Dating and finding love in Singapore: Paul Foster, Benjamin Kheng, and Dinesh Balasingam dish out relationship advice

Dating and finding love in Singapore: Paul Foster, Benjamin Kheng, and Dinesh Balasingam dish out relationship advice

The Brunch Download

Text: Rahat Kapur

Hey hey there Brunch Download fam!

Welcome to week six of the column and week-God-knows-what of Coronaland, where love is for those who managed to find it pre-quarantine and the only swiping we've all done in a long time is left and right on our windows with glass cleaner so we can see the outside world better. I kid, but not really. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm still a functional human being after all these weeks, given I live alone. Sometimes a little human interaction reminds you if you've totally lost the plot or not. But I guess we'll have to take our chances.

So week six and we're supposed to be discussing love, dating, and relationships when we can't approach either right now. Certainly a unique challenge. But not an insurmountable one. You see, over the last few weeks, I've had a lot of time to think and think I have. I've thought about my romantic future, about co-romance, about chivalry, and, of course, men. Ahhh, men. My least-favourite-most-favourite creatures on the planet. If thinking about men was a degree, I would've graduated Suma Cum Laude by now with my Bachelorette degree from Her-Award University. Okay, sorry, that was an awful joke. But a true one?! The thing is, there is nothing in the world that fascinates me more than men, except maybe why I continue to proactively avoid exercise when I feel so good after it (remember the endorphins, Rahat, remember!). Which is why this week, I figured in the absence of being able to find one of my own, I could use this time wisely and tap into the minds of three wonderful, sexy, and successful men I adore and ask them some of my burning questions on their dating psyche. Everything from 'do guys really chase hook-ups' to 'why won't they commit', I sent these men my most curious questions and they gave me all their wisdom, time and insight.

I present to you my three heartthrobs, also known as the Buro. Brunch Download Mansperts:

Benjamin Kheng

Singer, songwriter, comedian, sexiest man on Instagram, national treasure are all names associated with this Manspert. His achievements include being a best-selling musician, having 200k + followers on Instagram, and having a very kind heart. Sadly, ladies, he's recently engaged to the gorgeous Naomi Yeo, but that doesn't mean he can't give some killer advice.


Dinesh Balasingam

Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneur, single (ladies), and the Regional Head of popular restaurant booking app, Chope, Dinesh is the ultimate man-guru. Styled to perfection and a generous soul, he is the non-creepy Christian Grey we all dream of. In fact, I should probably add him to my list of people to hit on.


Paul Foster

Influencer, model, actor, sustainability champion, and Singapore Social star, Paul is better known as 'The Mayor of Singapore' as coined aptly by the gorgeous Sukki Singapura. A close friend, Paul is actually usually my go-to person for man advice anyway, plus he looks great in photos, so I thought who better to ask. Paul has a drop-dead-amazing girlfriend named Joey, who he lives with.


So! Now that we have our panel sorted, let's dive right into the questions!

Ok team. We're getting right to it. First question, do men really just want to hook up all the time or is this a misguided myth?
I can't speak for all men out there, but I certainly couldn't bring myself to a first date hook-up. Also because I am a horrid cheap drunk and would be passed out before any action happens.

D: This definitely does feel like a generalisation at times, but most generalisations stem from some form of truth. I personally have a tendency to catch feels early, so I'm not the hook-up type, and will probably end up texting you the next day. But I have friends both female and male who prefer that. It's not exclusive to men for sure.

P: Woahhhh talk about coming in hot! What a first question! I think this is misguided, because it really depends on the time and place. It really is situational; are you a single person just looking for fun or have you been single a while and now looking for a relationship? The funny ones are those who were looking to hook up and end up getting hooked instead...

Are men actually intimidated by successful women?
(In the context of dating) Only if they have very small minds. A successful woman is, most likely, a very driven and passionate person, and that's way more important than the success.

D: In many Asian countries, we often grow up seeing men play dominating roles of authority in families, households and workplaces. So sometimes this misconception that men are meant to be more successful or powerful can exist. I also think if a man is craving to be needed or be depended on (not in a co-dependent way) and relied on, it's because it makes him feel better if the woman doesn't just desire him there, but really needs him. It's not always right, but it explains some guys and their thinking.

P: Sadly, some unfortunately are. But it's their own self-esteem or ego issue.

Are men afraid of commitment or marriage? Why is this such a common question?
I don't think these men are actually "afraid" or commitment-phobes; they're just prioritising themselves over a shared life, or they simply don't subscribe to the idea of matrimony or monogamy. Sometimes these feelings stem from bad examples of marriage or commitment that they see in their parents or close friends. But I strongly believe we all intrinsically clamour for love, acceptance, and a soul mate, and we'd drop many things for the right person who comes along.


D: For the most part, we're not afraid of commitment. We just don't want to do it until we do. When we don't want to commit it's because we're probably unhappy in ourselves still and we don't know what we want. That or we're not interested. Sorry!

