Wu Xu recently fell in love with a woman but had no idea how to pursue her. With little dating experience, this 30-year-old shy, introverted engineer found it difficult for him to even start a WeChat conversation with her, let alone ask her out.

By chance, he found some e-shops providing online daizhui services, which literally means helping someone chase a person they love. Out of curiosity, Wu decided to try.

1,588 yuan to get a woman

Daizhui is one of the newly emerging services gaining popularity among Chinese millennials. Searching the keywords “daizhui” and “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” on China’s largest shopping website Taobao, the Global Times saw as many as 4,000 shops providing related services.

These shops claim to be able to help clients pursue someone online by teaching them to send the “correct” WeChat messages to attract their targets. “Don’t know how to chat with girls in a smart way? We’ll teach you sentence by sentence,” wrote one shop on its page.

Wu chose a shop named Love Lab, which charged him 30 yuan ($4.22) for a 30-minute online “consultation and help” with a shop agent named Louis. 

After Wu paid, Louis added his WeChat, urging him to ask the woman out on a date. Wu did, and was then declined by the woman, who said she was busy with work. Wu forwarded her reply to Louis, who told him to copy and paste his sentences to her, “Did your boss assign you a new project? You must be very tired. My heart aches for you.”

During the 30 minutes, almost all the messages Wu sent to the woman were actually copied from Louis. These messages, in Wu’s eyes, were more interesting, humorous and thoughtful than what he would usually write himself. “He was indeed better at chatting with girls than me,” Wu recalled.

Then Louis started to ask Wu for more money. “This girl is very easy to chase,” he wrote. “Pay me 1,588 yuan for a long-term daizhui service; I will help you finally get her.”

But Wu declined. “Louis doesn’t know her at all, and I don’t know him,” he told the Global Times. “How can I trust his words?”

The popularity of such daizhui services shows the inability of millennials to deal with the opposite sex and relationships, an expert says. Photo: VCG

Long-term service

Like Love Lab, many daizhui shops provide long-term services on top of temporary ones. One of the shops, as Nanjing-based Modern Express reported early this month, charges clients 2,000 yuan for 30 days of services. 

“Our success rate is over 90 percent,” the shop says, according to the report. “But we don’t give refunds if we fail.”

The Global Times reporter contacted a daizhui shop named Heart Supporting on Taobao, pretending to be an ordinary client who wanted to chase a man. After paying 50 yuan for a one-hour service, an agent Ye Lei added the reporter’s WeChat.

Ye claimed to be a psychological consultant, and said that the shop does good business with over 100 deals per day. When the reporter asked Ye how to flirt with the man, he suggested that she share photos on her WeChat Moments that can show her personal charms.

“For instance, if you have a good figure, you can share a photo of the moonlight outlining your sexy curves,” he wrote.

Just as in Wu’s case, Ye tried to get the reporter to buy his long-term services. “I will help you get him,” he promised. “Not only teach you how to chat with him, but also guide you to make up and dress up properly.”

After the one-hour service, one of Ye’s co-workers surnamed Jiang asked the reporter to write a review for the shop. “I will give you 20 yuan if you give us a five-star review,” Jiang said.

Not the case

“Obviously, some of the daizhui shops’ reviews are fake,” Wu said.

He mentioned his agent Louis, a 20-something who he thought was “too young to be a pickup artist or relationship expert.” “Though many reviews say they have successfully chased someone with their agents’ help, I personally don’t believe it,” he told the Global Times.

Besides, although most agents claim to be qualified psychological consultants, Modern Express has found that is not the case. 

“Some daizhui shops also recruit agents, and a Modern Express reporter recently applied,” it said in a September article. “The reporter does not have a psychological consultant certificate or any related experience, but she got the job.”

Nonetheless, many young people are still willing to try these services.

Shanghainese woman Amy (alias) bought a 30-minute daizhui service last week. Feeling that her boyfriend was growing cold to her, the 20-something asked her agent what to do to win his heart back. 

“I don’t care whether the agent has a consultant certificate or not, nor do I mind if she isn’t a real relationship expert,” she said. “I just want advice from strangers. As the old saying goes, the spectator sees most of the game.”

The popularity of such daizhui services shows the inability of millennials to deal with the opposite sex and relationships, said marriage and family consultant Zhuang Liping. 

“Having realized that, they tend to seek agents for help – either for chasing someone or for saving a relationship,” she told Modern Express. 

Wu admitted that in the last few years, he has had little opportunity to learn and practice the “art of love”. 

“My parents strictly banned me from dating girls when I was at school,” he said. “But after I graduated, they urged me to get married.”

Amy agreed. She dated her first boyfriend until the age of 26, and they often quarreled. “Neither of us know how to have a healthy relationship,” she lamented.

The popularity of such daizhui services shows the inability of millennials to deal with the opposite sex and relationships, an expert says. Photo: VCG