As the younger generation become increasingly reliant upon phones for their social needs, so too have dating apps become very popular among young adults. But while millennials in the West are swiping right in order to hook up with a date on Tinder, China’s younger generation are turning to mobile phone apps to look for something else: a fake boyfriend or girlfriend.
Although some people would reason that you could get the same result by finding a real boyfriend or girlfriend, the problem for many young Chinese adults is that they are unable to find a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend to take back home for mom and dad to see during important holidays, like the recent National Day golden week. With pressures and expectations mounting, loving sons and daughters are choosing to present a counterfeit boyfriend or girlfriend to their parents in order to satisfy them.
It’s an elaborate ruse that some people are willing to pay good money for. For years, internet users can rent a fake boyfriend or girlfriend on Taobao, China’s pre-eminent e-commerce platform. But now Chinese adults won’t even need to open an internet browser to find a fake boyfriend or girlfriend as there are now apps, such as the ubiquitous WeChat, that can do this for you.
As the Beijing Youth Daily reported, the app clearly lists the times the fake boyfriends and girlfriends are available as well as their location, profession and photos. Services provided range from sharing meals and chatting to traveling together and visiting parents.
The cost of hiring a fake boyfriend or girlfriend averages around 200 yuan and can go up to RMB 1,000, with age and appearance as the factors driving the price.
Beijing Youth Daily tells the story of one user of this dating app named Xiaolei (a pseudonym). Xiaolei was forced to use the app when a colleague backed out after first agreeing to serve as his “fake girlfriend” in a visit to Xiaolei’s family in Inner Mongolia. Having promised his mother and the trip just two days away, Xiaolei found a woman through the app and offered her 1,000 yuan to go visit his family as his fake girlfriend.
However, despite the convenience of mobile apps, things didn’t work out for Xiaolei. The woman turned his offer down.