Boyfriend Rentals Are Blowing Up in China

Have you ever been home for the holidays and felt the crushing need to bring either a partner home or make one up so people would just stop asking when you're going to get your life together and settle down? No? Me neither. What do you mean why is my eye twitching like that?

In China, the pressure for young women to show they're in a relationship is so strong that, according to the CBC, it has stimulated a whole new business: the rental boyfriend. This business is especially booming during the lunar new year, when many go home to visit their families, who they may live far away from. The concept is simple, the client pays for all tickets and lodging and in return the rental boyfriend (there isn't a better word) will act as if he and the client are in a relationship, appeasing family and saving the client from anxiety, pain, or as The CBC points out, an emergency.

The Chinese even have a phrase to describe a woman who reaches her late twenties without marrying: they call her "leftover woman." It's cause for a family crisis.

And those who are gay face a similar predicament: homosexuality is very much underground in China.

And week-long partners don't come cheap. Here's what one such boyfriend charges:

Zhu is new to the game. He is a student and heading out on the road this week for his first multi-day paid gig.

He will be travelling more than 400 kilometres with a stranger to meet her family in Shandong province.

"I asked for a little over $500 and she talked me down to about $475," he said. "But she will be paying for the flight tickets and hotels."

And that's just the bare minimum. Aside from Zhu's base rate and accommodations, clients can pay for premium extras including:

  • Going shopping costs $10 an hour.
  • The cost of going to the movie together will vary. Aside from paying for the ticket, the client will also pay for the genre they choose. For Zhu, a thriller will be more expensive than a comedy. (This is understandable, as watching SAW can take much more out of a person than something like Teen Witch.)
  • Holding hands and hugging will cost $1 per occurrence. Anything further, such as kissing will have to be negotiated. Sex is not an option.

At the end, all of these extras can add up. The total average price tag of such a rental, the CBC notes, can total a month's salary.While the article focuses only on boyfriend rentals, men may be able to hire girlfriends as well.

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