Just in time for the holiday season, when kind-meaning aunties and uncles sometimes ask why you’re single, why you don’t have a date, and why you’re not giving your parents grandchildren yet, you might remember that renting a boyfriend is a thing. It’s not necessarily a new phenomenon in Asia, China, or even the whole world, but surging interests for these services in companies are generating booming businesses. With pressures mounting from parents, social situations, etc. young Chinese men and women are seeking out fake significant others for days at a time, at costs anywhere from 500 to 8,000 yuan a day (or about $82-$1313). What this says about China’s twenty-something culture is not entirely clear to me.
But what this all definitely means that Taobao.com, China’s Amazon, is more than just a place to buy a power pack for your smartphone or hot water heater, but also for renting girlfriends and boyfriends for a day. It’s possible these youngsters are overly worried about their parents worries. Parents, it would seem, still expect their children to marry young. It’s also possible they are too busy with their power careers to find serious dates or simply not interested. Or they are feeling the pressure from walking around Beijing’s public parks overwhelmed by the quantity of young couples sitting on benches and old couples ballroom dancing. One way or another, the fake boyfriend/girlfriend business seems to be staying around. And popping into the news every now and again in case we forget about it.