Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When the Government Becomes a Matchmaker

It’s stressful enough when Mom wants you to get married. She turns into a matchmaker. “Why don’t you go out with …?” becomes a frequent question. She nags, she questions, and she probes into your personal life. She’s on hyper alert for every mention of a single man, a single woman, or an upcoming wedding. So imagine what a downer it is when the government wants you to get married and turns into a matchmaker, too.
Need a matchmaker? Try a speed dating event like this one!
That is exactly what’s happening in South Korea. The country is in a tizzy about falling birthrates, but it is still tied to conservative ideas about marriage and babies. So the government of South Korea is pushing its single citizens to match up, already.

 According to a recent story in the New York Times, solving the difficulties of South Korea’s hopelessly single men and women has become a national priority. So much so, in fact, that the government has been sponsoring dozens of speed dating parties in the hopes that Mr. Wong can meet Miss Right. (NOTE: I couldn’t resist using the previous line. It’s punny. Nevermind that Wong isn’t even a Korean name. Please forgive me.)

South Korea once depended on arranged courtships to produce weddings and marriages. Until the 1980s, young people relied upon family connections and hired a Patti Stanger (or maybe two Patti Stangers) to help find their spouses. But as young adults moved from ancestral villages to bigger cities, the traditional social/matchmaking networks started to break down. More and more families started turning to dating services that performed background checks. Today, arranged matches are becoming a thing of the past. So, in 2010, the Ministry of Health and Welfare began actively promoting dating parties and held four parties that year that brought together workers and employees at local corporations.

 I once went to a speed dating event myself. It was sponsored by Cupid.com rather than Uncle Sam. I approached the event as a grand adventure, and I ended up enjoying the evening. I met 13 single women that night, and I dated three of them. But, alas, I did not meet the last love of my life, and I did not get married as a result of attending the speed dating event.

The government of South Korea has had some success as a matchmaker, however. Couples who have met at the government-sponsored dating event have tied the knot.
All of this begs the question: how would you react to your government setting up dating parties? Would you attend if Big Brother was pushing for you to get married? Would you be open to the possibility of meeting your future wife at a government-sponsored event?

 How about if a hefty tax refund was part of the deal?

 This is Chad Stone, author of The Babe Magnet Rules of Dating Over 50, signing off.