The next consideration is a prospective partner’s profession: primary-school teachers and nurses are in high demand among men, while women favour men in IT or finance – areas men least want their partner to be working in.
That’s according to Dr Song Li, founder of Zhenai.com, one of China’s biggest matchmaking sites – who apologises if his findings may not seem “politically correct”. Professors at the University of Hong Kong or a university in the UK or US might be interested in using our data to study the psychology of love,” says Li, who has the infectious enthusiasm and quirky personality commonly seen among bona fide serial entrepreneurs.
Born in a suburb of Shanghai, Li trained as a molecular biologist at Cornell University in the US and, after realising he wasn’t suited to fiddling with Petri dishes in a lab, switched to Columbia University, where he earned a Ph D in finance.
After years working as a senior investment banker in the US and Hong Kong, he fulfilled his dream of setting up his own business.
Sharing other insights into Zhenai.com’s data, Li says that on average, women prefer men who are three years older than them, while men seem to prefer women three years younger than them, but that changes the wealthier the men are.
“The higher the earning power of the man, the more likely he would [be to] ask to date a younger woman,” Li says.
Li is confident that the dating platform will continue to grow rapidly, at least for the next 10 years.
, while last year it got a lot of coverage following the cosmetic firm SK-II’s emotional advert on the subject, which went viral. He points to what he calls the “80/20 principle” in the animal kingdom, where 20 per cent of the male species “owns” 80 per cent of the females, leaving 80 per cent of males mateless.The charming, slightly geeky former investment banker might not seem like an obvious candidate to be a font of knowledge about the dating world, but he is an avid reader of psychology books and, as he says, “the stats never lie”.offers two broad services: one is what Li calls a “self-service dating service” where members pay 400 yuan (US) a year to browse members’ profiles, chat and arrange dates; the other is a more exclusive offline, face-to-face matchmaking service that costs 4,000 yuan for six months.“I wanted to create an online community for music lovers, but we noticed that the people who came to this community were really there to meet other singles so I decided that I’d just go straight to dating,” says Li, who met his wife Kathy at a drinks event in Hong Kong.She was a private equity fund manager at the time – now she’s a venture capitalist – and he was an executive director of equity derivatives at Morgan Stanley.
The matchmaking service claims a success rate of 78 per cent – this is based on the number of couples who tell their matchmaker they want to be “exclusive” with their date, meaning that their profile is hidden on the site.