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Lessons in Love Among NJU's Most Popular Courses

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They may be part of the nation’s brainiest bunch but they could not solve the equation of love. That’s why Nanjing University’s postgraduate students are hungry for courses to help them find their other half. Last Saturday 19th December, NJU marked the ending of its sensational open dating courses with a dating game show.

The event was a copycat of the phenomenal dating show “If You Are the One” (非誠勿擾) aired on Jiangsu TV. During the game show, those with good-on-paper qualities failed to win the heart of the ladies. One of the student counsellors on campus said many boys in China only know how to get good grades. They are often too self-centred and immature.

Students from other universities such as the Nanjing Art Institute and Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology were also in attendance.

At the end of ceremony, participants Xiao Chen and Xiao Liu matched up and walked away with the ¥1,000 prize the University offered. Xiao Chen listed her requirements for a potential boyfriend; “Can’t be too fat, too lazy, too selfish or eat too much”. Professor Chen Changkai of the Nanjing University Psychology department does not think Xiao Chen really know what she wants. “The problem with a lot of university students is that they have so many expectations of the other party but don’t even have a clear view of themselves.”

There are many bachelors and bachelorettes in Nanjing’s top-notch universities. According to a survey among 1,500 post-grad students in Nanjing University, 70 percent of its post-grad students are single; 33.06 percent have never been in a relationship before and many are having trouble talking to the opposite sex.

It is very common in China for parents to ban their children from dating before they enter a good university.

The strict no-dating principle during school is likely the reason why a high percentage of Chinese university students lack confidence or social skills while interacting with the opposite sex.

So when Nanjing University offered a variety of “love courses” in 2014, they quickly gained popularity among students. Professor Chen gave his course an intriguing name: “Relationship is a technical job” and it was among students’ favourites.

Chen said the purpose of dating courses is not just for dating’s sake, but also to help students sharpen their interpersonal skills. He also blamed the Internet for the declining of abilities in face-to-face communication between students.

Here are Professor Chen’s answers to some of the questions raised by troubling post-graduates:

1. Is it ok for a girl to chase a boy?
“A popular Chinese expression goes ‘It’s almost as easy as poking through a thin piece of gauze for girls to pursue boys’. But it takes hard effort for a boy to do so because our culture context implies that a girl should be reserved when dealing with pursuits. But Girls should take ‘the relationship golden ratio’ into consideration. If a boy is giving you 0.618 efforts of a relationship, you should take care of the rest. No one wants to be in a relationship that doesn’t pay off.”

2. How to handle a long-distance relationship?
“Set a regular date to meet up. Better once a week or at least once a month. Surprise your partner with small gifts.”

3. How do I respond to these three following questions frequently asked by my girlfriend?
(i) Why aren’t you the same to me as when we first started dating?
“Take actions and melt her heart with your enthusiasm.”
ii) Can’t you tell what's different about me today?
“Just tell her she’s gorgeous.”
iii) Why aren’t you listening to me?
“Stop playing your video games immediately guys! Look at her in the eye and tell her you are sorry.”

4. How can two people live happily-ever-after?
“According to likelihood theories, the probability of the case that a boy meets a girl, fall in love, get married and grow old together is only 0.00002. Relationships can be characterised into four steps; evaluation, mutual benefit, commitment and institutionalisation. You should take it one step at a time.”

So good news then, for those Nanjing University students who took part in the dating courses; diplomas and IQ scores will not be the only things they can cuddle upon graduation.


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