Love & Relationship posts

I’m a low SES girl-next-door and this is my Crazy Rich Asians story – except it didn’t end well

DISCLAIMER: SUPER LONG POST. JUST SCROLL, I MADE IT EASY WITH HEADLINES.

DISCLAIMER II: I WILL delete and ban any comments if they are personal attacks, mentions of identity, not to me, but to any individual I have mentioned in this writing. I will delete this post if people start bashing other people yada yada yada.


Like almost every Singaporean, I caught Crazy Rich Asians over the weekends. The super cars, the mansions, the hot girls and not forgetting, the elites. As I watched Rachel Chu, I can’t help but to relate to her. I am no professor, not even 10% as smart as the character in the show – I am just a low SES girl-next-door. I can’t help but to relate to her and actually feel the pain she felt when she was humiliated by Nick Young’s mom – saying that she will never be good enough.

I had been thinking for awhile if I should have written this article, and then I had a really insightful conversation with a friend at lunch today. I was convinced. And then I had a meal with my dad at dinner, and I felt that I had to write this because I felt unjustified. Not to any particular individual, but to elitism as a whole.


So here’s the super summarised version of my Crazy Rich Asians story (also truly made in Singapore).

I dated this man, let’s call him Michael, for awhile. I will not identify how long ago this happened and friends, please do not ask as I will not reveal. We were seeing each other for some time and we got along really well. We hung out with each other’s friends and he was like the Prince Charming for most girls – he’s tall, a scholar from this extremely prestigious university (shan’t name which), a commando, came back to Singapore and has been working for awhile. He’s from a good background, high SES by definition, plays golf, and also very disciplined as a person (which was what I really liked about him). In comparison, I am just a small fry in this (I-didn’t-know-was-so-judgmental) society and I think at this point I was supposed to ask myself “why did he choose me?” but I still don’t cuz I’m a confident bitch.

His fancy ex girlfriends vs Plain ol’ Coco Ong

He recognised me, from some ads I used to be featured on, on a dating app, and somehow over a few months, we kinda coincidentally met somewhere and we started dating for quite awhile. In the beginning, he mentioned that he never dated “any girl like me“. He used to date fancy girls who carried branded bags, drove super cars, stayed in landed houses etc. I carry canvas tote bags, don’t even own a fuckin license cuz I have student loan to pay off (SHAKE DAT MONEY MAKER fcking arts degree). I still carry a 5-year-old long champ cuz it’s damn functional (can freaking tank my laptop and makeup pouch’s weight). I stay in a small but cosy 3-room HDB flat. I also don’t have a habit to shop. So initially when he told me I was kinda different, I did propose to him that then maybe he’s only seeing me for the novelty and eventually he’s gonna go back to seeing those kinda girls. He didn’t deny, he just said we’d see how things go. Things went well, and not so well as with most relationships.

Shit happened here:

One day, I felt something was off and decided to ask what he felt about us; if we were going anywhere. In the back of my mind, my status did come up sometimes, but I never knew if it even meant anything since he got into this knowing where I came from. However, his response was “I think we’re going somewhere, but I have my doubts sometimes.” Curious, I requested for him to clarify what he meant by doubts. He then said it was my family/financial background – BUT, he thought that maybe time would help with this and I may eventually be different (basically he just meant that if I were to be earning like 15k per month and get my shit together la). At this point I wasn’t offended – I was hurt. I was hurt because my family didn’t deserve this. I chose this man, but they didn’t.

We still continued seeing each other for awhile until one day, he started going on dates (I didn’t have an issue with it), and he met with a doctor. I could tell from his face that he was happy to announce that she’s a doctor. In the same conversation, he also expressed that coming from a good background helps. At this point, I wasn’t sure if it was a message for me to gtfo, but I took it as it was and so I did.


Was I upset? Yes. Was I hurt? Very. Was I offended? No. 

I was hurt because it was unjustified. I paid my own shit. When he paid for a meal, I usually offer to pay for the next. I made sure to be independent so any issues would never come in the way. I never told him about any problems I was going through. I made sure to always take care of my own shit. So what was this about? Did I deserve this? I was frustrated and also, felt pretty helpless.

I felt helpless because all my life, I thought like Jack Ma said, you can’t choose where you’re from, but you can start making your own choices. In my point of view, I thought I was good, making better decisions, having priorities and being focused about my future. All the faith I had in my actions came crashing down because suddenly, it felt like all my efforts and years of working hard have been dismissed just like that.

But I was never once offended because it IS a personal preference.

And then I realised – elitism.

