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Tue, Sep 03, 2013
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I'm too picky
by Jennifer Dhanaraj

Singapore - Call him a dating addict if you will.

He hops from one to another without hesitation - dating agencies, that is.

Mr Foo Ce Zi, 27, has looked for love on various platforms, including TV, radio and dating agencies.

Yet, he is still single.

"I just want to fully utilise all my resources as different agencies have different databases of single women, " says Mr Foo.

According to dating agencies here, this is not so unusual.

Ms Joan Ong, the founder of Champagne JSG says that in recent years, she has been aware of clients who also have packages with other dating agencies.

She says: "They join multiple agencies to cast their net wider. After all, it is a probability game that the more people you meet, the faster and higher the chance of finding your Mr or Ms Right."

Ms Violet Lim, the founder of Lunch Actually says: "They like to maximise the number of dates they can go on in a short time frame.

"If each agency finds him or her a date a month, then if they join three agencies, that means they can go on three dates as opposed to one date a month."

Mr Foo is unapologetic about casting his net wide. The IT executive says: "Why should I feel bad? I'm just doing what I can to find someone for myself."

He started his search for love on TV in 2011 on a Channel 8 show called Love In Progress.

But that didn't pan out well for the bespectacled and fit Mr Foo, who is 1.7m tall.

He rolls his eyes as he tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I went there hoping to meet someone. But the girls there couldn't make it at all. So I stayed for the cash prize" (which he didn't win).

He adds incredulously: "The girls were fat!"

He then joined a dating show on Yes 93.3. Girls wrote in to the station if they were interested in getting to know him based on his pre-recorded segments.

From those who wrote in, he picked a vegan blogger. Mr Foo states wryly: "You would think a vegan blogger would have lots of things to talk about. You'd be wrong.

"The conversation with her was so painful. She laughed at everything I said - even things that were not funny."

In March this year, he signed up for a package at Lunch Actually. The next month, he signed up for eSynchrony, an online matching system.

Just like a normal agency, it provides you with matches based on a compatible profile and personality.

Mr Foo has also attended events at The Dating Loft.

But is there a downside to serial dating like this?

Not necessarily, say dating agencies. Though it would be wise not to bring it up on a first date, says Ms Michelle Goh, the founder of CompleteMe.

Mr Foo agrees: "There is nothing wrong with it but it's something I wouldn't bring up on the first date.

"It's similar to bringing up your exes on a first date - a strict no-no. And it's not a nice way to make the other person feel special."

He has spent a total of at least $2,000 on dating agencies, and is yet to find a match.

He has gone on six dates and can barely remember the names of most of them.

Instead, he remembers them by their occupation and their flaws.

Mr Foo rattles on about the "Scoot air stewardess" and her lack of punctuality.

"Air stewardesses are supposed to be there before the plane takes off!" he says, sounding peeved.

Compatibility is the key in looking for a suitable, long-term partner, he goes on to say.

Another one of his dates was a woman (whose name he can't remember) whom he connected with all night by talking about games.

And even then, he didn't ask her out for a second date. "She was too much like a dude," says Mr Foo. "I couldn't see her as a girlfriend."

Is he too picky, I asked.

Without hesitation, he answers: "Yes."

"I'm looking for a wife, so I cannot settle for simply anyone," says Mr Foo, who last had a girlfriend when he was studying in Australia two years ago.

He has a type, he says: Long hair, parted at the side, petite and sweet-looking.

One of his dates did meet that requirement but after several dates, the relationship fizzled out.

He says: "I am realistic and I realise she is probably not interested in me, so I let it go."

Given the time and money he has spent on dating here, he considers the prospect of finding someone suitable in Singapore rather grim.

But he will not stop going for dates set up by the agencies.

Says Mr Foo, a Singaporean with permanent resident status in Australia: "I intend to work here for three more years. So if I find someone here, that would be great. But I doubt it."

There are others like him who have yet to find success with agencies despite a string of dates - even after five years.

And often this leads to clients being demoralised.

Miss Goh says: "On average, if a participant joins about five events with no positive results, he or she will feel demoralised. That is why I started dating workshops and personal consultations to share dating tips to help them improve their date-ability."

And sometimes, their lack of success causes doubt to creep in for their dates as well.

Miss Ong says: "I think to a certain extent their date may think 'you must be very picky' or 'is there something wrong with you?'"

Miss Lim says that in order to maximise their chances of success for such clients, the agency provides feedback and pointers from their dates to help them succeed.

But that doesn't always work, leading to them being stuck in a cycle.

"There are some clients who are not willing to take feedback or they might be in denial. For these clients, it might be more difficult for us to help them maximise their chances of success," Miss Lim says.

And of course, there are those who simply join these agencies to expand their social circles - a stark contrast from people looking to settle down.

Those are inevitable, says Mr Matthew Chan, founder of Love Express. "Some clients want a bigger exposure on the dating scene so as to be able to help them in their decision-making and to know exactly what they want. Everyone has a different timeline on when to settle down.

"Some want to focus on their careers and some are more interested in making friends, so yes we do have people who have varying degrees of seriousness when it comes to the dating scene."

There's nothing wrong with that unless you lie about your intentions, he says.

Mr Foo insists that he is always up front with his dates. "If I'm not interested, I wouldn't even contact them because I don't want to lead them on."

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