We all know the feeling. That dreaded pit that forms in your stomach as you watch your great-aunt walk towards you. You know what’s coming and there’s no way around it. While you may be able to prolong the inevitable for a few minutes by quickly ducking into the next room, eventually she will find you and when your aunt does, she will spend at least 20 minutes inadvertently reminding me of your non-existent love life. “What do you mean you don’t have a boyfriend?! Look at you you’re gorgeous! It must be something in the water the boys drink.” Well, thank you Aunt (fill in the blank), but I’m pretty sure my perpetual singleness is not due to some unaccounted for natural phenomenon. When your great-aunt has finally come to terms with the fact that you won’t be introducing someone to the family today, she will then take it upon herself to suggest many “fine young men” she knows from around town to set you up with. Unfortunately these men aren’t what you really have in mind, as they usually range from her prayer group leader’s nephew all the way to the twin sons whose picture hang at the restaurant she frequents every Tuesday and Thursday. As more and more names are added to the unending list your great-aunt has clearly spent a lot of time on, you suddenly become even more horrified at the prospect of having to endure another painful family outing without someone by your side. If only there was a way around this?
While American culture may have shunned the idea of an escort system, China may be on to something. Even at 30, which many Americans still consider an acceptable age to be single, Chinese women are put under immense pressure by their families to get married by their early or mid 20s. In order to appease the pressures of modern times, women can turn to China’s online market place, Taobao, where solutions to their love problems can be found. Now for only $50, Chinese women have the chance to acquire the services of an eligible bachelor to accompany them to family outings. There are even services if women just want to be seen in public with a man and for as little as $5 an hour, men charge women to accompany them to dinner or even ask for $8 for a kiss on the cheek.
So next time you realize that break is just around the corner and there will be a family party that implies having to answer many questions about your love life, take a page out of China’s book and cut a deal with a friend. Nothing romantic has to be a stake but it’s an easy way for you to appease the nagging relatives and your friend can make a quick buck.