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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How to Snag a Great Guy 101

Recently, an associate shared with me that she and another colleague of ours are very envious of me, because I have snagged such a great guy. My hubby Jamie comes across as a good husband as well as a good father. They even said that my hubby's type of man is probably in extinction. It is not possible to find a man like that anymore.

When I shared this later with my hubby, I said with mock indignant, "How come nobody says that you are a lucky guy?" Hubby said without missing a beat, "I am a lucky guy!" See, I love this man! :)

Jokes aside…. I thought it is long overdue that I share some tips with my dear readers on how to 'snag' a great guy, as truly, I know and believe with all my heart that I am blessed to have met and later 'snag' my dearest hubby. I give thanks everyday to have such a wonderful husband and fantastic father for my children.

So, here's my 'secret' step-by-step approach:

Step 1: Ask yourself, "What is my definition of a great guy?"

Problem is, we are often looking at the wrong things. Before I met Jamie, my definition of a great guy or at least an ideal guy for me is someone who is outgoing, talkative, life of the party… and of course he must be witty and humorous. Anybody who have met Jamie would definitely NOT have used the above adjectives to describe him.

In fact, when I invited him to come for my high school reunion, he asked if he could bring a book, and I said OK. And when he first met some of my ex-colleagues from the bank, they actually asked me, "What do you see in him?!" because he was so quiet then and did not say much. 

I am definitely blessed because even though I must admit I was initially attracted to Jamie for biologically-driven reasons, when I got to know him better, it was beyond the surface. I realised that he is indeed my soul mate because among others, we share the same values and same life goals. It no longer mattered that he is not outgoing, talkative and life of the party…! Now, I wondered what was I thinking then?! :)

The most brilliant diamond is often hidden underneath what might seem like a rough rock. Look beyond the surface. Your perfect match might not come in the package that you expect, but if you could just spend some time to get to know him better, he could be the perfect guy for you.

Step 2: Being happy on your own

Are you happy on your own? Or are you looking for a man to fill the huge empty space in your life? Is this an important question, you might ask? Yes it is. Because depending on your answer, the approach you take to life and finding a man would be very different. 

A woman who is happy on her own comes across as self-assured and confident, and of course happy. A woman who has a huge gap to be filled usually comes across as needy. And being too needy will definitely send most guys packing.

Basically, men want to be with women who are happy, who are contented, who are positive and optimistic. Why? Because when they imagine a future with you, they want to feel warm and fuzzy inside, and not shudder in cold sweat. No man wants to be part of a quarrelsome household. If during the dating and courting stage, you are already complaining and nitpicking about everything under the sun, chances are, he will definitely think twice of continuing with the relationship. 

Are you currently happy? If you are not, find out why. Fix that first. What is your childhood passion? Go pursue your passion. What is a hobby you have been dying to pick up? Do it now. Where do you want to travel to? Apply for leave and pack your bags. When you are a truly happy person, guys will flock to you like bees to honey. Because honestly, we are all attracted to happy people. 

Step 3: Rediscover your Kindness Quotient

Many men, when asked what attracted them to their wives, did not say that because she was pretty or beautiful or even sexy. Many actually said, because she is kind. Are you shocked? Some has also called it the 'Specific Act of Kindness'. Men like women too have certain soft spots and insecurities. Some women worry about coming on too strong. If he is the right type of guy, he probably would not think badly of you. He would just be touched that you are so thoughtful. 

Jamie has shared with me that an act that won him over was when I bought him fizzy cola candies from the nearby cinema, and I dropped them off at his place. To me, it was just a random act, as I happened to be watching movies with friends, and I knew that he likes fizzy cola candies. But for him, the act has spoken volumes.

Another girl I know dedicated her time to helping the guy lose weight even before they become an item. She was so patient, supportive and encouraging, and the guy was so completely touched by her. They eventually got together and he gave her one of the sweetest marriage proposals I have ever heard. And he absolutely adores her.

