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Dating: Can Your Friends Hold you Back? By Alpa Saujani

Last week I had an interesting conversation with one of the female members, who I will refer to as Tina. She told me how glad she was for staying and taking part in the post-activity mingling opportunity, despite her friend insisting they leave. In fact, Tina went as far as commenting that based on her previous experience she recognised that leaving too early from an Asian dating event defeated the purpose of her attending (music to my ears!). She also added that recently she had come to realise that over the years appeasing her friends had resulted in holding her back. In some ways, she felt that this also contributed to her single status today. It was an interesting observation that got me thinking... Can your friends really hold you back in the dating game?

Asian dating events - when you attend with a friend, on the one-hand it's great moral support but on the other hand it can lead to missed opportunities. Examples include:

  • You may want to stay longer but your friend insists that you leave because they're tired, it's late or they just can't be bothered to socialise.
  • Within 5 minutes of walking into an event your friend scans the room and without making an effort to talk to anyone, or take part in the activity they conclude it's a waste of time being there as there's no one suitable.
  • You're happily chatting away to someone you're attracted to but unfortunately your friend has not clicked with anyone, he or she then pressurises you to leave.

Unfortunately, a friend's negative attitude can influence both your perception and experience at an event. Finding yourself in any one of these scenarios is challenging. You're likely to be torn between your desire to meet someone and keeping your friend happy. Arguably, your friend is being somewhat selfish because you collectively decided to attend an event to meet new people. But what's the point of attending, if you're not going to make a concerted effort?

As a single person you might build up a network of good single friends to boost your social life, confidence and act as a support network (all in the same boat) whilst trying to find a life partner. However, scratch beyond the surface and these alliances can potentially have the opposite effect:

  • "There are no decent men out there what's the point?"
  • "Asian dating events are all a waste of time!"
  • "All the women on these online Asian dating sites are time wasters who do not respond..."

If your group is consistently sharing negative feedback, you risk losing your way and falling into a trap of cynicism. You become less proactive in your search as you fill your diary with what free time you have with these friends - misery loves company! The irony, you joined them as a support network on your journey to find a partner, not to take you further away from achieving this goal.

When you have a close friend and the two of you are both single, that friendship is often used as a substitute for a love life. Therefore, when one of you starts dating that friend may struggle to be encouraging and supportive. There may be elements of jealousy, coupled with the fear of being single and alone that drives them to offer you biased advice & opinions. As they are a good friend whom you trust and value, you're more likely to act on their advice, which could spell the difference of success, or failure in your new relationship. As you read this you may think 'but I'm an educated and intelligent adult, surely I can't be so fickle and just listen to my friends?' But somehow many people do just that without even realising.

It's not nice to admit but there is some truth in that sometimes your friends can hold you back in the Asian dating game. Don't get me wrong, we all need friends no matter what stage of life we're in and I'm not suggesting that you distrust all of your singe friends. It just pays to be mindful. The dating game is already a minefield and the last thing anyone wants, are more obstacles. By being consciously aware of where, or how a friend may hold you back you can be better prepared to manage your best interests and avoid putting yourself in those awkward situations. Otherwise, you potentially risk being left behind - waking up one day wondering why you're still single, whilst all of your friends have somehow magically moved on and got into relationships, marriages and even had children.

I would like to leave you by sharing an experience of another member who I will call Usha. A few months ago Usha enquired about an event. She was going to book with a friend as they agreed to try out Tantric Club together. In the end, her friend realised she had a diary clash with a Birthday party. In order not to upset her friend, Usha decided not to attend the event alone but wait until they could both attend together. On the night of the Tantric Club event, Usha sat at home in front of the TV, whilst her friend was being charmed by a guy at the party. Long story short, her friend is now in a happy relationship with this guy and Usha is attending events solo. Whilst Usha let her friend hold her back, her friend saw an opportunity and went for it, like most people would...

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I think is true with most Asian friendship groups and I think it also depends on how big the group is. As a group of three single Asian girls we are all dependent on each other and on nights out if a guy does come up and talk there will always be one who behaves like an aunty or the 'stuck up friend' saying ' he's not right for you' without even giving him a chance. At university our friendship group was much larger and we had more people to depend on. Also my friends had a much more relaxed and fun approach about meeting guys. We would egg each other on and want to hear all the goss. Now its become an offense if a guy is mentioned, even if its a 'no no' recommendation by 'Hansa masi.' I think it boils down to the added pressure of settling down at the 'right age,' especially in Asian communities.

This article resonates with me so much! Thank you for writing it. Just to add that in the past my single Asian friends have not introduced me to guys that they could, and often I think it is because they fear being single and the reality is that a lot of Asian women are in fact competitive.
Hi Alpa

Great article, it hits the nail on the head! Here's my take on it all. I think my friends have held me back for years. Dating at university was virtually non-existent for me, it all revolved around partying, drinking and meeting guys in nightclubs and having a good time. Especially if when you are part of a big crowd of girls or boys there's a ladette/lad vibe and you're encouraged 'not to get tied down' and simply have a good time. Then of course all it takes is one to break out of the group and have a boyfriend - if this works out then great for the girl but if it doesn't and she's ditched her mates for a boyfriend, it could potentially be disastrous.

This problem could then get worse after university as a constant string of bad boyfriends/girlfriends can make someone very cynical. You start to think that everyone you meet is the same/will break my heart and you stop yourself from meeting people for fear of getting hurt. If your close friends are single, they may not encourage you to meet someone because they like to have a sidekick or potentially - their substitute for love. Eventually you may find yourself single whilst everyone else is settled. And where do you go from there?

If you are actively dating people along with other friends, they may have different opinions over the people you date. If they are good friends you're more than likely to trust them, value their opinion (often ignoring your own thoughts) and subsequently either go ahead and progress with that person - or ditch them.


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