up the courage to write in!

It is not easy to see people around you getting hitched, and you are still single day after day, month after month. I know how that feels, because as I was growing up, I am always surrounded by more more attractive and beautiful friends. Guys usually only approach me because they want to be introduced to my pretty friends, or they would like to get more information about my friends. As a result, I used to have inferiority complex about my looks. Growing up, being not too well-acquainted with make-up and dressing up, I did not really know how to make myself more attractive. Thus, I started developing myself in other ways e.g. taking up leadership roles, community service, public speaking etc. At the end of the day, the time spent on self-development was well worth it, because it not only helped me develop my self-confidence, it also helped me meet my husband. 

I really applaud you for your efforts in terms of improving your first impression, honing your communication skills and widening your social circles!!! You are definitely on the right track.

Here are some suggestions to help you further increase your dating chances:

1) Get Professional Advice on Grooming and Make-up: Often, it is much easier and more effective to have the professionals tell us how we can improve our outlook, rather than just working on it ourselves. I have invested in both an image consultancy course as well as a personal make-up course. I have to say the personal make-up course is one of the best investments I have made! A good make-up teacher can teach you quick tips and techniques to instantly enhance your features. Check out the numerous YouTube videos that demonstrate the magic of make-up and you know what I mean! :)

2) Rediscover Your Passion. As much as you would like to spend time finding the right man, I would like to encourage you to spend time on yourself, doing something you enjoy as well. It is important that you have a hobby, an interest, something you are passionate about. It would make you a much happier person. If you are focused on just finding the right man, you might come across as too needy or desperate, and that would definitely send any man running. 

3) Explore Alternative Platforms of Meeting People: Men are very visual creatures. And many tend to judge harshly on physical appearances when put in a dating-focused environment. Thus, I would suggest that other than online dating and going for dating events, you could also explore alternative platforms of meeting new people i.e. places or environments where dating is not the main or only agenda. For example, having rediscovered your passion, you can enrol in classes related to your passion. Or, if you are interested in community service, you can be a volunteer. Dating is a numbers game, hence, the more people you meet, the better.

4) Stay Positive: What we focus on expands! If you keep thinking you are not going to succeed, chances are you won't. I know it is not easy, but do your best to stay happy and positive. Find a happy song that would instantly cheer you up. Go out with your girlfriends and indulge in a romantic comedy when you are feeling down. We are all attracted to happy people. So, you will be surprised how far your smile can bring you! :)

In short, my answer to your question is "No, you are not unwanted, ugly and worthless. And PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP!" You are on the right track and I am sure if you take into the suggestions I have given you, you will definitely increase your chances of meeting the right person, someone who is truly worthy of you…

Take care, and happy dating! :)

Love, Violet

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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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“Violet, why are you SO desperate?”

I dreamt of getting married by the age of 26.

Yes, when I was growing up, that was my goal. To get married by the time I am 26, and to have my first child when I am 28.

I am very blessed… when I finally got married, I actually 'beat' my goal by a year. Jamie and I got married when I was 25 and he was 29. And among our friends, we are one of the few that so-called 'married young'.

Why did I have a target to marry by 26 years old?

Come to think about it… I am not sure. Perhaps I grew up in a family where my parents are deeply in love, and have a stable marriage. I am sure they have their set of marital challenges like everybody else, but they managed to ride through the storms and they provided me with a happy and secure family environment.

Having such a goal since young, I have never been shy to share this goal with people whom I know or guys whom I am dating seriously. I know, I know… some people would ask,

"Aren't you afraid that guys would run away?"

"Aren't you afraid that guys would think that you are desperate to get married?"

"Violet, why are you SO desperate?"

In life, we all have goals and dreams. And at the beginning of every year, we will often set new year resolutions… setting our goals for the upcoming year. And since we can set goals for our career, our health, our travel plans… in other words every single aspect of our lives, why can't we set a goal for our lifelong happiness?

Why are we so afraid to be termed as 'desperate'? Why are we so scared to declare our true intentions? Why are we so worried that we cannot even set our own rules? Instead, we're being ruled by what others want. And some of us are so afraid that we will even go out of our way to tell others… "I don't really need to get married…" when deep down, that's what you truly and deeply yearn for.

With everything in life, you will not succeed unless you have a dream, a strong belief and an action plan.

If you do not even dream of getting married, why would you end up being married?

If you do not believe you would ever be able to get married, chances are you won't.

And you can dream and believe all you want, but if you do not do anything about it, then it's highly unlikely your dream girl or prince charming would just fall from the sky.

Life is short. Do not spend time worrying about what others might think of you or say about you. You cannot please everyone, and neither should you. Do what you think is right. If you are not going to 'fight' for your own happiness, nobody will.

My wish for you in 2012…

For those who are single and looking… be bold. Dare to dream and set a goal for your lifelong happiness. It might not happen overnight or it might not even happen in the year 2012, but if you have a dream that you truly believe in, and you work towards your goal, you can only be one step closer to finding love.

For those who are in a relationship not sure where it is heading… be courageous. What was your dream? Was it to get married by the time you are 26, 28, 30 or 35 years old? Whatever it was, put your foot down and declare your intention. The right guy or girl would not run. Yes you heard me right. He or she might feel very uncomfortable or even scared, but the right person would not bolt. If he or she quits on you, then he or she was never the right one to begin with.

For those who are in happy and fulfilling relationships… be thankful. I am really glad that you have made the right choice. Treasure and cherish your partner for you are truly blessed to have found one another. :)

To my dearest readers, Merry Christmas and have a wonderful year ahead!

If you feel that this post might benefit your single friends who are looking for love, please tweet it or share it on Facebook. 😉 Thank you in advance!

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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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Seeking Perfection?

Have not updated my blog in months. And the significant other has started to nag me. 'When was the last time you blogged?' he asked.

The reason for the lack of blog posts is usually the same. The lack of time. Or more often the lack of inspiration.

And I guess, the truth is…

The strive for perfection.

I am unable to post up a blog post that I do not feel strongly about. In other words, I refuse to write for the sake of writing. Maybe I should. Because then, I would probably have more frequent posts, and more regular readers. 😉

The strive for perfection is also often the bane when it comes to singles looking for a mate.

Is he tall enough? Is she pretty enough?

Does he earn enough? Is she slim enough?

Is he really nice? Or is he faking it? Or why is he SO nice? There must be something wrong with him.

And when we finally meet the right person, we realise that, they are not perfect after all. Because we have come to realise that it is not possible to find someone who's perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and more often than not, we have many flaws.

It is better to build a relationship with someone who is 'not so perfect' but whom you love, rather than spend your whole life trying to look for that perfect someone, only to be sorely disappointed to know that he or she does not exist. 

And so, what is the definition of perfect?

After being in a relationship with the significant other for 11 years, and being married for 6 years… I have realised that… life's perfect when you are contented…. and happy. It's all in your state of mind.

When you are feeling fulfilled and blissful, everything is perfect…

You can't search out perfection. Perfection will come searching for you! When you have finally put away your check list syndrome, get rid of your emotional baggage, lower your defences, open up your heart… and go into the relationship with an open mind, and a positive attitude.

All the best in your path to meeting perfection…!

P/S I promise I would work on posting more regularly instead of seeking perfection.

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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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