Men do not like materialistic women. Men do not like opportunistic women. Men do not like to be taken for a ride. In short, men are not stupid.

Instead of thinking of what you can get from the guy, think of what you can give him. And actually, a great guy is not looking for much. He is simply looking for someone who appreciates him for who he is, and someone who is not afraid to give or wear her heart on the sleeve.

At the end of the day, like anything in life, your mindset will determine your behaviour which will in turn determine your actions. If you do not believe that it is possible to 'snag' a great guy, because they are an extinct species, chances are… you won't!

All the great guys are NOT married or gay. There are actually many wonderful men out there if you bother to search and scour. Keep your eyes and mind open, and I assure you, you will be surprised that your 'great guy' could be right under your nose!

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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“It was not love at first sight…”

People have often asked me, "When a first date does not progress beyond a second date, what is the main reason?"

The answer given by singles is often the same.

"No chemistry."

When people talk about chemistry, they are hoping to feel the sparks, the 'electricity' or the flutter in the heart. But honestly, if you asked me, that's usually 'lust at first sight' and not 'love at first sight'. :P

Love needs not always be 'at first sight'. Let me share with you a Lunch Actually success story that I have just heard today. *super happy*

They are both from the financial industry. He is about 10 years older. When they first met at the first date arranged by us, she was actually not bowled over by him. In fact, she said, "Could you find me someone taller the next time?" and "I don't think I am comfortable dating someone who's not within my age group…" and "He talks a lot about work!"

What did touch her is his personality – his consideration and his kindness. Even though he was late for the first date, he apologized and bought her dinner (we do arrange dinner dates when requested by our clients :) ). And subsequently when he knew that a relative of hers was undergoing an operation, he checked on her right after the operation to see if everything went OK. 

And now… a year later, after getting to know each other better, they have found the perfect match in each other. And they are tying the knot!!!

Love at first sight can be an extremely romantic notion. But if she has decided not to go on a second date, and subsequently a third and fourth date, because she did not feel the sparks at first… she would have missed out on the chance on finding her soul mate.

Hence, to all singles out there is… when you are contemplating a second date and you feel that there's no chemistry…

Give him/her a chance. Give yourself a chance. Give love 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 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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10 Love Lessons Learnt from General Election 2011

Wow, time really flies… I just realised that I have not blogged for 3 months! Sorry for the long absence as I have been very busy with the business, especially our new branch in Taipei, as well as spending time with our family…!

And of course, in recent weeks, I have been one of the many keen followers on the latest updates on the Singapore's General Election 2011.

Now that the dust has settled, I have reflected on the ten lessons I have learnt from this momentous event in Singapore, and how these lessons can be applied to love, dating and relationships.

1. Do not think that what you have done in the past would help you in the present or the future. As much as it is true that the ruling party has brought Singapore from a fishing village to the thriving modern metropolitan it is today, many Singaporeans no longer vote based on the past accomplishments. Application: Similarly, one of the biggest complaints in many relationships is that the guy or the girl puts on his or her best behaviour during courtship, but once the deal is sealed, he or she will stop trying as hard, or keep bringing up all the things that he or she has done in the past. In any relationship, be it between the government and its citizen or between two lovers, constant and consistent effort must be put in to keep the relationship relevant and growing.

2. Do not come across as arrogant. If you read the many forum postings about GE2011, one of the most common traits used to describe the ruling party is 'arrogant'. Application: I can assure you that if your date meets you for the first time, and you come across as arrogant and high-handed, chances are you will not get a second date. The problem is, many a times, the person who has been labelled as arrogant did not even intend to come across as such. They are usually shocked when they know that others view them as arrogant. It's all in the mindset and the attitude. When you go on a date, adopt an open mindset and a positive attitude – take it as an enjoyable experience to make a new friend. Even when you meet the person, and he or she might not be your ideal mate, do not dismiss him or her immediately. You never know… he or she might have a friend or colleague who is the perfect mate for you… and because of your deemed arrogance, you have lost the chance of being introduced!

