My views on dating is probably way more outdated than most millennials.
I firmly believe in dating the offline way that our parents used to do because that idea is so much more romantic to me.
When I first learned about online dating back in primary school or secondary school, I thoroughly rejected that idea. Meeting people in real life is more fun, I thought, and how do you trust a stranger you 'meet' so readily?
Then came apps like Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel, and now, dating in the 21st Century is redefined.
A close friend of mine had just got out of a 4-year relationship and tried a dating app on a whim to get over it, and has been seeing her match for more than two months now.
But while there are many matchmaking agencies and online dating sites that offer a platform for you to meet someone, here's one matchmaking firm that believes in setting up their clients with a lifelong partner from the get-go.
"IT'S OKAY TO BE VULNERABLE"
The Heart Whispers (THW) is not the first matchmaking agency in Singapore, but it definitely has the heart to bring its sincere services to everyone.
Founders Rishma Petraglia (33) and Rubyni Karun (34) started THW in August with a teaser website, and launched this early September this year.
They spent close to a year on researching and developing their dating process and are now finally ready to unveil it to the Singapore market.
Their research focused on finding out what are the qualities that create a sustainable partnership, long-lasting love, and what is the individual's perception on the current gaps in these areas.
They found that long-lasting relationships have these four characteristics in common:
- Couples are always trying new things together,
- They avoid neediness by preserving their independence,
- Their passion for life carries over into their relationship, and
- They see their relationship as a journey together towards self-fulfillment.
Another aspect of their research also covered vulnerability and they found that "people can only connect with others when they are open and vulnerable with who they are".
Rishma shared with me, "This is the idea of being "wholehearted". When you are comfortable with who you are, understand what your gifts are, and what you can contribute to a relationship, you are more likely to attract a beautiful life partner to share your life with."
Their extensive study helped them create a dating process unique to each individual. This process centres on each person's balance and stability before they embark on their journey to find love.
After establishing that foundation (the balance), THW provides the tools and knowledge for their members to help them develop meaningful connections which lead to long-lasting love.
THE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS
Rishma explained that men look for someone who is confident which she defined as "the quality of being certain of your abilities".
"A woman who is confident knows she is capable in many areas of her life, and this clearly shows in the way she presents herself. Men can sense confidence the moment they speak with a girl."
So, what do women really want? Are we really so hard to understand?
On top of feeling comfortable and safe around a reliable person who can let them be themselves, Rishma revealed this - "Women also want a man who has a sense of humour, (who) can make her laugh and have fun when they go out together."
A common trait both genders look for is passion. Which brings us to the first characteristic of a long-lasting relationship.
"Feeling excited about a fun hobby can make a person's eyes sparkle when they talk about it," Rishma said. Essentially, don't be afraid to share with your date your favourite activity or interest and make it a point to also try out theirs.
During their coaching sessions, Rishma said that they "go deep into" understanding each of their members' masculine and feminine traits and balancing qualities because it affects who they attract.
One of the dating problems she pointed out is that people from both genders expect chemistry right away with a matchmaking service.
The other dating problem is the struggle to show your true self on the first date.
"This is why our date-coaching and image-consulting sessions are so important in helping individuals show their potential partner what makes them unique and special," she explained.
Even though THW has only officially began their business about two weeks ago, they already have 22 members from before waiting in line. The waiting list for their consultation services is about a week!
Rishma is very positive that THW is doing something right that "even without full marketing or a launch, people are… attracted by the idea".
"SORRY, I'VE GOT A DATE PLANNED BY SOMEONE ELSE FOR ME TONIGHT"
This idea of someone setting up a date for them is pretty subjective.
Using a professional matchmaking service probably feels different than having your mum set you up with your aunty's cousin's son.
Rishma explained that in Singapore, when someone mentions "online dating" or "matchmaking", people might judge or criticise.
"But the truth is, in many other places around the world like New York City, or San Francisco, it's considered a status symbol to have your own personal matchmaker," she continued.
People in these cities understand that many of them are too busy to find love. She further described that these individuals are action-orientated, know what they're looking for, and go after what they want.
While dating apps like Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel are fun and novel for a while, Rishma thinks that they are great for connecting with people if they have "the right attitude".
"We're living in this age of instant gratification where people expect instant results without having to do the work. Because it's so easy to swipe right and left, they think finding a relationship should come easy, which is far from the truth."
She continued saying that getting into a relationship takes as much effort as finding a job. It is "necessary to put in the time, effort, and energy into" finding a relationship.
The fact is, people who look for THW are unhappy with their current situation; they feel like it is "emotionally draining to keep swiping without much success in finding a relationship".
THW started out with a lean team of experts who specialise in balancing, date-coaching, and image-consulting. They spent about S$10,000 in just starting up aside from their office space.
They haven't broken even yet, but Rishma said that they are projected to do so by the third month.
"We hope to change the perception of matchmaking in Singapore by helping people understand that there is nothing wrong with getting a little help when it comes to love."