Lonely hearts flock to a matchmaking event, but many women are forced to share a date Sitting on white plastic chairs in an open field at Zhongshan Park yesterday, hundreds of women waited for an eight-minute date. For some, the wait was just a matter of minutes, but for others it was an hour before a suitor came along. The unlucky ones even had to share a date because of a shortage of men. The largest matchmaking event on the mainland for young professionals attracted about 4,000 lonely hearts trying to find their Mr or Ms Right. In a city where young professionals with a busy work schedule find it hard to meet dates, 100 yuan probably seemed like a bargain to take part in the event. For that price, each person received a book with contact information and a short description of all singles at the event, and they each received a rose to give to the person they liked. The man and woman who received the most roses were last night crowned the most popular singles. Aside from the eight-minute speed-dating session, attendants also played games. Men and women were paired up to walk a three-legged race, convey as many inflated balloons as possible without using their hands, and walk through traps while one was blindfolded and the other led. As expected, there were many more women than men at the event. Wang Weiming, director-general of the China Association of Social Workers' Matchmaking Service Committee, said the women-to-men ratio was 6.5 to 3.5. 'I think it has to do with the difference in male and female personalities,' he said. 'Men are more willing to show their love, while women usually keep that to themselves. This makes it easier for the men to succeed.' Others in the matchmaking industry said the reason also had to do with men sticking with traditional values and wanting to be the one who had a better job. This meant they could date less educated and younger girls, while the reverse was not true for women. 'Women also have very high expectations of men,' said Cui Peijun, manager of the Shanghai Yue Yuan Marriage Introduction Company. 'Even when they've got the right education and job, women also want their men to have good character.' He added that 80 per cent of his clients were women. Most of those interviewed said they were disappointed the organisers did not try to balance the number of men and women at the event. 'They did not organise this well at all,' said Helen Zhu, a 24-year-old clerk, who sat for 30 minutes with her friend until a man approached them. 'It felt like we were interviewing him. The men here are very passive.' Zhang Ying, a 29-year-old supervisor at an insurance company, went to the park at the urging of a friend. It has been three years since she had a steady boyfriend, but she was not in a rush. 'I'm sure there will be people who will succeed in finding a date from this event, but I don't have such high hopes for myself,' she said. 'I have some reservations about marriage because of some negative examples around me. I don't feel lonely. I have a lot of friends. But eventually, I would want to get a boyfriend and get married. I can't live alone my whole life.' Ms Zhang said she would want a responsible, career-driven man, financially well-off and with a stable job. Preferably, he should earn 10,000 yuan a month or own a flat. 'I would want my partner to make more money than me so that he could provide a comfortable living for me,' she said. 'I'm not in a rush though, it's just the people around me who are rushing me.' David Yao Jinxing , a 29-year-old furniture designer, was lucky. He met four potential dates. 'It's very good because it gives young men and women a chance to meet,' he said. 'I don't have high standards. I just want the person to be amiable and understanding.'