3. Communication is a two-way street. I remember visiting one of the PAP candidate's FB page, and I was quite surprised that comments are not allowed and wall postings by fans are also not allowed. It set me thinking, "What's the point of having a FB page then?" The ruling party would have realised by now that they have to rethink their social media strategy to connect with the young. Application: When it comes to dating, it is interesting to observe some who just embark on a monologue during dates. They are not even aware that their date is getting extremely bored and disinterested. A good conversation is like a game of table-tennis or ping pong. The ball goes back and forth rhythmically. Each party must be given a chance to participate and air their views.

4. Speak in the same language. Communicating is not enough. You have to speak the same language as your audience. During the GE, I attended rallies and watched the rallies online. And I found it quite amusing how different the various candidates spoke during the rallies, and the varied responses (some good, and some not so good) that they drew from the audience. I have to say, most of the time, the opposition parties did a much better job in rallying the rally goers. Application: When it comes to first dates, you will be shocked to know what people talk about. Some people like to talk about their jobs even though they hate their jobs. And as they delve deeper into their jobs, they would use industry jargons that people generally do not understand and eventually, their date lose interest. Know your date, know what his or her interest is, and engage him or her on the same level.

5. First impressions do matter. In every GE, be it in Singapore or other countries, there are bound to be some 'STARS'. One of the biggest and hottest names in GE2011 is of course Ms. Nicole Seah. Even before she was officially introduced and interviewed, she was already making waves when her official photo was released to the media. Sweet, pretty, fresh-faced are just some of the words used to describe this passionate, confident and well-spoken young lass. Application: Ladies, I know I have said this before, but I am going to say it again… first impressions are very important for first dates. Men are visual creatures. Hence, always put your best foot forward when going on a first date! First impressions are difficult to change… in doubt, just refer to the unfortunate case of Ms. Tin Pei Ling. Her real self could be totally different from what was portrayed in and by the online media, but it is definitely going to be an uphill task changing that initial impression.

6. Commitment is not enough. You need to have passion too. I believe that all the candidates who ran, withstanding the parties they are from are committed to serve the country. However, commitment is not enough. The voters want to see passion too. If your passion to serve is all wrapped up and people cannot see it, it is definitely going to cost you votes. Application: In a relationship, if there's only commitment and no passion, it is known as empty love. Many long-term relationships fall into this trap. They are committed to stay together, but after a while, the romance fizzles out, and like they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Before your relationship spirals down further, it is important to reignite the passion that you once feel for each other when you first started dating. For a marriage to work, you have to work at it. 🙂

7. Gifts do not always work. In the past, carrots worked like a charm. Lifts upgrading, grow and share packages. This time round, the gifts were no longer as effective as that's not what many of the voters want. I think all future candidates should read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. Giving gifts is just one of the 5 love languages. The others are acts of service, quality time, touch and words of affirmation. The ruling party seems to be lacking in the last 3 – quality time, touch and words of affirmation. And hence, they started to lose touch with the voters. The opposition parties however struck hard on touch and words of affirmation when connecting with the voters. Application: When it comes to relationships, do you know what your partner's love language is? And are you displaying your affection by speaking his or her love language and not your own? If your love language is act of service, and your partner's love language is quality time, it is obvious why both of you often feel unloved. Once you understand what each other's love language is, you can start speaking in the same language. 🙂 

8. Watch your words. The biggest buzz word in GE2011 has to be 'REPENT'. Many of my friends and FB friends alike were extremely offended by MM Lee's statement. And ultimately, this word probably contributed to the loss of Aljuneid GRC for the PAP. Application: Similarly, when you are in a relationship, it's so important that you watch what you say. Because a single word can sometimes make a break a relationship. In anger, we often say many things that we do not mean. But hurtful words are like water being thrown out from a pail onto the floor (Chinese Saying). Once it's thrown out, you cannot take it back. When you are in an argument with your loved one, bite your tongue if you have to, but always refrain from sarcasm and contempt.

