Couple viewers of the Feb 14 special evening showing of Beijing Love Story at the Xintiandi cinema complex got the surprise of their life when they discovered they couldn't sit beside their dates or boyfriend/girlfriend that night. The reason was that a group of singles in Shanghai bought all the odd-numbered seats for the movie.
The only aim was to peeve the Valentine's Day pairs who will watch the film. The group even posted a message which taunts sweethearts and couples which reads: "Wants to see a movie on Valentine's Day? Sorry, you'll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder," quoted Time.
The Telegraph said the mischievous act was initiated by one anonymous man who broke with his girlfriend in 2013. His initial attempt to buy all odd-numbered tickets was blocked by online ticket limits and cinema staff who became suspicious with the odd request.
He then recruited online other singles, established a crowd-funding site that pooled resources and successfully booked the tickets. Once their booking was confirmed and they paid for the tickets, then the taunting online message was posted.
He later tried to soften the blow by adding another post, saying, "I hope all lovers understand this is just a small joke," quoted by The Shanghai Morning Post.
He got a lot of allies on his side since that are millions of Chinese who are single and loveless, worsened by the gender imbalance in the country which prefers sons to daughter and the one-child policy, resulting in 34 million men likely loveless and destined to be without a partner in life until death.
On the opposite side of the coin, some Chinese women, because of their preference for career over family life, dread going to the home provinces for holidays such as the recent Lunar New Year, because their parents often nag them to find a suitable husband.
To get around the nagging and incessant questioning by curious relatives when would they attend another wedding in the family, some women resort to hiring men to pretend to be boyfriend for one day.
Due to the sheer number of single Chinese, the country now celebrates Nov 11 as Singles Day. The date was picked because the numerical designation of that date is 11/11 which looks like bare branches, the Chinese term for single men, marked by get together for a meal and morphing into an online shopping frenzy.
The day has similarities to Feb 14 which dateless and loveless men and women mostly from western nations spend the day, which they termed Galentine's or Palentine's Day, together.
The heavy emphasis on Valentine's Day is a reflection of society's inclination toward a couple's world that partnerless people are often made to feel the odd man or woman out, although their number are increasing over the years.
Besides the gender imbalance in China and the focus on many people in career over raising a family, maybe some of them have discovered being single is actually better than married or in a relationship.
Or maybe they have discovered there are more benefits to being unmarried or unattached. Bella DePaulo, psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of Singled Out, lists five major reasons why being single is better. The reasons have the nod of scientists. The reasons are:
- Healthy heart - An 8-year study of 9,000 middle-aged adults found rates of heart ailments were lowest among the unmarried people. However, it excludes people who are remarried, divorced or widowed since they are often worse off than married people.
- Fit body - Another study with 13,000 male and female respondents between ages 18 and 64 discovered singles have more time each week to exercise. A separate report from Australia with thousands of women subjects found that those who got married became physically inactive over time.
- Strong social network - Ms DePaulo cited multiple studies that married people tend to less likely help, support, visit and maintain contact with friends, family and neighbours due to their tendency to focus on their respective spouses or partners.
- No settling - A study found that because of the fear of being single for life made some people settle for less in terms of giving higher priority to relationship status over personal happiness, while those who can embrace being single are less likely to settle for unhappy partnerships.
- Solitude - Singles who live alone often have time for solitude and its various psychological benefits. Preliminary findings of another research indicated people are more likely to feel good than bad about their time alone and form better memories when by themselves.