It’s scary how elitism is so real, and I had never once come across such a situation in my 25 years of life. I didn’t really know how to react, or even think. But can I blame him? The answer is no. Michael has been brought up in such an environment surrounded by nothing but the best. The best facilities, the best amenities, the best teachers, the best influence. I can understand where he’s coming from – that if he worked so hard in his life, why should he be with someone who could potentially pull him down or make him feel less?

My humble family.

I don’t usually talk about my family as I really value my privacy (and theirs), but I thought it’s about time I embrace where I come from. I’m from a humble Chinese family, parents were both Chinese educated, and also school drop-outs. They’ve been teenage sweethearts, got married and had three daughters with me being the youngest.

Although my parents weren’t very educated, my dad always made sure to give us every cent and every single thing we want – from toys to stupid things like our very own karaoke set at home. He worked very hard and paid for everything we wanted. My mom is a stay-home house-wife, she cooks really well and she is extremely patient with all of us. She really really loves kids, which is why she also babysits as additional income.

My dad is very self-aware, he knew exactly the kind of environment he grew up in and he constantly reminded us not to follow his footsteps, and punished us when we misbehaved. He often reminded us how important studies and having a good character are. He may not be one of these Crazy Rich Asian fathers who is able to spoil their daughters like princesses with ferraris, but he did in his very own way. Ever since I was schooling, he always sat me down and shared what he felt about life. He was an objective man, which makes me a really rationalised person.

We’ve talked about politics, government, opportunities. He has never ever blamed anyone for the situation he’s in. He admits that it’s all because of each individual’s own doing and choices, which is why he never wanted us to follow his footsteps. I remember him saying, “Have I not been given good opportunities? I have. I just did not take them seriously, and there’s nobody but myself to be blamed. And now I just have to work harder than everyone else.” I have learnt a lot from this old man of mine. I don’t write because I was born like that. I didn’t get to where I am today with a degree and a good job because I did it all alone. I did it because he worked hard despite his background. He worked so hard that he managed to get us into uni. He was so strict and concerned about how our characters would turn out to be that he often kept us in check. He made me ponder a lot about life and I guess this is also one of the reasons why I began writing.

Elitism is inferiority.

Michael told me that I communicate well, and that we managed to “last this long” (well, at that point) because of my mindset and awareness about relationships. Funny how it never occured to him that I am what I am, and I think the way I do only because of how I was brought up.

The thing about people who perform well academically (that I’ve realised) is that they often point back to their academic achievements even if they’ve left school for years. This builds up some kind of frustration from within if they compare it to their current professional achievements. They probably feel that they aren’t where they’re yet, and hence, would struggle to accept and find a way to make themselves feel better about themselves having done better in school. And I guess it would help if they had someone of a better status to pull them up.

I discussed this with a friend and he did point out that it also points back to the lack of confidence Michael has in himself. He doesn’t want questions from relatives about where his partner could be from, because him alone was not enough to hold the status he wants. This was also referenced from Pierre Png’s character in the show – which Gemma Chan (as Astrid) said,”It’s not my job to make you feel like a man. I can’t make you something you‘re not.”


Why the need to discriminate?

At the end of the day, it happens both ways. People who don’t have much school qualifications may turn around and say scholars are nerds/geeks/don’t know how to work, only know how to study. And at the same time, elites then rebut saying they’re a bunch of low SES idiots who don’t have their priorities set straight, and make poor decisions. Please watch this video if you think low SES people are poor only because they make poor decisions – TED Talk: Poverty isn’t a lack of character, it’s a lack of cash.

Singapore is awesome, the diversity, having education provided to Singaporeans.. etc. The truth is both low and high SES people will exist no matter where you go. These are types of people, with different characteristics and personalities who will come into your life. You can’t control who you meet and interact with. You can’t control what someone else is going to say to you. But you can control how you respond.

If given a choice, I’d still choose to be this low SES girl-next-door over and over again. Because I am proud of what and who I am today. I worked extremely hard to get to where I am right now, without having to put anyone down, and have no time to sweat over how elitism will come into play.

Hmmm, so here’s a question to people like Michael:

If you were brought up in my environment, lived in my position, would you have done better than I did today?


 

To make it clear, I am not angry, I am not offended, and I am not writing this to shame anyone besides MASELF. At the end of it, Michael and I shared good memories and got along well despite it all, and I’d still like to see him move on with life happily. He was still nice to me when we were together; he was just a straightforward and an objective person. Any mentions of his identity will be banned, deleted or blocked.

I am writing this, as after watching Crazy Rich Asians, I felt that this was an important topic to be discussed, and I do welcome an open debate. Let’s all agree to disagree.

I would also like to thank Elias for encouraging me to write this article, as I initially didn’t want to. I’m sorry it got way more lengthier than it was supposed to be! Cheers buddy. There may also be some typos and mistakes, which I will correct in the next few days lol bye GONNA GO BACK TO DOING WORK.

