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Perhaps unsurprisingly, many young people in Singapore regard dating as a serious business, but at the same time a similar sort of uncertainty as to that which surrounds questions of Singaporean identity also affects the world of dating and relationships.

Recent research and surveys suggest that Singaporean men feel that the standards that women expect are too high, while women are often dissatisfied by what is perceived to be the unromantic quality of their male counterparts.

There is added pressure on marriage because cohabitation is not common in Singapore.

This is partly due to the government policies that only enable HDB housing to be purchased by married couples (or singles over 35) as well as the conservative attitude of parents and families across all ethnic communities, and so marriage is still the desirable state in order to make a life and, more importantly, raise children.

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They have a fundamental belief in ideas of equality and empowerment, yet the majority would still prefer their wives to stay at home to raise children.

They consider themselves less demure than some of their Asian counterparts, yet not as outgoing and upfront as western women.

They are independent and career-oriented, but yet many still have the traditional family with the man as the breadwinner as an ideal.

Additionally, despite the fact that marriage rates are falling and people are getting married later, there is nevertheless a prevailing sense that marriage is the ‘normal’ state of affairs and that people who don’t marry have missed an important part of life, and although there is no open discrimination against unmarried people, anecdotally there is often the sense that those who don’t marry are atypical, and perhaps out of mainstream life.

This is one of the many paradoxes around dating and marriage—most Singaporeans hold the view that marriage is the state to which all should aspire, and yet growing numbers remain unmarried.

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