The Western online dating market is being steadily populated with new apps catering to everyone from equestrian lovers, tall people, Disney fans, gluten-free eaters to those looking to join the mile-high club. And no wonder – apps like Tinder and OkCupid have taken over large chunks of the market and left others to fill out the niches.

Much like the West, China has had its own online dating explosion with several apps rising to the forefront such as Momo, Tantan a.k.a. Chinese Tinder, and Blued, which caters to the local gay population. But the market has many more competitors with truly original ideas for hooking up China’s singletons.

1. Have trouble getting out of bed? Let a stranger wake you up with “Who Will Wake Me Up.”

Photo from Baidu Images.
Photo from Baidu Images.

We have all experienced those sad Monday mornings when we feel like we could stay in our warm bed forever. Well, how about flirting with a stranger for motivation? “Who Will Wake Me Up,” or “Shei Jiao Wo Qi Chuang,” is a combination of an alarm clock and social network. Users can record the sound of the alarm which will be used to wake up a designated person. The alarm rings at a time set by the designated person, but if they fail to get up and turn it off, they can never solve the mystery of their secret admirer.

Creator of “Who Will Wake Me Up,” Ren Wenyong, attributed the success of his app to his simplicity and ability to appeal to human nature. The app currently has 10 million users. It seems that waking up alone doesn’t mean you are going to bed alone too.

2. Looking for a free lunch? Try “Qing Chi Fan.”

Photo from Qing Chi Fan.
Photo from Qing Chi Fan.

Chinese people sometimes say that they “eat everything with four legs except tables, and everything that flies except airplanes,” which shows how important eating is for them. The “Qing Chi Fan,” or “Invite for a meal,” app fits well in this culture because it enables users to invite a person of their preference for dinner. Users choose a restaurant and offer to either pay for the meal or split the bill, and then send out invitations. One obvious plus is that the users are more likely to meet in real life than with other apps, which is why it has managed to attract more than 10 million registered users, according to reports from 2015.

3. Your boyfriend is allergic to your pet? Get a new one (boyfriend, not pet) with “Liu Liu.”

Photo from Liu Liu.
Photo from Liu Liu.

Liu Liu” is a social platform for pet lovers which allows them to sniff out like-minded friends and potential soulmates in their vicinity. As its founder Zhang Fan explained, “Liu Liu” helps connect people through their pets. It also serves as an outlet for those who want to spam their social media channels with pictures of their adorable schnauzer and dote over them without getting strange looks. The platform has 1.1 million users who can also use the app for buying pets and pet supplies.

4. Need a fake girlfriend? “Hire Me Plz” is the solution.

Photo from Hire Me Plz.
Photo from Hire Me Plz.

Although some argue that “Hire Me Plz” or “Lai Zu Wo Ba” should not count as a dating app because users actually pay people to spend time with them, China has a real demand for fake boyfriends and girlfriends. During the Lunar New Year, millions of young singletons head home to their disappointed families who nag them for not marrying yet and continuing the family line. To counter the pressure, some have resorted to paying between RMB 3,000 to 10,000 a day for a fake partner to schmooze their parents.

This rent-a-girlfriend industry has attracted criticism for its blurry relationship with escort services, but “Hire Me Plz” founder Cao Tiantian argues that the app’s original idea was to counter loneliness. The app also allows its 700,000 users to rent company to take to the movies, dinner, or KTV, as well as professionals like personal trainers and manicurists.

5. Searching for a soulmate? “Plato” is what you are looking for.

Photo from Plato.
Photo from Plato.

As some of you may know, the idea of searching for a soulmate spread from the ancient philosopher Plato, and this is exactly what the “Plato” app aims for. As Plato’s founder and former senior officer at NetEase Su Jian’an explained, the flirting logic is flipped by obscuring the face of the interlocutors and allowing them to get to know the real person behind the avatar. The avatar becomes clearer every time two users chat which means the visibility of their faces is controlled by the level of intimacy between them. Although users are only allowed to share text and voice messages, the anonymity makes them feel more free to express themselves.

 

(Top photo from Pixabay.)

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Masha Borak
Masha is an AllChinaTech writer from Croatia. She is a language expert and holds a Master's degree from the University of Zagreb. She is interested in all things tech that she finds it hard to choose what to explore next. Help her by pitching great ideas at masha [at] allchinatech.com.