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    Love and Money: The Dating Scene for China’s Millionaires

    A dating platform has found success organizing events for high-net-worth individuals in Beijing, but questions linger over the age limits and beauty standards set for women.

    By usual standards, this singles’ mixer on the second floor of a downtown Beijing restaurant is far from ostentatious. There are no flowers, balloons, or candles; everyone’s dressed relatively casually. A few men are wearing suits, and hardly any women are wearing heavy makeup. Five or six people are squeezed into booths around small tables, on which stand virtually untouched bottles of red wine.

    The event takes place on a Saturday afternoon in late March at a small venue on the Wangjing Xiaojie commercial street, where the average customer spends 168 yuan ($25). The program is simple: After a round of self-introductions, participants are left to chat freely and connect with each other on the WeChat messaging app if they’re interested. However, it quickly becomes evident that the mixer is essentially an opportunity to flaunt one’s wealth.

    The male attendees include both first-generation entrepreneurs and second-generation heirs. Some are professionals working in asset management, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, infrastructure planning, and other high-level fields. Others openly state that they are already “retired.” One man born in 1982 says he’s looking for a partner to “travel the world with.”

    This is not your average mixer — it’s purely for super-wealthy singles. Among the 51 participants, all 25 men and half of the women have assets exceeding 100 million yuan. Some even have personal assets exceeding 10 billion yuan.

    The women are mostly tall, slim, and under 30. The youngest is a 23-year-old Ph.D. student from Peking University understatedly dressed in skinny jeans and a light blue shirt, and is wearing almost no makeup.

    Noticing the atmosphere is a little subdued, a man in a white suit tries to liven things up by singing a piece of Italian opera. His powerful voice resonates in the cramped space; even the air seems to vibrate.

    “We don’t emphasize wealth, and we don’t put wealth in our advertising,” says Dachao, the organizer of the mixer and founder of Dachao Matchmaking, a dating platform for high-net-worth individuals. Dachao has organized 20 similar mixers for singles with assets worth at least 50 million yuan in Beijing.

    When it comes time for people to mingle, everyone’s seats are rearranged and new groups form quickly. People chat animatedly, and bright bursts of laughter ring out from the crowd. In one booth is an attractive woman wearing a long white dress with her hair coiled into a bun; she sits motionless as a series of men stop by to talk with her one after another.

    Everyone is busy chatting, except for a man who’s been standing off to one side since the start, showing no desire to talk to anyone. He says none of the women interests him. When asked what kind of partner he’s looking for, he replies, “Someone who can manage the home and have a career.” He doesn’t want a woman who will “just sit at home all day.”

    He shows everyone his newly renovated 1,000-square-meter villa, which took over two years and cost more than 10 million yuan. Designed with an all-white minimalist aesthetic, with imported faux-leather wallpaper and high-arched ceilings, the interior of the house looks like an art gallery.

    The female attendees appear largely down-to-earth and practical. In a short video shot by Dachao, one woman, a softly spoken 24-year-old who is also pursuing a Ph.D. at Peking University, explains that she doesn’t expect much from campus romance because “we’ll probably just break up after graduation.” Although many men have pursued her, she’s never been sure whether they genuinely like her or are just interested in her money, so she has refused them all. She plans to have children early after graduation and hopes to have a large family. She doesn’t mind an age gap and would even accept a man 10 to 20 years older — someone who could be her mentor or even “start a business and conquer the world” with her.

    For Dachao, there’s nothing unusual about seeing so much wealth in one room. When he first organized a singles’ mixer for high-net-worth individuals in November 2021, he chose the restaurant on the second floor of the Rosewood Hotel and arranged a long-table Christmas dinner complete with a roast turkey. Twenty people attended, but he says the atmosphere was awkward — the table was too long for people to communicate with anyone who wasn’t sitting directly beside them.

    When the weather is good, Dachao organizes outdoor events, such as elegant and intimate gatherings in the bamboo forest on the grounds of Purple Jade Villa, an upscale gated community in northern Beijing. He has even hosted a singles’ camping trip, with attendees drinking tea and chatting around a campfire, to create a more relaxed setting.

    Some private members’ clubs have offered to sponsor Dachao’s events, but he feels those venues are too opulent and confined — not the atmosphere he wants. He has also declined the nightclubs and luxury car clubs that have approached him, as he believes they are “not wholesome enough.”

    “Marriage is about ordinary life,” he says. “People who join luxury car clubs aren’t looking for marriage. Everyone can have their fun, but when it’s time to get serious, it’s a different direction.”

    Civil servant to matchmaker

    Dachao’s high-net-worth singles events have clearly set standards. Men must have personal assets of over 50 million yuan — which is stringently verified via property certificates, stocks, and proof of savings deposits — and pay a one-time membership fee of 6,000 yuan. Women can join events for free, but they must pass an interview and meet a set of criteria, including having a business background and holding over 100 million yuan in assets, or being from a high-ranking official family. They also must be “above average” in terms of attractiveness, be no older than 30, and have an undergraduate or graduate degree from a top university.

