Next to Tiananmen Square, right in the heart of the capital, you will find Zhongshan Park. At first glance, it looks like any other park. But on further examination, you will see something unique- a marriage market (相亲角xiāngqīn jiǎo).
The marriage market is a special area for marriage advertisements.
These advertisements consist of printed candidate descriptions laid out along the sidewalk. Parents use these ads to find suitable spouses for their adult children.
And marriage markets are in high demand in China.
What's on the marriage ad?
A standard advertisement includes your age, education background, salary, and city. A caring parent would also mention their child's Chinese zodiac sign, in order to find the best possible match. And last but not least, the requirements for their potential spouse are also on the list. Unfortunately, you won’t find pictures on most of the ads.
Marriage markets also raise an interesting question about privacy and consent? Do young adults actually give their parents consent to advertise them for marriage? The odd answer is yes. The existence of marriage markets also points to the fact that young adults are not willing to interact with strangers- even for the purpose of finding a significant other. Yet, despite their parents greatest efforts, the odds of the marriage market matches actually going out on a date are very low.
The Offline Version of Tinder
So, why even bother? For young adults looking for a partner, careers tend to get in the way. Online apps, like Tinder or Tantan (the Chinese swipe-to-match dating app) aren't exactly for finding Mr & Mrs. Right.
The marriage market, in essence, helps unmarried young people find a lasting partner without the stress. Instead, it's their parents who search through the "sidewalk database."
Whether their parents are successful or not, it at least relieves some of their worries.