P: This is again totally situational. I think it isn't fair to stuff all of us into this box, but I guess it is very cliché. I believe sometimes men feel they have to achieve some success and a career before they can then settle down and take care of a family. So maybe early on in life there is an intrinsic fear of commitment. But once they get older, it's like the instincts kick in and it's time to make a family.

Why do men ghost? I'm not saying women don't, but why do men do it?
Humji, lah. Got no balls to reject someone with honest words.

D: To be honest, it's usually either embarrassment or not wanting to handle something and run from it. Sometimes people can't accept the truth either and they leave you no choice. I've seen your Instagram stories, Rahat, those guys who just keep sending you hello fifty times? That's why ghosting was invented.

P: I think people ghost because it's easier. Easier than having to go through a conversation to end something they didn't want to start or finish. Ghosting has no gender though.

Why do guys send pictures of their dangle dangles to us? Richard pictures? DPs?
B: I love this question because it's a peek into the male psyche, isn't it? A quarter of it, I think, is the need for appraisal or assurance. But a large portion of it is that men somehow think it's the key to unlocking a great sexual romp, and even if it doesn't result in that, there's a thrill of the anonymity of the Internet, that somehow the distance absolves them of what could have been serious consequences in real life.

D: I'm not going to lie, I straight up wish I had this much confidence. Like, who is just sitting there and decides to whip this thing out and shoot it, because so many of them are super unattractive. Maybe it's a weird declaration or a way of saying, here I am, take it or leave it.

P: The guys who do tend to send sick pics tend to think with their... so I guess that sums it up. But, I'm assuming you mean unsolicited pictures right? Which is just madness. But hey, at least girls get to have a laugh and share these pics with each other in group chats, from what I hear, lots of guys seem to be cold...?

Why do guys always say they want nice girls then go for bitchy ones?
The only bitch I go for is my sweet husky Cleo. Why do women go for assholes? I guess for these people, it's the challenge and thrill of it? But for the majority of Singaporeans I know, we tend to favour the less assholic people I think?

D: Honestly? Even if sometimes they're super high maintenance and needy, it can help us feel needed or wanted. They want to mean something to someone, even if that means being treated not as well by a 'nice' girl.

P: I'm not sure they always do. But sometimes maybe a guy just wants an unemotional attachment? It's probably easier to not fall for not so nice a person, although having said that I have known a few guys who are just attracted to that kind of energy.

I know there has been a lot of discussion on this topic everywhere, but how do much looks actually matter to men?
B: I think as long as they have a certain level of self-care and are confident in themselves. Again, that's way more attractive. Someone who works incessantly on being physically attractive really isn't that attractive.

D: 100% — they matter at first and anyone who tells you otherwise isn't telling the truth. If I'm standing across a room and I don't know you, I'm not gonna walk over because I can see your personality. They do matter at first, but as the relationship progresses, they matter less and less. Then it really becomes about what type of person you are.

P: They do matter, because that's what people are attracted to first. But that's it, after that it's everything else: smell, intellect, mannerisms, fashion, attitude, sense of humour, etc. The physical exterior is the first attraction, but if everything else on the interior fails after that, then do looks really matter?

Do men think chivalry is dead?
It's definitely more of a term to describe a man's code of conduct, so perhaps this is a question for the ladies? But chivalry never died. It just got bludgeoned on the head by social media. That being said, it's also painfully obvious when some men preen as being "chivalrous" and will hold a door for a lady, but close it on the guy behind her.

D: I don't think chivalry is dead, I just think the expectations around it have really changed. Some women don't like gestures of chivalry anymore and some men feel taken advantage of when women just expect us to pay for 50,000 of the dates. I'll get the first one, the second, the third, but girl, you have to start bringing your wallet. Just once.

P: I don't think so. But it may just not be as common or as highly valued anymore, because in the medieval times when chivalry was a custom to knights, noble deeds, and acts of bravery, that was the true definition of a courageous and honourable gentleman. Over time, these general acts just had less weight. Nowadays, we are chivalrous when we open a car door as compared to the medieval equivalent of say, slaying a dragon. So when the say chivalry is dead, it isn't really, it's just changed.


What's some parting advice you can give to women about men and dating?
Same advice I'd give to a dude, or anyone currently dating or working towards something greater — work towards something greater. Challenge your partner. Love them with their love languages, but love them to greater heights and get passionate about that. It's important to push each other.

D: Speak to his mum. Then you'll really get to know him.

P: I don't think we're wired to get each other, but if you want my full list of tips on the questions above and more, check out Rahat's Instagram story tomorrow.

That's all for this weeks folks! My sincerest thank you to Ben, Dinesh, and Paul for enlightening me and a special thanks to Shaun Tupaz for introducing me to the term 'dangle dangles' (it's only given me ten more questions to ask, but oh well). Till next week! Stay circuitable, stay sexy (is that a phrase?).

R xxx