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    China Has a Solution for Misleading Tinder Profiles: ‘Dating Analysts’

    It’s no secret people often lie on their online dating profiles. In China, professional “dating analysts” help clients work out what their matches are trying to hide.
    Jun 05, 2024#marriage

    Everyone who’s used a dating app knows that a match’s carefully crafted profile often bears little resemblance to reality. In China, a new profession is rapidly emerging to help people deal with that fact: the dating analyst.

    In recent months, Chinese social media has been flooded with videos posted by self-styled dating gurus who claim they can help their followers work out what their online matches are trying to hide.

    The videos often follow a similar script. An influencer sits in front of a whiteboard like a teacher, and pulls up an example dating profile. At first the match seems promising. But then the influencer proceeds to pick their profile apart in brutal fashion.

    They didn’t mention their weight? They’re probably fat. They claim to have four houses? They must belong to their parents. They have an impressive job and are still single? Perhaps there’s something wrong with their personality.

    The advice given is often highly debatable, or even problematic. But the videos are attracting massive audiences: Hashtags related to dating analysts have amassed hundreds of millions of views on Chinese social platforms in the past few months.

    In many ways, dating analysts are part of a much longer tradition in China. Professional matchmakers have played an important role in helping people find partners for decades, and several influencers mention in their videos that they also work as matchmakers.

    What’s more, China’s matchmaking market is highly competitive. Potential spouses are expected to provide a huge amount of information about themselves: not only their age, hobbies, and occupation, but also their height, weight, educational background, and perhaps even their property portfolio and parents’ occupations.

    All of this gives dating analysts plenty of material to work with. They claim they can help young people avoid being misled, allowing them to secure the most suitable — and lucrative — match. Many offer paid one-on-one sessions with clients to help them screen potential dates.

    Yet dating analysts are also stirring controversy in China, with concerns rising about the kind of advice influencers are offering. On May 16, the Jiangsu Consumer Rights Protection Committee went as far as to issue a plea for consumers in the eastern Chinese province to be more rational and avoid using dating analysts.

    In its statement, the committee not only accused influencers of treating marriage and romance like “business deals or role-playing games”; it also warned that they are often unqualified to provide psychological counseling.

    The influencers, however, are carrying on regardless. One of the most popular analysts is a 31-year-old who posts videos on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, under the pseudonym Detective Jason. He has attracted over 500,000 followers in just two months.

    Detective Jason’s gimmick is scrutinizing dating profiles as if he’s performing a close reading of a work of literature. After delivering his catchphrase, “Let’s see whether this man is worth marrying,” he launches into an analysis of a profile, pausing regularly to scribble notes on his whiteboard.

    In one of his most-watched clips, the influencer dissects the profile of a 24-year-old college employee who graduated from a prestigious university. As usual, everything starts off looking great: The man is 1.80 meters tall, “slightly slim,” and lives in a huge apartment owned by his family in a downtown area. He admits being somewhat shy and socially inept, and says he’s happy to date someone three years older than him.

    Detective Jason isn’t impressed. Pursuing a spouse at such a young age, he says, is a bad sign. The man might be subject to strong parental pressure to start a family early, or he may even need a caregiver due to an underlying health or mental issue. He even suggests that the man could have Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism spectrum disorder.

    “It’s rare for someone from an elite family and with a top-tier education to stop pursuing further academic degrees unless they have an underlying mental health concern,” the influencer tells his followers.

    Dating analyst fans told Sixth Tone they sometimes feel conflicted about the views such influencers express. Xie Xiaodi, who comes from eastern China’s Zhejiang province, said she originally started watching the videos because she needed practical dating advice.

    The 29-year-old often goes on blind dates arranged by matchmakers, and she was impressed by the influencers’ ability to spot potential problems. “It’s like solving a mathematical problem,” said Xie. “At first, I thought it made sense. It could help me avoid wasting time on the wrong person.”

    But after a while, doubts started to creep in. Xie recalled watching a video in which a dating analyst looked at the profile of a 35-year-old man whose parents were both lawyers. The man had mild depression and said he was seeking a gentle, kind partner to help care for him.

    The analyst speculated that his parents might be controlling, and that their high expectations likely caused his depression. Although he said he has mild depression, the situation is probably worse, the influencer added. For Xie, this kind of harsh scrutiny eventually came to feel self-defeating.

    “When you focus on finding out what’s wrong with people, the negative energy just explodes,” she said. “It’s like, even though you learn a lot, it doesn’t help you find a partner. It deepens your fear of matchmaking, as if there are no normal people out there.”

    But Zhang Kexin, a 21-year-old college student from the southwestern Sichuan province, said she loves the videos and has no plans to stop watching.

    One of Zhang’s favorite dating analysts is Wangwang Cousin, who specializes in teaching his fans how to accurately estimate a man’s height based on his dating profile. One of his favorite lines is that there are no 1.79-meter-tall men in the world, as they always round it up to 1.8.

    “Besides the entertainment value, it is like learning the hidden rules of dating in advance for college students like me,” said Zhang. “If there wasn’t anyone to analyze this thing, I wouldn’t know about it.”

    (Header image: Screenshots show self-styled “dating analysts” offering advice on how to spot potential issues with a person’s online dating profile. From Douyin)