The Chinese custom of searching for a potential match for their children is common place in many Chinese cities, elderly Chinese can often be seen perusing dating adverts in search of a suitable other half for their successors. But in a "dating corner" in the southwest of Chongqing, the tables have turned, single parents have begun searching for their own soulmate.
Dating corner in the southwest of Chongqing City.
"My wife has been gone for 6 years; my children have grown up and have their own lives. I simply hope to find someone and spend the rest of my life with them." Mrs. Zhao has visited Chongqing's dating corner 6 times, but is still waiting for her knight in shining armour to appear. “Its ok, I'm not desperate” she said smiling, she feels it is enough to spend time with people her own age for a chat.
Chongqing's dating corner is the largest dating market in the city, at the weekend it attracts more than 200 middle-aged singletons. Six noticeboards have been put up with flyers detailing income, house registration and personality traits. Matchmakers are also present to provide help, supplying boards to showcase dating adverts for as little as 30 yuan or £3.
One matchmaker explained that the dating corner served young people on Saturday's and senior citizens on Sunday's. "I usually try to find ideal matches for my children on Saturday's and for myself on Sunday's," she said.
The elderly check personal information for potential matches.
Unlike their youthful counterparts, middle-aged visitors feel much more at ease with the concept of blind dating. Aged 58, Mr. Yang divorced 4 years ago and joined the dating corner last year. "Although I haven't found the one, I have made plenty of friends," Mr. Yang visits the corner every weekend and feels happy to spend time with people of a similar age, "it's just like a party, but for the elderly."
Those in the Autumn of life often prioritize health over other considerations when looking for a partner. A 62-year-old grandpa attempts to woo a 50 year old woman over ten years his junior boasting "I'm 62 and healthy. I own a house and my children live in other provinces. Do you have any interests?" No newcomer to seducing women, his strategy succeeded and he was promised a date next day.
Even if the conversation does not lead to anything serious, it's likely that both parties will become friends eventually. "Some people have been here for years. Although they haven't found their perfect match, they have made many friends." Frequenter Mrs. Wu said one of her friends has discovered many Mahjong partners from the neighbourhood, which is a bonus.
Middle-aged Chinese socializing with each other at the dating corner.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the population of over 60 year old's has reached 230 million, accounting for 16.7% the total population. It is China's ever pressing task to offer places where they can be entertained and socialize. Last year, middle-aged people who spent a whole day in IKEA attending blind dates were sharply criticized on social media. Chinese society is still adjusting to this new shift in dating culture.