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Matchmakers work for love, not money

By Liu Kun in Wuhan and Cheng Si in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-30 07:41

Matchmakers work for love, not money

A man and a woman have a date in a public matchmaking event in Anyang, Henan province on June 22, 2014. [Photo/IC]

Lan Yuyun, 83, and her husband, Chen Yilun, 85, have offered free matchmaking services for more than 60 years, drawing accolades as "super matchmakers".

It all started modestly enough: Lan made her first match in Wuhan, Hubei province, in 1955 when she was 20 years old - and it involved her brother.

"I introduced him to a music teacher at my school," she said. "I wasn't married at the time, but I really liked matching people together. This year marks their 61st marriage anniversary."

She later married Chen and drew him into the matchmaking game. Altogether, since 1955, they've made 1,748 matches. They found themselves in such great demand that in 2008 they founded a matchmaking studio in Huadi community, Wuchang district, Wuhan.

They don't lack for applicants: During their busiest times, they receive hundreds of single people daily looking for assistance.

"We are willing to offer help, but it's harder to manage as we get older and the number of applicants increases," Lan said. "Now we receive singles every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and give out 20 numbered paper cards on those three days to control the number of applicants."

Applicants are required to present their booklets of household registration, or hukou, along with a graduation certificate and photo, to verify their background before being issued a card.

Chen is responsible for doling out the cards, starting at 7 am on the open days. Ten red cards are distributed to female singles; 10 green ones go to males.

For those who fail to get numbers, Chen asks them to fill out a form covering personal information such as age, birth date, educational background, hobbies, salary and additional information, including the applicant's requirements for an ideal spouse.

"Chen is responsible for reviewing the information," Lan said. "We are strict with every applicant, and have to make sure every piece of information is true."

Lan added: "Marital status, whether the applicant is single or divorced, is clearly shown on the household registration. As to the authenticity of educational background, my husband and I have been teachers for decades. We can confirm it from the graduation certificate offered by the applicant."

Chen rates applicants according to appearance, family situation and other given information.

"It's really awkward to grade a person in their presence - especially assigning a low grade that will embarrass the applicant," he said. "So Lan and I use signs or simple numbers to represent the grades. I like to use symbols. For example, a five-pointed star means beautiful, while a rectangle is unattractive. Lan uses Arabic numbers from 1 to 5, with 1 meaning very nice and 5 meaning not so good."

Chen studied chemistry in college, so he likes to use chemical elements to represent an applicant's personality.

"I think interpersonal relationships are like chemical reactions, especially love," he said.

The couple also welcome singles with disabilities.

"We have organized four blind-date parties for physically challenged singles in Hongshan and Wuchang districts of Wuhan this year," Lan said. "Everyone has a right to enjoy love and start a family."

But Lan is reluctant to introduce potential spouses to snobbish or money-worshiping singles. She also refuses heavy drinkers, gamblers and those with mental disorders.

Lan and Chen charge no fees for their help. They even pay for blind dates and cover their studio's bills out of their own pocket.

"The value of marriage itself is high," Lan said. "We help single people find their ideal mates, but we steer away from offers of money or benefits to prospective spouses. Spouses should respect and appreciate each other even as they get old."

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