An edited version of the above, “Singles need help on dating and finding partners”, was sent to Straits Times Forum on 20 July, 2017.
While eight in 10 Singaporean Millennial singles want to marry, it is worth examining why six in 10 are currently not dating, and four in 10 have never before dated, with a view toward marriage. (“Love and the single Singaporean”; Jul 8)
We welcome the Government’s plans to develop the dating landscape, create family-friendly and inclusive workplaces and improve pre-school support.
Other organisations can also collaborate with the Government to develop the dating landscape by addressing other possible reasons for why singles are not dating seriously. These could include the lack of clarity among singles of what a dating relationship entails and what to expect in their partners.
Unlike early societies that for centuries had norms and practices that provided opportunities for men and women to meet, know each other, and marry,1 societies today no longer have such norms and expectations.2
When couples discuss and agree on healthy norms and expectations of their dating relationship, this can guide them a step closer towards marriage.
Hence, it can be helpful to create platforms that open up conversations on topics like, the common expectations of Singaporean men and women about dating and marriage; reliable, clear markers of progress toward marriage in a dating relationship; and how people can evaluate whether their dating relationship is a healthy one, and if it is not, what can be done about it.
Another possible area worth looking into is guiding singles on how to determine what to look for in their partner.
This includes sharing with them research on what makes marriages successful. For example, it has been found that how a couple communicates and resolves conflict determines whether they will have a stable and happy marriage. And the way couples validate, instead of dismiss or undermine, each other’s points of view and emotions is important to the quality of their relationship.3
Singles can use such knowledge to assess for themselves and discuss with their partners, at the start and over the course of their dating relationship, what are the essential, non-negotiable traits they would like to see in marriage.
This can aid singles to set healthy and realistic expectations in a dating relationship.
Giving singles more handles to work out the norms and expectations of a healthy dating relationship and what to reasonably expect in a partner can help them to make wiser dating choices and encourage them to date seriously with a view toward marriage.
Marriage Specialist, Focus on the Family Singapore
1. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman.
2. Dr. Scott Stanley. Cited in Dinner and a Movie.
3. Dr. John Gottman. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last.