9. Acknowledge your mistake when you are in the wrong. It has been said that PM Lee Hsien Loong's apology helped to sway some swing voters to vote for PAP. Sorry is indeed the hardest word. I have to force my 2 year old daughter to say it when she does something wrong. And yes, she's only 2!!! Application: Prolonged arguments can be avoided in relationships if one party takes a step back and apologises. When you are in the wrong, put your ego aside, and apologise. It can actually be the best thing you can do to save your relationship or your marriage. Think about it this way, is saving face more important, or is your relationship/marriage more important?

10. Be the right person. Many investors have been holding their breath lest there be a freak election result. Thus, the Singapore's stock market rose sharply after it was announced that the ruling party PAP has returned to power decisively. After the exciting campaigning and hustings, Singaporeans generally voted wisely and rationally. As much as many are not completely satisfied with the ruling party, they still voted for the candidates whom they feel can best serve them in the long run. Opposition parties who did not have strong manifestos or long-term plans were not voted in this time round. Workers' Party who fielded strong and credible candidates and has a convincing manifesto made great strides in this election. Application: When it comes to dating, before one even starts to think about meeting the right person, most importantly one has to be the right person. Because when you are the right candidate, with the right mindset, the right attitude and the right behaviour, you would automatically come across as attractive to your target audience! 🙂

This has been an extremely insightful and enlightening two weeks for me. The General Election has indeed brought out the best and the worst in many of us. I have been heartened and inspired by heroic acts, touching stories and courageous stance; and I have been brought to tears when I saw how ugly and petty we can be. At the end of the day, I believe it is what we learn from it all that will make us stronger and better.

To my dearest readers, happy dating and have a wonderful week 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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Violet’s 3 Secrets to a Happy Marriage! (Part 2)

This is the 2nd part to this series. Click here to read the first part of this series.

Secret No. 2: Agreeing on Money Matters Early

This might see like a very practical and non-love related issue, and you might seem surprise that this is my 2nd secret to a happy marriage. 🙂

But do you know that a frequent conflict over finances is a top predictor for divorce? Hence, after choosing the right mate, it is very important that you and your other half actually have very clear expectations about money matters. 

Even before I got married or met Jamie, I knew that when I get married, I would like for my husband and I to have combined finances. I think this has a lot to do with my upbringing. My parents both have their own small businesses. However, they pool all their resources together. I still can vividly remember that whenever my dad comes home with the money he has collected from his clients, he would pass all his money to my mum for safekeeping, and would only keep a small portion for his daily expenses. And I still can remember that when my dad and I go for movies together on Sundays, he would usually ask for money from my mum. For some men, they might be turned off by such a thought. But I knew the reason behind it. My dad knew that my mum was much better at accumulating and saving money. Thus, he passes all his money to her. Hence, even from my earliest memory, I do not recall my parents ever arguing about money, as everything is simply shared.

Therefore, when Jamie and I were dating, I shared with him my financial philosophy. He was rather shocked at first  I must say. But after understanding where I am coming from, the idea eventually grew on him and he eventually agreed to it. Hence, currently, all our accounts are joined. We pool all our resources together. And that is the reason, we do not argue about money. We do not need to decide on who pays for the meal, who pays for the housing installment, or who pays for the kids' education, or how much we have to put towards our joint account (should it be based on who earns more or should it be equal?)

What is his is mine, and what is mine is his. 

Is this something that works for everybody? Probably not.

But the point I am trying to get at is that,

It is very important that you talk about money and agree on certain guidelines before you get married.

Couples who attend pre-marriage counselling would have covered the topic of marriage and finance, but couples who do not attend pre-marriage courses might not really know what they getting themselves into. It is absolutely vital and important to understand each other's values when it comes to money.

