These may be more enlightened times, but single mothers-particularly those with boys-still face a struggle finding a new partner in China, an online dating agency has found.
A survey of more than 10,000 divorcees registered with online matchmaking service provider Jiayuan found that 35 percent of men would not consider dating someone with a child, while 25 percent said they would reject any woman with a son.
For women seeking men, the proportion was 27 percent and almost 13 percent respectively, according to the survey conducted in late February and released over the weekend.
Many respondents, who ranged in age from 25 to 50, said they did not want to be a stepparent to a boy because Chinese families are traditionally expected to provide an apartment for a son before he can get married, which is an economic burden.
“The soaring housing prices in recent years have seen more disputes over property inheritance,” said Chen Fengmei, a retired teacher from Shanghai who has been an informal matchmaker for nine years. “For the middle-aged who remarry, the son of a future spouse may ask for a bigger share of the inheritance.”
She said that in her experience, men will refuse a potential spouse with a son from a previous marriage unless the woman is wealthy.
Twenty-seven percent of male respondents said they feared they would not be accepted by the child, which in the long run would ruin the relationship between the pair.
Chen gave an example: A woman with a teenage son tied the knot with a man five years ago. The man treated the teen as his biological child, but the boy of ten shouted at him, saying: “Why do you have the right to educate me? You are not my father.”
“The couple's relationship deteriorated and they broke up,” Chen said. “Generally, girls are more gentle and will start fewer fights with their stepfathers, for their mothers' sake.”
Zhang Jiarui, a marriage and dating consultant with Jiayuan, said the male authority concept also played its role.
“In a patriarchal society, it's hard for most men to get along with another person's son when it comes to inheritance issues,” she said.
A Shanghai resident, who wanted to be identified as Joyce, divorced her husband in 2013 at the age of 36. She retained custody of their son. She has met a handful of men on blind dates, but most of them disappeared after learning she has a child.
“Maybe the solution is that I should look for divorced men with a boy so it'll be fair to both of us,” she said. “The resources we give to the two boys can be even.”
Wang Hui, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Family Research Center, said such prejudice may cause women in difficult relationships to dodge divorce.
“Some may even give up fighting for custody of a child,” she said.