This guest post was written by the same friend who wrote – Why I didn’t join the communist party. This time he asked me if he could share his opinion on marriage, and I am so glad he did.
Like arranging for a blind date, let me introduce myself first: I’m a 30-year-old single man growing up in a big city in China and I’m the only child in the family. I have a postgraduate degree and a decent job with a comparatively good salary. Moreover, I have 2 condominiums on mortgage. Everything I said here puts me in an advantageous position in the dating circle.
But I hate the Chinese idea about marriage.
Let me go back a few years. I had a sweetheart from college. I was two years older than her. So when I started to work, she was struggling with her schooling problems, academically and financially. After being together for 4 years we finally decided to get married.
This was the moment our parents stepped in. The issue they argued about was so trivial that I don’t want to mention it again. Sadly it was not even about us but about them – the parents couldn’t see eye to eye with each other. Then the whole marriage thing started to get out of our hands and became a serious family issue. My parents threatened not to visit us if we got married. And her mom said it, too. (She is from a single parent family.) In the end we decided to break up.
She dated another guy after 3 months and married him after 6. And I started the dating game year after year. When I told the story to an older friend, he said, “Well my friend, in China, dating involves two persons but marriage involves two families.”
Since I became single, all “concerned” families, friends, families of friends and friends of families start to fix me up with someone. Most of them are blind dates. Chinese blind dates are somewhat different from American ones. Here we usually go to blind dates with the intention of establishing relationship and get married. So marriage is the ultimate goal.
With this goal bearing in mind, most people tend to be really serious, or should I say, practical with their dates. In most cases, personal height, weight, occupation, salary, education, family background, property, even hobbies are investigated before we meet. Personally I’m not particularly interested in getting the information. But the matchmakers are so desperate to brag about it. Even if you don’t want to be informed, it doesn’t give you the right to refuse to provide your own.
I got really annoyed a few times for one girl insisted to see a picture of me before we “actually meet in person”, and another kept badgering me for whether I’m 168 centimeters tall or 170. Blind dates are like selling meat. You are priced, weighed and tagged.
I hate it so much that I finally decide to quit from the game. But of course I cannot really quit it, because every time when a colleague or friend sees me, she (usually she) asks, “Are you dating someone right now? Cause I know this wonderful girl…” Give me a break.
Now I’m 30. In China, it is a nightmare for single people – in most cases for single women. Most of my friends are already married at 26 or 27 and now they start to have kids. I keep seeing people from time to time, but have shown “too much enthusiasm in work, travel and simply having fun”. So all my families and friends start to show, overtly or secretly, their worry for me being abnormal in one way or another.
Every conversation starts like, “You are 30. You are supposed to be married.” Believe me, it’s really tremendous mental torture when you literally hear it 2, 3 times everyday! (For a single woman, the bombs would drop like 20 times a day.) One friend tells me that she keeps my marriage in her prayer. – What the xxxx!
“What if I haven’t found the one? What about love?” I asked. “Get married first! Then we’ll talk about love.” I hate the idea of getting married for being married. So nothing they say could talk me into it.
But it is OK for me not to rush into marriage. After all, I’m a guy. For a 30-year-old single woman, it is another story. In big cities of China, where people tend to be more open-minded, a single woman over 30 usually meets with much more obstacles in finding the ideal husband. 30 is like an expiring date for women. So girls are desperate to get married before the date, and for those who do expire, they have to give a discount.
A colleague of mine, who is a 31-year-old single woman, even has trouble in getting a date. Last year, she told me that she was going to get married with a 36-year-old guy from a remote county, who made only half her salary and refused to pay for the condominium they were going to buy. They had met for a few times and her parents pressured her to marry him. She said, “I need to do it to satisfy my parents.”
Some friends and I worked so hard to dissuade her from it, because we didn’t think this was right. She didn’t get married with that guy after all, not because she took our advice, but because that guy thought she was not good enough so he called it off.
One friend of mine immigrated to Canada. She told me, people there don’t care whether you are dating or separated, single or married, gay or hetero. They care whether you are happy or not. The Chinese are so conservative in marriage that sometimes they do absurd things for it.
Everyone knows it takes a village to raise a child, but in China it takes a village to get you married. Much appreciative as I feel for my families and friends, I still wish to be left alone, and truly believe that I will meet, marry and live happily with the one in my life.
This friend is a regular reader of the blog, if you have any questions for him, please leave them in the comment section below.
For more on Marriage in China read: The bosses speech and other oddities in Chinese weddings, What happened to traditional Chinese weddings, and Chinese wedding days and wedding nights