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Rent-a-lover this Spring Festival

Anyone else renting a boyfriend for Chinese New Year?


Unless you have recently escaped a crazy, being single is rarely fun for anyone, especially in China where youngsters spend their entire university lives being told,” No girlfriend, no boyfriend, study hard.” Yet the minute they graduate it changes to: “Why don’t you have a boyfriend? When will you marry?” One can only imagine how painful and tiresome that is.

During Spring Festival such feelings are at a peak. Suddenly all relatives are intensely interested in your personal life. And it’s not just parents either, elder brothers, grandparents, great-great Uncle Zhou, even the elderly vegetable seller next door want to know if you are getting any action.”Why can’t you find a decent woman? How will I have grand-kids if you don’t even have a partner?”

In the hope of avoiding such uncomfortable interrogatives, men and women all over China are desperate to find somebody before Spring Festival, to bring home,  show off and get everybody to shut the f*ck up. The pressure has become so intense that one mother, begging her son to come home, promised her son that she would not pressure him about marriage, in a full page ad in the front page of a newspaper.  Talk about a guilt trip. These days Chinese singletons are taking out their own ads. Classifieds to find a fake (or otherwise) partner to take home. And it can pay pretty well too.

As far as Spring Festival goes, boyfriend & girlfriend chaos is exploding on social media, much like the fireworks that are set to light up the skies later in the month. Renting a girlfriend/boyfriend to celebrate Spring Festival in China is now not far off from being completely normal; with less than ten days to go until the Chinese New Year, over 300 boyfriend-rental services were listed on the online shopping website Taobao. Prices vary from 200 to 1,000 RMB per day; aside from wanting the dutiful partner, these renters are demanding a host of other services, including the showing of love and affection, cooking, doing grocery shopping, keeping company for old people, worshiping ancestors, and in some cases, even a very special service indeed. I guess it is only natural to want these things to have a happy ending. And believe it or not each service has its own price range, and all the renting services have a clear explanation to what will and won’t go.

renting maddness-masterRecently one man offered one million yuan to rent a girlfriend, perhaps making it clear that he had absolutely no idea how to have a good time, specifically stating that a PhD or virgin was preferred. On his weibo page, he went into some detail, saying he needed a female escort to spend 7 days with him and his family. His desperation for such a service was explained away by the fact that the man was busy working and earning money; his previous relationships had ended before getting too serious, which had left our eligible bachelor with shattered hopes of finding “the one”.

But this was no reason to upset his mother on Spring Festival. Hence the ad. Desperate as it was, it was pretty specific:

“The poster adamantly requires that the woman should be lighter than 50kg, taller than 168cm, boast a sweet looking face, and hold (at the very least) a bachelors degree. PhDs and/or virgins are strongly preferred.”  

The clamor for cash in China being what it is you wouldn’t have thought the chap would be lacking suitors, and it turned out: the post garnered 10,000 comments on its first day, with apparently 5,264 female ‘contestants’.

If some people are willing to spend a lot of money just to impress their family, and fake relationships for seven days, others may have chosen a more modern way of showing their desperation: social media.

“Chinese ‘prettiest female doctor’ defends PhD girls’ right to seek boyfriend” reported China.org. It was a popular story: A female Phd from Nanjing University became all the rage after her post on weibo went viral and made her known in social media as Caterpillar Claire. In the ad the girl with a doctorate in chemistry was said to be “looking for a boyfriend to take home before Spring Festival.” The ad included personal pictures of Claire, which changed the perception of some Chinese youngsters, as it turns out, she was pretty damn hot. Netizens marveled at her beauty and intelligence and seemed to wonder, “how can a woman knows so much about a chemistry, be so goddamn sexy?” And so a nation was flummoxed.

The pictures that surfaced in weibo and all over Chinese social media showed a very pretty young woman in her twenties in a variety of poses. There was a picture in the lab showing chemical equipment thus showing the extreme intelligence that is believed to be so rare among young girls. Another picture of Claire showed her as the fashionable girl wearing a Topshop skirt and a Reiss navy coat. Yes, the details are mind boggling aren’t they? The whole escapade caused so much fuss that the poor woman had to go on Xinhua, explaining her bafflement as to why narrow-minded Chinese had issues with being married to a doctor, as they saw such women as a “third gender”. claire3 - master

This certainly isn’t the first year that singledom over Spring festival has caused such a furor, and it is unlikely to be the last. It looks as those these types of services are going to be more popular year on year and I’m quite excited to see at what level of insanity these ads will end up at. With China being China, the only way all this chaos is likely to stop is if parents learn to chill-out and stop pressuring their kids about marriages, relationships and all the other minutiae of their lives. However I don’t see this happening in the near future, do you? Anyway, I must go I have an appointment on Taobao to see if I can rent myself a good man

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