updated 30 Sep 2011, 16:13
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Fri, Sep 30, 2011
China Daily/ANN
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Happy to be leftover while everyone else enjoys
by Laura Nichols

My Chinese friends can't imagine a woman who doesn't want to get married some day. I shock them when I tell them it describes me.

Attaining the status of a Mrs has never been part of any of my carefully constructed multi-year plans - but in China, women have concrete goals for marriage, ones they fully intend to see come to fruition within a relatively short timeframe.

While I balk at what little time that leaves them for themselves, it's not only natural but also feasible, since they don't plan on dating too much. Family and friends have told these girls for years that there's no time too soon to start thinking about a husband - preferably, one they can bag with their first long-term relationship.

The entire process of laying the foundation for a future has its roots in tradition, laced with respect and honor for the family. Nowadays, even if there's a little foreign fever in some single Chinese women - they're convinced it'll be curable in a single, fleeting dose.

Marrying someone from the same cultural background is "much more reasonable", one friend tells me. There are certain aspects for these girls to take into consideration - such as her fiance being able to communicate with her parents.

Most Chinese girls have carved out the blueprint of their ideal man based on the genes he'll be able to pass on - yep, they've bypassed the honeymoon, are listening to the tick-tock of the biological clock ... I guess I'm in long-term snooze mode.

Child bearing before 30 sits perched atop the priority list in China some girls even have a preference as to whether it will be a girl or boy. The thought of becoming a mother for the first time when she's "too old" is frightening for many girls who I consider to still have their whole life ahead.

Yet, even given the looming deadline, my friends aren't worried about finding Mr Right and believe it will happen soon, say, two years into a relationship.

My Chinese friends look at me with eyes full of sorrow. They're worried about me and probe as to whether I'm sure there isn't something that could change my mind. They're worried I'll become a warmed-over, leftover woman, gossiped about in hushed tones as I approach my 40s.

In China, the older an unmarried woman gets, the more desperate she looks and the less desirable she becomes. Even with divorce gradually becoming more common, single "older" women are subject to the kind of sorrowful looks that a self-proclaimed independent woman like me recoils at.

Even if I don't want to say, "I do," I applaud my friends in their tireless pursuit of a husband. They know what they want and this is no tale of a meek damsel in distress waiting for a prince to rescue her from the tower of singledom she's trapped in.

I wish them all the best of luck and can't wait to throw rice on the big day - sometime soon. As for me, I guess I'll have to hire someone to carry my handbag on the subway.

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