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December 10, 2012

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Older singles mingle at first such event in city

JIANG Liuxing, 76, politely chatted with each female participant he met yesterday at the city's first large matchmaking event for middle-aged and senior people.

But like many older singles, Jiang said it isn't easy to find the right match.

The day-long event in Xuhui District attracted some 300 women and 250 men, the majority divorced or widowed and aged between 45 and 65. A few were in their 70s and 80s.

The activities at the event at the Shanghai Matchmakers Association offices on Tianping Road included speed dating, ballroom dancing, talent performances, games and psychological counseling.

Jiang, a former middle school biology teacher whose wife died about 10 years ago, is seeking a woman about 70 years old.

"I have four requirements - good moral quality, compatibility characteristics like a mild temper, ownership of an apartment and good education, and I don't lower my expectation," he said.

Jiang lives alone in his own apartment in Yangpu District. He required that his match have an apartment for fear of inheritance disputes. He has a son.

An 82-year-old man surnamed Yan was the oldest participant. He came alone and, in search of love, walked the stairs from the first to the fourth floor of the building where the activities were held.

"I have seen several women who attracted me, but I was too shy to talk to them because of my age," said Yan, a former public servant who lives alone since his wife died three years ago. He said he hoped to find a partner in her 60s to live together the rest of his life and to have a person to talk to. Yan said he had two prospects but found neither suitable.

The first one hoped Yan could provide some financial assistance because her son had little income, while the second woman was very religious while Yan has no religious belief.

At least 1,000 women apply

Organizers said more women than men attended the event.

At least 1,000 women applied, but the number was limited to ensure an almost equal split of gender. While there was a 100 yuan (US$16) admission fee, organizers said they let some men in without paying when they balked at the fee.

Some female participants tended to ask very direct questions related to finances as they hoped to find a partner to raise children together, which scares some men away, said Zhou Juemin, director of the association.

"In terms of matchmaking and marriage, the situation of middle-aged and senior people is more complicated compared with young people as they are confronted with a series of problems like property rights, apartment ownership, opposition from children and wounds from previous failed marriages," said Ouyang Yangguang, a marriage counselor.

Zhou said many participants came without telling their children for fear that they would be opposed.


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