Males working in China’s IT industry grow more attractive as ideal romantic partners

By Zhang Yihua Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/16 18:23:39

Deemed more trustworthy and family-oriented, men who work in China's information technology industry rise in status as ideal partners among Chinese women. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Deemed more trustworthy and family-oriented, men who work in China's information technology industry rise in status as ideal partners among Chinese women. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Curled up on her sofa, Sophie Qi, a 28-year-old HR manager, could not turn her gaze away from the TV. The Japanese drama We Married as Job had her hanging on every word and movement.

The show's greatest appeal for her is its hero named Hiramasa Tsuzaki, a 36-year-old single man who works in the information technology (IT) industry.

"If only I could have an IT man just like him as my boyfriend," she said wistfully.

The term IT men refers to male professionals working in China's IT industry who spend most of their time dealing with computers or other digital gadgets. They are often depicted as boring, stiff and not good at face-to-face communication with people, especially women, which makes it hard for a lot of them to find a girlfriend.

According to a November 2012 report on news portal, there is a high degree of probability that men working in the IT industry will remain single. Apart from the pervasive stereotypes of them, a lack of female employees in the industry is another cause for their romantic predicament, as they hardly have any chance meeting a partner on or off the job.

However, recently, like Tsuzaki in the drama, IT men seem to have risen in status. They are growing increasingly popular, as a greater number of women are beginning to realize their strengths and consider them ideal romantic partners. Experts say, their growing popularity reflects women's changing perception of what an ideal romantic partner should be.

Sence of security

Qi does not have any male friends who work in the IT industry; neither has she ever dated one before. She learned about them from watching the Japanese drama and searching online. She found that they often work overtime, and many of them work from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week or the 996 schedule.

"They barely have any time to hang out, which means they are less likely to meet a lot of women," she said. "So, wouldn't their girlfriend feel very secure?"

For Qi, this kind of scenario is a plus. She conceded that if she got married to a man whose work involved constantly dealing with female customers or cooperating with female colleagues, she might be anxious and worried, especially as she gets older.

Julie Liu, a 32-year-old employee at a State-owned enterprise, agreed. She said a sense of security was the main reason she married her husband, who has been working in the IT industry for over seven years.

Liu met her husband five years ago when he was 28. "He never dated anyone before me, because he had no idea as to how to chase after girls," she said.

She said initially, her husband's lack of experience with women would sometimes put a strain on the relationship because he had trouble picking up on subtle social cues, but they got past it with time.

"For example, it often took him quite a long time to realize that he had said something that made me mad," she said. "[And when this happens] he would not know how to make me laugh again, unlike my ex-boyfriend, who had a lot of dating experience and knew all the little tricks to deal with gals."

Eventually, Liu came to see her husband's quirks in a more favorable light. The same things that made her question whether he could be the one, now made her trust him more.

"When he apologizes, I can be sure that he is doing so because he sincerely wants to, not just as a trick to make me happy," said Liu.

She added that her husband's monthly pay also helps give her a sense of security, as it is enough to promise a comfortable life but not so much that it could lure young girls.

A different kind of romance

Before Liu started dating her husband, she thought that being romantic was all about sending flowers, cooking dinner, holding hands, writing or texting lover letters and so on. Her husband changed her understanding of romance. She found that he had his own definition of romance, and she rather liked it.

She said when her husband committed himself to her the first time, the words did not come from his lips but from the screen of a computer with the help of a program he had been working on for days.

"The three words (I love you) popped up on the screen when I least expected them. It never came to me that he would confess his feelings in this way," she said. "It made me feel very special."

When she got curious and asked how he did it, she was overwhelmed at the sight of the pages of densely typed codes that made his confession possible.

"I was touched by his effort. I realized that he put a lot of thought into it," she said.

Liu's husband even developed a program for her to "bully" him where she could choose from a list of things to do to make fun of him, such as tickling him or putting her ice-cold feet on his stomach.

She never expected that her husband would not only endure her childish playfulness but also go to lengths to help her play jokes on him.

"It felt so romantic," she said.

A greater sense of security is one of the main advantages of marrying men who work in IT, according to their partners. Photo: Li Hao/GT

A greater sense of security is one of the main advantages of marrying men who work in IT, according to their partners. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Changing perceptions

Jack Zhao, a 27-year-old programmer, had long been wanting a girlfriend, but he always ended up failing.

He majored in software engineering at university. Only two females were in his class and no more than 30 in the whole department.

"You need to be either good-looking or very skillful at picking up girls to have a girlfriend, both of which I was not," he said. "It was very difficult."

Things did not get any easier when he graduated and got a job at a large company, as there were few female colleagues.

"It felt like I was stuck with a bunch of men and did not have the opportunity to fall in love at my workplace," he said.

Zhao went on several blind dates, but being not good at interacting with strangers, he never managed to impress his dates.

"My glasses with thick lenses did not help me either," he said. "Some girls concluded that I was a nerd at first glance."

He noted that like him, many of his male colleagues also have a hard time finding a girlfriend because of their inarticulateness and shyness.

Caroline Li, a Beijing-based relationship counselor, agreed that men working in the IT industry were not at an advantage romantically because many of them gave women the impression that they were nerdy and loved staying home.

However, she noted that IT men were growing increasingly popular in recent years. According to a survey she and her colleagues conducted on the ideal boyfriend or husband for women in 2015, more women are looking for a homebody who puts his family first rather than career-oriented men.

"IT men are seen as typical representatives of homebodies because they have fewer social engagements and can thus go home as soon as they finish work," she said.

She attributed the growing popularity of IT men to the changing perception of what constitutes an ideal romantic partner among women. Men who are career-driven and can make a lot of money used to be the ideal. But as more women are becoming career-minded, and sometimes tied up in work, they would rather choose homebodies who could spend more time taking care of the family.

Concerning IT men's relative weaknesses in verbal communication, she suggested that they could rely more on practical ways of expressing their affection, such as making a romantic dinner for their girlfriends or wives, taking them to a fancy restaurant on special occasions, and buying them nice little considerate gifts.

Li said that although things were looking up for IT men, they could also help themselves to be in an even better situation. For instance, men who often show up with disheveled hair and a dirty face after a long day in front of the computer should pay better attention to their appearance.

"You do not have to have an amazing fashion sense, but you at least need to be clean," she said. "Otherwise, it is impossible to attract girls."

She added that IT men could at the same time take advantage of the enormous amount of time they spend on computers by being more active on social media platforms to meet more people of the opposite sex.

Zhao said he had always been called a xiao nanren (little man, which refers to men who put family above work) by many of his friends, and he is happy to know that men like him are becoming more popular.

"Bringing a girl to meet my parents may soon not be all that unrealistic for me," he said. "Who knows, I may get a girlfriend as early as next year. Anyway, I hope for the best."

Newspaper headline: Hot stuff!


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