Step 1. Ask him out.
Step 2. Watch as he magically disappears, never to speak to you again unless absolutely necessary.
Something that truly fascinates me about Singapore is the dating culture. If you ever want to have a long and amusing conversation, ask me about it sometime. There are so many layers to the dating culture here, and so many reasons behind why the peeps do what they do, all of which I promise to elaborate upon in future blog posts.
For the sake of comedy and conciseness, I will make sweeping generalisations at times, both about foreigners and locals, none of which I would ever intend to be offensive, mind you. In the unlikely event that you do get offended, I recommend that you switch to a new brand of shower gel because your skin is too sensitive and, as a wise woman once said, 'that ain't none of my business.'
The following sweeping generalisation serves to illustrate the difference in dating etiquette with the international and the local communities:
You see, how internationals (myself included) operate is that two people meet, perhaps in a coffee shop, or an art gallery, or a bookstore, or - why am I lying, they meet on Tinder or in a slightly overcrowded club with an awful DJ who won't stop playing Pitbull. If said people have a connection (beyond one party wanting to sleep with the other and then awkwardly ignore his/her Whatsapp messages for the next few days), then one will ask the other out for "drinks" or "coffee." Note that "coffee" likely means getting to know you and "drinks" usually means getting to know your hooha too.
The first date is a way to suss out whether this stranger could be more, to see if the spark was real or just the free ladies night mojitos talking. No commitment, no hidden meaning, no fuss, no problem. It's like a trial period, before you get the job of being 'bae.' After several dates have occurred, the relationship will either naturally progress, or there will eventually be the 'let's be exclusive' talk, because somehow people are capable of dating more than one person at a time. It confounds me - 'where got time lah'? I just can't.
On the other hand, local dating etiquette flips it the other way around. Both parties are likely already friendly, or have mutual friends, or at the very least work/study at the same place. There is no room for complete strangers in the equation, because one needs to be sure one's potential love interest is not a highly functioning sociopath.
The process of courtship is very slow, and is somewhat like a job too. It requires between six months to one year of friendship experience to suss out the person's dateability. Thereafter, one is promoted to lowkey bae (but the other party must not know that immediately). After another six months to a year of lowkey bae status, in which one masters the art of extremely subtle wooing, they are ready for another promotion. Only when there has been sufficient totally coincidental and so not planned one-on-one time, can one ask the other on a date.
Should the dates continue to occur often enough to appear on each other's snapchat stories and make each other's friends start asking questions (even though they completely knew all along, let's be real), then that period is known as 'dating' but does not mean that they are 'boyfriend and girlfriend' yet. In order for that promotion to happen, the man must plan a very cute and instagrammable date in which he formally asks her to be his highkey bae, his Day One, his boo etc. Note that highkey bae also means lowkey future wife, a promotion he is pretty much locked into but will only receive after at least three year's experience in her company.
Now imagine you put those two scenarios together.
Yes, it's every bit as awkward as you think.
And that, my friends is how I freaked out not one but TWO Singaporean guys. There was no Matthew McConaughey - Kate Hudson ending for me. Just one truly awkward date, a lot of gossip and a lot of explaining to be had.
What I learnt is that asking a Singaporean guy out is firstly not that common - it's more often the man who asks the woman. Secondly, asking anyone on a date means that you really really like the person, so if that person is a near-stranger, they will automatically assume you are an obsessed stalker and ensure they keep a several metre distance from you at all times, like any sensible person would.
If you ask a Singaporean guy/girl out, and this happens, don't be offended honey. It's not you, it's the system. Square peg, round hole and whatnot. Even if you were both flirting on the down low, it might just be perceived as too much commitment too fast, or they have no real intention of ever dating you because you're foreign (not in an offensive way, though! There's a very reasonable reason for this, but that's a post for another day).
On the other hand, if you are ever the recipient of unwanted flirting, just ask the person out! I promise you'll lose them in 10 days or your money back is guaranteed! Granted, it may backfire and you find yourself in a relationship with someone you never liked in the first place. This is a sweeping generalisation, you know, it's not always going to happen the way I say it will.
Pepper & Söl