Tall, fit and good-looking, 32-year-old Vic (pseudonym) seems like the ideal guy that many girls would love to chase. Yet, he currently isn't seeing anyone and hasn't even gone on a date in over a year, not since the end of his year-long marriage which almost completely shattered his dream of marital bliss.
He met a girl at 29, got married at 30 and divorced at 31. Those three years changed his life.
"I got married because I had to," Vic told the Global Times, explaining why he married the girl his friend set him up with at 29. His ex-wife was 26 back then and both of them were reaching the critical age at which many Chinese believe people should already be married.
During their one-year courtship, they didn't spend too much time getting to know each other too deeply because both of their jobs required them to travel a lot. Yet both of them sincerely felt they should be married, because everyone else around them were getting married.
After half a year of marriage, problems began to arise. Six months later they were applying for a divorce.
There's an old Chinese saying "san shi er li" (stand at 30-years-old), which means that a person should be independent by the age of 30. That of course also means one should be married and have their own family.
Quite a number of parents to their best to set up their child in the hopes they can get married before this deadline.
As such many Chinese people born in the 1980s find themselves in a similar situation to Vic - having rushed into a marriage because of social pressures they are now divorced and alone.
According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs
, China's divorce rate has increased for the past 12 consecutive years. In 2012, more than 3.1 million couples divorced, the first time that the divorce rate surpassed the rate of marriage in the country. In 2013, that number rose to 3.5 million and in 2014 it reached 3.6 million.
According to the Nanfang Metropolis Daily, when it came to the top cities and provinces for divorce in 2013, Chongqing had the highest divorce rate at 4.5 percent, while Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai came in at eight, ninth and tenth respectively. One-child aftermath
"We are typical of the 'one-child policy' generation: too selfish and never consider things from the viewpoint of others," Vic said.
Chinese in their 20s and 30s are the first and only generation since China began its 'one-child policy,' which was lifted just a few months ago.
As the only child of a family, many in this generation grew up being taken care of by their parents the entire time. From household chores, to getting a job, buying a house and getting married, parents are engaged in every part of their kids' lives.
Vic couldn't agree more. He believes that while personality differences were one issue in his marriage, what really led to things coming to a head was pressure from their families.
Vic's parents are white-collar workers working for government organizations, whereas his ex-wife's parents came from blue-collar backgrounds. This difference in education background created a huge gap between them and so they never got along.
When Vic, as well as his parents, believed they should buy a house together in the big city, his ex-wife and her parents believed that the man should pay all the expenses. Without a house, they couldn't have a child, which was something both sets of parents were pushing for.
In the end, these conflicts meant that every time the young couple tried to talk they ended up quarrelling.
"We said what our parents wanted to say. We defended our parents and neither of us would give way," said Vic.
Although willing to marry again, Vic has become much more cautious. "I hope she can have the same values as I do and I'll be more concerned for her family."
"Actually it's not so much that the post-1980 generation gives up on marriage easily, it's that people's attitudes towards marriage has changed a great deal," an employee at the Marriage Management Department of the Xi'an Civil Affairs Ministry told the Huashang Daily.
"They are really calm. Sometimes there's nothing our staff can say or do. Those who agreed to get a divorce no longer fight, they just want to get things over with as soon as possible and just leave."
Vic said he had a similar feeling. He, his ex-wife and their families only felt relieved once the divorce was finalized.Chrysanthemum wine
Some Chinese today find it funny that parents tend to forbid their kids from having any relationships in high schools and even in college, but once they enter the work force expect them to suddenly find the perfect partner so they can get married.
Many young Chinese today feel they lack relationship experience because they never got the chance to "fall in love" in their youth, and instead their first try at a relationship is a marriage.
Twenty-five-year-old Lily (pseudonym) had her first relationship with a boy just last year. Introduced to him through a relative, she and her family thought she should date this guy because he seemed to meet all the right criteria for marriage: He had a stable job in a big city, was a civil servant (an ideal job in the eyes of many parents) and was from the same hometown as her.
"I felt nothing," Lily said when asked about what she felt about her "first love."
Now she's dating someone else, also a guy with all the right criteria introduced who was introduced through a relative.
" I don't believe in love at first sight," Lily said.
"Neither do I know how to get along with a boy. No boy has ever chased me and I don't know how to confess my feelings to a boy."
Having reached the age at which "a girl should getting married," she has only continued to date this new guy because her family believes he's good for her.Newspaper headline: Generation D