Are Singaporean Women Really Materialistic? A Look Behind The Stereotype

Are Singaporean women as materialistic as people say they are? Lunch Actually founder Violet Lim weighs in.

"Singaporean women are materialistic."

Ever since I started Lunch Actually in 2004, I have heard this statement from various people, ranging from our male clients to Singaporean women themselves.

It is a stereotype many have accepted as "truth" - that Singaporean women demand and expect more out of their partners, be it expensive meals, luxurious gifts, higher incomes, and/ or owning assets.

14 years later, there's still the expectation that men should be the breadwinner of the family, especially in older generations. However, from what I see, more couples are breaking that stereotype nowadays.

Are Singaporean women materialistic?

Personally, I have a different view on that blanket statement. While I do not deny that there are Singaporean women who are materialistic, I believe that they are actually in the minority!

Instead, I would say that most Singaporean women are more practical than materialistic. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. Singaporean women have financial freedom

Educated and capable of having their own jobs, Singaporean women no longer need to rely on men to provide basic necessities.

While it used to be that women had to marry upwards in social mobility to ensure security for their well-being, in marriages, the most common arrangement now is that both husband and wife work and contribute to the household expenses.

As such, it would be unfair to paint Singaporean women as "materialistic" when many are capable of looking after themselves and are willing to do so as well.

2. Singaporean women don't expect men to look after them

When women can look after themselves financially, they are less likely to expect men to look after them. In fact, in some marriages, more husbands are stepping up as househusbands where the wives work full-time.

We are moving progressively where we see fathers being more involved and taking proactive efforts for the upbringing of their children. So I believe the expectations where it comes to parenting responsibilities and household responsibilities have shifted as well.

All this boils down to lifestyle expectations, and in my experience, Singaporean women have moderate lifestyle expectations. Perhaps Singaporean women are unfairly being labelled "materialistic" when they just want to be with a man who has similar lifestyle choices and aspirations.

3. Singaporean women are willing to date outside of their earning bracket (a man who earns less than them)

At Lunch Actually, we do meet women who insist on dating men who earn more than them. Honestly, if you are a woman who earns $15k and above, it would significantly reduce the pool of potential matches.

Additionally, men who are in that earning bracket have many potential dates and matches. In other words, they have many choices (women who earn the same as them or less).

However, in the last 5-6 years, we have observed that more and more women are willing to date outside of their earning bracket (i.e. someone who earns less than them). This is a good sign as they are now focusing on not just the superficial criteria such as education, earning, looks, height etc., but more on common life values and life goals, compatibility factors which are more important when it comes to a lifelong fulfilling marriage.

I would say that Singaporean men will also have to let go of ingrained cultural attitudes as well, in that they HAVE to be the one that earns more than their female partner. Love is love, no matter your age, race, or income bracket!

4. It's not materialism, it's differing expectations

Finally, it mostly boils down to differing expectations in life. When people start dating, their expectation may just be that their partner needs to be a good boyfriend/girlfriend, someone whom they can bring to meet their family, and share new experiences with. However, when the relationship progresses, and you're ready to settle down, your expectation for your partner becomes someone to spend the rest of your lives and build a family with.

In that sense, a woman who wants to know if her partner is financially capable of more may be unfairly accused of being materialistic, when she is only being practical in terms of the future she wants to build with him. If she is already aware she wants a certain kind of future, she will want her partner to share those aspirations as well.

The key here is communication. Both parties need to make sure they are on the same page when it comes to both their expectations. Most times, conflicts arise because of expectations that are misaligned, leading to disappointment, frustration, and mislabeling of terms like "materialistic".

The reason many relationships or marriages fail is also because of unmet expectations. It is important that when one makes the decision to get into a relationship or marriage, to not have the expectation that the person would change or morph into someone you would prefer.

It is more realistic to see how you can adapt and compromise to be a person that could make the relationship work. Earning big bucks can definitely be a shared objective and common goal if money is important to both parties — this doesn't mean any party is "materialistic".

 

What do you think? Are Singaporean women materialistic or just practical?

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Are Singaporean Women Really Materialistic? A Look Behind The Stereotype