Love in the Time of Consultants

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Which of my castles do you want to live in, snookums?

Ever wanted some professional help for your love life? Someone to teach you how to flirt, whom to date, what to wear, what to talk about on a date, and even whether you were right or wrong to be mad at your boyfriend the other day? OK, maybe not.

But for some single men and women in China, “date doctors” offer precisely the coaching they need. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s my latest Slate story, about the new trend of professional love advisors in Beijing.

Halfway through my meeting with a “love consultant” in Beijing, I realized that if I were single in China, I’d have little chance of landing a “Class A” man. For starters, I’m 31. Worse, I’m college-educated and have a professional career. Unfortunately, someone like me might be considered to be a sheng nü—literally, one of the leftover women.

I was chatting with Xia Li, a love consultant with an online dating company. That morning, one of Xia’s clients had called with a dilemma: She wanted her boyfriend to accompany her when she went to pierce her ears, but his mother disapproved. The client, distraught, fretted that she wasn’t the most important person in her boyfriend’s life.

“Does his mother have different values because she’s not from Beijing?” Xia asked her client. Xia, a trim, confident woman in a stylish suit, continued, “Your boyfriend and his mother have been together for 30 years; you two just six months. Talk to him directly, but don’t make a big deal of it” …

To read the rest, click here.

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