Renting A Partner

Family, encouraged by tradition, always want their children to reach milestones quickly, but are they pushing too hard?


Since a desperate man once posted an ad looking for a fake girlfriend to get rid of his parents’ non-stop nagging during Chinese New Year in 2010, renting a date has become common in China. By now, the booming market has attracted millions of young people who have finally found a way to make fast money out of their time and natural beauty.

It may seem ridiculous to spend cash and hire someone to tell lies to their own parents, but to Chinese, it is understandable. The rapid urbanization created a large number of white collar workers who only go back to their remote rural home once a year or perhaps even less frequently.

These brand new urban dwellers have enjoyed a lifestyle beyond their parents’ imagination and the older generation can hardly comprehend why their precious ones wait so long to marry. Some singles avoid the fight and quickly surrender to authority and tradition by meeting strangers and settling down. Others resist and constantly seek a way out, even if it’s just a temporary solution. The few leftovers dare to fight with their families and go on with their lives as they desire.

“Two years ago when I went home, I was forced to see a dozen men whom they introduced to me in the week-long holiday. Now, I get goose bumps whenever I think of going home.” To avoid this, she told them a beautiful lie.

A 30-year-old netizen nicknamed Yaoyao confessed how she made the decision to rent a boyfriend.

“Two years ago, when I went home, I was forced to see a dozen men whom they introduced to me in the week-long holiday. Now, I get goose bumps whenever I think of going home.” To avoid this, she told them a beautiful lie.

Though the family insisted to see this Mr. Right, Yaoyao managed to avoid their investigation with various excuses during the previous Chinese New Year. This year, she had no choice, but to make the lie come true. Now, only the boyfriend was fake.

“That’s it. I set myself a trap and I closed my eyes and jumped into it. But now I’m ruined. How can I end this?” She said. God only knows.

Yaoyao is not alone. Tens of millions of liberated singles are facing the same problem each year. When the holiday season kicks off, media never lose interest in reporting on the extreme or bizarre examples.

One instant girlfriend might receive red envelopes with 2,000 RMB, plus a gold necklace from grandma, and later refuses to return. Another: the sad renter who “falls in love” with a charming actor. Even more shocking is the armless girl who throws herself into a remote countryside with strangers where she could be raped, beaten or abused.

Since its rise in 2010, the date rental market has grown considerably. National websites, offline matchmaking agencies, informal WeChat groups and most recently, apps where you can find a perfect match in just a few clicks, are sprouting up and thriving. Tall or short, thin or plump, yellow, white or black, you can choose your ideal partner, but only if you can afford it. CNY is the peak season when the price can soar to over 2,000 RMB per day, excluding transportation, accommodation and daily expenses. Without doing anything more than smiling and chitchatting, one can easily make more than 10,000 RMB in a week.

In Chengdu, a guy named Liu Hui has been leasing himself for two years. As long as it doesn’t exceed the law and a certain moral bottom line, he’ll do anything for money. He also runs an official WeChat account to record what he’s asked to do, as well as a promotion for himself.

He was once asked to receive WeChat messages, which he didn’t even need to reply, he was paid to be a private bank and receive money from a renter every day, he was rented to listen to a girl’s grievance for one afternoon, he was hired to hear a big secret from a renter and so on. Relying on things like this, Liu Hui is able to secure 7,000 RMB per month, and sometimes over 10,000 RMB, if he’s lucky.

The fact that he can earn this fairly easy money shows an apparent lack of trust between people who already know each other. In today’s world, seeking relief from a stranger may be easier and more secure instead.

Call me if you need to talk and are willing to pay.