“Don’t talk about relationship, it’s just a deal.” That is not only a dialogue in the new released Hong Kong film Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, but also the description of a recent phenomenon that single men and women rent a girlfriend/boyfriend to go back home with them to celebrate Chinese Spring Festival.
For young bachelors, the seven days Spring Festival means not just the reunion with families, they need to face the pressure driven by relatives to take a girlfriend/boyfriend home, especially for those who is working far away from home. However, there’s always a solution to this pressure. The internet gives them a quick way to rent a friend.
To rent a girlfriend/boyfriend was not common several years ago. But this Spring Festival, many Chinese online shopping websites emerged some services to have people act as boyfriends and girlfriends, meeting the demand of some young adults.
The online sellers will put on their real pictures for customers to choose. After confirmation, sellers and buyer will arrange a rehearsal to make them look and act like a real couple and to prevent spilling the beans in front of family members.
A famous Chinese Groupon website Meituan had a lottery game, the present of which is that the winner can rent a girlfriend/boyfriend from the staff of the website free of charge. They also provide free accommodation and transportation. According to the website, there were almost 170,000 people participated in this game.
Screenshot from Meituan.com, winning a boyfriend/girlfriend to go home
How much to rent?
Taobao.com, a Chinese ebay website has prices for this service from 200 to over 1000 RMB per day. Except from playing couples, they also provide special services such as showing love before ex, cooking, going to groceries, keeping accompany with old people and even worshiping ancestors, a very special service.
But if they are asked to drink alcohol, the price is charged by the amount of drinking. For example, a Taobao seller gave his price as 50 RMB for drinking 100 ml white wine, 70 RMB for 100 ml red wine, 20 RMB for 500 ml beer.
While all the renting services have a must-not-do explanation, which is that customer must not do things like kissing and making love.
This phenomenon reveals that the new generation of China has changed their thoughts to traditional culture. Some sociologists warned young people to be very careful about doing this kind of things which may contain potential safety problems.
On the other hand, stories based on this phenomenon have been brought to TV in recent years since it is becoming a very attractive and controversial topic. There is idol drama in 2010 called renting a girlfriend to celebrate Spring Festival, in which two strangers made a deal to please their families and ended up becoming a real couple.
This may reflect the thoughts of some customers: creating a possible opportunity to find the other half. After all, who knows what’s going to happen in the future?
Although it appears to be very hot on internet to rent friends, there are only a small proportion of people who really rent. A survey conveyed by sina.com shows that nearly 70% people are against this indeed. CCTV also points out that very rare people buy the service on Taobao.com.
A female netizen’s opinion is welcomed by many people that she is not going to rent friends because relationship cannot be measure by money. “Finding a partner is for me, not for other people”, said her. Even in this era in which relationship can be consumed as fast as instant food, true love is still the forever theme of mankind, no matter what your age, gender and nationality.