Spring Festival is fast approaching, and for China’s younger generation, that often means returning home to an extended family that’s ready to spend a full two weeks badgering you about when you’re going to get married and, if you’re not already seeing someone, trying to set you up on blind dates. It’s such a drag, in fact, that some people have turned to renting fake significant others to keep their families off their back for the holidays. And where do you go to rent a fake boyfriend or girlfriend? Taobao, of course! It just goes to show, you really can find anything on Taobao.
Pricing can vary widely depending on who you’re buying and what you want them to do. If you’d like this guy to come home with you for the holidays, for example, it’s going to cost you 800 RMB ($126) per day, although you can get 10% off if your hometown is in the southern part of the country. During that time, he writes, he’s willing to do all kinds of things, like helping you carry stuff, chatting with your parents, and even (depending on the circumstances) washing your parents’ feet. Drinking with the family costs extra, and don’t expect any hanky-panky beyond handholding, because it’s strictly off limits.
We contacted Taobao parent company Alibaba, but the company declined to comment publicly about whether or not this practice is permitted under Taobao policy.
In practice, it certainly seems as though it’s permitted, because finding rental boyfriends to take home on the site is quite easy. Rental girlfriends seem to be a bit more scarce (though there are still some available), and searches for “rent girlfriend” result in a “in accordance with the relevant laws, search results cannot be shown” error message, although many other similar searches still work.
With the Spring Festival holiday fast approaching, most people inclined to take advantage of this sort of service have likely already booked a significant other. But those of you interested in renting yourselves out now have a full year to prepare your Taobao page for next year. And how long can it be before a Chinese startup comes along to offer a dedicated platform for renting boyfriends and girlfriends? (Of course, there are plenty of traditional dating options like Jiayuan and Momo in China, too).