In recent years, young men and women pressed by their families to bring their girlfriends home with them for the seven-day Spring Festival prefer to rent total strangers, just to avoid long lectures and appease their relatives.
Single men and women have it tough in China, a country where most parents go to any lengths to see their offspring settled down with the right person. We’ve had posts about a school teaching girls to land rich powerful businessmen, about Shanghai’s famous marriage market, and about the Love Supermarket, but those were permanent fixes to the being-single “problem”. Nowadays, Chinese bachelors are looking for a temporary solution, and this led to the creation of a whole new niche – girlfriend/boyfriend rentals. All they have to do is go online, access Taobao (China’s version of eBay) and choose between the different sellers offering the unusual service.
To meet the demands of their customers, online sellers will post photos of themselves and after confirmation, they’ll meet clients and go over the details that will make them look like a genuine couple and prevent awkward scenes in front of the family. So how much did it cost to rent a girlfriend for this year’s Spring Festival, you ask? Anywhere between 200 RMB ($31) to 1,000 RMB ($160), depending on services offered. Apart from just looking pretty at your side, some girls also provided special services like: showing affection in front of your family, cooking, buying groceries, keeping old relatives company, and even worshiping ancestors (a really special service). If you want your rental to consume alcohol, they will charge you on the amount they have to drink, starting at 50 RMB ($8) for drinking 100 ml white wine, 70 RMB($11) for 100 ml red wine, 20 ($3) RMB for 500 ml beer. Two things none of the sellers will agree to are kissing and making love.
Girlfriend and boyfriend renting services are relatively new in China, and although a lot of people don’t approve of such practices, they are quickly gaining popularity. One of the reasons for this could be a successful TV series called “Renting a Girlfriend for Home Reunion”, that aired in 2010. It tells the story of a young man sick of going on blind dates set up by his parents, who decides to rent a girlfriend and ends up falling in love and marrying her. While in some people minds this kind of service creates an opportunity of finding their other half, sociologist warn against such practices that could pose safety issues.
In the western world, the French implemented the girlfriend-renting concept in the form of a website that allows clients to discretely rent a female partner, for a fee.