Love by numbers

Chinese dating fair yens for compassion

It was hardly a surprise that the numbers attending a recent dating fair in Shanghai exceeded all expectations, given that there are 180 million eligible singles living in the country as a whole.

The two day LoveExpo event, which had 10,000 tickets available for each day, attracted almost twice the amount over the weekend, with 18,500 present on the Saturday and an estimated 20,000 on the Sunday. The queues to gain access to the event were so long, any pretence of the festival turning into a love-in were soon dissipated, as angry mothers and hopeful and curious romantics threatened to petition The Mayor of Shanghai over the farcical arrangements.


Instead of waiting to enter the venue, organised by 40 of Shanghai’s dating agencies, many of the attendees took to pinning less-than romantic posters more like snippets of online dating profiles anywhere that they thought may be visible to a potential long-term partner.

With the expected number of surplus men in China expected to reach 24 million by the year 2020, it is little wonder that the practise of vetting potential son-in-laws is so rife.

There is an assumed responsibility in the country for the groom to buy their bride a new matrimonial home. With the average salary in the capital £5,000 per annum and the cost of a new home running at over £500,000, it seems that available brides will be hankered for by those on top salaries, with those single men at the lower end of the earning scale left with slim pickings.

In fact, only 38% of single women would even consider a ‘naked’ marriage, whereby a house and car wasn’t included in the deal. Compare that to UK dating, where the consensus of online dating site users is that they are just happy if their potential partner has a job; you can see the constraints that hold back free love in this pressure-oven of a city.

As a result, even if those bachelors were unable to attend the dating exhibition due to the heavy work commitments that living in Shanghai endows, their mothers went in their place to act as go-betweens. One hopeful 23 year-old single woman had between 20-30 mothers of bachelors approach her with their sons’ phone numbers

It does make you wonder how many women get left behind when it comes to dating in China, but one 27 year old explained how she was considered an old maid to still be unmarried. Having travelled 500km to attend the event in the hope of finding a long-term relationship, however, she would still not concede to accepting anyone, with her focus purely in men who could house any potential future marriage.

Another 61 year old woman, who attended the event behind her 34 year old daughters back, explained that her daughter would never use a dating agency and if she did happen to fall in love with someone beneath her standing, the family unit would “…step in and make sure she snapped out of it.”

So, unless you were one of the 5,000 couples who tied the knot in Shanghai on ‘Singles Day’, so called because of the numerical configuration of 11/11/11, you may have missed your chance with in the numbers game, unless you have several 0’s every month in your pay-cheque, that is…