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Mistress Dispellers – The Controversial Services Keeping Chinese Families Together

In the Western world, when a wife finds out her husband is having an affair she they either confronts him directly about it asking him to stop, or just gets a divorce. But things are a bit more complicated in China, due to the social stigma and financial burden associated with divorce, so an increasing number of women are turning to companies specializing in driving away mistresses. Introducing the “mistress dispellers”.

It’s not uncommon for Chinese businessmen and high ranking officials to signal their status by maintaining a mistress, and with the country’s economy growing at a rapid pace, it’s no wonder that “mistress dispeller” services that combat cheating are becoming very popular. For a considerable fee – typically starting in the tens of thousands of dollars – these companies will coach scorned wives how to strengthen their marriage while employing a variety of tactics to drive away the problematic mistress.

While it may sound like a scam to cheat the poor wives out of serious sums of money, mistress dispellers, or “xiaoshan quantui”, are apparently very good at what they do. Shu Xin, director of  Weiqing International Marriage Hospital Emotion Clinic Group, a mistress dispeller company based in Shanghai, says that every case starts with thorough research on the mistress. An investigation team will analyze her family, friends, education, job and daily habits looking for any information that could help them meet their goal.

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Photo: “Mistress Dispeller” movie poster

“Once we figure out what type of mistress she is — in it for money, love or sex — we draw up a plan,” Shu told The New York Times. Then, it’s time for the “counselor” to work his magic. This mistress dispeller employee will move into the same apartment building as the mistress, or start working out at her gym for the opportunity to engage her. He will slowly win her friendship, become her confidant and eventually drive her away from her married partner. Sometimes that involves finding her a new lover, other times it’s about convincing her to accept a better job somewhere far away, whatever it takes to get her to leave their client’s wife. Counselors use a wide array of deceptive tactics, but they are not allowed to become intimate with their targets, or use threats and violence.

At the same time, mistress dispeller employees work with the wife on how to make themselves more attractive for her husband. “We want to disrupt conventional ways of thinking,” Kang Na, who runs a mistress dispeller business in Shenzen, said. “Chinese women think that if you treat men well, they’ll love you more. But often, we men love the people who hurt us the most.”

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These services are apparently very effective – Mr. Kang says he has a success rate of 90%, because he only takes cases that he thinks can be solved – but they are definitely not cheap. Kang Na’s rates start at 300,000 yuan (about $45,000), but can go much higher depending on what is required to get close to the mistress (renting an expensive apartment, luxury car, etc.). Clients usually pay half the sum in advance, and the balance once the problem is resolved. In case of failure, the balance is waived.

Some wives have to borrow money in order to afford mistress dispellers, but they still consider them a better alternative to divorce. Apart from the social stigma, divorced wives can find themselves living on the streets, because in Chinese families property and finances are usually registered in the husband’s name. So a lot of women go behind their husbands’ backs to drive away their mistresses and hope they never find out.

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Photo: Weiqing International Marriage Hospital Emotion Clinic Group

Mistress dispellers are as controversial as they are popular. Marriage counselors claims they don’t bring families together, because extramarital affairs are a problem that needs to be solved by husband and wife, but Chinese wives seem to disagree. Both Weiqing and Reunion Company – Kang Na’s business – reported considerable growth in the last two years, with the latter now considering making their services available abroad, to Europe and North America.

“We began by servicing Chinese,” Mr. Kang said. “But we’ve discovered in the course of our work that it’s not just our own people who have these problems. Everyone does.”