matchmaker market

Springtime is upon us and love is in the air, especially alongside West Beijing Road where an open-air matchmaker market has sprung up.


Hopefuls compile short biographies about themselves (date of birth, job, height, etc.) and a list of what they’re looking for in a mate. Then the info is printed onto signs, pink for women and blue for men, and hung like laundry out to dry. Find someone you like? Leave your phone number on the placard.

Interestingly enough, most of the attendees to the markets are parents with thick journals, copying down phone numbers and bios for their daughters and sons. A friend even suggested to me that many of the bios are actually written by parents—which explains why some of them require a potential mate to be respectful to their own parents. Who wants a daughter- or son-in-law that isnt’?


About 90% of the female signs say that they want a mate who has his own apartment or house. Unfortunately, Nanjing is pretty notorious for expensive apartments, leading to a lack of individuals who actually own one. The apartment system is pretty interesting; people don’t really rent apartments, instead they buy them. But you don’t really ‘own’ the apartment after you buy it, so you can’t leave it to your children in a will. This is done—supposedly–because of the high population in China; everyone gets a fair chance at an apartment instead of them being left in one family through generations.

The male signs with the most phone numbers—like this one below—are written by men who have their own living accommodations and work for the government, earning a nice steady paycheck.


This sign says that he’s looking for someone who was born in the year of the rabbit, but tigers are okay too.


Another good way to get phone numbers is to be a lone foreign girl, presumably perusing the signs looking for love.

Woman: Hey! Hey, what are you looking for?
Me: What?
Woman: What kind of man are you looking for?
Me: Er, no, I have a boyfriend, he’s standing over there–
Woman: Then do you have a cousin? Or a sister in Nanjing?
Me: I… need to go…


Have another intriguing discussion said behind my back at the matchmaker market:

Man: Hey, why do foreign girls have such a nice curvy-cut figure?
Another man: Don’t you know? It’s because their diet is different from Chinese girls. The foreigners eat raw beef.

I don’t eat raw beef, just for the record.


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