Thankful that I was Not Born Beautiful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Violet Lim

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

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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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No Strings Attached?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and 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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Turning 30…

A couple of days ago, I turned 30.

Strange enough, I have been looking forward to this day. Because my real age has finally caught up with how old people think I am. I know, it is bizarre right? I apparently look so old that since like 4-5 years ago, people think that I am 30+. Sob sob. I remember a few years ago when I was 25, a newspaper article actually quoted that I am 35! Aiks!

On a more serious note. When I turned 30, I took time to take stock of my life thus far.

I feel extremely thankful and blessed.

My dearest hubby Jamie threw me a surprise birthday party in Malaysia among my dearest and closest family and friends. (I must admit that it wasn’t as much a surprise as he wanted it to be since he had my mum as an accomplice! Haha! My mum kept asking me questions about the party?!) But I was really surprised by the big group of people that he managed to gather, and of course, really surprised by his poem recitation! It was really funny, because at first he told me the poem was… “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I don’t know what happened, but I love you…!” I was like… err… but the actual poem was a really meaningful poem about growing old together.

People often tell me how lucky I am to have such a sweet and romantic husband. I am extremely thankful for my hubby who has been very supportive of all my endeavors throughout the years. And I would like to take this opportunity once more to thank him again.

J, thank you for loving me! Especially during times when I am not so ‘lovable’.

I am thankful for my 2 beautiful children. I guess all parents think that their children are beautiful. Haha! 🙂 Knowing that many of our friends are finding it hard to conceive despite being healthy young adults, I know our children are our little miracles, as I actually have endometriosis, a condition that affects fertility rate by 40%.

And my parents. Who have been extremely self-sacrificing and supportive of Jamie and myself. Even though they have been quite shocked by their crazy daughter on several occasions, one being when I told them I am quiting my cushy job to be a… matchmaker! They have recovered to be our biggest and most ardent supporters. I love you, pa and mi!

On some days when things are not going that well, I will sometimes question my choice of career path.

Have I had doubts? Of course I have. I am only human. 🙂 Strange as it might sound, being a matchmaker can sometimes be quite a thankless job. But of course, I am very thankful for the clients who appreciate us for our efforts.

Taken in 2005, a much slimmer and younger version of me 🙂

On my 30th birthday, surrounded by my family, relatives and friends, I am once again reminded that God must has given me all these blessings for a reason and a purpose. To steer me on a mission to help more singles out there to find happiness… to be, meet and choose the right person.

A HK journalist asked me recently, “It is not easy to matchmake, or to help people get married, what motivates you?”

My reply was… Step by step, one at a time. 🙂

My dearest readers and friends… thank you very much for your love and support all these years! Reading your comments, or knowing that you like the blog post always put a smile to my face!

As I turn 30, I will charge ahead (b)older and wiser, with renewed hope and vigour! 🙂

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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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Respect to Men is like what Love is to Women

A while ago, I attended a relationship seminar. As part of my profession, I constantly go for seminars to learn from other experts. 🙂 And this time, it is a seminar by a couple – Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn.

One of the most interesting takeaways I had from this particular seminar was…

Respect to Men is like what Love is to Women.

So what does that mean exactly?

A lot of times in a relationship… men and women have conflict… over money.

Especially when the man loses his job. Or the woman gets a pay rise, and now earns more than the man.

Sometimes, the woman loses respect for the man. She does not mean to. But we are so hardwired to think that the man is supposed to be the provider. He is supposed to bring back the bacon. And suddenly, when she becomes the main provider, the dynamics of the relationship begin to change.

Coming back to… Respect to a Man is what Love is to a Woman.

As a woman, we expect to be loved no matter what. We feel that we deserved to be loved by our man. No matter how good or bad we have been. It is supposed to be a given.

And hence, it is actually the same for a man. He expects to be respected no matter what. He does not need to earn it.

According to a research done by the Feldhahns, apparently, men are willing to leave a relationship if they felt they are constantly being disrespected, even though they knew for sure that their partners love them.

How does this apply to real life?

Was a speaker at a recent matchmaking seminar in Singapore. Was asked this question…

Violet, does a relationship work if the woman earns more than the man?

Actually, the crux of the matter here is not the salary. It is about each party playing their role. The woman can be the sole breadwinner, and the man can be a house husband and they still can be happy, if the woman shows the man that she respects him and his contribution to the family; and the man shows the woman love.

The problem is when the woman starts to resent the man for not bringing home the bacon, or start showing him contempt because she feels that he no longer deserves her respect.

In a relationship, it always takes two hands to clap. Respect and love come hand-in-hand. 🙂

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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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3 Little Words… I Love You!

Have you watched Transformers 2?

Apart from the big machine slugfest, one of the highlights of the Hollywood movie is of course the love story between the two leads. And in the sequel, the guy and the girl are bickering over who should say I love you first. Both sides are not willing to say it before hearing it from the other person.

Hence, one of the questions that people ask when they are in a relationship…

“Who should say ‘I love you’ first? The guy or the girl?”

Many guys and gals are worried about being the first to say ‘I love you’. Because..

  • they do not want to lose face, just in case the other person does not feel the same.
  • they do not want to jump the gun, because it might be too early in the relationship.
  • they are worried that they will lose the upper hand in the relationship.

The reasons are endless.

I think there is no hard or fast rule to it.

And sometimes, one party just has to take the risk. Afterall, not everything in life is about ‘face’. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is going to perceive you differently just because you are the first to say ‘I love you’, then he or she is probably not worth your time. Frankly, I will be really flattered if my guy has the courage to tell me he loves me, and not worried of coming across as not being macho enough.

Of course, there is a time and place for everything. If a guy tells me he loves me on a first date, I would really freak out.

At the end of the day, just do what feels right for YOU. Do not play mind games.

Because after all, you do not want to be like the guy and gal in Transformers 2. Uttering the 3 little words only after almost going through the valley of death! 🙂

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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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