34 comments

  1. No amount of wealth or status will out class someone who is fillial, kind, caring, independent, thrifty and ambitious. People come People go for all sorts of reason. Pretty sure you’ll end up with a far more deserving man regardless if he is high SES or not

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  2. Hmm. This is quite similar to what I’m going through right now. Except I’m the “Michael”. So, personally, in my own ability I already own more than 1 private apartment and my family owns quite a few properties too (their money, not mine). I’m attached to this guy who is still living with his mom in a 3 room HDB. He’s very filial and hardworking. Upright and honest. Really. I’m not saying that cuz I’m in love with him even though people say love is blind.

    Even then, my family and relatives can’t see past that. They keep thinking he’s after my wealth. A relative even has this wild idea that once he “gets” my wealth he might go after my family’s wealth too. Which is ridiculous. Comments like “have you written a will to keep the money within the family or not?”, “how come cannot find a better partner?” – these questions plagues me still.

    I just shrug and change topic but honestly it does put a shadow in my head sometimes. It doesn’t help that his friends also ask him if he’s with me for the money.

    Will true love last forever? I dunno. We are still dating, we are still loving each other’s company. I wish that reality is – screw this, this is between us. But as you have watched in Crazy Rich Asians, very often you get attached to someone, you also get attached to his family. It will only get worse when the older generation pass on cuz that’s where the wealth gets inherited by the younger generation. Then my relationship will be under even greater scrutiny than before. You may not be able to comprehend the family politics of high SES families, but they are as real as they get, often times armed with lawyers and accountants.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for offering your perspective! Maybe that’s also his concerns too. But in my case, according to Michael, his parents do not have an issue with it – it was all personal.

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  3. It sounds to me like it ended not due to the difference in SES status, but because he hoped you would become someone you weren’t (and shouldn’t be). That ain’t true love, and it’s a situation that happens to all walks of life, SES or not.

    Your post got to me — I once grappled with similar issues a long long time ago — I wish you well, and hope you find the love you deserve someday 🙂

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  4. Low SES girl should go for same low SES guy. Forcing yourself to be like someone you are not will not be happy. Then you get labelled gold-digger or having unrealistic expectation. Yes life is not fair, you either make a difference this life or you dont.

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  5. Oh, this definitely reminded me of a guy I used to date. He would boost about flying girls on a weekend to Paris and heavily empathized that it is “not just budget flights” lol.

    His wealth was alluring but it all was…Not what will make me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a very interesting read. I think one might just wonder, do people do things just to stay away from drama? Such as family drama, social appearance, etc.
    I’ve no experience in this, and hope to never be in this situation, because at the end of the day, the gentleman/lady you marry, should be like a business partnership. You make decisions that prospers the relationship.
    Just my 2 cents worth, and I hope you find that person who prefers you as an independent lady that you are and supports you to becoming the lady you strive to be and vice versa.

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  7. Thank you for writing this article. It does bring back memories of a relationship I had years ago, and that we should not look down on ourselves for being SES.

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  8. It is better to find a partner who matches you in terms of family upbringing, status of wealth, character values and religious beliefs and education. Whenever the gap(s) are big in these areas, it will pose problems, sometimes insurmountable ones.

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  9. i feel you so so much, im like in the same situation as you right now. And yes. The movie really portrays what a high SES mom is like lol.

    Im a Singaporean currently studying overseas and i met someone here who is singaporean. The guy im currently dating has hinted to me in the earlier months when we met that my family isn’t rich enough and therefore his mom said i cant officially be his gf.. so we are like in a r/s, act like a couple but then nothing is official.

    Sometimes i also feel that the kind of family/financial background i came from plays a part. He and his mom often talk about how in SG they have a few landed properties, a HDB and in Aus they have a few houses and properties etc sometimes i feel they are like rubbing in my face like haaaa, its like i have a feeling that they are not only lookin down on me but also my family, my parents which sometimes really hurt and annoys me because i know my parents are really hardworkers and my dad always gives me what i want no matter what.

    I also feel like yes all these high SES guys(and parents), they don’t really know my family n bckgrd, dont even bother asking and alr start making assumptions, just by (i think) judging from appearance like i dont carry branded bags even though i can have one anytime if i want to.

    Ok actually, he dint ask me much abt mt family background, his mom did. multiple of times. and super directly. and me being a very private person i dont like people knowing what my parents or family do so i am very tightlipped about it. only really close friends truly know my background.

    I just like keeping it low profile and also bcos, i mean who tf asks about what your parents works as, how much they earn and how come they can afford to send me and my sister overseas to study without seeking financial help or loans just after meeting you for like 3-4 times right? Personally when she said that I was super insulted.

