Cheap date

Been reading today about a growing trend for twenty-somethings who are fed up with being set up. Parents and friends can be well meaning, but sometimes their efforts ‘on your behalf’ may leave you wanting to pull out your own eyes and emigrate.  (‘Ooooh – is that the door? Billy-bob – what a surprise! Have you met my single daughter, Mary-ann?  I’ll just pop some Barry White on the stereo and you two can get to know each other…’)

I’m exaggerating (slightly).  But  if you’re unhappily single, I’m guessing that the last thing you need are parents and friends trying to match you to everything with a pulse.

It seems that a generation of young Chinese singles agree. At Chinese New Year many anxious parents go into overdrive – but their kids are outfoxing them by hiring fake partners to take home for the parties and silence the gossip.Online agencies hire out ‘boyfriends’ for between £50-£70 a day – with optional extras such as doing chores, drinking with the ‘in-laws’ and Trivial Pursuit.

The phenomenon, reported in today’s Guardian, has been attributed to a clash between old and new values.  Huge value is placed on honouring one’s parents and there is still an expectation that women marry young.  However, increasing materialism, longer working hours and the pressures of modern life  all get in the way. Rent-a-man is a neat decoy that keeps both parties happy – and deflects any questions. The only difficulty is if your parents like them too much – and refuse to let them go.

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