Although arranged marriages have fallen out of favour in modern China, the evidence suggests singles are foregoing their newfound freedom.
A national study examining the relationship habits of Chinese men and women found that the root causes of “singleness” include a tendency to stay at home and a lack of money.
The report, awkwardly titled “2014-15 Investigative Report into the Relationship Habits of Chinese Men and Women”, found that 50 percent of Chinese people don’t lead “carefree” single lives. Rather, 47 percent of men and 51 percent of women were choosing to stay home on weekends.
The study also found that China’s unmarried adults are typically less educated and earn less money. A full 53 percent of single Chinese men with a salary below RMB 2,000 claim to stay home instead of going out to meet a potential partner. That ratio rises to 64 percent for Chinese women.
Compounding this problem is the fact that the Chinese character used to describe a person that prefers staying at home is the same word used to describe a “nerd” or “geek”, or as they say in Japan, “okatu”. By itself, 宅 (zhái) means “residence” or “home”, but when used as 宅男 (zháinán), it roughly translates to an obsessive man who would rather play video games or watch anime than go outside.
While the report doesn’t explicitly point a finger at nerds and geeks, reference to the term “宅”, makes it a difficult implication to ignore.
The report offers some interesting insight into the mind of the modern Chinese singleton. Chinese single men prefer a woman who is straight-forward, is willing to do the majority of the house work, and is independent, at least “a little bit”. Chinese single women also prefer a man who is straight-forward, and appreciate someone who likes to exercise and can cook. The single men said that looks aren’t important, while single women said they want a man who has a high salary but can come home and change a baby’s diapers.
Relieved from arranged marriages, it could be that modern Chinese people are using their newfound freedoms as a way to geek out on their computers. However, as being straight-forward is one of the more ubiquitous traits of the classical nerd, perhaps they have a better chance of finding that special someone than they think.