Looking for a guy your mum will surely approve of? Then you’ve got to get to know Janan Tobiah Lim, who walked away with the Boyfriend Material award, presented by sloggi, at CLEO Most Eligible Bachelors 2019 finals party last Friday. The 25-year-old technical services engineer not only gives to those in need (he has carried out volunteer work in several countries, including Palestine) but is also an absolute sweetheart (he made roses for his friends for Valentine’s Day). We talk to him about what he looks for in a relationship, and what drives him to go out of his way to help others.
How does it feel to be recognised as boyfriend material?
I don’t know. I feel like there will be expectations! But of course, I’d want to meet them—I want to be the best version of myself when I’m in a relationship. To me, it’s not about finding the perfect person, but being the perfect person for the other. I want to better myself, which includes developing my character and working on my flaws.
What kind of boyfriend are you?
I’m very easygoing and I’m the type to be OK with whatever my girlfriend wants. That said, I also like to challenge my partner, so if she struggles with certain things, I’d push her so that she can improve. I like to see people grow. If she has insecurities, I’ll help her deal with them at her own pace. I treat my friends the same way. For example, one of my friends is quite introverted and doesn’t like to lead conversations in formal discussions. I try to encourage her in my own way. I’d tell her, “Why don’t you do the sharing tomorrow? The half hour is all yours.”
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What are your deal-breakers in a relationship?
I guess it’s when my partner and I have determined what we want in life is different, and that we won’t be compromising and working towards the same direction. I’ve seen many people have difficult relationships. From the beginning, they know what they want is different, but they’re like, “This is still the honeymoon phase. Let’s see how it goes.” In the end, it results in a really bad breakup because they’ve both compromised too much. So if my partner and I are headed in different directions at this point in our lives, then maybe it’s just not meant to be.
What kind of qualities do you look for in a girlfriend?
She should be really kind, in the sense that she’s quick to forgive and doesn’t bear grudges. She should also be willing to put others before herself and value her family. I consider myself a family guy and am trying to spend more time with mine.
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How do you win feel about your win? How did your family and friends react to it?
I was really quite surprised by the win because I felt like some of the other guys were more outstanding. I feel fortunate and humbled. My brothers were being crazy! They brought printouts of me and everything. My second brother was very supportive, and my eldest brother was like, “OK lah, I’ll be at the finals party.” He doesn’t ever step into clubs so it was quite something. The funniest thing was when he said, “Actually, clubbing is quite fun! Got bubble tea. Got popcorn.” And I was like, “That’s totally not how it usually is!”
How would your friends describe you?
A bit clumsy and a bit crazy. I’m a very spontaneous person, and when I do something silly, people will usually be like, “That’s so Janan.” Once I’m comfortable around you, it’s like I’m a totally different person. Even my second brother says I’m wild! If I want to go somewhere, I’ll just book a flight and jet off now. But yes, I’m quite clumsy. I was pumping petrol, left the fuel cap on top of the car and just drove off. No one ever forgets the cap. So I was looking for a new one and one of my friends asked her dad who owns a car workshop. Her dad was like, “Who’s that friend?” When she told him it’s me, he was like, “Oh, no wonder.”
That’s super cute. Tell us more about what drives you to do volunteer work.
I grew up with a lot of insecurities. I had issues with my self-image. It was only when I was in Year 2 of JC that I started exercising every day and lost 30kg in three months. I also only had a growth spurt in that year. It was life-changing. When I enlisted into the army, I grew taller, then when I was in uni, I grew taller again. The thing is, a lot of people helped me along the way. They really built my confidence and made me who I am today. I wanted to be able to do the same for other people, so I started doing volunteer work in Cambodia and Thailand and, at one point, also went to Athens with a group of friends to help the refugees. It was completely self-funded.
What do you do for those in need?
We lend them a listening ear and encourage them. For these people, their whole lives are destroyed—they can never go back to their home country and even if they have a degree, it doesn’t mean anything anymore [because they’re in a place with a totally different educational system]. We also teach them new languages and educate them on the cultural norms they need to know in the new country. We also connect them with certain organisations and basically help them adjust to a new life.
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What’s your five-year plan?
I hope to do a long-term stay in the countries where people need help and provide aid. I’m also looking to start a small social enterprise on the side to help underprivileged locals here generate income. I also hope to be more mature and to understand the differences between how the younger and older generations think. As millennials, we should try to bridge the gap.
What are some of the things that make you happy?
I like playing music—I play the saxophone, drums and guitar. I also like eating, especially Japanese, Korea and Thai food. I also like having time to myself—my schedule is always packed and I’m usually around other people, so it’d be quite nice to just eat junk food and watch Netflix. I love doing that.