Loneliness will drive ‘leftover women’ to marriage

By Yu Ning Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-25 22:28:01

Three years ago I published an article in your newspaper calling for respect to leftover women, or shengnü. At that time, I was a shengnü, in my late 20s but still single, and was overwhelmed by parents, relatives and friends every day urging me to find a mate.

To refute the social pressure imposed on shengnü, I argued in my article that in many Western countries, late marriage or remaining independent is just a lifestyle choice, and so should be in China, and that Chinese leftover women should not surrender to pressure or lower their standards for a mate.

I got a letter from a European reader who was in her 50s but still single a few days after the article was published. She kindly warned me that being single at her age was definitely something to regret, since she was lonely and fearful about the future without companionship. She said she expected to end her life alone.

The episode came to my mind when I read a recent story in your newspaper in which the author Cecily Huang says there is no leftover woman "who does not desire to love or to be loved," and that they don't want to wear stereotyped labels. But I don't think every shengnü desires to love or seek a mate, they are "left" because they are not ready for a relationship.

Three years ago I was a "leftover woman," 29, but single. I devoted myself more to doing jobs than seeking a mate. I enjoyed independence, freedom, friends' company and never wanted to get into a relationship or marriage where two people quarrel over trivial daily matters.

However, when more and more people of my generation got married and I was unable to find common topics of conversation with my married friends, loneliness surged, making me want to end being single. I began to take more seriously every blind date my parents or friends arranged for me, had more patience when I talked with men and luckily found my Mr. Right.

No matter how hard we defend shengnü, it's become a derogatory label. Speculations will run high about "leftover women's" personality, standards for mate, and even sexual orientation if women in their late 20s or above the age of 30 are not married. They are the targets of gossip.

However, how society views "leftover women" is not an important thing. Human beings need companionship and they need love to light life. So they will realize the significance of marriage and stop being single not because of social or parental pressure but out of their personal needs.

Yu Ning, a media commentator based in Beijing

Posted in: Letters

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