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World Single women in China flock to find 'virtual boyfriends' after choosing their career over a real relationship

23:40  06 december  2019
23:40  06 december  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Career -driven single women in China have swarmed to hire online ' virtual boyfriends ' such as Xu (pictured) after deciding to put off finding a real -life partner and Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao.

Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

a man using a laptop: Xu is seen talking to a girlfriend on his phone while playing a game in his room in Beijing © Provided by Daily Mail Xu is seen talking to a girlfriend on his phone while playing a game in his room in Beijing

Single women in China have swarmed to hire online 'virtual boyfriends' after deciding to prioritise their career over a real-life relationship.

The bizarre trend sees many female internet users who are successful at work seeking romantic chatting partners to fill their lonely hearts. 

These aren't seedy sex-chat lines but men who charge for friendly and flirty online communication, from wake-up calls to lengthy text exchanges and video conversations. 

The phenomenon sprouted early last year when a video game designed to provide young women with perfect, fictional relationships took the country by storm. 

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Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

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a person standing in front of a mirror: Career-driven single women in China have swarmed to hire online 'virtual boyfriends' such as Xu (pictured) after deciding to put off finding a real-life partner and eventually starting a family © Provided by Daily Mail Career-driven single women in China have swarmed to hire online 'virtual boyfriends' such as Xu (pictured) after deciding to put off finding a real-life partner and eventually starting a family

The option for intimacy on-demand has gained popularity among China's middle-income young women, who are often focused on careers with no immediate plans to marry and start a family. 

Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. 

Several virtual boyfriends said that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income.

By day, 22-year-old Xu Zhuansun is a foreign exchange trader in Beijing. By night, he chats with female clients who pay him to be their 'boyfriend', something he has done for the past year.

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Single Chinese women are paying ' virtual boyfriends ' to keep them company online – from wake-up texts, video Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with As their economic situation improves, fewer women are choosing to get married.

Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

a man using a laptop: Xu is seen talking to a girlfriend on his phone while playing a game in his room in Beijing © Provided by Daily Mail Xu is seen talking to a girlfriend on his phone while playing a game in his room in Beijing a man wearing glasses: Several virtual boyfriends like Xu (pictured) said that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. The trend has been spotted across China © Provided by Daily Mail Several virtual boyfriends like Xu (pictured) said that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. The trend has been spotted across China

Girls come to Xu with different needs - some want friendly advice, while others have more romantic requests.

'While we're interacting, I tell myself: I really am her boyfriend, so how can I treat her well?' he told AFP.

'But after we're done, I'll stop thinking this way.'

Teen Robin spends hours online chatting to her man, who always has a sympathetic ear for her problems - as long as she's willing to pay him.

The 19-year-old pre-medical student has spent more than 1,000 yuan ($AU207) speaking to multiple 'virtual boyfriends'.

'If someone is willing to keep me company and chat, I'm pretty willing to spend money,' said Robin, who didn't want to give her real name.

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Single Chinese women are paying ' virtual boyfriends ' to keep them company online – from wake-up texts, video Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with As their economic situation improves, fewer women are choosing to get married.

Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

Prices for an online Mr Right start from a few yuan ($AU0.41) for half an hour of texting, to a few thousand yuan ($AU416) to keep a companion on retainer for phone calls throughout a month.

'People have figured out how to commodify affection,' said Chris K.K. Tan, an associate professor at Nanjing University who has researched the phenomenon.

'This is a new mode of womanhood that is unprecedented in China,' Tan said.

Pursuing romance had not been available to many Chinese women in the past.

a man sitting in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Prices for an online Mr Right start from a few yuan for half an hour of texting, to a few thousand yuan to keep a companion on retainer for phone calls throughout a month © Provided by Daily Mail Prices for an online Mr Right start from a few yuan for half an hour of texting, to a few thousand yuan to keep a companion on retainer for phone calls throughout a month

Sandy To, a sociologist at the University of Hong Kong, said marriage had traditionally been a 'must' in patriarchal Chinese society.

But Tan says that the one-child policy - which came into force in 1979 and limited the size of most families - has created 'a generation of self-confident and resourceful women.'

A preference for boys meant a generation of sex-selective abortions and abandoned baby girls, and in 2018, China still had the world's most skewed gender ratio at 114 boys born for every 100 girls.

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Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

For many women, the policy changed their family dynamics.

Parents of the female children 'raised them as sons', says Roseann Lake, author of a book on China's unmarried women.

'All of those things that traditionally you needed to find in a man - a house, financial security - they were raised with it,' she says.

Girls come to Xu (pictured) with different needs - some want friendly advice, while others have more romantic requests. But his services are distinctively different from seedy sex-chat lines © Provided by Daily Mail Girls come to Xu (pictured) with different needs - some want friendly advice, while others have more romantic requests. But his services are distinctively different from seedy sex-chat lines

Lisa, a 28-year-old executive in Shanghai, has hired virtual boyfriends to act out romantic scenarios through text messaging.

'Of course, there were feelings of love, in letting myself feel like I was being loved,' she said, preferring not to use her real name.

'Because I was just buying a service, I don't feel any guilt towards real people.'

In the World Economic Forum's 2018 global gender gap report, China ranks 103 out of 149 countries on the overall disparity between men and women.

However, that climbs to 86 when ranked solely for economic participation and opportunity.

As their economic situation improves, fewer women are choosing to get married.

Seriously popular: Last year, female Chinese gamers, mostly in their 20s, splurged a whopping £2.3 million in a single month on mobile game, Love and Producer. The game allowed them to start 'relationships' with four characters designed to represent four types of 'perfect men' © Provided by Daily Mail Seriously popular: Last year, female Chinese gamers, mostly in their 20s, splurged a whopping £2.3 million in a single month on mobile game, Love and Producer. The game allowed them to start 'relationships' with four characters designed to represent four types of 'perfect men' a woman drinking a glass of wine: Young women face extremely high pressure to date and marry 'successful' men in China © Provided by Daily Mail Young women face extremely high pressure to date and marry 'successful' men in China

China's marriage rate - the number of marriages per year - has been in decline over the last five years. Last year it reached 7.2 per 1,000 people, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

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Shops selling virtual friends and partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Several virtual boyfriends told AFP that most of their customers are single women in their twenties with disposable income. By day, 22-year-old Zhuansun Xu is a

Didn't really find another career , just a long series of not-much-better than entry level jobs wherever his career took us. I regret willingly giving up my financial independence for the relationship I sort of am choosing my career at the moment because I’m just getting started, so my SO and I are long

Once their basic needs are guaranteed, more women are looking to satisfy their need for 'emotional and self-fulfilment,' says Lake.

Although they are materially better off, the lives of many young urban women are 'isolating', says Tan.

Most have spent their teenage years studying for the country's rigorous university entrance exams, at the cost of developing relationships outside of school.

Buying virtual boyfriends 'is their chance to experiment with love and relationships,' he says.

For Robin and Lisa, virtual companions are appealing because the relationship was convenient.

'If I have serious psychological stress, this could make some people think I'm being fussy,' said Robin.

'But because I'm giving (the virtual companions) money, they have to reassure me.'

Pictures: Cool things you can do for virtual 


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