Valentine’s isn’t the only holiday around the corner. We are also coming up on Chinese New Year’s. Just like any holiday, anywhere in the world, it is a time for family and friends to come together and judge you for being single.
“I’m pretty old – I’m almost 30 – but I’m still single,” explains Ding Na, a woman hailing from China’s northeast.
“I’m under lots of pressure. My sisters and my relatives all ask me why I’m not married. When they call me, I’m scared to pick up the phone.”
Twenty-somethings in China – young women especially – face a strict societal deadline to find a husband before they turn 30.
According to Zhou Xiaopeng, a consultant with Baihe.com, one of China’s biggest dating agencies, the pressure for singles to settle down crescendos around Chinese New Year.
“Picture a scene where people sit around a table,” Ms Zhou says.
“Chinese people love to get together for dinner. On New Year’s Eve, everybody is sitting in pairs, your brother with your sister-in-law, your sister with your brother-in-law, and so on. If you’re the only one left behind, you can imagine the pressure and frustration.”
This problem has created a whole new industry in China, the rental boyfriend. For around $50 dollars a day, you can get a plus one to make you feel less lonely. However, if he spends the night, the cost can be as much as $80 if he gets his own bed or $95 if he has to sleep on the couch. It doesn’t say how much it costs if he sleeps in your bed.
If that’s too much for you, there are even some rental boyfriends that offer ala carte’ menus with offerings like $8 dollars for a kiss on the cheek or $5 to join you for dinner.