This one’s been a long time coming, but here’s the Truth: The Straits Times can’t catch a story if you gave it one and I have the evidence.
Some Context First…
The National Population and Talent Division polled 2,940 single and 2,861 married Singapore residents aged 21 to 45 years old between August and December last year about their attitudes and perceptions towards marriage and parenthood.
They found some interesting data:
- 60% of those polled were not dating seriously (Seriously here being “Dating with a consideration of marriage to your partner).
- 40% of those polled have never dated seriously before.
- 43% of of them are open to using Online Dating Tools (Apps and such) to meet people
The Straits Times then seized on the opportunity this data presented to give a half-baked story to the public that isn’t even rooted in any objective truth.
Janice Tai is Captain Obvious
After a particularly statistic-laden cold open, reported Janice Tai decides to give us this particular gem:
This means singles are likely to take longer to find a life partner and delay marriage and childbearing, with national implications on marriage and birth rates.
First of all Janice, is there anything else you might want to say, that we don’t know about? We know it’s a national issue, we know we’re delaying marriage and childbearing. We know. Now tell me something different, please.
However, dating experts say it may be the nature of online dating that is getting in the way of singles dating seriously. With the rise of online dating here, singles can sample from a seemingly endless buffet of romantic prospects on dating apps and websites.
Given the plethora of choices out there, choosing one person to be happy with can be a struggle. Each time they spot an annoying habit or run into a minor disagreement, they ask themselves: What if someone even better is only a swipe or click away?
Janice then decides right there, to screw it and get to her point of (dis)contention: YES. ONLINE DATING IS ALREADY DESTROYING OUR DATING LIVES. Best part? She didn’t give any other reason.
Janice Jumps the Gun…
… by jumping on the issue of how the immediacy of Dating Apps eliminates the cultivation of the depth of our relationships, without realising that there are TONS of other reasons as to why the data says people aren’t dating seriously. Like…
1) The Study interviewed 21-45 year olds…
when the average age of marriage in Singapore falls somewhere between 30-34! So yes, this means that more than 50% of the sample size isn’t primed for marriage!
If you’re going to ask a large number of people who aren’t primed for marriage, about dating for marriage, you’re going to have a whole lot of people telling you that they aren’t thinking about it.
2) Dating for Marriage isn’t common…
… because a lot of younger people don’t start dating anything thinking of marrying them in the first place. They meet people, and spend time understanding them, and if there’s a match, they get deeper. This is simply a sign of the times, and the ST’s reporter needs to get with the program.
The average woman will meet 15 men and be heartbroken twice. Granted, this isn’t a local study, but it does speak to the fact that people do meet more than 1 partner, and have more than 1 serious boyfriend/girlfriend in their lifetimes. A quick straw poll of my friends, aged 28-35, have yielded an average of 2.6 partners prior to settling down. So, people in my friend circle, in the 28-35 age group, are looking at an average of dating 2-3 people before they consider getting married.
3) No one starts out expecting marriage
Ok seriously, no one starts out with the expectation of marriage. In fact, it might be more prudent to know people better before deciding to get married. In fact, some data from well-known marriage researchers say that happily married couples actually start getting hitched at around the 25 month point, but while another 2008 study found that most couples wait 2.8 years before they got married. So yes, they waited, just like this very patient bear…
Why? Well, wouldn’t you want to know someone a little bit better before making the mental leap? You also want to know their families, lifestyles and thought processes a little better before you decide if they’re marriage material (and that definition is different for all of us). It’s called delayed gratification, and it’s scientifically proven to be good.
4) Dating Apps accelerate the process
If you use dating apps, you’re simply accelerating the process of meeting people, and running through your “natural filtration” process. If you’re serious about things, then you’ll meet people, and have a sense of whether you want to deepen the connection between the both two of you. If you don’t, you move on. Sure, you’re going to make mistakes along the way, but that helps you shorten your journey by allowing you to learn what you truly need in order to have a satisfying relationship.
That is to say: You start out knowing what you want, but you might not end up with what you initially wanted, because you realise what is more important to you as you go along. If you want to get better at Tinder, here’s a guide to get you on the path to success.
5. Romantic Love is not a Straight Line
Contrary to our very well-structured childhoods, school and career paths, love doesn’t work in a direct Success-Failure format. No score, streaming or ranking determines your constantly evolving human outcome to relationships. So love isn’t a straight line…
In fact, there is a very universality to the idea that human relationships are consistently in flux, even in the seemingly rock-solid relationships we see around us. It is highly tempting to see other people’s relationships in a black or white filter. It’s always “they’re such a great couple” or “they aren’t going to last long”. But honestly – We don’t have a complete understanding of what everyone is going through.
Love is messy, Journalism doesn’t have to be
Now, I’m not saying that all relationships are doomed to fail, or that we are allowed to use it’s fluctuations as an excuse.
I’m saying that romantic love is a deeply nuanced, multi-faceted topic that requires us to pull from multiple data sources and experiences in order to understand even a single iota of Love’s fundamental truths.
Therefore, Janice Tai’s article fails even the basic tests of Journalism: Objective Fact-Finding. She simply married a government Press Release with conjecture from one angle, then decided that the single and unmarried are in their situations because of the disturbing commoditisation of Love.
But here’s the truth: The only thing truly disturbing, is the ST’s willingness to throw an entire generation’s concerns and hopes under the bus, in exchange for some cheap clicks.