Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don’t Fret, love comes eventually


From TODAY, Voices, I Say
Thursday July 31, 2008

Finding it is simply a matter of managing one’s expectations, readers say

Ansley Ng
ansley@mediacorp.com.sg

MY COLUMN last Friday (Helping singles meet singles) drew letters of encouragement, robust disagreement and some unorthodox suggestions.

Among the responses from single and married women, married men and even mothers worried about their single daughters’ lack of a social life, there were several interesting propositions and suggestions.

Among several date requests, one female reader who was worried about her buddy’s nonchalance at being single sent her friend’s photo and email address, asking me to write her friend in the hope that we might hit it off.

Another concerned male reader urged me to spend Saturday night prowling bars and clubs, even if I had to “hunt” alone.

If that failed, he added, I should head for Geylang.

But last Saturday night, instead of roaming the red light district for durians, and instead of spilling wine while reaching for Kleenex as I watched the tragic love story of Yuri Zhivago and Lara Antipova, I was out with the lads at our favourite rock bar, listening to Dire Straits play Romeo and Juliet.

Some of the 13 letters received after the column was published disagreed with my suggestion that the Government and employers should help Romeo meet Juliet.

In her response published on Monday, Mrs Sarah Sum-Campbell called me a “very good son of the soil who would do what the Government says, and without the right incentives and carrot dangling before him, unable to muster enough oomph to follow his heart”.

“All the opportunities are there,” Mrs Sum-Campbell wrote. “What we make out of our own life is completely in our hands.”

Another reader — a civil servant — wrote that there are already activities to bring singles in her workplace together, but these are met with resistance, “no matter how interesting they may be”.

She was disheartened by her colleagues’ poor response to the activities that she has helped organise. “They think we shouldn’t interfere with their private lives,” she wrote. “One even said to me openly ‘I would never go to these events. They are for losers.’”

This raises the question of how much help there should be, especially when it is not appreciated by singles who would rather rely on fate.

Yes, fate is a romantic notion and meeting someone thanks to nature is a sweeter victory than hooking up with help.

But there are practical people who would prefer a little outside force that can move fate along.

Mrs A Ong, a mother whose daughter returned to Singapore to work recently but found it tough to make new friends, wrote that there was a lack of opportunities for singles to meet.

“(My daughter) has resigned herself to fate, but I feel that she has to give fate a little push,” Mrs Ong wrote.

Another reader, a 29-year-old who only wanted to be known as Mel, asked how much the Government should intervene in the private lives of Singaporeans.

“Is it really because it’s difficult to meet people at this age?” she asked. “Or, is it because as we progress with age, we have a much better idea of what we want and what we like, and so we seek out the one that makes our hearts sing?”

I wrote that it was difficult for singles to meet one another, but I also have to agree with Mel’s second reason.

Our expectations harden as we age. Those lucky enough suffer a little disappointment and swallow a bit of pride before eventually finding true love. So says the woman who doesn’t mind a husband who is shorter than her, or the asthmatic man who doesn’t mind his chain-smoking wife.

I know half a dozen people who got divorced before they reached 33, and this — as a single friend put it — could be due to changed expectations during the most dynamic period of one’s life, when work and play alike are at their peaks.

“Well, at least I am not 29 and divorced,” she added. Touche.

Ansley Ng actually ditched his pals at the rock bar on Saturday night and went on a date with someone who wasn’t a letter writer.
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