Women grapple with matchmaking pressure

By Phan Duong   January 7, 2024 | 01:45 am PT
Women grapple with matchmaking pressure
Ngoc Huyen, 34, on a trip to Taiwan in 2021. Photo courtesy of Ngoc Huyen
Impatient with Ngoc Huyen's "forever single" status, relatives and friends have been pushing to be her matchmakers over and over again, which has led her to both anxiety and stalkers.

The 34-year-old woman in Da Nang recalls the time her close friend introduced her to a classmate, described as a kind but somewhat uninteresting individual. Trusting her friend's judgment, Huyen consented to share her contact information with the man. Shortly thereafter, she received a text from him, in which he claimed to be an undercover police officer.

After a few initial messages, Huyen was stunned when she received a curt question: "How tall? How heavy?"

Despite the abruptness of his inquiry, Huyen decided to give the encounter a chance and arranged to meet the man at 8:30 p.m. on another evening. However, he showed up late, arriving at 10 p.m. and attributing the delay to "work problems."

On their first official date, Huyen’s impression of the man was still mostly negative, so she told him she would not be his girlfriend.

He then continued bothering her with messages and even sudden calls in the middle of the night.

Huyen grew up in an intellectual family, was considered charming, and had a good career, but has never loved anyone.

Her relatives, friends, colleagues, and partners all say that’s why they’ve tried to play matchmaker, even without her permission.

Huyen, navigating through a myriad of matchmaking trials, exemplifies the tension between personal choice and societal expectations in the realm of romance.

In Hanoi, Khanh Ly, 31 years old, works at a school. She had a fierce argument with her mother and ended it by declaring: "From now on, don’t talk to me ever again if all you want to talk about is getting a husband for me."

It all started with her mother calling on the day Ly's ex-lover got married, intending to blame her for missing out on a good relationship and encouraging her to open up to a suitor.

Nearly ten years ago, Ly accepted a boyfriend because he had "fallen for her" for a long time, and it was gaining the attention of the class. However, less than a month in, Ly realized that the two were not compatible, so she decided to break up. Since then, she has not loved anyone else.

The older she gets, the more those around her urge her to get married, and the more they try to force matchmaking on her.

Every now and then she receives a text message or call with the opening: "Hello, I was introduced to you by..."

For most, she only answers vaguely and rejects their offers to meet, and that’s usually the end of it.

But during a New Year family meal at her uncle’s house, she was introduced to a man whose parents were her parent’s old classmates.

He looked tall, and gentle and had a promising career, but after some time, Ly realized that he was the type of boy who never wanted to grow up. Any action he took was directed by his mother and all he ever did was passively follow her.

Khanh Ly expressed her frustration after her first coffee with the man back in October:

"After that date, my mom called to tell me that the man’s family was planning for a wedding at the end of the year. A friend from my hometown somehow heard this through the grapevine, and my high school class immediately rushed to ask me about it," Ly said.

It all ended with the tense phone call with her mother last weekend.

According to matchmaking expert Vu Nguyet Anh, CEO of a high-end dating brand in Hanoi, Huyen or Ly's fatigue comes from people not understanding the risky nature of matchmaking.

"Since long ago, there have been many people who are enthusiastic about matchmaking single people. They do it not for any benefit but just to be enthusiastic, affectionate, but sometimes they’re impatient for the person to get matched," Anh said.

From the perspective of the person getting matched, its all about willingness.

"Some see love as a fated thing that shouldn’t be intruded by the act of matchmaking."

A survey of VnExpress readers showed that 31% of people are very averse to matchmaking, 49% see it as normal and only 20% see it as an opportunity to find a life partner.

Nguyen Nhat Long, 36 years old, an IT engineer in Hanoi, does not like to meet girlfriends through matchmaking. He once had to move when the landlady insisted on setting him up with her niece.

Another time, his friend introduced his "pretty, already living in Hanoi" friend to Long.

But Long also refused to meet because he felt that "love is a personal matter, so you should find it yourself, if I can’t find a wife of my own, how would I be able to do anything else in life?"

Two years ago, he changed his mind because he had been "single" for too long. "I didn't expect that a person who was against matchmaking would eventually get married thanks to matchmaking," Long said with a smile.

During his wedding at the end of September 2023, the groom was playfully made fun of by his friends in front of the bride.

With more than 10 years of experience as a professional matchmaker, Nguyet Anh believes that in today's work-oriented society, especially with older single people, the opportunity to find a life partner is limited. "Locally sourced" matchmakers will help increase your chances of finding the right person.

You need to understand that a person wants to be a matchmaker because they like and care about you.

Acknowledge the goodwill instead of being angry about it, Anh said.

If you don't want to, you can just say thank you and refuse. If you agree, be open.

"Once you agree to let them help, understand that it is just an opportunity that they give you, and how you use it is up to you. Just live with your feelings, carefully check the other person like anyone you meet in society. Don't feel secure about the other person because of a trusted matchmaker," Anh shared.

From the matchmaker's side, to avoid unfortunate situations, it is necessary to skillfully find out if the person needs an introduction. If they agree, you need to clearly state how much you know the other person, under what circumstances you know them, how much information about them can you validate, and anything uncertain should also be shared, don't get too carried away and pair up the wrong couple with exaggerations and misinformation.

Both Huyen and Ly do not rule out matchmaking, but up to now they do not accept "being forced to sit and look pretty." At this age, Huyen feels she lives happily with what she has and doesn’t need to marry anyone. Ly herself is still determined to get married and have children, but wants to "wait for marriage" instead of having someone else arrange it.

"Tiring and stressful days are about to happen again because during the Tet holidays I will be asked about my ‘status’ my many forceful ‘matchmakers,’" the 31-year-old girl lamented.

* Character names have been changed

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