Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dating in Japan: Expectations

Last night I was stranded on the Toyoko line for an hour, waiting for the worst of the typhoon to pass, after the last of a series of long days and nights of work events. While listening to the wild winds buffet the train, my thoughts turned philosophical (perhaps aided by the rather large G&T which one of the attendees foisted on me).

One of my friends here has a boyfriend (although I am not sure if that is the best term to use for him) she only sees once a month. He lives 20 minutes away, but is always 'too busy' to meet and doesn't want to come by the sharehouse. Personally, these sound like incredibly lame excuses, but she swallows them whole.

With long work hours and commutes, I understand that meeting once a week may be the max for many people, especially if you want to maintain a decent social life. But unless you are in a long distance relationship, once a month sounds kind of silly...can you really consider someone who does not call you or try to meet with you a boyfriend/girlfriend?

However, this seems to be a common arrangement. A couple of my sharemates are in the same situation, and one of them is male! Is it that meeting once a month is enough for them, or are they afraid to be hated if they ask for more time? I cannot help but remember what my mother once said: If you really care for someone, you will do anything just to spend a few hours with them.

Strange how a few words can influence one so deeply, especially as she was speaking to someone else, but I took those words to heart. I have flown to another EU country when the object of my affection was passing through there, and been visited on less than 12 hours notice by the same person. Flown back and forth between Japan and London, taken night buses and shinkansen between Kobe and Tokyo. I do not regret any of it.

I am not willing to settle for someone who 'allows me' (as my friend said) to meet them, and is not willing to put in work and effort. I analyze everything to death (thank you, liberal arts education), but still feel that knowing that someone will drop everything to come be with you or help you ranks much higher than money, looks, status or even attraction.

Enough pondering now... thankfully there is a Hash tonight, nothing like a 8k run to relieve one of overly convoluted thoughts!


  1. If you really care for someone, you will do anything just to spend a few hours with them.

    That's so true! Meeting once a month sounds more like an affair than a relationship. (especially if both are living in the same town)

  2. I agree with the person above. Meeting once a month sounds like an arrangement or scheduled meeting.. Doesn't really sound like an relationship. But then again.. Maybe I'm just old school..

  3. Hi ladies, I agree that it is very odd, but it also seems to be quite common. I wonder if there is an element of enryou in all this?

  4. I've heard this a lot of times from foreign and Japanese people alike. I've even met people who are married in situations like this. One of my penpals said her husband left for work at 6:30AM and came home around midnight (I think his commuting time was 1 1/2 hours). She said she was "like a single mother."

    I've only been in one relationship before and it was an LDR, so I'm not sure what's appropriate or not.

  5. As a woman who trekked halfway around the world in pursuit of a man, I'm not exactly an unbiased observer. :D However, I firmly believe that familiarity does not breed contempt and that absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

    I've noticed something similar in platonic friendships in Japan. I have to give my Japanese (female) friends at least a month's notice if I want to have dinner. Spontaneity is less successful.

    Then again, the shitamachi shindig was arranged about a month upfront, so maybe I should shut up now? ;)

    PS: It could be enryo or it could be conveniently hiding behind culture. Who knows?

    1. I also wish things could be a bit more spontaneous... but such is life! And the shitamachi shindig shall be very fun, especially since I will be jet lagged silly (^_^)

  6. My man and I see each other about once a week now...if it goes over that one of us tends to get a little batty ^^;; I keep waiting on when we'll get sick of each other since we're approaching two years but it's not happening. Only seeing each other once a month sounds awful...though I know married couples who are on opposite ends of the world right now, so I guess some people can handle it.

    Work is just so all-consuming in this country. I know my bf would love to see me, but he's tired from working for 12 hours and if we see each other he's going to be even more tired the next day. (Solution? We're looking for an apartment.)

    1. I agree, once a week is bare minimum for me as well!
      Congrats on the apartment search, that is super exciting :)

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