The most dreadful day of the year for single guys and girls is approaching in a few weeks. No, it’s not the Valentine’s Day. In China, there is a day that can be a hundred times worse than the Valentine’s Day: the Lunar New Year.
On New Year’s day (which falls on 10 February this year), families gather, feast and catch up with one another, and young men and women working in the cities take a break and return to their hometowns to pay their respects to the elders. During this once-in-a-year family gathering, there is one inevitable question that always comes up and that young adults cannot hope to avoid being asked by their relatives: “So… when are you getting married?” For those who are already attached, this may be a good conversation starter or nice way to segue into the topic of their new significant other. But for the singles – especially the ladies – being asked the same old question each year is just a never-ending nightmare.
Enter the rental boyfriend.
It was probably only a matter of time before someone saw this extremely awkward season as a potential business opportunity. On Chinese shopping site Taobao, young men have been putting themselves up for “rental” to accompany the ladies back to their hometowns and pay respects to the elders as a “boyfriend”. Photos of these “rental boyfriends” are available, and the prices are also clearly stated, so you can choose one that fits your budget as well as your parents’ and grandparents’ check lists.
These counterfeit companions don’t come cheap though. Rental fees start from 600 RMB (97 USD) a day, and that excludes meals, transport and accommodation. Any extra costs incurred during interactions with the elders, such as driving them around, would also be charged to the ladies. Hugs, holding-hands, and goodbye kisses on the cheeks are free, but you can pay a little more for extra services: 30 RMB (5 USD) per hour for shopping or catching a movie (double amount for horror movies) together, 50 RMB (8 USD) per hour for having a meal together, and 50 RMB (8 USD) each time for a formality kiss.
As more and more young Chinese ladies choose to focus on their career instead of marriage, the supply of such “rental boyfriends” has also increased over the years. However, the growing mismatch between the high prices and the looks and qualities of the men available is reportedly receiving negative responses from the ladies. Many have said that such low quality “boyfriends” would only serve to disappoint the elders even further, and that they wouldn’t rent one even if they were paid to do so.
Would you ladies out there want to rent a boyfriend like the one in the picture, or, as one of the Chinese ladies put it, “look for a free one”?