They said that you're also always trying to upsell the other services that you have. You explained then that some of the services cost a lot to deliver. Of course if you have been in business long enough, there will be criticism. In terms of some of the criticisms we have gotten in terms of the price point, what we have said is that we do have many different services. We do have services where the price point is actually zero - that's our app.
When were you born?
That's our platinum service which is high-end matchmaking - head-hunting for love for high net worth individuals. So the different services are priced differently because of the time, effort and the service level that we give to our clients. There are options for our clients to choose what works for them. You met your husband in university and a lot of your friends met their life partners while studying. To what extent do you think that is something that ought to be encouraged among young people - to start dating more from a young age?
I highly encourage that. The chances of you meeting someone else who is single is obviously a lot higher when you are studying.
The setting is just different. If this is a person you think you can get along with, you can just hang out together. I started dating when I was 15, 16? Some are in their 20s or 30s even. I think as a result of that, they might have a certain view of how relationships should be and that view unfortunately sometimes might be based on Korean dramas or Hollywood movies. You're more experienced and you know what to expect and what to look out for.
There are people who share with me, "Oh, my parents always said that I need to focus on my studies first and then now that I've graduated, I need to focus on my career first. You said that people should start dating from young but parents might be worried that your focus will be diverted from your studies. They might also be worried that because you're not mature enough, there'll be premarital sex, there might be unwanted pregnancies, or you may not know how to cope with a break-up or even an abusive relationship.
I think it's not easy. Those are very valid concerns, but I think at the same time, they need to take a first step. My parents always treated me as a friend. As a result, I was more open to sharing with them my thoughts and what was going on in my life. In fact when I started dating, they said, "I want to get to know your boyfriend" rather than, "why are you dating?
The trend is many people are staying single or they're marrying later in life. Why do you think this is happening in our society, in particular in spite of the proliferation of dating services? Have such services failed? But the other important thing in terms of dating is, in the past, if you met five to 10 people of the opposite gender within a week or within a month, it was actually considered quite a good number.
I feel that online dating has made dates a commodity.
As a result, people are taking it for granted and taking their time, so maybe that's why people are also getting married later and later. And in terms of the people getting divorced, I would say that there are a few reasons. So from what I've observed with my friends or people that I know, the first one is sometimes people just get married for the wrong reasons. I know of someone who told me that out of 10, her comfort level with a particular guy was maybe six or seven, but she said that she would go ahead and marry him because he ticked all the boxes in terms of the five Cs, etc.
So if you hear her putting it this way, it sounds logical for a business deal, but for your lifelong happiness like a marriage, it doesn't really make sense. A couple of years. These kinds of things happen? The sad thing is they do. Sometimes people just marry for the wrong reasons. I have friends who, after a couple of years in the marriage, are always leaving the house early and coming home late.
But they say, "I don't know what to say to my wife. And after a while they just couldn't take it anymore. For example, someone who is very family-oriented must have dinner with his parents every day, but maybe his wife says, "I don't need to see my parents for three years. Because she won't understand why you need to see your family every day.
Even in terms of finding a match in the first place, I understand there are challenges in terms of managing expectations. So how do you ensure that the people you match have a high chance of making it — not just in terms of getting married, but actually making the marriage last? There are challenges in matching. Usually, the women who come to us are in their mids to late 30s, and chances are, they will be looking for guys who are around their age or maybe just slightly older.
So we're talking about guys in their late 30s or early 40s. And the problem is that this group of guys is also the so-called most sought-after group of guys because they're successful, they're established and they're more confident and mature. Even women who are in their late 20s are open to dating this group of guys.
So this group of guys have a lot of options. There's also a challenge for guys. So we have ladies coming to us who say, "If you're going to match me with a guy who is 42 or 45 years-old and above, I'd rather you match me with someone who has been married before. So they could still be living with their parents, or maybe they have moved out and they're living on their own and they might have certain habits that they have formed over the years — activities that they are happier doing alone.
