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The Straits Times
Aug 5, 2023
On the hit American television series Sex And The City (1998 to 2004), Carrie Bradshaw documents her adventures dating in New York in a weekly column. In the present day, Ms Candice Gallagher sports a nameplate necklace just like the fictional Carrie and does something similar – make TikTok videos on dating in Singapore.
The 37-year-old, who does marketing for a fintech firm, says: “My friend told me I’m like the digital-era Carrie Bradshaw for Singapore. I was like, ‘I will take that, I love it.’”
The Briton relocated here for work four years ago and is on a mission to go through 10 dating apps in 10 weeks in the hopes of finding her perfect man. She is now on week five – her Coffee Meets Bagel week. Before this, she was on Hinge, Bumble and Tinder, and even tried connecting with men via LinkedIn.
@candi.licious Come with me as I try 10 different dating apps in Singapore in just 10 weeks. There are 2 rules: (1) I can only be on one app for one week. Then I'll delete it and move on to the next one. (2) No mindless swiping. I have to be intentional. Let's see how it goes. week 1 @hinge #10appsin10weeks #datinginsingapore #candilicious ♬ original sound - Candilicious
All her thoughts, feelings and dates are recorded on her TikTok channel @candi.licious, where she has more than 40,000 followers.
“Dating apps have long been a very draining experience for me. But since I wasn’t dating anyone offline, I needed to get back online, and I wanted to find a way to make it enjoyable for me. I figured if I put a timeframe on each one and make content out of it, which gives me a lot of joy, it might be more enjoyable,” she says.
@candi.licious Replying to @xavierfifty its the end of week #1 of trying #10appsin10weeks. it's all in an effort to try to turn the tide around and make dating in Singapore not only enjoyable but also productive! thank you @Hinge for hosting me this past week. Time to move on to @bumble #datinginsingapore #candilicious ♬ original sound - Candilicious
In the past month, she has met two men from the apps and gone on dates with another two she met through chance offline encounters. Her only physical requirement is height, which is quite literally a tall order. She stands at a statuesque 1.8m, so it is not always easy to find men towering over her.
She says: “I’ve dated men shorter than me, but it’s just not my preference.”
Ms Gallagher, who became active on TikTok in 2021 while she was serving hotel quarantine in Singapore, uploads videos almost daily and usually films herself while walking on the street. She keeps all her partners anonymous, but shares updates about how the dates went.
While she has gone out with a few Singaporeans, she mostly matches with and dates fellow expats. Still, she has a significant local following – about 60 per cent of her viewers are based here, while the rest are from overseas. Viewership is split equally between men and women, but most of her commenters are women, including those in Singapore.
“Recently, I made a video about me picking up a guy in a bar. I went up to him and asked, ‘Are you single? Do you live in Singapore? Do you want my number?’ And I got several comments from local women, who were like, ‘How do you have the confidence? Teach me how to do that.’”
@candi.licious Replying to @foodorcoffee we all start with looks, then we figure out if they've go the goods. very fun to pick up someone IRL #10appsin10weeks #datinginsingapore #candilicious ♬ original sound - Candilicious
So, what exactly does she think of local men? Ms Gallagher, whose last serious relationship was close to 10 years ago, says there are certain cultural incompatibilities.
“I’m attracted to international people – people who love travelling and living overseas. Singaporeans are very proud, nationalistic people, which is great. A lot of them are born here, raised here and never want to leave, which is just not very compatible with my interests,” she says.
“And while it is not my experience, from what I’ve heard, Singaporean men also have a bit of a reputation for wanting to find women who will take care of them and look after them. Interestingly, it’s Singaporean women I hear this from. And personally, I want my relationship to be based more on equality.”
Finally, she says the typical living situation of locals is not always helpful for dating.
“A lot of people here live at home until marriage. On paper, I have no issues with that. In fact, I love the inter-generational dynamics here, but I don’t want to sneak around someone’s place because he thinks it’s awkward for me to meet his parents. I also want to live with someone before getting married, and that might not be culturally appropriate for some people.”
Her TikToks on dating and life in Singapore can sometimes touch a raw nerve with locals.
“The comment I get the most is: Leave Singapore. As long as I’m passing comment on Singapore, even when it’s just a neutral opinion, there are always those comments and, invariably, these come from anonymous accounts who aren’t owning what they say.”
But Ms Gallagher is committed to staying.
“If I could paint the perfect picture, I would meet someone here, get married and have children here,” she says.
Her love affair with Singapore started when she was young. Her family moved here when she was eight and stayed for two years before moving to Hong Kong for six years. In 2018, while holidaying in Singapore, she decided to return.
“I visited a friend here who lives in a shophouse and he had a roof. It was like a novel. I just had a feeling. I stood on the roof of this house and said, ‘I’m going to live here.’”
In 2019, she bought a one-way ticket to Singapore and embarked on a job search. She landed a marketing job, but was let go in 2020 during the wave of pandemic layoffs and returned to London when her employment visa expired. Even so, she wanted to return and continued her job search from London, ultimately securing another marketing job here.
She says: “I just love it here. I love the weather, it’s not cold and rainy all the time, there are no winters. I love the ease of travel here – there’s a much bigger weekend travel culture here than in the West, and the lower income taxes make a big difference. I appreciate the safety so much too. I’ve never felt insecure walking around Singapore at 2am.”
The only thing she hopes can be better?
“Well, I wish dating was easier.”