Have you ever wondered what to expect when dating a Japanese guy? Well, to begin with, I am not Japanese and did not grow up in Japan, so I had zero idea about Japanese culture, characteristics, and traits before moving here.
Despite my understandable lack of knowledge, my Japanese boyfriend and I have been together for a long time now. Looking back at our relationship, I remembered many things I discovered along the way that shaped my relationship and that highlighted the challenges, issues, and differences people from different cultures can experience when dating.
Articles like this can fall under the “you are generalizing” category, so I want to emphasize that the things I’m listing are based on my experiences dating in Japan, and that not everyone will encounter the same things. Nevertheless, these are some recurring traits that I experienced:
Stop that, you two!
Holding hands, hugging, cuddling, kissing, and other types of PDA (Public Display of Affection) are not frowned upon. I love kisses and hugs, who doesn’t? And public displays of affection in my home country are perfectly acceptable. That’s why when my current boyfriend and I were in the Philippines, I would usually hold his hand or cling around his arm even if we were in public places. However, after returning to Japan, I accidentally reached his hand to hold it, and all of a sudden he got annoyed and reminded me that such display was not okay in Japan. As much as I tried to repress that instinct, I always got reprimanded for this!
There’s nothing wrong about working hard, but you know what they say, “everything is only good in moderation.”
My boyfriend works 12 hours a day, which is basically half of a whole day. To make things worse, he only has one day off.
That means he doesn’t have the chance to go on vacation or to truly enjoy a day of leisure; and it’s sad to think that he misses special family events. There are times when he needs to spend some extra hours if his boss is still around the office, which according to him, is a part of paying respect to his higher-up. This is actually quite common in Japanese work environments. People tend to stick around until their boss decides to go home.
The thing that challenges my patience the most is the drinking culture. Going somewhere to drink after work is part of the office’s routine. There is a general belief that rejecting an invitation to go drinking could damage one’s image within the company and deteriorate one’s relationship with their boss. As a result, people tend to go drinking and a lot. Sadly, my boyfriend is one of those people affected, and he tends to come home even later than usual because of these drinking parties even though the would not like to go.
Japanese guys are by nature sweet… eerr.
Is that completely true? Unfortunately, I cannot remember the last time my boyfriend gave me flowers or sweets, but when it comes to being responsible and generous I couldn’t ask for more. He is a good provider and will shoulder all the expenses in the house. However, I should not expect him to go out of his way to show me a sweet gesture.
In this regard, people do tend to have very different experiences. Some might find Japanese guys to be very romantic and sweet, while others might see them as good-natured and responsible but not necessarily passionate.
One’s culture deserves respect and acceptance even when people from other cultures have difficulties understanding it. There will always be interesting things when it comes to cultural differences. Throughout the course of a relationship, some of these differences will be challenging while some will be very exciting. However, those particular traits and characteristics are part of who my boyfriend is. If I can’t understand these differences, then what’s the point of dating someone from another culture? Not to mention that my boyfriend could definitely come up with a list of the things about my culture that he finds strange. It goes both ways, after all.
In our case, we have treated our differences as a fun challenge that has shaped our relationship.