They're looking for people who would understand certain idiosyncrasies. How do you deal with the cases you mentioned earlier and all these other mindsets and preferences your clients may have? How I deal with it is, really, to ask people to not just look at superficial criteria, and look deeper into ultimately what would make you happy in a marriage.
We understand why some clients might be fixated on education or the economic status of their future partners. We do take our clients' preferences and criteria when it comes to making suitable matches. However, we would also share with them matches who might not meet exactly the preferences they are looking for, but would be good matches for them based on compatibility of values. Many times, our clients would be open to our feedback and sharing, and give it a chance by meeting up with the person. However, for prospective clients who decline, sometimes, we would not even ask them to sign up with us because it might be difficult for us to find them the right match.
For men who are intimidated by strong women - from our observation, for men who prefer women who are less aggressive or assertive - it is quite difficult to persuade them otherwise. Men who like strong women tend to share upfront that they would like to be matched with these strong women. Ultimately, I think all strong women also have a softer and gentler side, especially when they have found someone whom they feel they are comfortable with and someone they can lean on.
The challenge for many strong women is when to let down that "defensive wall" and let someone in.
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Do you still have people coming to you with height requirements and other such things? Yes, all the time. People will be like "Okay, I'm looking for someone who is this tall. They might tell you something like, "Oh, because I like to wear high heels. But the truth of the matter is that they just feel that height signals that this person is stronger and this person can protect me. But if you ask them, "Protect you from what? There's no lion or whatever hunting you, right?
For guys, if you ask them, "Why do you like girls with long hair? What's wrong with girls with short hair? So how do I deal with it? It takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of patience. I have to convince them that they shouldn't just be choosing based on superficial characteristics. For example, if a guy is tall, it doesn't mean that he's going to be a good husband or a good father. You mentioned finding matches for clients based on a compatibility of values. How do you convince them to put aside the so-called superficial criteria? We do ask them what they're looking for in terms of physical attributes and profile attributes.
We do ask those questions because we are realistic as well. We know that we cannot just match them up with someone whom they would not be attracted to at all. Interests and hobbies are also just a good-to-have, but not a must-have. So for example, just now we talked about family values - do they value family as important. For some people, it would be their religion. Then there are others who talk about self-improvement.
So some are quite happy with the status quo, but others are self-improvement junkies, so they want you to be as ambitious as they are. What do you do with clients who may have unhealthy relationship patterns and baggage? Under the Lunch Actually Academy, we offer coaching services. The role of our coach is to understand our clients' current situation, where they would like to be and help them address that gap. We do not delve too much into their past. If we identify that they might need therapy, we would refer them to professional counsellors or therapists.
You're in several Asian markets. We talked a lot about the Singaporean client. Are there marked differences between us and some other Asian cultures? I would say in terms of criteria, it's more or less the same. But there are slight differences in the way people date.
The One With Long Hair, Part 1 – Soulmates | Lucy Goes Dating
So what we've realised that in Singapore or Hong Kong, where the pace is faster, people tend to make decisions faster as well. So they are more likely to, after a first date, decide not to go on a second date with the same person, because they just feel that it just didn't work, so I'm not going to waste my time. But in some other countries like Malaysia, they are more willing to give it a chance and go on a second date, or a third date to see whether there might be chemistry eventually. And we do encourage people to do that, because we say that honestly, very rarely would people have love at first sight.
It usually takes a bit longer to get to know each other better. We discussed off-air that you do face challenges in your marriage too and because you run your business with your husband, the work stress filters into the home. In the last few years, you spend less time together than in the first few years of your marriage. Do you feel a lot of pressure to keep your marriage going considering the industry you work in? I think people cop out too early. I don't see it as a pressure. I see it separately. If work gets in the way and you had to choose between making the business work versus making the marriage work?
