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Why It Matters

Not dating, seriously?

"Are you dating seriously?"

Some would think that is a question an anxious mother would ask her child, but it is actually what the Government wants to know. It asked 2,940 singles aged 21 to 45 this question last year.

The response: Six in 10 said they were not currently dating seriously and the rest - 41 per cent, or two in five - said they had never dated seriously before.

The concept of "dating seriously" is defined as dating with a consideration of marriage to your partner, according to the National Population and Talent Division, which commissioned the survey.

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This means singles are likely to take longer to find a life partner and delay marriage and childbearing, with national implications on marriage and birth rates.

These findings are disquieting, especially in a country that needs more children to replace its people and drive the economy, and where policies, housing or otherwise, are primarily geared towards families.

Conventional wisdom has it that young people lack the time and opportunity to meet new people.

However, dating experts say it may be the nature of online dating that is getting in the way of singles dating seriously. With the rise of online dating here, singles can sample from a seemingly endless buffet of romantic prospects on dating apps and websites.

Given the plethora of choices out there, choosing one person to be happy with can be a struggle. Each time they spot an annoying habit or run into a minor disagreement, they ask themselves: What if someone even better is only a swipe or click away?

The irony of inertia and a lack of commitment upon having too many choices already afflicts many spheres of modern life today.

The Government has said it plans to develop the dating landscape here. More services and new ideas would help, but a balance will need to be struck to prevent dating and love from being commoditised.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Not dating, seriously?'. Print Edition | Subscribe