    Ok im sorry for rambling, just wanted to also tell you your experience is so relatable and so is CRA as well!!
    X

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  10. Insightful story – his loss I am want to say. It’s such adversity that builds character (what doesn’t kill u) and if status is such a necessity then you are all the more better off without him.

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  11. Bravo to being vocal … Life is being comfy with who u r… Thks god for this great experience in life that definitely will help you to be a better person in future. Jiayou

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  12. I grew up in SIngapore, but have been a non-resident for 30 plus years.
    I applaud you for writing, and sharing.
    Pardon me for asking, what is “SES”?
    I agree with Andrew Goh’s comments and suggestions.
    Based on my observations and what I have read, I believe that regardless of ethnic group (or commonly referred to as “race”), country, and culture, most individuals from financially wealthy families tend to marry another individual from a similar financially wealthy family. Others also usually marry an individual from the same religion (although I have seen mixed marriages of Jews and Christians), and/or from similar educational levels (for example, a significant majority of medical doctors marry medical doctors and medical specialists).
    Wish you many happy, healthy, Blessed years (in my wife’s Ukrainian, it is Многая Літа, pronounced “Mnohaya Lita”).

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  13. Life is not about where you come from or what you have in material things or status! Lift your head high and live the life that is for you!

    Be yourself, stay confident and make choices in your life that makes you happy! Only be with someone whom likes you as you and not what you have or from! 😊

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  14. “To make it clear, I am not angry, I am not offended, and I am not writing this to shame anyone besides MASELF”

    Please do not think that way. Youre not shaming yourself. You’re being proud of your upbringing.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    There is more to life than materials. This guy is just not emotionally mature to accept people from all walks of life. Though who he dates is perfectly a personal preference, he sounds like someone who will only make friends from certain classes.

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  15. I just happened to chance upon this. Firstly, you write really well, it’s objective and sincere. For the good of your readers, I hope you keep writing.
    Anyway, i find it very respectable that you can actually treat him with respect despite his subtle attempts to distort your sense of self worth. I think boasting about the girls he used to date was already a display of power of sorts and I’m glad you managed to wise up and get out.
    And honestly, i find your sentiments toward your parents very heart-warming and you really are a “confidant bitch” hahaha I really could learn a thing or two from you. The way you embrace your less fortunate background shows a strong sense of security. I’m easily swayed by the material things my friends have and i feel very shallow.
    Thank you for sharing so personally.

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  16. SES high or low, we all have to start somewhere. Today you do better than your old man, your future generations will do better than you. So we get better as we moved along which requires hard work and tenacity. Wish you and your family and your future well.

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  17. Very interesting. I sometimes do wonder why this has to exist. Unfortunately, social hierarchies exist and it is not pleasant. I have a friend whom would go to Thailand on the weekends just to get a fix of Thai tea. Whenever I converse with him, I feel like he is trying very hard to lower expectations of me and it sometimes does not seem even remotely sincere. Having lived in the mid west (US) for half a year, I sincerely believe that life’s joy can be as simple as taking a walk in the forest with no mobile signal or looking over the big lake in front of you. No need to always question our own positions (even if we are of lesser status to high ses ppl)

    Live life to the fullest in your own way!

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  18. We dun choose how we start our story… But we chose how we end our story when the time comes. I like your character and resilience. Stay strong and be true to yourself.

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  19. Nice read ! Any kind of discrimination is annoying but I think humans are wired to judge and discriminate. I am a guy and have been on dates with Singaporean women and I can categorically say that sometimes I have been turned down because I’m an immigrant who is just begining to build a life here . I don’t expect Singaporean women or women to like me because I’m old enough to realize that the world doesn’t owe me anything. But I distinctly remember being out with a lawyer who seemed to be interested in a slightly expensive hobby of mine . I was an open book on that date since we seemed to get along well. It somehow came to a point where she could calculate how much I earn (without asking so in as many words ) and that was the end of that. It’s possible she wasn’t attracted at all and money isn’t a reason (she definitely earns more than me) but apart from this I have experienced local women ghosting me when I respond about my nationality / residency status in SG on dating apps on more than a few occasions. I have grown such a thick skin that I brush it off as “it happens” and you know online dating is something that needs to be taken frivolously. I think it’s hard for an immigrant to find love (I hardly meet women from my country here) especially if you’re like me ,changing careers at 30. But days like that really make me dig deep and say ,”I’m gonna build an awesome career and life here, the hard way”.

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  20. A little late but chin up girl, you deserve more than this – more than a stupid Raven 😉 Btw, he’s not even that high SES, just a high SES wannabe looking for an Astrid Leong to climb to higher social status just to cheat on her later. You’re way better off x

    Liked by 1 person

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