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Are you really a loner?

30 Nov

Do you fee like a loner? Do you feel drained when you’re in the company of people? Like you’re just not meant for… society?

But what if you wish to mingle and socialise? What if you wish to talk to a woman? You just can’t. It takes too much energy. Wanting to meet someone feels like a contradiction, like going against your own “nature”.

You wonder if meeting women is out of your control, that it’s simply a matter of waiting for things to happen.

Could it be that you’re an introvert?

“I already know I’m an introvert,” you say. ” That’s why I’m in this mess.”

If you think an introvert is a person who has failed to be an extrovert, you need to listen up.

What introversion is

Studies show that society has 25%-30% who can be considered introverts. That’s not exactly a minority. Think about it: this means many people whom we meet every day are introverts, but they’re not what we’d call loners.

Being an introvert or extrovert has nothing to do with whether one likes to be with people or not. Intro-/extroversion is about really energy. An introvert is a person that expends (or is drained) energy when they’re with people, but builds up energy when they’re alone. An extrovert is the opposite: they build up energy in the company of friends and family, but lose energy once they’re alone.

I’m an introvert.

It was a big breakthrough when I first understood this several years ago. I realised that it wasn’t that I wasn’t good with people. It was a simple matter of energy management. I can socialise as well as most other people, provided I have  adequate time alone.

I also learned that it works the other way. I thought for a while that I should spend as much time alone as possible in order to stay in an optimal state. Turned out that it wasn’t the case. I noticed that I felt restless after I had spent too much alone. I needed to go out and meet friends after I had spent the whole day at home. In other words, I also needed to discharge.

Today, I watch my energy levels when I’m with people. I unapologetically make sure I schedule alone-time, even from loved ones. I also make sure I don’t spend too much “recharging”–there’s only so much time I’ll spend with a book or video game before I force myself to step out of the house.

There’s nothing wrong with being on the introvert end of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. It’s all about energy management.

Now, once again: Do you know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert?


It all goes downhill after this

24 Nov

Whenever I greet a new stranger at the lobby of my apartment, they seldom ask me, “Did you just move in?” Or even a more basic, “Do you live here?” What they ask is, “Are you a tenant?” and, “How much do you pay for rental/the house?”


People in Singapore have a bad, bad habit of asking new acquaintances about their jobs, salaries, education, etc.

Most cultures don’t do this. When I travel overseas, or when I entertain foreign visitors, we talk about hobbies, friends, passions, current affairs, our respective awful climates. I don’t get asked (nor do I ask) questions like, “What company do you work at?” The closest I get to that is, “What do you do?”

I’m not saying this to bash local culture. I’m saying this because it’s an important boundary to respect when meeting new people.

Have you ever asked someone about their job, only to have them give a generic answer, like “Executive”? Have you ever asked been about where you study, only to have to answer, “Oh, just some neighbourhood school. You’ve probably never heard of it.” Did the conversation stop dead, right there?

Or did you ask, “Well… what, exactly?” and get a curt, “I don’t think I know you that well?”

Asking strangers and new acquaintances about their jobs, or salaries–or anything to which people attach social status–is bad because it’s often a direct assault on their egos.

Let’s reverse the roles, and suppose a date asks you what you do for a living. If you answer, “I’m a doctor,” she might think,  “Wow, someone’s boasting here.” Or she might think, “Does this mean I’m not good enough for this person’s company? What if he asks me what I’m doing?” Or, “Uh-oh, it sounds like he’s got a more interesting job than me… what do I say next?” If you answer the question directly, you can’t predict her reaction. If you avoid the question, she’d think you have something to hide.

If you’re at the receiving end of such an insensitive and ill-judged question, there’s really very few things you can do to keep the conversation from going downhill. To me, it’s not your responsibility to keep a conversation from turning awkward once the other’s party’s started down that part.

But you shouldn’t do it yourself.


How to talk to women (when they are busy running)

22 Sep

WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page recently featured a funny, well-illustrated article on how to greet fellow runners when you’re out jogging. I thought it was a funny way to frame the subject of how to talk to strangers, something that so many dating gurus seem to be obsessed with.

There’s so much advice out there on how to talk to a woman when her attention is obviously elsewhere–something which I feel is the exact opposite of being socially aware.

Saying Hi to women is not a hard thing to do–provided that’s all you’re trying to do. If you think it’s hard to think of chat-up lines when you’re running, imagine how hard it is for a woman to feel flattered she’s running!

How deep should you get in conversation?

21 Sep

Some men have the misguided idea that when on a date, revealing as little of themselves as possible will create an attractive air of mystery. No surprise that their conversations always run cold quickly.

Others go the other extreme. I have a friend who’s good at reading others’ emotional cues and mental models–too good. He can always tell when you’re unsure or uncomfortable about a subject–and he will grill you at that point. “Really?” “What makes you say that?” “Tell me more!” Talking with him sometimes drives me nuts.

I’ve seen him do the same with strangers–they were literally squirming in their shoes.

Continue reading

No two dates are the same

9 Sep

Have you ever wondered why dating is such a chore?

You’re probably faced one of these two problems:

You’re running out of places to go. You’ve already seen all the good movies, eaten at all the nice restaurants you know of. This is a happy problem: It means you have someone to go out with.

The other problem is a more troublesome one: you can’t get women interested enough to go out on a first date. And if one did get interested, you’ve no idea how to get to agree to a second date.  You wish you had a plan that would guarantee a second or third date. A technique that would definitely impress the ladies. Continue reading