为什么数百万中国“剩男”找不到老婆?

编辑:给力英语新闻 更新:2017年11月14日 作者:罗布·布登(Rob Budden)

在中国,30岁以上的未婚男性被称作 "剩男",指的是还没有找到妻子的"剩下的男士"——而在一个性别越发失衡的国家里,这已经成为一大问题。

作为独生子女政策的遗物,中国男性人数较女性多出数百万人。尽管这项政策在2015年取消,但由此产生的影响仍会持续几十年之久。性别失衡导致很多男性难以找到伴侣——这种失衡状态有可能进一步扩大。到2020年,中国适婚男性人数将较女性高出3,000万。美国政治经济学家,尼古拉斯·艾伯斯塔德(Nicholas Eberstadt)在他的《人口的未来》(The Demographic Future)一书中预测,到2030年,30多岁的中国男性将有超过四分之一未婚。

由于女性人数远低于男性,为了寻找合适的伴侣——并赶在其他人之前赢得女性的芳心——一些男性已经使出浑身解术寻找妻子。他们花费巨额资金,而且使用了许多新颖的求偶方式,但有时候仍然无法成功。

中国人口
中国适婚男性人数已经远超女性,而且性别失衡仍在扩大(图片来源:Getty Images)

99部iPhone求婚遭拒

据媒体报道,有一位40岁的中国商人在2015年起诉一家上海婚介机构未能帮助其找到妻子,但他之前已经向该机构支付了700万元人民币。

在另外一起事件中,一位广州程序员买了99部iPhone向自己的女友求婚。不幸的是,他却遭到对方拒绝。由于现场照片在社交媒体上广泛传播,进一步加剧了他的屈辱感。

之所以出现这种现象,部分原因在于,传统和现代的相亲方式未必总能奏效。春节一直以来都是单身人士相亲的重要机会。春节通常在1月末和2月中旬之间,多数人都会在春节期间走亲访友,为单身人士提供了很多与潜在配偶见面的机会。

春节
结婚压力在春节期间尤为明显(图片来源:Getty Images)

但这种传统的相亲方式已经让位给现代化的新模式。与其他地方一样,网上相亲在中国发展迅猛,而微信等聊天应用也逐步成为人们彼此相识的流行方式。

"最近几年,中国的约会越来越开放,越来越向西方国家的方式靠拢。"李君(Jun Li,音译)说,"年轻一代拥有更多选择,他们会追随内心感觉,而不是听从父母之命。"

颠覆传统

来自苏州的李君现在20多岁,仍然单身。她注意到,越来越多的单身男性"组织到一起",租用公共娱乐场所举行相亲活动。

其他男性则向心理学家和造型师求助,希望提升自己的吸引力。为了避免遭到父母的"逼婚",有的人甚至使用"来租我吧"这样的手机应用雇佣假女友蒙蔽自己的父母。据媒体报道,租一个假女朋友一天的费用最高可达1万元人民币(1,450美元)。

闪电约会餐饮活动
现代化约会方式为中国女性提供了更多选择。照片中就是一场闪电约会餐饮活动(图片来源:Alamy)

在较为贫穷的农村地区,找对象的问题最为突出,而支付订婚礼金的传统则令问题愈加严重。

30多岁的杨红(Hong Yang,音译)已经结婚,她认为这属于中国"丈母娘经济"的一部分。"如果男人想要结婚,未来的丈母娘就会要求他先买套房子再谈下一步。这也是最近几年房价大幅上涨的原因之一。"她说。

但男性背负的这种财务负担也导致很多女性难以找到对象。大量男性选择晚婚导致这一问题进一步加剧,部分原因在于结婚的财务负担过重。而当他们想要成家时,往往希望找一个比自己年轻的女士。在中国,夫妻年龄差距在10至20岁,甚至更大,已经成为一种越发普遍的现象。

"一旦到了32岁,女性就很难找到合适的男性。"杨红说,"很多符合条件的中国男性都会跟年轻漂亮的女性结婚。"专家表示,女性往往渴望财务稳定,而能够提供稳定财务状况的男性往往年龄较大。

相亲活动
李君表示,参加相亲活动的男性越来越多(图片来源:Getty Images)

当然,反之亦然。30多岁的希瑟·马(Heather Ma)已经结婚,现居上海。她表示,受过良好教育且财务独立的单身女性被称作"剩女"。

父母施压

39岁的苏州已婚人士罗格·周(Roger Zhou)表示,父母是中国人找对象的一大压力来源,而且始终挥之不去。

"父母认为,他们有责任帮助成年后的子女组建家庭。"他说,"所以他们会强迫子女找对象、约会,然后准备结婚。"

这便产生了另外一个问题。父母总是干涉子女的婚姻大事。

"父母经常安排子女跟陌生人相亲。"32岁的单身人士梅琳达·胡(Melinda Hu)说,"如果子女没有结婚,父母就会面临社会的批评,所以女孩的父母往往会让他们的女儿跟陌生人相亲,并在30岁之前结婚。"

征婚广告
父母在上海的相亲角上帮子女物色对象(图片来源:Alamy)

此外还有户外相亲角。在中国的一线城市上海,相亲角里有很多父母为单身子女张贴的手写广告,详细介绍了他们的收入、教育和性格。有的父母每周都会去相亲角,但坚持多年之后却仍然一无所获。

相亲和求爱方式的变化使得人们更加看重爱情,而不是财务安全等物质因素。

例如,李君表示,她并不急于结婚,而是希望等待那个值得自己付出真心的男人出现。

跟世界其他地方一样,普遍的爱情规律在中国仍然适用。

Why millions of Chinese men are staying single

In China, there is a name for unmarried men over 30. Shengnan, meaning “leftover men” have yet to find a wife – and in a country with a growing gender gap, that’s a big problem.

