Here’s the story of a guy who was dumped by a potential leftover woman.
I’ve long been a spectator of my Chinese friend Guy’s love life. Last fall, I blogged about his biggest romantic decision, when he left his long-term girlfriend because he couldn’t marry her. On paper, it seemed perfect. It’d been young love, their parents got along, she had a well-paying job with good prospects, and he had just returned from abroad with a Master’s and a new job. They lived together in his family’s second apartment, and marriage seemed inevitable. But off paper, there was nothing between them but tolerance and obligation. So he broke it off. Not yet thirty, he wanted something more than duty… the sappy guy was looking for love.
Fast forward seven months, and he’s been dumped by his new girlfriend for so-called lack of financial viability. So much for romance.
Initially, this new girlfriend blew his mind.
They’d been introduced by their parents, who were old family friends; growing up, he’d always been aware of her. He knew she was pretty and petite, that she’d been studying abroad, that she was doing well for herself at a fancy job. She played the violin and rode horses, smoke and drank so didn’t judge him for doing so, and enjoyed staying out with him till late hours talking about things that made him smile. Maybe they would marry, he thought. One day. Not now.
But then came the first question, and she wasn’t joking around.
“By when do you think you can prepare an apartment in the city center?” she asked.
He was flummoxed. She was asking about their future home… but didn’t she know his family already had a second apartment?
An icy stare from her. “You lived there with your ex-girlfriend. How can you expect me to live there too.”
Oh. A reasonable demand, he thought. Completely understandable. He should have thought of that. Perhaps his family could sell that apartment and purchase another one in which he could start a new life with her.
“That apartment is too far from the city center anyway,” she continued. “We will need to live in the city center, near my parents.”
What! There was no way he and his family could afford a place near her parents, or any place so central, even if they sold the second apartment. How about somewhere just a few metro stops from the center? Xinzhuang? he asked.
“Now you’re bargaining with me? I need an apartment right in the center.”
Dammit. Well, maybe it would be possible. They could live somewhere else first, and then if they both worked hard and saved money, in a few years they could buy a place downtown…
“It’s the man’s job to prepare the apartment before marriage. How many years do you need?”
At least… three.
“That’s too long. I can’t wait.”
But I’m only 27! I can’t afford an apartment now! I’ve just started my career! We’ve been dating four months!
“I can’t wait.”
And that was that. End of relationship. Very practical.
“I don’t blame her,” he told me yesterday. “I don’t hate her for it. It’s the culture she’s from. The girls in her social circle are demanding the same things from their boyfriends, of course she will act the same too. She’s very shengnu.”
Until recently, I thought the basic requirements of these women were perfectly reasonable: a man with a nice home and a good career, is that too much to ask of a husband? Women have every right to be picky, I thought.
But then Guy gets dumped, and he’s far from a penniless loser. He’s young, he’s starting his career, he’s hardworking, and his family is relatively well-off, but apparently that’s no good if you can’t have it all — home, car, a million bucks — right now. And then I think, good riddance, leftover women, for demanding so much, so soon.
To be fair, he just met the wrong girl. There ARE those who accept less, even a “naked marriage,” like this couple who married without much to their names and instead worked together for a good life. Excerpts from that CNNGo article:
When they got married, both Han and Feng were just entering the work force and learning to be self-reliant. Unwilling to borrow money from their parents to buy an apartment, as many newlyweds do, the couple rented an old studio apartment in Hongkou, in northern part of Shanghai.
After two years in their studio, Feng and her husband were able to afford to rent a two-bedroom condo. And in 2008, the couple finally bought and moved into a new apartment they could truly call “home.”
Looking back on the past nine years makes the couple somewhat sentimental.
Thanks to the “naked” marriage, life was much simpler.
Unlike other couples, their relationship was spared the strain of having to discuss sensitive and potentially contentious matters relating to the wedding such as the dowry, gifts, venue rental costs and whose family should pay what. With man and wife both sharing the burden of starting a new life together, the relationship got an added dimension of equality.
Maybe this article will make Guy feel better about himself (right now he’s in a sorry state of self-doubt). One day, he’ll hopefully find someone who loves him and is willing to collaborate instead of demand. Who knows where she is or where she’s from — over drinks last night, he declared he’s now on the lookout for a nice foreign girl. Anyone interested?
Update: Apparently the great Speaking of China was musing about this issue at the same time! Read Jocelyn’s Marriage in China is Home, Car, Money?
Update 2: Guy would like to clarify that every girl should be provided a solid material base for a marriage. Love is fine and dandy, but it needs stability. The thing that shocked him was, “I never thought I would be dumped for financial reasons.” He has an apartment, he has a car, he has a job — they’re just not good enough, for this particular girl who isn’t exactly a millionaire herself. Ceh.