Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dating in Japan as an American Woman

There are so many blogs, vlogs, articles, etc. about American (or other Western) men and Japanese women. There's little to nothing about American women and Japanese men. When I do find something, it's usually about how Japanese men liked the writer because she was blonde and had blue-eyes, well...I've got neither, so that's no help to me.

I've been dating a Japanese guy for 3 years. Before I continue, I should note that I've never dated an American guy. That's not because I didn't want to, but because things just never fell into place. Like many American girls, I read about difficulties dating in Asia, and so before coming to Japan, I was fully prepared to be alone. But, in my 4th year here in Japan, I met my current boyfriend at work. 

He'd lived in the U.S. as a child (kindergarten through third grade) and somewhat aggressively pursued me. I'd just ended a relationship with a guy I fell hard for, and I thought that I should at least try this one and see how it'd turn out.

Since I'm the type of person that likes to look at the bad points before the good, here are the bad/annoying points of dating a Japanese guy. When I point out something, he'll say, "But, I'm better than most Japanese guys," and such and so on. Mileage may vary. So...

1. Communication!
It's difficult to squeeze words out of him, unless they are related to something that he's interested in like photography, something online or programming. Even then, it's only a few words like, "I think that Dreamweaver is stupid," or "Look at this site."
Along with that, there are things that he won't tell me because he thinks I'll be hurt by them. An example would be when I stayed at his mom's apartment while job hunting and she told him she didn't like that I put my duffle bag (which I never place on the ground), on the couch because it was "dirty." I stayed at her place December of 2011, I heard about the bag a few days ago (2013). 

Getting anything out of him is like pulling teeth, which makes me frustrated. When it comes to doing things together, he'll say he wants to do something, then...nothing. When I push him, he says, "I want to, but it's difficult." Difficult? Well, what does that mean? "I guess difficult means 'impossible.'" Well just say that the first time!

2. Disrespect
I'm sure that this could be a part of communication. I tell him that I like XYZ or would prefer he do XYZ (ex- don't smoke around me), but he does it. I remember one time when I went to eat with him and his high school friend; they sat at the table and promptly lit up. I said something to the effect of, "Do you guys need to smoke here and now?" and his friend goes, "What's wrong with smoking?" And the friend is the son of a doctor and is supposed to be studying to get into medical school! 
If I tell him something is important to me, many times he lets it go in one ear and out the other. 

3. All Talk
You know the saying, "Actions speak louder than words"? That describes my frustration. Unlike what I've read online about Japanese guys who never say, "I love you," my boyfriend loves to say it. He also likes to talk about things he wants to do, places he could go to, but in the end, it's all left on the table. What I've learned is that he'd like to, say, go on vacation with me, but it's difficult; read "impossible", because of some reason. 
While I'd never tell him to put his job in danger, I do expect that we try to make time for each other. I'm pretty busy with my job, but if I knew that we were going to try and go on a trip together, I'd try to save money. But all I hear are wishes and excuses.

4. Competition/Misunderstanding with Family
My boyfriend's given my few tips on dealing with his family. I prefer to go into any unknown situation armed with as much knowledge as possible. Knowledge is power, right? But, my boyfriend's style is, "Ignorance is bliss." And, "It's not a big deal."
His grandmother was annoyed that I didn't wash the stairs. I would have done it...if I knew it was something I should/could do. 
His mom wants him to hurry up and get married to a Japanese girl and start his own family. She's threatening to disown him; kick him out of the house; etc. Instead of standing up to his mom and telling her that his life is his own, he tells me, "I want to marry you, but it's difficult (impossible)." But, he doesn't want to break up. 
I suggested that he talk with his mom and other family about his goals in life, but he insists that because they don't understand his line of work, programming, they can't/won't/refuse to understand him. I told him to talk to them about me, you know, "We're going on a trip," "I like talking with her because XYZ," but again..."My family doesn't...can't understand."

There are other things, but I'm going to end here.
Before anyone thinks that we have problems because my Japanese is bad or his English is bad, that's not really the main thing. Even Japanese people who know him tell me that his way of saying things in Japanese can be unclear. And when I talk with him, I try to state points in Japanese just to make sure that he understands me. *sigh*


  1. I agree. I think a lot of Japanese men can say a lot - but rarely follow up on it (actions do speak louder than words).
    I also agree on the communication front - it's pretty close to impossible.

    I think if my fiance and I ever break up, I won't even consider dating another Japanese man. I mean, I get that dating is supposed to be hard, but it took close to a year to get on the same page of communication. There is no way I'm going through that again.

    Good luck with the mother. I've heard several horror stories. My fiance does the same "ignorance is bliss" route - it drives me crazy.

    1. Thanks for the comment!
      I feel so much better that we're talking more, even if it's because he's moving haha! Glad to hear from another person who's in the same boat :) And good luck with your fiance!

  2. Hi, enjoyed reading this. I think some of these are personality quirks with your boyfriend. By the way, did you guys end up getting married?

    My husband hates cigarette smokes. He does take forever to make a decision, but he has never told me he is going to do something without having done it. I am definitely the wishy-washy one in our relationship.