Holidays are about stress as much as they are about celebrating, and it’s no different in China, where entrepreneurs have “rent-a-boyfriend” services for women seeking to gain approval from their families as Lunar New Year approaches.
One of the most popular “rent-a-boyfriend” services can be found at the e-commerce website Taobao.com.
The Chinese site lists hundreds of fake boyfriends, including 22-year-old Xue Shuai of Qingdao.
The “rent-a-boyfriend” claimed he provides his services for social, not financial, reasons.
"I don't have many opportunities to meet girls. The business is not for money. It’s just bored people meeting each other," he told China Daily.
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Xue charges 20 yuan ($3.22) an hour for fake boyfriend services. He said he limits interactions to public places for safety reasons.
Lin Xiuyun, an associate professor of psychology at Beijing Normal University, told China Daily that women use fake boyfriend services because they are lonely.
Now, with the Chinese Lunar New Year just around the corner (the Year of the Snake gets underway on Sunday) some women may feel they need a “rent-a-boyfriend” to keep their families from badgering them about not having a boyfriend.
Zhou Qihao, another rent-a-boyfriend provider, charges $65 for women who want to take him home.
Zhou said he is contacted by women who want his services “for all kinds of reasons."
“Some are divorced, some want help getting rid of another boyfriend, some don’t want to go to a wedding by themselves,” he told the Globe and Mail.
But the most popular reason Zhou said he is hired is to help women gain approval from their families.
The women ““just want someone to go with them to their hometown for three days, just to meet their parents and let them know they have a boyfriend,” he said.
Meng Guang, a rent-a-boyfriend provider who also runs a fake boyfriend business, said the upcoming Chinese New Year is filled with both dread and happiness for single people in China.
"Young people both want to go home yet are afraid to go home," he told Agence France Presse. "If they haven't found a partner yet, when they go home parents will nag them or send them on blind dates or find someone to introduce them to people.”