There has been an increase in receptivity towards online dating services or apps among the millennials. Research (YouGov SG, 2017) shows that 43% of millennials in Singapore have used an internet dating service or app at some point, while 55% of Singaporeans know at least one couple who met online. Of those who were surveyed, 75% of them did not think of a couple who met online any differently (YouGov SG, 2017).
This is indeed a shift in perspective, as compared to the early 2000s, when finding a partner online seems like a freakish thing to do (Rocca, 2019). Why is there a shift in mindset? Firstly, with the prevalent use of the Internet nowadays, where the ordering of food, booking of transport, shopping of clothes and necessities, and even connecting with our friends are done mostly online or through the various apps, it seems like a natural progression to find our partners online. Secondly, given the fast-paced society Singapore is in, most of the millennials are busy with work commitments (Choo, 2019). They just couldn’t find the time to date through the traditional method, where one is introduced to a potential partner through his/her friends or family members (Choo, 2019). For some, their social circle may be largely limited to their workplace. In certain cases, it may, hence, be difficult for a female to find a partner in a female-dominated working environment and vice versa. Dating apps, hence, make it easier for singles to connect and expand their social circle (Choo, 2019).
We may have heard of success stories, where couples met through an online dating app and eventually tied the knot. However, there are also cases where some were being scammed of their money; some met people who were only interested in hooks-up; some thought they found their perfect partners, only to find out later on that they were married with kids later. So, how can we get involved in online dating, knowing who is the true love of our lives?
Five stages of Relationship
Before answering that question, we need to first understand that all relationships go through 5 stages – romance, power struggle, stability, commitment and bliss stage (Muzik,n.d.). For this article, we will be focussing mainly on the romance and power struggle stage.
Stage (1) – Romance
This is the stage when we fall in love with someone. Some may describe this “falling-in-love” experience as heart-thumping faster; butterflies in the stomach; feeling extremely high doing nothing and excessively thinking and missing the other person when not together. This feeling of falling-in-love is euphoric. According to Chapman (2010), we often refer to this kind of love as infatuation, where we are “emotionally obsessed” with each other. When we are in this stage, we seem to believe that if we are really in love, this in-love feeling will last forever. However, Chapman (2010) points out that the average life-span of a romantic obsession is at most two years. Once the romance stage ends, the power struggle stage starts to kick in.
The average life-span of a romantic obsession is at most two years.
Stage (2) – Power Struggle
When the in-love state wears off, those little traits that we once overlooked when we are in love become huge mountains (Muzik, n.d.). We used to only see our similarities and may even find our differences as appealing and attractive. Yet, during this stage, our differences became obvious and we are confronted with the need to negotiate differences and resolve conflicts.
It is usually during this stage when a couple either breaks off or survives through (Muzik, n.d.). If the couple survives this stage, their relationship will have been strengthened. To survive this challenging phase in all relationships, it involves both parties being open-minded; able to assert oneself respectfully and yet willing to listen and understand your partner; being creative in seeking out new ways of resolving conflicts and forming new rules together. Love has matured from infatuation to real love, as it is no longer an emotional response but a rational choice and commitment to choose love daily (Chapman, 2015).
Love is no longer an emotional response but a rational choice and commitment to choose love daily (Chapman, 2015).
Stage (3) – Stability
This is the stage when there are stability and peace in the relationship where mutual respect of each other’s individuality helps to mediate through the differences (Muzik, n.d.).
Stage (4) – Commitment
This may not necessarily mean marriage. At this stage of the relationship, it is a commitment to your partner, whereby you love and accept each other, both the strengths and weaknesses. According to Muzik (n.d.), you can be authentic and tell your partner, “I don’t need you. I choose you, knowing all I know about you, good and bad.”
Stage (5) – Bliss
In this stage, the relationship matures beyond the couple as the focus and the couple can work together on a collaborative project, like consciously raise their children, doing business or charity work together (Muzik, 2015).
Bearing in mind the 5 stages of a relationship, as you search for your true love, it may be helpful to consider the following:
1. Have a list of qualities you look out for in your potential partner.
Take some time to think through a list of qualities you look out for in your potential mate. This is to understand your needs and your expectations towards relationships and marriage. Why are the qualities in your list important to you? How can you tell if the person you are communicating through the online dating app possesses these qualities? This is important so that you will not be sweep off your feet by the euphoric in-love feeling and forget about your values and beliefs with regards to relationship and marriage.
2. Take the relationship a step at a time.
Experts say that though online dating is more efficient and faster, the relationships also tend to be shorter (Choo, 2019). This is because before you meet the person in real life, you have already seen the person’s biodata, communicate with the person online for a while. You may enter the relationship thinking you know who this person is. As a result, you may also get into a serious commitment too early. Though some people use the online dating app to explore options, a number of them use it as a likely means to find a life partner to settle down. Hence, the euphoric in-love feeling may tend to mislead you in thinking you have found the “Mr / Ms. Right” and causing you to commit to marriage too early in the relationship.
Taking the relationship one step at a time, helps you to understand yourself and your partner better. Bearing in mind that though this in-love feeling makes you feel good about the relationship, it will eventually wear off. Are you prepared and committed to putting in the effort to work through the relationship with this person as the relationship progresses to the next power struggle stage?
3. Have greater Self-awareness and Self-acceptance
It is easy to lose yourself when you are in the romance stage with your potential partner. Having greater self-awareness and self-acceptance means that you are not entering into a relationship to meet your approval or acceptance needs. Hence, as you interact with your potential partner, you can objectively assess if the person is really who he or she portrays himself or herself to be. Mismatched information or tell-tale signs of dishonesty is likely to be subtle, especially if the person has ill-intentions to deceive. However, one may find it easier to take notice with an objective mind. With a sense of self, you are also in a better state to love another person. During the power struggle stage, if one is depending on his/her partner to affirm who he or she is, it may be easier for the couple to perceive being attacked by each other. A person with a healthy sense of self will be able to respect his/her differences and be open-minded to embrace his/her partner’s values and beliefs into their relationship.
Chapman, G. D. (2010). The Five Love Languages: the Secret to Love That Lasts. Chicago: Northfield Pub.
Choo, C. (2019, 23 April). The Big Read: Fast love - dating apps help busy Singaporeans find almost instant romance. Retrieved on 13 Feb 2020: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/fast-love-dating-apps-help-busy-singapore-big-read-11466772
Muzik, B. (n.d.). The 5 Stages of Relationship. Which Relationship Stage is Yours at? Retrieved on 13 Feb 2020: https://www.loveatfirstfight.com/relationship-advice/relationship-stages/
Rocca, J. (2019, 12 Feb). How to make love last in the modern age goes beyond online hook-ups. Retrieved on 14 Feb 2020:
YouGov SG. (2017, 23 Nov). A third of Singaporeans have used internet dating. Retrieved on 13 Feb 2020:
About the Author
Hui Shan is currently the Head of Operations in Grace Oasis Counselling Services. Married for over 10 years, she understands the challenges of choosing love daily and intentionally. With her experience in relationships and marriage, she believes in sharing the hard lessons she has learned over the years with others through writing.