By 2020, it’s estimated there will be 30 million more men than women looking for a partner

China has many millions more men than women, a hangover of the country's one-child policy, which was overturned in 2015, though its effects will last decades more. The gender imbalance is making it hard for many men to find a partner – and the gap is likely to widen. By 2020, it’s estimated there will be 30 million more men than women looking for a partner. In his book, The Demographic Future, American political economist Nicholas Eberstadt cites projections that by 2030, more than a quarter of Chinese men in their 30s will not have married.

Now, with far fewer women than men, the race to find a suitable partner—and win her over before someone else does—has led some men to go to great lengths to find a wife. They’re spending vast sums on creative, sometimes unsuccessful, measures to win a woman over.

Ninety-nine iPhones—and a no

In 2015, a Chinese businessman in his 40s reportedly sued a Shanghai-based introductions agency for failing to find him a wife, having paid the company 7 million yuan ($1m) to conduct an extensive search.

In another case, a computer programmer from the southern city of Guangzhou bought 99 iPhones as part of an elaborate marriage proposal to his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he was turned down, with his humiliation exacerbated as photos of the event were widely shared across social media.

Young generations have more choice and they are following their hearts rather than parents

Part of the problem is that the old – and new – ways of meeting people are not always working. Chinese New Year has long been an opportunity for single people to meet a partner.  Most people visit the houses of family and friends during the festival, which occurs between late January and mid-February, so singletons have many chances to meet potential partners.

But that longstanding tradition of meeting a potential partner has given way to modernity. Online dating is growing fast in China, as elsewhere, and messaging apps such as WeChat are increasingly popular ways of getting to know people.  

“China dating is becoming more and more open and more and more familiar with the ways of Western countries in recent years,” says Jun Li. “Young generations have more choice and they are following their hearts rather than parents.”

Upending tradition

The myriad ways to connect coupled with the female majority have upended the way people meet and court in China.

Hiring a girlfriend can cost up to 10,000 yuan ($1,450) a day

Jun Li, from Suzhou in Jiangsu province, in China’s east central coast, is single and in her 20s. She has noticed growing numbers of men on the singles scene “organising as teams” and hiring public entertainment venues for dating events.

Other men are turning to psychologists and stylists to make themselves more appealing. And to avoid prying questions from inquisitive parents, some are even resorting to hiring “fake” girlfriends to present to their parents using apps such as Hire Me Plz. . Reports suggest hiring a girlfriend can cost up to 10,000 yuan ($1,450) a day.

The problems for men in finding a partner are most acute in poorer rural areas, made worse by long-held traditions that the husband must be able to offer a decent level of financial security before he can secure a wife.

Hong Yang, who is now married and in her 30s, describes this as China's “mother-in-law economics”. “If men want to get married, the future mother-in-law will request that he first buys a house before discussing the next step. It's one reason why house prices have been so strong in recent years,” she says.

Age gaps of 10 to 20 years or more are common in Chinese marriages

But this financial burden on men is also making it harder for many women to find a partner. That adds to the issue, with large numbers of men, partly because of the financial costs of marriage, are opting to marry later. And when they do settle down they are often looking for younger women. Age gaps of 10 to 20 years or more are common in Chinese marriages.

"It's hard for women to find suitable men after they reach 32 years [old],” says Hong Yang. “Many eligible Chinese men want to marry younger and pretty girls.” Women, in turn, look for financial stability, which leans toward older men, experts say.

Of course, the reverse can also be true. Well-educated and financially independent women who remain single are called “unwanted girls”, says Heather Ma, who is married, in her 30s and living in Shanghai.

The parent trap

Parents are a big source of pressure to find a partner, pronto. And they’re ever-present, says Roger Zhou, 39, who is now married and lives in Suzhou.

“Parents think they are responsible to help their adult child start a family,” he says. “So they pressure their child to find a partner, go dating and to prepare for a wedding”.

Parents face big social criticism if their daughter or son does not get married

That’s led to another problem. Parents getting involved—really involved.

"The blind date, which is arranged by parents, is still very popular,” says Melinda Hu, who is 32 and single. “Parents face big social criticism if their daughter or son does not get married so normally a girl’s parents are eager to let their daughter go on a blind date and get married before reaching 30.”

Then there are the outdoor marriage markets. At one of the country's largest in Shanghai, the “matchmaking corner” is inundated by parents who post hand-written adverts for their single children with details such as the income, education and personality. Some parents have been known to visit the market every week for years with no success.

 The shift in how people meet and how men woo partners, is, above all, putting a greater emphasis on love rather than on practical considerations such as financial security.

Jun Li, for instance, says she is in no rush to get married preferring to wait for the man who is worth her “heart and soul”.

In China, just like the rest of the world, the universal rules of romance still apply.

The ripple of ‘one-child'

The growing social problem of ‘leftover men’ is largely a result of China's one-child policy, overturned in 2015. For decades, the policy restricted couples to having only one child. A long history of preference for sons led to large numbers of girls being abandoned, placed in orphanages, sex-selective abortions or even cases of female infanticide.