Even if you and your partner have different values, it is good to know where both parties are coming from so you can think of ways to resolve potential problems before the problem becomes too big a problem to resolve.

(This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Sign up for my updates using the Subscribe Form on the left sidebar to be informed of the subsequent installments)

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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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DaFG: How ‘Not’ to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner!

Is your sweetheart already giving you hints of what she wants as her Valentine’s Day gift?

Or are you worried about how you are going to split yourself into two since Valentine’s Day also happens to fall on the first day of Chinese New Year!

Most guys I know usually do not look forward to this day. Why?

Probably because they have to buy expensive flowers and over-priced meals which one can get at half the price at any other day of the year. Instead of dreading another V-Day, why not celebrate V-Day with a twist this year?

Here are some alternative ideas to celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day!

  1. Since Valentine’s Day also falls on the first day of Chinese New Year, take this opportunity to introduce your better half to your family and relatives, if you have not already done so. Trust me, to most women that would be a better gift than flowers, as it shows that you are serious about her. It is a form of affirmation of your love and commitment.
  2. Forget the overpriced and cliché Valentine’s Day Dinner set for two! Show off your culinary skills by cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Well, if you are not much of a cook, you can ‘da bao’ all her various favourite hawker fare, and give her a yummy surprise!
  3. Return to the scene where you first met or where you had your first date or even where you got engaged! Go back to where it all started! Sometimes we get so caught up in the mundane and routine day-to-day activities that we take each other for granted and forget what got us together in the first place.  This is a great way to go down memory lane and relive the memory.
  4. Volunteer together! Valentine’s Day is all about love, but it needs not be just about romantic love. Share the love this Valentine’s Day by going down to help out at the SPCA if both of you are pet lovers, and help out at the orphanage if you both love children. This is will definitely be more meaningful than splurging on yet another expensive meal.
  5. Write her a love letter. If you have watched Sex in the City: The Movie, you would know that women love to receive love letters. But unfortunately, in this day and age of emails and internet, one would be lucky to even receive a card. So, surprise her this year with a lengthy love letter documenting your love journey so far! And if you run out of ideas, you can always Google up “Love Letters of Great Men”.

Valentine’s Day needs not be a drag every year! Think out of the box, and inject some spontaneity and creativity, and I am sure you will sweep her off her feet!

Happy Dating!

Note: Article first appeared in New Man Malaysia Feb 2010

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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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Happiness is a Choice?

One of my resolutions for this year is to update my blog once a week! So this is my first step… 🙂

Stepping into February (my favourite month because it’s V-Day, and it’s my month of birth 🙂 ), I am having a good feeling about this year! Have met a lot of incredible, amazing and nice people in the last 30 odd days. Come to think about it… I have been extremely productive in the last 30 odd days (Pat pat myself on the back! Haha!)

Ok… on a more serious note, I feel truly blessed… I have learnt a lot from all the wonderful sharing – people sharing with me their life and business experiences.

It makes me start to ponder…

There are times in my life when I feel really down and depressed, and everything seem to be going wrong…

And there are times when everything seem to be smooth sailing, and I will be happy and upbeat…

The truth is… happiness is indeed a choice.

In our busy lives, many things happen in a day. Some might frustrate us, but some will make us smile. It is up to us to decide how we want to react, and how we want to make out of our day.

I realize that when I am less ‘neurotic’, I tend to have a better day. 🙂 I don’t stress over the small things. I take joy in the little things. And I am thankful and grateful for the people around me, and their efforts.

I always tell my clients.

Success in dating is like anything else in life… it is about having an open mindset and a positive attitude.

People like to be around happy, positive and optimistic people. Because they hope that some of your happiness will rub off them! 🙂 Nobody wants to be around a constantly frowning and scowling person. Or someone who just keep complaining about everything under the sun.

So, how is your day so far?

Good? Bad?

