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November 10, 2013

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Older singles in search of love

White-haired 65-year-old Ma Ruifu politely introduced himself to women at Shanghai’s largest matchmaking party event yesterday, handing out his name card with a smile.

“I’m looking for a woman with a kind heart and a good understanding of life, who can provide spiritual comfort so we can support each other for the rest of our lives,” Ma said.

But it is not an easy job, Ma said. He divorced several years ago and lives alone in a traditional Shanghai shikumen building in Hongkou District. Such a building is normally shared by many households.

Ma talked with some women at the event, but most wanted to meet a man who has his own self-contained apartment.

“A woman I talked with just now said an apartment is a prerequisite,” Ma said with a shrug. His name card reads, “looking for a life partner” with his name and cell phone number attached. He gave one to the reporter and asked to be introduced to someone suitable.

Age range extended

Ma is among the several thousand middle-aged and senior singles who joined younger participants in the search for the perfect partner at the Fourth Shanghai Matchmaking Expo after the age range was extended.

Some 4,000 singles aged between 40 and 65 had been expected to attend, accounting for a quarter of participants, organizers said earlier.

At the previous three Shanghai Matchmaking Expo gatherings, only singles under 45 were permitted, and most were younger than 35.

More than 20,000 singles had applied to attend the event as of November 5, the most in the event’s history, according to Zhou Juemin, director of the city’s matchmaking association.

This featured 47 percent men and 53 percent women.

A widower surnamed Chen in his 50s said loneliness was a factor in his attending.

“I’ve felt lonely since my wife died eight years ago,” Chen said.

Chen was busy exchanging details with female participants and registering information at Yinfa (which means white-haired in Chinese) Matchmaking Agency at the event.

But he admitted he had not told his daughter he was there. He thought she might not approve, fearing financial complications over the apartment Chen owns.

With her dyed blonde hair and delicate make-up, black fishnet stockings and a bling bling hat, 56-year-old Xu Aipin looked more trendy than some of the youngsters. She divorced several years ago and came to the event with friends from Xuhui District.

“I’ve just come here to have a look without any big expectations. But I hope my Mr Right will have an apartment and be good-tempered,” she said.

Eighty-four-year-old Xu Junwen accompanied his two daughters, aged 59 and 51, at the event. One is divorced and the other widowed.

“I want to check the men they talk with,” Xu said.

Xu said one of his daughters, was very choosy.

“She knows it is not easy, but she won’t lower her requirements,” Xu said, as his daughters chatted with male participants.

The area specially designated for middle-aged and senior singles was packed, though some people complained that it was difficult to spot.

“We have registered about 200 to 300 middle-aged and senior singles in the morning for a follow-up service,” said staff worker Mou Youmei.

“Most have well-defined requirements, particularly financially — such as having an apartment,” added Mou.

Seniors have extra concerns when seeking a second marriage, usually taking the opinions of their offspring into consideration, Mou added.

The annual matchmaking event runs until tomorrow — China’s “Singles Day.”


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