Recently I went back to Singapore,my place of birth. When people ask me where I’m from originally and I ask them to guess, no one ever suggests Singapore. Most people ask why I left, as if at the tender age of three, I made a grand decision, packed my few belongings and hopped on a plane all by my lonesome. When really, my parents decided Canada was a good choice. A very wise decision, looking back at it now  if I had the abilities to make grand decisions at three, I’m sure I would have been all for it.

I’ve visited my relatives in Singapore a few times since my family immigrated to Canada in 1989, and I always learn something new when I’m there. The most recent trip was full of relationship questions. At 26, people begin to wonder if I have a serious boyfriend, am I going to get married, when will I be ready to settle down?

In Asia, it’s considered abnormal by many people if you’re not ready to settle down when you’re in your mid-20s. Saying that you haven’t found the right person and are picky is unacceptable. People start telling you they know someone you might like. Do you want them to ask so-and-so to talk to their son? You can find, ‘The One,’ get married, live in Singapore and everything will be fine. As if it’s that easy. Once you’re married, everything else will fall into place and life will be full of rainbows and lollipops. That’s the perception a lot of Asians have.

It’s completely opposite in Canada, I find. You’re allowed to be single. It’s normal. Most people my age are fine with it and their families don’t question the choice of lifestyle. No one tries to set you up with so-and-so’s son, people seem to accept the single life more in Canada than in Asia. You’re not seen as a weirdo if you don’t have a boyfriend and aren’t ready to settle down quite yet.

According to StatsCan, the marriage rate in Canada from 2006 – 2011 increased by only 3.1 percent, whereas in Singapore, the rise was by 13.03 percent, according to The Singapore Department of Stats. Looking at these numbers and considering the landmass of Canada in relation to Singapore, you can see how much of value is placed on marriage in Singapore.

During the same period of time in Canada, common-law couples rose by 13.9 percent and lone-parent families rose by eight percent. The numbers in Singapore for common-law couples and lone-parent families were not recorded in Singapore.

These numbers show that Canadians are taking more time to really find out what they want in a partner before taking the next step and getting married, whereas in Singapore, you don’t move out of the house you live in with your parents until you get married.

That’s one of the many reasons why I love it here. People are so much more accepting, non-judgmental and open-minded than they are anywhere else in the world. You’re not seen as an anomaly if you’re not ready to settle down. It’s OK. Everything will be fine.

How is your cultural background different from the way things are in Canada? Is marriage seen as something that needs to be done before moving ahead in your life? I would love to hear your comments below!

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