Why does every successful Chinese man have a second wife, “Ernai” or “Xiaoxiang”? And how are they different? (5 photos)

16 April 2024

Anyone who has ever lived in China or was well acquainted with the culture of this country is probably familiar with the expression “Xiaosang and Ernai”. This is what people call “second wives” in China, who are (rather) modern versions of concubines.

And what’s surprising is that every respected and successful man (in addition to his legal wife) must definitely acquire a second ernai or xiaoxiang.

But why? And what is their difference?

A brief excursion into history

From ancient concubines to what we call mistresses today, the practice of "polygamy" has been a part of Chinese culture since ancient times. And it is noteworthy that these women were accessible not only to the emperor, who already owned several thousand concubines. In China, since ancient times, any man could own a second wife.

This practice first appeared during the Song Dynasty (which ruled China from 960 to 1279) as a custom among elite families. Over time, this changed, and already in the Qing dynasty (which ruled China from 1644 to 1912), even a wealthy merchant or ordinary farmer had the right to have a second wife.

Moreover, having two wives at once was considered very prestigious.

A similar practice exists in modern China (on an insane scale)

It is important for a man that his second wife provides him with sexual contact at any time and has a beautiful face. The second wife primarily wants the man to provide her with a luxurious lifestyle in exchange.

Both parties are required to comply with these agreed terms and behave decently towards each other.

According to various estimates, in China, so-called “second wives” account for almost a third of the consumption of all luxury goods in the country.

In Guangdong province alone in 2008, it is estimated that there were about 100,000 “second wives” squandering their husbands' money. However, what is noteworthy here is that these women do not have any official status.

In fact, these women can be called ordinary kept women or mistresses, unofficially considered “second wives” whom a man is obliged to support.

These women wear Gucci bags, diamonds, train in the most luxurious fitness clubs, and drive BMWs and Audis. A woman’s clothes should also be sophisticated, attractive and elegant, so that a man can always be sure that other men will envy him next to her. Often, spending on these women is several times higher than spending on official wives.

Ernai or xiaoxiang must wear high-end clothes and shoes from famous designers. They are not allowed to use counterfeit luxury items or appear on the street where they might be recognized or seen by their “husband’s” acquaintances in an inappropriate manner.

What are the differences between Ernai and Xiaoxiang?

Ernai wives differ from Xiaosan wives in that Ernai are with a man only for money, and Xiaosan want a relationship with him (to be mistresses) because of real feelings. Both are considered modern versions of the old Chinese practice of keeping concubines, or mistresses in the more modern sense of the word.

How much does it cost to maintain a second wife?

Chinese acquaintances answer that if a man wants to have an Ernai, then on average it will cost him at least 50,000 yuan (6 thousand dollars). And this is not just a one-time payment; at least for this amount you will need to support this girl for all subsequent months and even years. And the more “prestigious” a woman is, the more money she will demand for her lifestyle.

The second wife's lifestyle is a reflection of her husband's financial success, and her beauty is a testament to his taste.

Rich men can own many ernai; one official recently arrested for bribery owned about 10 ernai every month. While the poor (the majority of the Chinese population) are often forced to lead almost celibate lives due to financial difficulties, as women require these men to at least own an apartment and their own car.

If you didn't know, many Chinese find it difficult to purchase even a tiny studio due to huge real estate prices. Based on this, finding a potential girlfriend is an almost impossible task for millions of young Chinese men.

Therefore, a man who demonstrably possesses ernai or xiaoxiang is considered an incredibly successful man in Chinese society. This is the most prestigious status. Married and wealthy men often openly enjoy the privilege of having an ernai, which even their official wives approve of as a man's reward for his financial success.

Of course, for the whole world there is nothing surprising in this, because often men have similar girlfriends (in addition to their wives), but the uniqueness of the Chinese version is that both parties are proud of such relationships (including the husband’s official wife).

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