Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Growing Pains

Dating, now and then
By Ben Ibrahim


MY friends always tell me that when they enter the workforce after university, the biggest lessons they learn are processes and systems. Some of them apply these lessons in their personal lives, especially in the game of romance.

When I tease them about how they are approaching love academically, some of them not only map out the process but show me the results — albeit intangible — with the outcome being happiness and prosperity.

When discussing the topic with family and friends, some say that the romantic game has become more complicated. Young guys and girls are more sophisticated now because they have access to more resources.

Our parents never had mobile phones, emails, online chats, Blackberries or Facebook. They had to date the old-fashioned way.

These days, the whole romance business is, as my friends tell me, similar to a tender process.

When the man wants to convince the woman that he is the one for her, he has to submit a tender.

A man’s tender proposal is usually measured during the actual date.

The girl will review the following — what kind of restaurant he takes her to; whether he behaves in a gentlemanly manner; what his his values are; what similar or contrasting interests they both have.

The list goes on... it very much depends on the criteria that each looks out for.

Let us not forget that certain values have also changed with time.

A friend once discovered that his date was keeping her options open and dating others simultaneously.

Being old-school, he could not accept her rationale that she was merely considering all tenders.

I also have friends who see the dating game as a human resource process.

They always tell me that dating is a glorified interview. The only difference is that a date involves a restaurant. The interview involves two candidates with paper, pen and a resume.

“If only we could read their resume before we go on the date,” my quirky friend Wan jokingly said.

During the date, questions asked are, “What do you do? Do you like what you do? What do you do outside work? Do you like Rihanna or Usher?”

If these are the questions that are asked, it might as well be an interview.

Friends looking for romance this year should post a job advertisement in Jobstreet. At least they can be upfront, clear and transparent in what they are looking for.

The world of romance is not as straightforward as it seems. This is what my friends and I always tell our parents when they ask about our wedding plans.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. To all readers and friends who are seeking love this year, I hope your tender proposal will impress Mr or Ms Right because to me, a person’s suitability is not all about how much money he has or what kind of gifts he buys you.

It is very much about how big his heart and character is.

But, as mentioned earlier, the world we live in is very different from our parents’ time. Romance is not easy because the rules of the game have changed.

Wan always says: “I don’t mind if they turn me down because I don’t have a BMW. To me, BMW stands for Best Man Wins.”

* The writer is a freelance TV host and emcee. He has covered The Breakfast Show (NTV7) and the Beijing Olympics (Astro). He is currently hosting on-line programmes with

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