It is all about interpretation, and the attitude that we choose to adopt!

Have a happy day! 🙂

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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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DaFG: The Perfect Proposal

Some guys have asked me in the past what would make a perfect proposal… Here are my thoughts and views… those of you who are now happily engaged or married, please feel free to contribute your thoughts! 🙂

You have been dating for close to 2 years now. And things are going really well. She laughs at your jokes, even when most people think you are really corny. You are comfortable enough to fart in front of her, and she hardly cringes. She’s great with your dogs or your sister’s kids. You can totally imagine growing old with her, and being with her for the rest of your life.

Yes, you are ready to propose.

If you are tempted to just casually ask her to marry you over the phone when you next speak to her, I will stop you right there. A marriage proposal is something that your girl would take very seriously. And it is an occasion that friends and relatives would ask for details for years to come. “So how did he propose?” You do not want her to say, “Ah well, it was really boring. He asked me to marry him over the phone.”

You want to give her a proposal to remember – a proposal that she will be proud to tell over and over again, and each time she retells it, she will remember how much effort you have put into it, and how thoughtful you are, and how much you love her.

So, how do you go about it?

Here’s a 5-steps approach that would result in your perfect proposal!

Step 1: Telling her parents

If you have been dating seriously, chances are you would have met up with her parents. By informing them, you would have scored Brownie points, as her parents would be really impressed that they have such a sensitive future son-in-law. Some guys I know even involve her parents in the proposal process as the girl is really close to her parents. Of course, there would be exceptions. If your girlfriend is estranged from her parents, skip this step.

Step 2: Getting the ring

Some girls like to choose their own engagement rings, but I personally think that takes out the surprise element of the process. And it’s not as romantic. If you have previously spoken about marriage, then you probably would have a good idea of the type of ring that she likes. Or if not, enlist the help of her best friend or sister who usually would be more than happy to help you out.

Step 3: Thinking about the setting

Think about your girl’s personality. Would she prefer a more intimate setting, where there are just two of you? Or does she prefer to have an audience?  If she likes to have an audience, then indulge her, and give her a big one. Try to recall the proposals in movies that she said, “Aww… that’s so sweet!”

You could consider doing something totally out of the ordinary e.g. on a hot-air balloon, or on top of Mount Kinabalu if both of you are avid trekkers, or even proposing over the radio. Or you could surprise her in the course of a normal day. Like when she’s coming home from work, and when she opens the door, there you are, kneeling down on one knee with the ring, with flowers in the room. Or when you are at both your favourite restaurant and she finds the ring on the dessert platter.

The options are endless, and it is up to how creative and memorable you want to make it.

Step 4: Be formal

As you know, this scene is going to stay ingrained in her mind, and would be retold to friends, choose your words carefully. Do not trivialize it by saying, “So, wanna get married?” Stick to the traditional, “Will you marry me?” As for whether to bend down on one knee, this would depend on the setting. However, do consider whether to do it, especially if your girl is the more ‘old-fashioned’ or the ‘romantic’ type, as she may well be expecting it and would be utterly disappointed if you didn’t.

Step 5: Be prepared for her answer

If you have come to this stage, chances are you are quite sure that she’s going to say yes. But just in case, do prepare for the 0.001% chance that she might say no, or she needs to think about it.

And so if she’s says yes, rejoice with her! Dance with her. Hug her. Swirl her around. The worst thing that can happen at this juncture is an excited girl with a guy with a blank look on his face.

And finally, a word of advice… when you are thinking about your proposal, stay true to your relationship and who you are. Remember the reason you are doing this – you are asking the woman you love for her hand. A proposal with ‘the full works’ might work for some relationships but for others, it might be the recital of a handwritten love poem or a song declaring your love.

I wish you luck and may your relationship be filled with much love, joy and laughter!

This article first appeared on New Man Magazine, Malaysia.

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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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DAfG: Do Pick-up Lines Work?

