Liu moved into a tiny apartment in the city. He sells instant noodles for a supermarket and is on the prowl for a wife on the side. He has seven dating apps on his mobile phone, including Tantan, China's answer to Tinder. His profile photo shows him doing archery, even though he has no clue about the sport. Love took the pictures and recommended Liu use a soft-focus lens on his face. He doesn't seem to know that even the rich struggle with love. Indeed, there are men in China who invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their search for a bride. They also suffer as a result of their status, striving for perfection that matches their wealth.
The elite agency Diamond Love has its headquarters about kilometers from Liu, in Shanghai, China's shining business metropolis. Two hundred consultants and full-time matchmakers are at the disposal of the top tier at six locations across the country.
Ren is a professional matchmaker. The elegant year-old woman, with a canary yellow blazer and shiny hair, studied psychology. She knows the romantic problems of the upper class like few others.
Rich is one of the Fuyidai , as the first generation of wealthy Chinese are called. He should have long since been married by now, but instead he has no experience with women at all. What I don't understand is even with all this romance in the air there is still an unbelievable divorce rate of about couples a day in China! He doesn't seem to know that even the rich struggle with love. Now that her parents aren't listening, she would like to correct something. Constantly feeling the stress of older generations nagging them to find a wife or husband and help the family prosper, marriage-aged men and women are increasingly taking extraordinary measures to find a suitable spouse.
For women, the questionnaire distinguishes between "hardware" and "software," between appearance and character. Ren says the trend is toward "very white skin with soft texture," "a fine, oval face and a degree from a top Chinese university. Ren's trickiest case is a year-old man she calls "Mr. On the phone, he asks excitedly when there will be "fresh resources. Rich is one of the Fuyidai , as the first generation of wealthy Chinese are called.
He comes from a modest background, and he began investing overseas. It's impossible to speak with Mr. Rich, but if one spends time with his agent for several days, a certain worldview emerges. Rich, she says furtively, isn't particularly good looking.
She says he's skinny and smokes too much. Still, she says, he believes he deserves the most beautiful wife, and he has signed a yearlong contract with Diamond Love, through which he is entitled to meet five women per month. She says he treats her matches like luxury cars with unsightly rust marks. Ren is an extremely polite women, but her clients' behavior can be so extreme that her anecdotes about them can be free-flowing. One client looked at 3, women in the agency's database and rejected them if an eyebrow was too high. Another complained about every skin imperfection.
The Fu'erdai , the children of the nouveau riche, she says, are demanding. She says the one-child policy was a catastrophe that has led to the rise of impossible-to-please narcissists. Diamond Love's matchmakers drive their red Minis around in nine cities, scouting universities, academies and luxury boutiques for women who stand out in the crowd. Once, they organized the "Oriental Lady" contest in which hundreds of women took part and did singing and dancing performances. They didn't know the contest's head juror was himself a client looking for a wife. While Ren waits for results at Starbucks, love scouts run after attractive passersby in the shopping quarter.
One, wearing skinny jeans and a bomber jacket, stops. The "resources," as Ren calls the women, don't immediately need to know that Diamond Love is screening them as potential wives.
She says she doesn't want to give the impression the selection follows the Cinderella principle, and explains that the women need to pass tests and interviews with psychologists before they can meet a client. Out of women, the agency only selects a dozen. Rich would like a young wife, who isn't overly successful," says Ren. Since then, Ren has smuggled in a few older "B-women" among the twenty-something "A-women" who fit Mr. She says it was a "battle" for him to recognize it. She calls it "re-education.
Rich, she says, she has had one success. They have less glamorous problems at the school of flirting in Hangzhou, where Liu is sitting at a table with five other men, his hands holding a glass of tea. All the students come from poorer rural areas. They work in restaurants or in construction. A person's social status in China is determined by the authorities. The so-called Hukou system of household registration, splits all people into two categories: The place where a Chinese person is registered determines their access to doctors, schools - and also to urban, middle-class women.
No date takes place in China without someone politely asking about the other person's Hukou status. Someone who moves to the city can, with some luck, attain the same privileges as the people who were born there.
An established Chinese matchmaking service featuring Chinese singles in search of Chinese dating, Chinese personals as well as Chinese marriage. China's matchmaking businesses have revenues of several must fill out before the agency commences its matchmaking services for them.
A yearslong rural Hukou, however, is like a scarlet letter. At the flirt school, the men are taught how to compensate for their origins through charm. The syllabus for the course also includes a "one-on-one critique of chatting.
But every time he would like to make a move, she leaves the chat. Liu connects Liu's mobile phone to a projector, which he uses to read Liu's chronology of failure out loud. Sometimes Liu starts a conversation about their company in the middle of the night. Then he wants to play "truth or dare. Love shakes his head. He takes the mobile phone and chats, pretending to be Liu. After 20 minutes of small talk, it gets serious. Late in the evening, when the course has ended, Liu steps out into the night.
His mind is running in circles. How could he forget how a woman once described him as a "triple zero" and said that a relationship with him would only result in a "naked wedding" -- no celebration, no ring, no financial gifts, no car, no honeymoon. Of course, who would even want that in a China where there are wedding studios everywhere in which you can pose in front of islands, skyscrapers or a home you have allegedly purchased?
The next day, Liu calls his colleague from the chat. Suddenly, she doesn't have any time after all. The Chinese government long ago recognized that the hordes of frustrated men migrating to the cities are a problem. What is to be done with the prospectless, aging, single men from the country?
The party now wants more children and is organizing mass group dates across the country that are attracting hundreds of people. It is launching online dating sites and holding romantic game nights in areas where loneliness is particularly prevalent.
Managers at state-owned companies have even taken to arranging dates for their employees without being asked.