Illustration: Xia Qing/GT
I recently bumped into a 2013 news item online which said that Guangdong Province has the most singles in China, followed by Beijing.
What amused me most was the accompanying picture whose caption read "Singles' certificate issued by the Global Singles' Administration Center."
"This certificate proves that Mr or Miss...does not have a wife or husband, lover, boyfriend or girlfriend," read the certificate. It had a space for one's name, age, sex, photo and even a validation date.
I have not come across anything like this anywhere else in the world! It led me to do some more research on the subject.
Beijing has the highest number of single women. According to the ranking, the number of single males is about three times that of females in Henan and Yunnan provinces.
Right now, the number of singles reaching marriageable age has grown to 249 million, about 20 percent of China's total population.
More than the numbers, it's the rising trend that is worth noticing. People are delaying marriage for their career, fast-paced lifestyle, or personal and economic freedom, and China's rising divorce rate does little to help.
In my view, the abundance of choice prevents singles from plunging into matrimony.
A wide array of options gives strength to the consumer when it comes to shopping, food or travel. But the same freedom has a debilitating effect when it comes to decisions that have lifelong consequences.
In the past, parents decided the life partner for their children, and nobody had much of a problem. Now, the onus of finding a relationship that leads to marriage rests on the shoulders of the individual. The consequence of the decision is on them, so it creates anxiety and sometimes bad decisions.
Commitment is scary.
"What if I commit and someone better comes my way later?" is the question asked by many youth.
If someone did a survey of couples married for a few years, I am quite sure the result would be: "We married the wrong person."
When we choose him or her, we can't shift the blame to someone else. For our failures, we tend to believe we did not marry the "right person."
But waiting forever for the "right person" is not the solution.
I always tell my marriage-desperate Chinese friends that Mr or Miss perfect is a myth. There is no "perfect" partner or marriage. There are only good people and good intentions.
Let's say a girl is trying to find a husband. She finds a handsome man, but his brain is empty. She finds a rich one, but he is disrespectful. She finds a serious one, but his ex keeps calling. She finds a hardworking guy, but he has no time for her. She finds a humble guy, but he is broke. She finds a responsible one, but he is not romantic. She finds an educated one, but he thinks he is always right. Isn't finding the perfect husband very hard?
If you keep shopping for a husband or wife, there is a chance that there could be a better bargain, but then who knows.
In searching for your diamond, you may lose a very precious stone.
This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.