Last summer, I attended the Hangzhou wedding of my good friend Lao Da at the end of May. But it wasn’t until two weeks later — when we met over Dragonwell tea and snacks at a local teahouse — that I learned exactly how he met his new wife.
“We met through a colleague. He happened to be going out to dinner with a group of women who worked at the bank across the street from our office and didn’t want to go alone. So he asked me to come with him.”
“So, it was love at first sight?”
He shook his head. “No. I didn’t actually contact her until a few weeks later.”
“You didn’t have any special feeling for her then?”
“I had some. But later, my colleague said she had mentioned me, and he wondered if maybe we should date. You know me, I am not so outgoing. So I said I would meet her.”
Of course, Lao Da’s how-we-met story remained uniquely his — just like his geek-chic glasses, ocean-blue Chuck Taylors and funky stonewashed jeans. But I couldn’t help but notice that their story came down to the actions of one person: his colleague. He actually introduced them in a sense, and even encouraged them to get together. When I thought about it, Lao Da’s story felt hardly unique at all — but just another example of informal matchmaking in modern China.
I’ve heard so many stories in China like Lao Da’s. My brother-in-law, Cheng, met his wife Wenjuan through a cousin. Pi Yongjun, a close friend from Henan, found his wife through a colleague. My in-laws got together through the work of their parents. Heck, John and I might not have even dated without the help of our friend Caroline, who schemed to get us together.
Of course, this isn’t matchmaking like John’s ancestors used to know it — the old feudal China where older Yente-like go-betweens made their living on knowing everyone in the village, and staking their reputations on brokering good matches for families. Today, marriages in China don’t need a third party interfering to move forward. But if my experience means anything, many people still turn to someone to find their match — even if that someone is just the guy you share an office with at work.
My question is, how have you experienced informal matchmaking in China? Have your friends ever tried setting you up? Have you set someone up? What do you think of this?