Looking for no sex

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-14 17:33:01


Lin Hai uses a pseudonym because he doesn't want people to think he is gay or unable to have sex. Photo: Courtesy of Lin Hai

When Lin Hai (pseudonym), an ordinary employee of a consulting company, opened up a dating website in October 2005 for his bachelor friend, he had no idea that eight years later it would become the largest online dating platform for people who want a relationship without sex.

Lin's friend was electrocuted at his job in a factory, causing severe burns over his body. "Although the rest of his body was healed, he lost his ability to have sex permanently," Lin said. "His girlfriend soon broke up with him. That really depressed him. He worried that he would be lonely for the rest of his life."

Lin did not want to see his childhood friend end up alone. Using his knowledge of website design, he started an online dating site for people seeking a relationship without sex. "I knew that my friend definitely wasn't the only one who wanted to have a sexless marriage," he said. "At that time, there was still little attention being paid to this group of people."

Within a few months, he completed the Guangxi-based website, wx920.net, but it didn't draw much traffic until local media  heard about Lin's story and reported it. A month later, his friend found a wife. "It was a girl who was raped in her childhood and wanted to find someone to have a sexless marriage," Lin said.

Now the website has almost 200,000 registered users. Since it was established in 2005, over 20,000 couples have been formed.

As a pioneering website providing a dating service for people not interested in sex, it has drawn the attention of domestic and overseas media such as the People's Daily, CCTV, Phoenix Satellite Television, Reuters and Deutsche Welle.

But despite the attention, Lin does not find running the website easy. In fact, he's encountered some insidious dangers.

Secret business

Although Lin's family and friends know about his part-time job and support him, he still insists on keeping his identity secret. "If people knew that I was the founder of a sexless dating website, I might be considered a disabled person or a homosexual in need of opening up a website like this," he said. He notes that if there are rumors he fears that his career might be affected, so he uses a pseudonym.

In the beginning, Lin was the only staff member of the website. He even left his own QQ number for customer service online in case anyone needed help.

Now he has some employees. He pays two people, and another three help for no charge because they found partners through the website and see its value.

"The operation of the website costs around 10,000 yuan ($1,629) per month," he said. "Most of our income is from others' donations." Lin noted that the staff do not expect to make money out of this but want to help others.

When the website originally started, it was totally free of charge. Only in the last two years did they start charging money for VIP members. But the charge is primarily not to generate profits. Rather, it's for thwarting the many scam artists who lurk on the site.

Blackmail threat

Lin was surprised to find that his dating website has become the target of blackmailers and swindlers of many stripes.

"Some fraudsters tried to trick our members into going to bars in order to swindle money from them," he said. "These are vulnerable groups of people. Cheating them couldn't be more immoral."

Other scam artists approached members with more insidious methods. They first made friends with members. After collecting enough personal information from them, they blackmailed them, threatening to reveal their sexual disability to others if they refused to pay.

To tackle this problem, VIP members register with a credit card. "If you intend to blackmail other members, then your real identity can be tracked via your credit card," Lin said. The rate of scams has been reduced since Lin introduced this system.

As more and more users find their partners through his website, Lin has been receiving gifts and wedding candies from his former users. Some even invited him to attend their wedding ceremonies. One of them was a 31-year-old Beijinger surnamed Chen, who Lin says lost his sexual ability because of masturbating too much as a child. Chen found a girlfriend with no sex drive on Lin's website.

Their wedding was held in a hotel in Beijing, without even informing their parents, for fear the match would be rejected. "Chen had been through a difficult period. He was scammed by doctors extracting money from him with fruitless medical treatment," he said. Chen even wanted to commit suicide until he found his true love months later.

Unexpected visitors

As the membership of Lin's website grew, he found out that not all the members were looking for the same thing.

In the beginning, he checked on the identity of each user in order to ensure they all were interested in a marriage without sex. Users without his approval could not register on the website. But now he does not have enough time for such personal attention.

For a time, he kept receiving complaints from some members who claimed they were being sexually harassed by other members. Lin then found out that there were closeted homosexuals on the site, sometimes seeking out other people in the same situation.

"Originally, I would say no to their registration requests. But after chatting with them I understood their needs for building a 'family in appearance' because of pressure from their families," Lin said. "So I accepted their membership requests." But he had conditions for letting them in.

"I don't want this website to become an ordinary dating website or a place where they found a sex life," he said.

At this time, 70 percent of the users seek a life without sex, and the other 30 percent are homosexuals seeking social cover. New members need to choose either "sexless marriage" or "marriage in appearance" during the first step of his site's online registration.

Nonetheless, he finds that despite his efforts, gay members are still using the site for dating. With this experience in mind, he has opened up another website, called the "China marriage of convenience website."

Posted in: Metro Beijing

blog comments powered by Disqus