Many parents of unmarried youth have come to the Children's Park in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province on February 18, 2017. [Chinanews.com]
Many Chinese parents try to help their children find a significant other by setting them up on blind dates. Some sit behind self-made posters to look for spouses for their children at crowded parks, such as Zhongshan Park in Beijing and the People's Park in Shanghai. But should parents be involved in their children's relationships? Questionnaire respondents shared their opinions.
A survey has found that nearly 82 percent of singles in first-tier cities have participated in blind dates or matchmaking, with 20.5 percent of them taking part in these events frequently, according to a report by the Social Investigation Center of China Youth Daily.
Out of the 2,004 people polled across the country by the center, 61.8 percent said their families had urged them to consider a blind date, as they were worried about their single status, while 64.9 percent said they have few opportunities to meet people of the opposite sex.
Moreover, 67.4 percent of the respondents suggested young people should go out, make friends and improve their interpersonal skills.
Among the interviewees, 64.8 percent are married, and 19.1 percent are single. Some 35.8 percent of them live in first-tier cities, 40.7 percent in second-tier cities, 16.9 percent in third-tier cities and only 1.1 percent in the countryside.
"I am looking for a Beijing girl with stable income. My son pays more attention to the girl's looks and figure," Xiao Cheng, a mother who places ads at Zhongshan Park in Beijing, seeking a girlfriend for her unwed son.
"Although the odds for a successful match do not look good, coming to the park is better than waiting at home", said Zhang Mou, who was looking for a potential suitor for his well-educated daughter.
Zhang Fangcheng, a 49-year-old mother from Henan Province, said she had arranged several dates for her daughter and hoped to find a highly educated man from a decent family.
A 27-year-old engineer from Huawei Technologies Company surnamed Liu wanted to focus on his career and did not see marriage in his immediate future. "Young people tend to establish a relationship by themselves and dislike the traditional arranged marriages. I do feel embarrassed being involved in a blind date" Liu said.
Call for More Efforts to Help Young Singles
Hu Yixia, a 26-year-old female internet company employee in Beijing, said she used to hate blind dates and believed matchmaking would make her feel embarrassed. "Most of my childhood friends and classmates are already married and some have children. Living in first-tier cities is tough for singles, and I feel more lonely when encountered chaos in daily life" said Hu.
Why choose a blind date? Some 65 percent respondents said they had a small social circle and couldn't make any friends of the opposite sex. About 61 percent said they were urged by their families to attend blind dates or matchmaking and 39 percent of the respondents think blind dates are reliable and time-saving to some extent.
Matchmaking is a traditional way for single Chinese men and women in their 20s and 30s to meet. It has become especially popular amid the rising number of so-called "leftover" people - well-educated, highly paid young professionals who find it increasingly hard to find a mate.
According to statistics by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were more than 200 million single adults in China in 2015, and the number is still rising. Experts say that a "single boom" will inevitably hit the country soon.
Some young singletons hope the authorities will put the marriage issue on its agenda and work to cultivate a good environment for youth to find their loved ones.
Marriage is a big issue in the development of youth. More young people are marrying at a later age due to changes in life and work patterns, Xiao said, hoping that the labor union and other organizations could join efforts to regulate dating and matchmaking services market and help young people find spouses.
More Social Contact Encouraged
A respondent said young people should recognize their own situation, treat blind dates rationally, properly adjust their attitude toward love and marriage, and try to embrace their partner's flaws.
"Parents should not force their children to take part in blind dates or matchmaking. People should be free to marry in their own time and for their own reasons, on the whole, and expect it when they reach a certain age," a male interviewee said.
He also hoped that employers could pay more attention to staff members' relationship issues and hold matchmaking fairs regularly for singletons.
There is nothing wrong with parents trying to set their kids up. It works sometimes and a happy ending follows. It's a hope of all parents that their children will have good lifelong spouses, especially when most are also concerned that their children may not have the time or sufficient self-intuition to know what's good for them.
After all, the final decision will still reside with the children. "Most young people hope two people should start as friends and get to know each other before they commit to a relationship," said Zhang Yijun, a famous psychologist studying marriage and family.
The survey showed that 66.4 percent of respondents think reading parties, tea parties and other social activities are important for singles to make friends and improve their personalities, and 53.2 percent hope their companies could organize networking events, while 44.4 percent prefer friends of friends.
Women Outnumber Men in Blind Date Industry
"Woman, financial company vice-president, Peking University graduate, seeks man born in Beijing," reads the advertisement. Zhang Mou has advertised his daughter in Zhongshan Park for a long time. Though he has arranged some blind dates for his child, the relationships did not last.
Many young people cannot find a partner because of their narrow life circle. The fast-paced life between home and the workplace means they barely have a chance to meet the opposite sex. Women are more likely to be labeled as "leftover" and always bear greater pressure than men of the same age.
Yao Lu, a consultant from jiayuan.com, said women could easily pass their childbearing age. Blind dates may be helpful for them to establish a stable and long-lasting relationship.
Meanwhile, the survey finds that men in their early 30s are popular among younger women. They are still young yet more independent, both economically and mentally, that's the attraction of males at this age.
About 36 percent of the respondents believe women outnumber men in matchmaking circles, whilst only 26.8 percent hold the opposite view.
High Standards Set in Choosing Partners
Women are setting high standards when it comes to choosing partners, especially in first-tier cities. The more excellent the woman is, the higher marriage goal she will set. Quality women are usually mature, independent and capable to deal with their work and personal life, a respondent said.
Excellent women prefer to live alone rather than marry a guy who has no equal education background, decent job or regular income.
"There are only leftover women, but no leftover men," said Zhang Fangcheng. Most of the leftover women are highly educated and have well-paid jobs. She finds that women are more likely to become picky, and the high standards they set for their future partners are one of the barriers that keep them away from love.
Compared with women, men seem more practical and are more likely to make compromises when finding a date.
"They dislike people who chase after them, yet they like people who are too good for them," Zhang Junyi said when referring to single women. She said the real problem lies in their interpretation of themselves, which made them unfit for a date as charming as they expect, but unwilling to settle for a less attractive choice.
Moreover, the value system for a date is different for males and females. For many highly educated single women, they treat their professional achievements as a big selling point when dating. However, women in high-powered careers are not always the ideal candidate for some men.
Of those surveyed, 66.8 percent thought women have set extremely high standards for their would-be life partner, 49.5 percent said there were more high-quality women in metropolis and cities in general and 39.6 percent said women were likely to be forced to get married.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and Edited by Gender Study Network)
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