Observations

One of the greatest failures of the single-sex education system in Singapore is its negligence in teaching its young charges about coping with the opposite sex. There are so many repercussions that surface later on in life that are not immediately observable in adolescence, so it has always been somewhat regarded as a non-issue. But these frictions between the genders in later life make relationships difficult, and their success improbable. Here I am going to list down several mindsets that should have been but were not addressed in school, which would have made getting along now so much easier.

1. nobody taught boys that it was important to make their girlfriends feel special. nobody said that it was important, almost imperative, for them to take initiative and ask the girls out, which is why apparently many girls are doing the asking. nobody taught them that they’ve got to thicken their skins and take rejection in their stride, to hazard their chances and to lead in the relationship, so that the girl may feel secure and not suffer from bouts of diminishing self-esteem because the boy has neglected to ask her out, or maybe even think that he did not like her enough. Nobody told them that choosing to play their poxy little computer games instead of talking to or spending time with their girlfriends was hazardous to relationships, that it made girls feel like they were even less interesting than shooting terrorists in the head and building new galaxies. Nobody told them about the fragility of self-esteem, and how once shattered, takes ages to build up again. Nobody told them how asking a girl out on the day itself is so insulting, as if she has all the time in the world to sit around and wait for your call. Nobody told them how such insolence and presumption upon the girl’s unpopularity warrants immediate and total rejection, whether or not the girl is in fact unavailable.

2. nobody taught the girls to lower their expectations of guys. being in a single-sex environment where all your female friends are attuned to your every mood and gesture makes one used to such synergy and implicit understanding between friends, and later on expect even more of their boyfriends simply by dint of their office. but projecting such unrealistic expectations on them is clearly unreasonable because they are, after all, boys; they think like boys, and act like boys, and most of these boys (all) will have at least one foot permanently entrenched in their childhood (thank you sonya) – you cannot expect them to know that you mean ‘yes’ when you say ‘no’ and when you tell them to ‘go back.. it is so late’ to mean ‘please send me home’ and ‘flowers are stupid’ to mean ‘if i don’t get a single rose from you on valentines day i will sulk and give you hell to pay.’ nobody told us that our messages have to be clear, as if speaking to a child – because that’s what they are, really. Children.

3. nobody taught the guys never, NEVER to whine about the army (or about anything, really.). nobody taught them that girls expect them to suck it up and not whinge on and on about how tough and draining it was. the army is supposed to make a man out of you, not a crybaby. yes it hurts, yes it is difficult, and perhaps lonely – but what is the point of telling us? do you honestly think this whinging is going to increase our respect for you? or make the girls throw a pity party? or perhaps it is a competition? who suffers the most should get the most glory? well we concede, obviously. you can have the prize. we’re not interested in these juvenile competitions for sympathy – not last time, not now. nobody respects a guy who whines.

4. Nobody taught the girls to dole out sympathy where it is due, and to give love more than they expect it. Nobody taught them that guys too need to be reassured, whether or not they voice it (preferably not), to be comforted, and cared for. Nobody taught the girls that guys have feelings (very possibly nobody taught the guys that they have feelings either, which is why most of them grow up pretending they don’t), and should not be exploited, abused, or used for self-gratification. This doesn’t contradict with the last point because the ideal situation is where the guy’s response to a girl’s love is appreciation and reciprocation, not hankering after more like a petulant child.

5. Nobody taught anybody to give. Nobody taught anybody that love is all about giving, not about making yourself feel good. Neither a girl or a guy is the more important in the relationship – both are equally important, and both have needs that have to be met and very delicate feelings that have to be treated with the proper respect. Both are to esteem the other more than themselves, both are to understand, and sympathise without being asked to, to love without demands being made. On love, and how to give it – nobody taught us that.

p.s. this is in no way exhaustive, of course. feel free to think of/add more.

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