Chinese learn to love in classes, lives




Chinese learn to love

in classes, lives


By Wang Di, Li Ming and Luo Wenyi


Zheng Ting is a frequent guest at an evening salon where she shares her emotional problems with others and listens to advice from an “emotion coach.”

Seated around a room in downtown Beijing, nearly 30 people, including a handful of men, discuss the problems they have with either finding a suitable partner, or maintaining a healthy relationship, every Friday.

The 29-year-old described her first time at the salon as “enlightening.”

“Just as with other skills, we can learn how to love,” she said.

Although she has a decent education and job, Zheng has yet to meet her Mr. Right after going on nearly 100 dates.

Zheng is not an exception. “Emotion coach” Zhao Yongjiu has trained several young people who have been frustrated with their love lives since he launched his training program in 2008.

“Compared with their parents, young people care more about the quality of their romantic relationships and would like to follow their heart in looking for a spouse,” Zhao said.

Zhao provides “love courses” in addition to the salon, teaching his students how to control their emotions, improve their self-acceptance and learn how to communicate through constant practice.

Zhou Xiang, 27, said he was worried about sharing his problems when he first joined the course after ending his last relationship.

“Everyone here has their own problems and this makes you feel equal and more relaxed,” Zhou said, adding that he has moved on and is prepared to start a new relationship.

Zhao has provided training to more than 1,000 people since establishing the training program.

“I have no worries about our operation, as the potential market is huge,” Zhao said.

Such training programs are becoming more popular in other cities as well. In Shanghai, counsellor Wu Di also gives lectures and one-on-one psychological counseling to young people who want to get in touch with their emotions and learn how to love.

Wu said the “leftover women” phenomenon will fuel market demand for her training program, as well as other services.

“Leftover women” is a derogatory term that refers to women at around 30 or above who have yet to marry. Although these women are often well-educated and financially independent, Chinese men tend to marry those women who are younger and receive lower education than they do.

According to a 2010 report on marriage by the All-China Women’s Federation, the number of single women above the age of 28 in Beijing is greater than half a million.

“Many of these women have social fears or hold improper views regarding love and marriage,” Wu said. “They can only find true love if they abandon outdated attitudes and learn how to love.”

China’s gradually rising divorce rates have alarmed married people, who are also taking courses to learn how to maintain healthy marriages.

Figures from civil affairs departments show that China’s divorce rates have increased for seven consecutive years, with those of Beijing and Shanghai already exceeding 33 percent.

The popularity of “emotion training” is a signal of social progress and has played a positive role in helping people get rid of unrealistic beliefs regarding love and marriage, said Cheng Xiuying, a professor of sociology at Tsinghua University.

“But no training can be a cure-all solution to deal with the complicated relationships between men and women,” Cheng said.






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