    For female participants with academic or government backgrounds, or with assets of only 30 million yuan, the criteria are stricter: They must be under 28, “highly attractive,” and a graduate or current student of a prestigious university.

    Before becoming a matchmaker, Dachao was a civil servant in Beijing. Eight of his colleagues allegedly owned 40 properties between them, while he had only one, making him feel he was in a dead-end career. Around 2019, he began thinking about launching a side business in a stable market. His main concerns were low overheads, a high return on investment, and low entry barriers. So, he decided to focus on dating services.

    Dachao, then in his late 20s, started building a community for singles through a short video platform. He organized weekend outdoor activities, such as frisbee matches, hiking, and camping, and charged participants about 200 yuan to join. He’d post footage of the events online, as well as occasional videos in which he offered his views on love and marriage, and was surprised by the response. Some videos received up to 8 million views.

    Dachao Matchmaking was born in 2020. In addition to his short videos, Dachao established an offline singles club and special WeChat accounts. “The conversion rate was very high, with each WeChat account reaching the maximum of 5,000 people in less than a month.” He also created a Beijing singles group, open only to people with Beijing household registration, a property in the city, a bachelor’s degree, and an annual income of 200,000 yuan. This led to him developing specialized sub-groups, such as for Beijing natives, holders of master’s or doctoral degrees, state employees, and individuals earning at least 1 million yuan a year.

    His matchmaking company today has 120,000 registered customers and organizes more than 200 singles mixers a year for various target groups.

    Dachao organized his first dating event for individuals with an annual income of more than 1 million yuan in the summer of 2020. Sessions were held biweekly at a Michelin-starred restaurant and cost 999 yuan per person, with a maximum of 12 people. Every session sold out. In 2021, he resigned from his job so that he could dedicate himself full-time to his high-end matchmaking business.

    After recently holding a mixer for singles worth 50 million yuan, Dachao decided to establish a new elite group that allows participants to join without an interview regardless of age as long as they have assets of more than 100 million yuan and pay a membership fee of 50,000 yuan, which entitles them to join six events.

    Dynamics of dating

    Qualifications are paramount. Every man and woman must provide accurate personal details, including age, height, education, economic heft, and family background. Matchmaking is about prioritizing and combining these key factors; any one can make or break your prospects in the dating market, Dachao says.

    For women, the top assets are youth, beauty, and a tall, slim figure. Being aged over 30 and only 150 centimeters tall is a major disadvantage. For men, hair density can often be crucial.

    As a professional in the field, Dachao has observed some unwritten rules that govern the market: Men in Beijing earning 500,000 yuan a year prefer female teachers for their perceived job stability and long holidays, freeing them up for more family obligations; it is nearly impossible for a woman from a rural background with a monthly salary of 10,000 yuan to find a man earning 1 million yuan a year; men generally prioritize women’s looks over their income; and most women will not accept a matrilocal son-in-law — a husband who moves into the wife’s family home, as opposed to the traditional opposite arrangement. Ultimately, he says, human nature dictates that men seek young and attractive women, while most women seek men who display strength and success.

    No one at these dating events appears ready to admit that the standards are somewhat problematic. However, for those who struggle to quantify and evaluate their marriageability, for 999 yuan they can book a 40-minute consultation with Dachao, who will use his years of accumulated experience to help them gauge their “market position.” Alternatively, they can pay tens of thousands of yuan for personalized matchmaking services from Dachao’s team, or opt for the 300,000 yuan “guaranteed success” package, buying Dachao’s bespoke services to find their right match.

    Among the numerous matchmaking groups Dachao operates on WeChat, the group for men earning 1 million yuan a year has the highest success rate. “Men with money, women with beauty — this combination is the easiest to pair off,” he says. In the group for those earning 500,000 yuan, the success rate is also high.

    To protect his reputation, Dachao refuses to hire a sales team, preferring instead to handle most customers himself. His bluntness eliminates most leads — only 20% of inquiries end in a sale, compared with 70% for his competitors in the wedding planning industry. “When a woman wants to find a partner earning a million a year, but you tell her that you can only match her with someone earning 200,000 a year and the funds to make a down payment on a property, why would she pay you to help her find someone who doesn’t meet her expectations?” he says.

    Among all the qualifications valued in the dating market, the biggest issue is candidates’ inability to accurately assess their own level of attractiveness. To help solve this, Dachao periodically organizes “rating” sessions, where attendees comment on each other’s physical appearance. From a maximum score of 10, few manage to receive a seven, the threshold for receiving a “certified attractive” label in Dachao’s matchmaking platform. Out of the 120,000 registered users, only about 100 have earned the label.

    Digging for gold

    The relative scarcity of high-net-worth men makes them “core assets” at singles mixers. Dachao’s job is to help these desirable “diamond bachelors” find women who match their expectations. Consequently, it’s the women who are appraised at these events.

