Saturday, February 13, 2010

An Instant Better Half

As people migrate home for Spring Festival, many young people alternatively dread and love coming back for the holidays. They get home-cooked meals and see old friends, but then they have to endure the relentless questions of when he or she will get married.
The lucky ones bring back their better half for family approval, or even go home to celebrate their wedding.
But for those who have yet to find their significant other, the pressure is immense.
It's gotten to the point where some young people have come up with a creative solution. They look to "rent" boyfriends or girlfriends for the holiday and "acting" as a sigificant other will lead to adequate financial compensation.
One young woman bluntly explains her situation on an Internet board:
"I'll be 28 this year, which I think is a normal age to be single, but my parents back home have been harassing me every day to get married. I promised I would bring home a boyfriend for New Year's, but I've been too busy with work and haven't found one. I don't want to let my parents down, so I've decided to rent a boyfriend to come home with me."
She had a list of criteria, that the guy be taller than her, wear glasses, have a good job and he must not be too skinny.
In exchange, she would pay him 5,000RMB ($375) for the 10-day home stay in which she clarified they would not be sleeping together.
Rental boyfriends and girlfriends have become a trend in the last few years, as young professionals who have migrated to big cities have found it hard to meet people or don't have much experience in dating and relationships.
Young women who are rising in their careers have an even harder time finding Mr Right because most Chinese men are intimidated by women who have better-paying jobs than themselves. The greatest fear of many of these professional women is becoming a sheng nu, or "leftover woman", and so some resort to actually paying for a companion to please their parents.
However, do these young people not understand that having rental boyfriends and girlfriends is only going to step up the pressure? Parents, pleased to see their child with a companion will immediately pepper them with marriage questions and expect the nuptials to happen in the near future. Also, what happens the next year? Do they "rent" they same person again? Or what happens when they come back home with another "boyfriend" or "girlfriend"?
So while it's interesting to see this kind of arrangement sprouting up in China, it only sets up false expectations for parents.
This is the first generation of children who have good careers, making good money and living in cities. Their parents have little idea of what goes on in their children's urban lives to understand the pressures these young people face, let alone the scrutiny of when they will tie the knot and have babies.
Hopefully this huge generation gap will eventually get smaller, but it will be a while before these parents understand, that while their children are keen to get married, relationships take time.

1 comment:

ks said...

the ancient chinese tradition is still alive and well. the production of progeny is one of the utmost duties of man.