I think for us our marriage always comes first. So for example if we come to a point where we feel that we cannot work together anymore because there's just so much tension, we'll always put the marriage first. So if we can't work together, then one of us will just leave the business so that we can keep our marriage. I believe marriage is the cornerstone of a lot of things. We have a family. I have two kids. My son is My daughter is seven. Because of our unsuccessful marriage, they might end up thinking marriage is all bad. They might not want to get married in the future. Do you think high divorce rates might impact future generations of Singaporeans in that way too?
I think it usually works two ways. People who come from either broken families, or families where the parents' marriage was not that good, either end up being like their parents, or they just go the other way. They want to do whatever it takes to not end up in the same place as their parent.
This is also something that I have thought a lot about. I feel that a lot of things in life, we don't learn about. In school, we learn Math, English and Science. But life skills like how do you make sure that you have a good marriage? So where do we learn this? We learn it from our parents. If our parents do not have a happy marriage, then where do we learn it? Or how do you be a good parent? Again, they don't teach us that in school. You have to then look at how our parents have been parenting us. And again, what if our parents have not been good parents? I mean of course now, there are marriage preparation classes and parenting classes you can take, but how else do you think such life skills can be learnt?
I think there are various ways of doing it. One of the things I think the Government has done is to start having classes in schools, in JCs, in polys to help them to be more confident and to understand relationships better. But I think for the rest of us, it's really about becoming good role models and mentors.
In my work I have been privileged and honoured to be able to share at workshops, at different platforms. As a ripple effect, I hope these people would then share things they have learnt with others and live it in their own lives so that their children can learn too. Let's talk about some of your business challenges today.
A lot is changing in the dating scene. There are so many online platforms and apps. You seem to be making an effort to keep up. What do you have to do to make it work?
21 Reasons You Should Date a Guy with Long Hair
When we first started the business, we knew that it wasn't going to be just lunch dating even though that was what we started out with. Our vision from day one was very clear. We wanted to be the most effective dating service. The most effective dating service might be different things for different people. And we also realized that it might change. In the last 12 years, the internet became a lot more pervasive and smartphones did too. We knew we had to move with the times, and we were, and still are very okay to create products or services that might even compete with our own existing products.
At this point Lucy has two options. She could read each profile individually and then send the ones she likes the sound of a chatty message. Or to save time and effort, she could give each of them a little nudge, and then see who responds. Better to give them all a fair shot. LongLeggedJules has, as the name suggests, long legs. Could she already have found The One so soon?! In each of the photos the hair is on full display, luscious and flowing, with Jules posing underneath it like a member of the Chippendales strip group, except with his shirt still on.
Lucy looks again at his profile and immediately sees how. Why would a grown man do this to himself? Is he some kind of ageing rocker? Having a midlife crisis? She scrolls through the profile again and sure enough, there it is: Clearly Jules is just a touch too cool for school. So what should she do? She looks at the message again. It is a good message. And apart from the hair, he has a good profile. Maybe she should give him a chance.
Stop being so prescriptive. Maybe the man she is destined to end up with is nothing like the picture she has in her mind. She replies, and quickly gets a response. Is he a touch pretentious? Lucy decides to give him the benefit of the doubt. Lucy likes that he appears to have a sense of humour, which is nice. Things are looking up. And it would be quite cool to have a boyfriend who is in a band….
So when Jules asks for her number so they can arrange to meet up, she hands it over. And is extremely surprised when, the next day, he phones. Lucy has just finished a call to a friend and still has the phone in her hand when it rings. An unrecognised mobile number. Jules is friendly and chatty, and has a nice voice. A man who has the balls to actually pick up the phone and call a girl — and who can hold a conversation?
This is a rare find indeed! They agree to meet for a drink the following week, and Lucy is cautiously optimistic. Maybe things are finally looking up in her disastrous love life. Which would be nice. Lucy is just a tad fed up of being dicked about. So she reactivates her profile, pays for a month, and goes shopping. Lucy is definitely just trying to be fair. Nothing to do with laziness. No, not at all.