Forget eHarmony.com–Come to Shanghai’s Marriage Market

People have often asked me if I have trouble finding things here in Shanghai and I’ve always said you can get anything you want, you just have to figure out where to get it.

Turns out, if we’d like, we can even get a husband for Meredith at the Marriage Market!

Amazingly, every Saturday and Sunday at People’s Park there is a Marriage Market where about a 1000 people come, mostly parents, some with their children,  some with matchmakers, and with or without their children’s consent, they attempt to set up dates for their children.

Ads for their children are posted on the fences with their children’s bios:

female, birth date, college grad, speaks English, salary, party member, looking for man age 28, prefers Shanghai-ese.

I personally haven’t been to the market, although Mark and Andy came across it last summer, so I’m going to link you to a site by a photojournalist that has pictures and interviews with some of the people at the park:

http://www.bolsoverphotos.com/tag/singles-culture/

(sorry, once again wordpress’s link button isn’t working)

The market was started by a group of people doing Tai Chi in the park whose children were having trouble meeting people and getting married.

Today in Shanghai, young people work very hard and have little time to socialize. There is no dating culture and they tend by their nature to be very shy in social situations.

Chinese do not do Western-style cocktail parties where you are expected to stand around and mingle and talk and feel rather uncomfortable at them (even if they speak good English).  Chinese parties will have activities planned–karaoke and skits. As Qing, Mark’s admin says, “We like to entertain ourselves.”

All of this working and the gender imbalance of the One Child policy has resulted in a couple of problems for parents desperate to get their children married off. In Shanghai there are more single women then men even though in the general population there are 24 million men looking for wives. The women in Shanghai who are having such a hard time finding mates can be described as 3S women–Single, Seventies (when she was born), Stuck, or SAS women–Single, Attractive, Successful.

The problem for these 3S women is that they have an expiration date! The date has been age 30, but has been edging towards 32 (maybe out of desperation?).

But there’s a snag for these 3S women; the women who would seem to be the most desirable, the pick of the bunch.

The ABCD rule.

For this rule a Type “A” male or female is the best on the market. The male will have an apartment, have a great job, and be attractive. The woman will be an SAS. A type “B” male will be less successful, won’t have an apartment, etc, down to a “D” who is a construction worker.

This is how the rule works:

A male wants B female

B male wants C female

C male wants D female

That leaves the D males and the A females out in the cold, mateless.

The Chinese consider the People’s Square Marriage Market more reliable than on-line dating, which actually is available here, because parents are able to speak freely about the material aspects of the match, they can see what the offspring will likely look like because the parents are there to look at, and they can bring a matchmaker along who can look at both birth dates to see if there are any astrological conflicts.

This marriage market has become so popular that people come from Chicago and Australia. It’s not only just used by young people either, but by older widowers who no longer want to be alone.

I think American kids who don’t like it when their families ask if they’re dating anyone yet have nothing to complain about!

On the way back from the bookstore today we took the shortcut through the convention center parking lot across the street from our apartment. Great luck–they were having a wedding  expo so I took a couple of pictures of the couples coming in and out to see if I could classify them according to the ABCD rule.

Drat. Cut off his head. But she was so excited to be there. Any guesses?

This girl snagged a chef. I would think that she was doing pretty well. And they certainly seemed pleased with each other.

This guy is clearly an "A". Note the bluetooth and the fancy coat.

Kelly sent me this picture saying she'd seen this when shopping and it had reminded her of me. I had to laugh because I've seen so many stuffed toys likes this adorning women's clothing recently.

These are ear muffs with rabbits on them. Yesterday I saw shoes with Hello Kitty heads on the tongues and gloves with rabbit heads.

They seemed to be giving out these rabbits to the participants in the wedding expo because a lot of people were carrying them

Meredith celebrated her birthday on the 28th.

No birthday is complete in the Newhouse family without at least one book as a gift.

Kelly made her a beautiful birthday envelope

And then she went on a well deserved vacation. Can you guess where?

My last picture is one that is popular on all the sites here in Asia. I’ve been itching to put something like this here on the blog, but didn’t know how to get either the old or the new pictures. My thanks to whoever supplied both pics. This is Shanghai looking from Puxi where we live towards Pudong across the river.

That's right--only 20 years

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About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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