Leftover women are now empowered and attracting younger men as trends in marriage are beginning to evolve

By Zhang Xinyuan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/22 5:03:39

Younger Chinese men are pushing aside the notion of leftover women and becoming more accepting of dating and marrying older women. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Younger Chinese men are pushing aside the notion of leftover women and becoming more accepting of dating and marrying older women. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Zhang Quan works in a financial company in Beijing, and will soon turn 30. She is not married, and she does not currently have a boyfriend. Her family is worried that she will become a "leftover woman" in the marriage market, but she is not worried at all.

She has been categorized as a shengnü (leftover woman) for a few years.

According to social customs in China, unmarried women over the age of 27 fall into this category. "When the concept of shengnü first came out, everyone around me kept saying how serious the situation was. I was really worried for a while," Zhang said. "I worried that if I did not rush to land a husband, I would become a pathetic old woman that has no potential to find a good man."

As a result, Zhang entered into several unsatisfying relationships. She thought they might be a good fit as a husband.

"I worried that finding a boyfriend would be more difficult as I got older, because men are naturally more attracted to younger women, and I think a woman's charm decreases as she gets older," Zhang said.

However, a series of recent news stories reporting that older, successful and charming women managed to land a much younger attractive man and find true love, gave Zhang more confidence and inspiration that made her no longer fear being a leftover woman.

The first report disclosed that 48-year-old Wendi Deng, the ex-wife of 85-year-old billionaire mogul Rupert Murdoch, found love with a 21-year-old Hungarian male model. Not to mention, in previous years, there were also older female celebrities finding love with younger men, like Gao Yuanyuan, Ruby Lin and Michelle Chen.

"I feel that I no longer need to be afraid of being a leftover, because I can continue to become a better person as time goes by, and more men nowadays can appreciate that," Zhang said.

More Chinese women are pursuing their own interests and trying to be the best version of themselves, instead of securing a marriage right away. Photo: Li Hao/GT

More Chinese women are pursuing their own interests and trying to be the best version of themselves, instead of securing a marriage right away. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Appreciating maturity

Wang Pengcheng, a 30-year-old designer from Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, married a woman who is 11 years older than he is.

"I don't care about the age difference. For me, I feel lucky that I found a woman I love who is really suitable for me, and that woman happens to be 11 years older," Wang said.

Wang and his wife met through a friend. Wang's friend showed him photos of younger women, because according to the common Chinese social customs, it is better if a woman is younger than the man in a relationship. However, Wang was not attracted to any of the women until he saw his future wife's photo. 

"I was immediately attracted by her. Her eyes were so mysterious. I can see that she has been through a lot, and she is mature," Wang said. "I knew she was older than me, but I didn't care."

When they started to get to know each other, Wang realized they have very similar values and they always have a lot to talk about. This made their love grow stronger. 

"Age is not important; it's the life experience one has had and whether that person holds a positive attitude toward life that make other people feel comfortable," Wang said. "I want a partner who is independent, has her own charms and her own career. I want a woman I do not have to take care of all the time." 

Before his wife, Wang dated women who were much younger than he was, but most of them were immature and always needed him to compromise for them.

"I don't think women like that would make a great life partner," he said.

"I don't agree with the notion of leftover woman. We can't categorize all the older women who are single as leftover women. The older women who have their own lives, careers, hobbies, dreams and fight really hard to achieve the best version of themselves and never give up, are not leftover women," Wang said. "They become even more charming as they get older, such as my wife."

When Wang announced that he was getting married to an older woman, his parents and friends worried that their marriage would not last because she would age quicker than he would, but Wang was not worried at all.

"Everyone will grow old. In marriage, the important thing is not whether she is young and beautiful every day; it's whether the two people's character and personality fit and whether they are comfortable with each other,"

Martin Sun, a Chinese financial statement auditor who now lives in Canada, is also engaged to a woman older than he is.

"Age is really just a number if you click mentally, emotionally and physically," Sun said.

"Older women are still fabulous, beautiful and amazing, and they are generally more independent; why would we care so much about these external factors instead of paying attention to a person's thoughts and spirit?" Sun said.

In recent years, more Chinese men are sharing the same beliefs as Wang and Sun, and are entering relationships with older women.

The marriage registration statistics in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, according to a Xinmin Evening News report on January 2015, showed that there were 86,000 couples who were married in 2014, and 17.8 percent of them were younger men marrying older women.

A rise in self-awareness

Aside from Chinese men having a deeper understanding of women, and people's increasing acceptance toward the older woman and younger man combination,  a factor that eases Zhang's fear of becoming a leftover women is that a woman's life can be so much more than just securing a marriage.

"I think no matter for men or women, the most important thing for us is being able to realize our dreams, live the way we always want and be the best version of ourselves," Zhang said.

"Besides romance and marriage, I have so much more to pursue and enjoy now. I have my own career, my own hobbies such as reading, dancing and traveling and my own social circle. All of those things make me feel fulfilled and help me become a better version of myself," she said.

Zhang said she already feels that she is more feminine and stylish compared to her younger self. She also believes she is more considerate and mature, and said people tell her she is more charming than she used to be.

"Along the way, if I can find a man I really like, that's great; if not, I will still be able to enjoy my life and feel good about myself," Zhang said.

"Although I am not a celebrity like Wendi Deng and Li Bingbing, I hope that as I grow older, I will also become more fabulous, well-rounded, and always know what I want while still being able to live my life the way I want and love the people my heart desires," she said.

Newspaper headline: Times are changing


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