I often get asked, “Do pick up lines work?” 

From the last I checked, no girls will appreciate you telling her that her father is a thief and stealing the stars and putting them into her eyes. Cheesy pick-up lines in general do not work.

And if your plan to charm her is to compliment her on how beautiful she is, chances are to an attractive lady who has been hit on 10 to 30 times a day… you probably would come across as tiresome, unoriginal and insincere. On the other hand, if you approach an attractive lady the same way as any other guy i.e. “Hi, I am Joe, I would like to get to know you,” you might come across as boring and predictable. Attractive women who has heard this line hundreds of time usually lose interest very quickly.

So, the crucial factor here is to attract her naturally engage her into a conversation.

Hence I would recommend conversation starters as compared to cheesy lines that sound insincere or bland “I want to get to know you” lines.  Try asking a question which engages her into a natural conversation. Be flexible to adapt that conversation starter to the situation you both are in. If you both happen to be at a seminar, you could even simply ask her how she felt the speaker was and progress from her answer.

Besides knowing how to engage her naturally in a conversation, what is even more important is how you embark on it. 

Say if a person tries to engage a lady in a conversation and he is visibly quaking and stuttering as he goes about it.  As he is conversing, he is deadly serious, unsmiling  and stiff as he tries to talk to her.

Compare that with a man who has calm and comfortable body language as he approaches the lady. He says what is needed in a casual and light tone and is not afraid of the consequences. He is smiley and playful and even crack a humorous joke in the middle of it all. 

Who is the lady more likely to give her number to?

So the key is, be comfortable be in your own skin, be confident, and do not try too hard.

Happy dating!

(Note: First appeared in New Man Malaysia July 2009 Edition)

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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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DAfG: Dating on a Shoestring

Everybody around you is talking about the recession. You heard through the grapevine that your company is planning to do another retrench exercise. It’s time to tighten up on your spending. As you know, dating is about impressing.

So how do you cut down on your spending, and yet not come across as a cheap date? Here are 6 creative date ideas that you can implement to recession-proof your dating!

1)      Play tourist: Tired of the same old hangouts? Always going to the shopping centres for coffee or dinner? Break the routine. It’s time to play tourist. Grab a copy of the local map, and go off the beaten track. Bring your camera along and take lots of photos of what you see and of each other!

2)      Be a volunteer: When you give, you will receive. What better ways to impress your date by showing her that you have a BIG heart? Look out some local charities and see how you can help out. If both of you are animal lovers, head down to SPCA and help them out for a day. Or you could visit an old folks’ home to bring some cheer to the elderly folks. Take this opportunity to get to know your date better, as you see their compassionate side.

3)      Visit the flea markets: Women love to shop! Offer to drive your date to one of the flea markets in town, and spend time exploring the various booths with her. She will be really impressed to finally meet a guy who is willing to shop with her!

4)      Move that dinner date to picnic under the stars: Rather than the boring (not to mention expensive) dinner date, move it one notch up by dining under the stars! Romance her with your prepared picnic basket of champagne and strawberries. Do remember to bring along insect repellent to keep the mozzies away.

5)      Cook up a storm: They used to say, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” In today’s world, I think the same applies for women as well. Rather than pay hundreds of dollars for a 3 course dinner, why not cook your own dinner? Your date will definitely be touched by your culinary efforts.

6)      Watch the sunset together: Stroll down the beach together, hand in hand. It’s beautiful. It’s romantic. It’s sweet. And most importantly, it’s free.

The key here is to be creative and innovative. Put some thought into it, and think of something that you’ll both enjoy doing. The more personalized the experience, the better it is. The great thing about being on a budget is that you are forced to think out of the box, and this will make the date a unique experience! And when it is an all new experience for her, it would make the date, and you, more memorable!

Happy dating!

(Note: First appeared in New Man Malaysia Oct 2009)

Extra link for the brave ones: Poppers Amazon.

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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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