Hello Love - Love, Unexpectedly

CNA
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AFTER YEARS OF SEARCHING LONG AND HARD FOR THE PERFECT RELATIONSHIP, JOSHUA TEO REALISED THAT THE TRUE LOVE OF HIS LIFE HAD BEEN BY HIS SIDE ALL ALONG.

orty-year-old Joshua Teo was a late bloomer when it came to love. Even though he had met someone he was attracted to while at university, he was focused on school and church activities and did not want to commit to a relationship then. Several years later, Joshua finally embarked on his first relationship at the age of 30. However, things did not quite turn out as the design consultant had planned. “I was always pretty certain that if I went into a relationship, it would be with the goal of working towards marriage. Unfortunately, our relationship did not work out and we broke up after two-and-a-half years,” he says.

Heartbroken, Joshua took a break in his pursuit of a relationship and stopped dating anyone for almost two years. “It took me longer than I had expected to get over the breakup. I felt that I had failed to live up to my commitment in my previous relationship and wanted to make sure that my next relationship turned out differently,” he adds.

PERFECTION IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT TO BE

When Joshua was finally ready to get back into the dating scene, he did not think however that his friend, Kelly Chia, would end up as a potential partner. They had known each other since their university days and later served in the same church. “Our mutual friends had suggested that we get together, but I did not feel any inclination or attraction at that point,” he says. “I wanted someone who was unique, strong, brave and not afraid to call me out when I am wrong, and Kelly was all of those things. But I didn’t know it then as I only knew her superficially and didn’t think she was my type. I also had a typical ideal that my potential life partner had to be someone girlish and sweet, with long hair, who wears dresses and is conventionally pretty. Kelly did not fit that image.”

Finally, when Joshua and Kelly were working on a church project together in 2014, something sparked off. At one of their meetings in a McDonald’s, Joshua felt a deep connection and chemistry with Kelly, now 36. It was then he switched to a more proactive mindset and decided to start something with her. He shares that Kelly was more confident and knew what she wanted, while he ideally wanted more time to get to know her as a friend. He wanted to be sure he knew her well enough as a friend before committing to tying the knot.

A conversation with a friend helped him to look at love from a different perspective. “My friend shared that getting into a relationship, getting married and having kids is all about sacrifice. And at each point, the degree of sacrifice increases, but you do it with joy,” he recalls. “That helped me to realise that I was focusing too much on myself, and that I needed to shift my focus onto my partner’s needs and feelings, rather than my lack of complete certainty. It did not matter that everything was not yet perfect before I took the leap.”

Our honeymoon in New Zealand in October 2016

We liked to check out different cafes when we were dating

Sharing our story at a youth camp in Malaysia in December 2016

Our wedding dinner celebrations

Exploring Jewel at Changi Airport with our sons, Kelly’s parents and our helper in April 2019

Our honeymoon in New Zealand in October 2016

We liked to check out different cafes when we were dating

Sharing our story at a youth camp in Malaysia in December 2016

Our wedding dinner celebrations

Exploring Jewel at Changi Airport with our sons, Kelly’s parents and our helper in April 2019

WRITING THEIR OWN RULES

After about a year of dating, Joshua popped the question. The couple tied the knot in October 2016 and have since built a home with two lovely children. Looking back on his relationship with Kelly, he has come to realise he had previously harboured some overly idealistic expectations of love. “Some of my ideals held me back from marriage,” he confesses. “For example, people say you should marry someone you cannot live without, not someone you can live with. However, it is unrealistic to think you must feel that way before you get married. It is a journey and a process. If two people are mature enough and have a healthy relationship, there is value in getting married early and building their relationship [into one they cannot live without] together along the way, rather than trying to do so before the marriage.”

He admits he had also been influenced in the past by what he saw around him. “I also realised we may sometimes have a superficial ideal of beauty that is coloured by the media – we think women need to look a certain way to be considered pretty. This shallow understanding of beauty did nothing for me to build trust and a meaningful relationship. Conversely, it made me objectify potential partners, rather than genuinely know them for who they are. I am glad I did not stick to it,” he says. “Beauty is more than just looks. It is how a person feels about herself and how she makes you feel. Kelly complements me, and we support each other as we build our lives together. Every day, I make the commitment to love her for who she is.”

DATING IS NOT SHOPPING
Dating — both online and in the real world — often presents a dilemma of choice. Here are six ways you can overcome this mentality.

rom swiping left or right to speed dating, dating apps and events offer singles plenty of opportunities to make friends with potential partners. Yet, these situations can also create a mindset that results in individuals becoming too picky and having unrealistic expectations.

It is a recent phenomenon that Dolly Chua, Chief Matchmaker of dating agency GaiGai, is all too aware of. “The ‘shopping mentality’ is evident in today’s society. I believe this is influenced by an individual’s phase in life and their dating values. Those who are ready for marriage and/or have traditional dating values will be less likely to have this mentality,” she says.

This mindset might also lead to issues in relationships later on. Dolly explains that the curiosity of thinking there could be someone better out there poses a dating challenge for individuals in the long run. An individual with such a mentality will have the tendency to not be fully invested in the person they are dating. They could eventually miss out on somebody great before them, if they are constantly on the lookout for someone better.

READ ON FOR MORE TIPS ON HOW TO SET HEALTHIER EXPECTATIONS

THROW OUT THAT CHECKLIST
Get onto a dating platform with an open mind and heart. Erase any preconceived judgements you have before meeting the person, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you actually like them.

DON’T OBSESS OVER THE NUMBER OF MATCHES
What matters more is converting a match into an actual meet-up. It really doesn’t matter how many matches you get if you don’t end up going on an actual date.

AVOID THINKING THERE IS SOMEONE BETTER OUT THERE
Such an approach will lead to you not being fully present and invested in the person you are dating. The result? Potentially missing out on the right person who is already there with you!

STAY FOCUSED
Being too indecisive could be problematic and might cause you to end up nowhere. When you feel that you can connect well with someone, stop hesitating, and make the effort to get to know him or her better. Otherwise, it is okay to be honest about it so that you both can move on.

SHOW RESPECT
Whether you are in the chatting or meet-up phase, treat your date like how you want to be treated. Who knows, you may be reconnected with that person some years down the road. After all, Singapore isn’t such a big place!

TAKE A SHORT BREAK
Dating burnout is real, and it happens when you feel overwhelmed. Give yourself a break, and reflect what is causing you to feel this way. Are your expectations too unrealistic? Do you have difficulty steering a relationship? Get fresh perspectives and a renewed sense of purpose, and be back on your quest soon!