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Boyfriends on rent for Chinese festival

Single Chinese professionals are renting fake boyfriends and girlfriends in a desperate measure to cope with spending a week at home with conservative parents and relatives. Reshma Patil writes.

world Updated: Feb 11, 2011 02:18 IST
Reshma Patil

"Spring festival is coming. My parents want me to take home a boyfriend. So I decided to rent one. Requirements: 175-180 cm, mature, like a manager, nice person without evil thoughts. Payment 3,000 yuan for six days"_Xiaoyu888.

Until I read one of several such messages floating on the Chinese Internet, I used to think that Indian society gave single women a harder time at family events. Don't underestimate the power of Confucian elders.

Single Chinese professionals are renting fake boyfriends and girlfriends in a desperate measure to cope with spending a week at home with conservative parents and relatives. From February 2-8, China's most significant holiday for the lunar new year, millions of migrants made their annual journey home for traditional family reunions. They would 'lose face' if they returned without red envelopes of cash and a marriageable partner.

As the Chinese get richer, they can afford to fake part of the custom. In booming Chengdu in south China, a girl hit this week's front pages for posing on the street with a poster offering 10,000 yuan

(Rs 70,000) for a 'fake boyfriend' for five days. Several appeals are still online. "I can't take it anymore. I must rent a girlfriend to come back home with me this year. Requirements: 21-28 years, 155-170 cm, good-looking, respectful of parents."

On the website Sina, a man from Yunnan wrote in terror about facing family disapproval. "If I come back alone again during this festival, things will be terrible. My parents will be mad at me. I need a single lady, 23-26 years old, at least 162 cm. She must have a job and no bad habits."

Rented romance includes written deals stipulating price and obligations like 'chatting with his parents and some housework'. "Not only does it bring comfort to elderly family members, it also saves singles from a holiday of arguing with parents," reported the China Daily.

The trend may be inspired by the television series Renting A Girlfriend for Home Reunion in which a fake couple ends up together. Money can buy love, at least on Chinese television.