A relationship dynamic that may seem ‘taboo’ to some may be completely reasonable to others. That was the topic of discussion on the latest episode of The Zoe and Liang Show, where hosts Zoe Tay and Guo Liang invited two of their younger showbiz friends, radio DJs Hazelle Teo and Jensen Wang.
Guo Liang, 54, wondered: “If a man wants to be a sugar daddy for a woman in her 20s, can he just go up to her and negotiate the price?”
Zoe, 55, replied: “That’s very common.”
“How much per month? $5,000?” he asked further, to which Hazelle retorted: “$5,000 is very little, come on!”
Guo Liang then wondered if free use of a credit card could be included in the arrangement, to which Hazelle responded that she still wouldn’t agree to it.
“I think many women think like I do,” Hazelle, 29, said. “I’ll work hard and make money for the things I need. Why would I need someone else’s help?”
Jensen, 27, had a different take.
“Some of my friends are independent, but if there’s this option, they don’t think it’d be a great loss for them and they find it totally acceptable,” he said, to which Hazelle said she “understood that as well”.
Jensen added: “If you can use a few years of your youth in exchange for working for many years fewer, why wouldn’t you put yourself at a better starting point?”
Zoe remarked that such transactional relationships were “shocking and unacceptable” in her era, but people nowadays may think: “It’s ok, it’s just a few years.”
Guo Liang wondered if these relationships were due to people facing “too much competition and stress” currently.
“If it’s a successful person with a good career and connections, sometimes people don’t become a mistress just for the money. They do it for the connection, someone can give you a hand, and it may go a long way.”
He asked if someone like Jensen would be tempted if a billionaire in her 50s and 60s wanted him not “as a toyboy” but an official married partner.
“What would I have to offer in return?” Jensen asked.
“Your body,” Hazelle immediately said, while Guo Liang went for a more modest: “Your love, of course.”
Jensen agreed he would be tempted “spiritually” but not “sexually”.
‘There’s certainly a generational gap between us’
Another way the older generation — Zoe and Guo Liang — differed from Hazel and Jensen was about their views on living separately after marriage, a concept known as bekkyokon or commuter marriages in Japan.
“After a couple get married, they don’t have to live in the same place. They have their own space, it’s not just sleeping in different rooms,” Jensen explained.
Guo Liang drew parallels to the concept of “weekend relationships” where couples would work from Monday to Friday and may or may not return home, but spend time together on the weekends.
While he suggested it may be due to work commitments, Hazelle suggested that some couples may simply choose to do so due to their preferences and because they think “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
Guo Liang strongly disagreed: “There may be many reasons for you to become a weekend couple, but there are thousands of reasons not to do so, so long as you have the will.”
Jensen agreed that people may have thought like that in the past, but nowadays people “think about themselves” instead of “the bigger picture,” and Hazelle agreed that someone’s career may be more important than their spouse to them.
She added that it was not unreasonable for couples to want a day away from each other — not to the extent of becoming weekend couples — but because they needed the space.
“I think separating for a few days is also quite reasonable,” Jensen said.
Zoe laughed: “Guo Liang, there’s certainly a generational gap between us.”
Thinking it was “weird” that couples could live apart, Guo Liang asked: “What’s good about two people being together?
“What’s good is that happiness is multiplied. You share the same hobbies, same topics and the same values — then you share something with your spouse.”
For Zoe, even if couples had different hobbies and one party needed hours of me-time, it could be achieved under the same roof as living separately could make a couple drift apart.
“Why do you wear a wedding ring? It’s to bind the heart,” she said. “A couple should want to believe in and want to keep each other in their minds.”
She added that the commitment was why the Chinese word for ‘couple’, fuqi, had two people in it, in the characters for man and wife.
Hazelle concluded: “I think after all that we’ve talked about, at the end of the day, every couple has to talk it out between themselves. If you think a weekend marriage suits you, go for it. Who cares?
“If you think living together every day suits you, then you can do it as long as you can go on like that and live happily.”