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The single life - love it or hate it (2)

(Shanghai Daily)

09:04, November 06, 2012

Unlike many of his classmates who married after graduation, Wu lived the single life for a long time. "Most of them envy me for my single life. I have more flexible time to work at home. I have money without a family burden. I date to explore more of life.

"Frankly, I don't hunger to get married and be tied to only one woman. Life is full of possibilities. Maybe when I get older, my ideas will change, but the bachelor's life is damn good," he says.

Feng Yalan, a local psychologist, says there's nothing wrong with living alone. "The single lifestyle won't definitely lead to psychological problems," she says, referring to the common perception among family-oriented Chinese that there's something wrong with living alone all the time and that the single life can cause mental or emotional problems.

Due to the communications revolution, new media and social networking, people can socialize while they are holed up at home.

Microblog weibo (Chinese Twitter), iPhone, Skype and Facebook all shorten the distance between people, and change the way people understand themselves and their most intimate relationships. Of course, it's no substitute for flesh-and-blood relationships.

"If a person living alone can well organize his/her life with the social network, that's quite okay," Feng says. "Even those who are not good at communication and live alone can have a rich spiritual life and enjoy themselves. But for those who tend to isolate, living alone may result in depression, anxiety and neurosis."

In her view, living alone is particularly harmful for couples living apart.

Iris Zhao is an example.

"I fell in love with my husband at first sight when he bought an airline ticket in my office," says Zhao, who is in her 30s and works for a travel agency. They started a six-year romance based on e-mails and telephone calls since the man works in Canada.

"Today it is incredible to think how I could have endured such a long-distance relationship. When my parents and friends opposed our marriage, I ignored them." However, she began to feel the pressure and lack of security of a live-at-home spouse. She wasn't satisfied with seeing him only on their vacations.

"I don't remember when we started to lose trust. I suspected he had another woman in Canada, and he suspected that I dated another man when I was not at home. Finally the marriage ended, due to the thousands of miles between us. I was sick of living alone as a married woman in my own home," she says.

"Each couple needs intimate interaction," Feng says. "It's impossible to maintain a relationship by only telephone and Skype. There's no blood-tie as a natural bond between them; a long-term of separation in a marriage is hopeless."

Many Chinese parents are concerned about their children living alone. "I won't accept that my daughter will live alone forever," says Li Suran, a retired worker. "She is perfect except for being single and living alone."

Li is eager for her daughter to marry and produce a child. "Only through this process could life become complete ... Life is long, it is too difficult or tragic to go through everything alone, without sharing with another person."

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