Alone for the holidays - no matter where you live in the world, it isn't a lot of fun. In China it's a particular headache.
Tags:reuters,china,new year,Yu Hai,Zhao Jianqiang
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Alone for the holidays - no matter where you live in the world, it isn't a lot of fun. In China it's a particular headache. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, JANE LANHEE LEE, SAYING: "For the single woman in China, the lunar New Year's holidays can be a nightmare with parents and their friends all asking about when she'll get married. To help these women get through in peace a new business is sprouting up online." Meet rent-a-boyfriend Zhao Jianqiang. He'll carry your bag for you -- unless you pile it on. Shopping: he hates it, but can tag along for the right price. Drinking with the relatives. No problem. But don't expect him to pick up the bill. Oh, and hugs are complimentary. That's as far as he'll go, though. Like most rent-a-boyfriends, he draws the line at hanky-panky (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RENT-A-BOYFRIEND, ZHAO JIANQIANG, SAYING: "If a man goes all the way with a woman because she demands it and then takes her money then he's a gigolo." After seeing a bunch of rent-a-boyfriend ads online, Zhao posted his own as a fun way to make some extra money. He's already got many offers -- from girls who want to make their boyfriends jealous to others inviting him home for the holidays. So what's behind the rent-a-boyfriend trend? Here at the weekend match-making market in Shanghai - where parents are taking matters into their own hands - it's the same story: Eligible men are in high demand. But if you look at the census data, that doesn't make sense. Chinese prefer having sons, resulting in roughly 120 boys born for every 100 girls. Then why is it the ladies are left scrambling to find a match? Sociologist Yu Hai says it's because urban women have climbed the ladder of success more quickly than their male counterparts. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, FUDAN UNIVERSITY, YU HAI, SAYING: "If a man finds a woman who has achieved more than he has, people might comment that it's an unequal relationship. They might ask who wears the pants? That's important, who wears the pants." Matchmaker Fan Dongfang says some women also have unrealistic expectations. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) MATCHMAKER, FAN DONGFANG, SAYING: "If a woman gets older but refuses to compromise on her requirements for a husband, she won't able to find one. That's what's happened to most of the clients in this refund pile." Oh well. For women who don't want to compromise in a competitive market or listen to nagging parents, there's always the option of renting a man. -0-