    Typically, a man under 40 with assets exceeding 100 million yuan wants a partner who is young, attractive, intelligent, and has a family background. These are the criteria Dachao uses to interview female candidates. Before each mixer for singles worth 50 million yuan, Dachao and his partners will interview at least 200 women, but only about 20 will be invited to the event. Dachao says he needs to carefully filter out women looking for a “sugar daddy.”

    His events do not welcome people “solely focused on social climbing.” Dachao explains that his team assesses women based on their photos, educational background, and communication style to determine whether they might be “aggressive.” Women in certain professions considered “high risk,” such as models, influencers, and livestreamers, are automatically declined. Women whose parents are high-ranking officials are seen as “more reliable,” because they are backed by powerful families and are more likely to keep to a higher standard, he says.

    Women who wish to join the group must accept the scrutiny that comes with it. Although feminist discourse often advocates overcoming “age anxiety,” younger women have a competitive advantage in the marriage market. For instance, according to Dachao, a 27-year-old woman with a Ph.D. is not at a disadvantage, but one aged 35 might be. Men under 40 with more than 100 million yuan in assets will not usually consider a woman of the same age.

    A 35-year-old woman, no matter how exceptional she is, simply “won’t make the cut,” he says. In Beijing, women from wealthy backgrounds far outnumber men with comparable assets, so the choicest marriage opportunities are reserved for younger women. Based on statistics collected through his platform, Dachao says the average age difference between couples who married after being introduced through his club is nine years.

    Many netizens have accused Dachao of helping rich men “choose concubines.” Yet, he has no patience for this, retorting, “In the dating events for individuals with 50 million yuan, all the men are there to find young and beautiful women; that’s why they are willing to pay. Setting entry barriers, interviewing female candidates, and setting maximum age and minimum asset limits are not our demands; they are validated market demands.” He says he doesn’t make value or moral judgments about his clients’ preferences — after all, these are not within his power to change.

    Essentially, high-net-worth singles events are still about finding people with similar socioeconomic backgrounds, not social climbing. However, Dachao has noticed a significant trend: When the economy slows, people’s expectations rise. Those who aren’t willing to hustle to earn their own money want to find wealthy partners instead. Meanwhile, the wealthy are more concerned about changes in society; once aspiring to “conquer the world,” they are increasingly focused on “holding onto what they have.” So they prefer finding partners of similar wealth to form strong alliances and mitigate risks.

    Upward mobility

    Those who take part in high-end matchmaking events are almost always looking to gain something, be it money, resources, or opportunities for social advancement. Among the elite groups Dachao interacts with, men aged 30 to 35 are particularly driven by utility. These men are often seeking women who can assist them in advancing their careers. For instance, a man earning 3 million yuan annually from construction might hope that the woman’s father is an industry leader, helping him climb the career ladder.

    Setting aside differences in wealth, those who remain single for a long time often have an obsession that acts as a bottleneck. Some will only consider partners with a Beijing household registration; others consign their choice of partner to palm-reading or numerology. Some men have excessively rigorous standards, even down to a specific date of birth.

    Dachao often holds late-night livestreams in which he discusses the challenges of matchmaking and analyzes why it’s hard for wealthy individuals to find partners. First-generation wealthy individuals are willing to spend money on their partners but are usually dominant and find it hard to provide emotional value, he says, while second-generation “successors” who depend on their parents for support lack autonomy regarding marriage and property decisions — they can date young, beautiful influencers, but marrying one is difficult.

    Wealthy men are also concerned that women might only be after their money. In one video, Dachao offers his blunt opinion: “A 28-year-old woman with innocent motives wouldn't dare date a much older wealthy man; a woman who dares to date a much older man does not have innocent motives.” He advises wealthy men, “Don’t kid yourself — these women are after your money. Don’t overestimate your charm.”

    On the phenomenon of women seeking to marry rich men, he adds: “The rich men who haven’t been snapped up yet might have good qualifications, but it’s almost certain that they have some character defects, like a lack of tolerance. With a partner like this, you definitely won’t be the most important person in his life. If you want to find someone like this, you need to prepare yourself to face these issues.”

    Now 32 years old, Dachao has been a matchmaker for five years. His WeChat profile displays pictures of him with his wife and their child. Dachao first met his spouse when he was a low-level employee earning 7,000 to 8,000 yuan a month. Both were from outside Beijing. Before they married, his wife gave him a large sum of money to buy a “small, old, and shabby” 83-square-meter apartment in his name. He says that few women would do such a thing nowadays.

    At the end of last year, the couple sold the apartment and are about to move into a luxury home worth 20 million yuan in the heart of Beijing’s central business district, solidifying their social ascent.

    Reported by Zhang Jing.

    A version of this article originally appeared in Oh!Youth. It has been translated and edited for brevity and clarity, and is republished here with permission.

    Translator: Carrie Davies; graphic designer: Qu Mei; editors: Xue Ni and Hao Qibao.