The A-Team

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2012-2-14 21:05:02


A website called
A website called "Marriage for Asexuals" founded in 2005 helps people find love that doesn't depend on sexual relations. Photo: CFP 

Nowadays, finding love and a suitable partner for marriage is difficult enough in China for heterosexuals, but it's a goal even more elusive for one of society's most marginalized groups - asexuals. Asexuals range from men and women who either have a low to nonexistent sex drive, lack sexual functions due to biological origins or lack sexual or romantic attraction to either gender.

However since 2005, a Chinese website has offered asexual singles an online helping hand in finding love. Called "Marriage for Asexuals" (, the website is the first and biggest online marriage broker for asexual singles in China. It has grown from around 7,000 members in 2006 to today boasting more than 140,000 members.

There are no concrete statistics on how many asexual people there are in China, however many married couples inadvertently lead a similar lifestyle. A 2009 study by Pan Suiming, a professor of sociology at Renmin University in Beijing, found a quarter of married couples surveyed were in a sexless relationship. Just over 6 percent of respondents admitted to going a year or longer without sex.

Logging on to love

The website was established by 35-year-old business consultant Lin Hai (pseudonym), who came up with the idea for the website to help an asexual friend struggling to socialize. "I only found out about asexuality when a good friend of mine lost his sexual drive after suffering an electrical shock at the factory where he worked," said Lin, who goes by his Internet name as he still worries about his parents and co-workers' reaction to his website. "His girlfriend broke up with him after the workplace accident, leading him to fear that he would be alone for the rest of his life."

Determined to help his friend find love again, the information technology worker from southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region spent three months building his dating website exclusively for asexuals, before launching in October, 2005.

To show his gratitude for Lin's hard work, his asexual friend became the website's inaugural member. Just a month later, he was contacted by a young woman who came to the website seeking an asexual marriage. The woman, who had been raped in childhood, was seeking companionship without sexual strings attached. Lin's friend and the woman united, and to this day continue to enjoy a meaningful relationship.

Shortly after, more members joined the website. Stories of success were shared online, driving membership to skyrocket to over 140,000 this year - a milestone Lin never imagined his website would achieve.

The website has been a labor of love for Lin, who also volunteers as a social worker. Unlike many other Chinese matchmaking websites, doesn't have advertising nor require members to pay to join, meaning Lin must foot costs totalling about 10,000 yuan ($1,567) per month - on his own.

However, he insists the greatest reward comes from connecting people shunned by society with others enduring the same experience.

"Asexual people might have lost their sexual drive or lack interest in sexual relationships, but they still yearn for love and marriage," Lin pointed out.

Success stories

Lin recalls how a 25-year-old Web user from central China's Henan Province turned to the website for help in 2009. "From chatting with him online, I found out he suffered Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease [a fatal degenerative neurological disorder with no cure]," Lin said. "He felt pressure to marry, which made him depressed and alienated from others." Two months after joining the website, the young man found love.

A 32-year-old member, who only identified himself as Eric from Shanghai, told the Global Times how he recently joined the website hoping to find his dream wife. Despite being asexual, he still hopes to one day settle down with a wife and perhaps even start a family of his own.

"In the past I had girlfriends who loved me, but I didn't want to jeopardize their happiness and plans for life," he said. "Pressure from my family and friends to marry has been intense, so I joined the website to find an asexual female partner who has a stable job and lives in Shanghai."

Eric insists that despite his ambitions to enter a sexless marriage, he will always treat his future wife with respect and courtesy.

Preying on the vulnerable

Lin's website is not the only asexual matchmaking site in China. In July 2006, an asexual marriage brokering website was launched in southwest China's Chongqing municipality, attracting 400 members, 60 percent of them women, in its first 10 days.

What differentiates Lin's asexual dating website from others is its tolerance and welcoming attitude to people, no matter their personal reservations. "We focus on asexuals and those with no corresponding physical or mental disability who would not normally use the Internet for dating," Lin said.

However, some people log on to Lin's website with more sinister motives, seeking to exploit members and threatening to out them to friends and family unless they pay hush money. "These people lure gay or asexual members, gaining their trust and collecting their personal information before blackmailing them," Lin sighed. To tackle the problem, Lin introduced a VIP member service that requires Web users to supply their credit card number. Thankfully, it's a method that has proven effective at staving off would-be blackmailers

Lin hinted his future plans to expand the website could even involve launching an English version. In the meantime though, he's pleased to play the role of online Cupid by helping asexual singles discover meaningful relationships not built around sex.


Posted in: Metro Beijing

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