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Japanese dating etiquette?

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  • Japanese dating etiquette?

    Hoping someone with a little more experience than me will help me out here. I've dated 4 Japanese guys before, one for a long time, two of them were just casual dates once or twice, and then there's this current guy. The problem is, I don't what our relationship is, don't know how to read him, don't know what I should do next...

    The first guy I dated was very "Westernized," he pretty much dated ONLY gaijin girls and therefore assumed that I would WANT to make out in public, come over to his parents' house every day, etc. I know that is NOT typical of a Japanese guy, and that was a huge part of the reason we broke up, he had the idea that foreign girls are easy, like to show PDA etc, which I do not. The other two were very casual relationships, these guys told me they loved me on the first date, trying to get me to go to a love hotel with them. I got the distinct impression that they only wanted sex.

    Now... this guy. Completely clueless as to Western culture, does not speak English, has never even been on a plane. So needless to say he is the complete OPPOSITE of my ex in terms of how far and how fast he is going. He has never kissed me, and I don't know if that is normal or not. He has hugged me, will walk with me in public holding my hand (that took a LONG time to get to...), I've been to his apartment. Mostly we just hang out and talk, he will take me to "date spots" when we're alone, or we'll just go to dinner with mutual friends. I don't think he's seeing anyone else but I also don't get the impression that he considers me his "girlfriend." We have dicussed our feelings for each other a little bit... I definitely think he likes me but is shy/scared. I know very little about his past relationships, and I don't want to ASK (I wouldn't even with an American man) but I wish he would tell me if he had been hurt or something.

    I know nothing about his family, I know that he was born and grew up in a different city and so I'm assuming that if he has family, they still live there. But he never mentions his parents, any siblings, etc. He told me that his family didn't have a lot of money, and he told me how his grandfather died, and that's it. I don't talk about my family a lot either but he knows how many siblings I have etc, and sometimes I'll say "I called my mom tonight" or whatever. But he hardly ever mentions his family or his past... is that normal?

    He is a perfect gentleman, I appreciate the fact that he hasn't tried to get me in bed yet.... but does that mean he's not interested in me? If a Western guy knew me for this long and never tried to kiss me, I would think he only liked me as a friend... but he is holding my hand in public and taking me to romantic places and there's this wonderful chemistry... he's older and completely clueless about American culture, so I'm guessing he's going entirely on the basis of Japanese dating etiquette... but what is that???

  • #2
    Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

    Your current boyfriend (how old is he? how long have you been dating?) sounds like a typical Japanese man. Shy, reserved, keeping his family at a distance from you. No PDA other than handholding. All pretty much normal, especially if he is a fairly young man. But you said he is "older". How old?

    You will obviously have to take certain initiatives with this man if you want to pursue something more physical. Until then, he may be doing only what he feels is proper, polite dating etiquette. Being a gentleman, sharing a romantic atmosphere (and nothing more physical than just being there to soak it up).

    Since he doesn't speak English, do you communicate in Japanese? How well?


    • #3
      Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

      You seemed concerned that this guy has never kissed you or tried to get you in bed yet. Well, do YOU want to kiss him and go to bed with him? If so, try taking the lead. Not aggressively, which might scare him off, but gently. He may be shy, but he's a man and shouldn't be averse to this kind of thing.

      You've probably realized by now why he's so different from your previous Japanese boyfriends. This first guy had a fetish for white girls (I'm assuming you're white), and wasn't interested in you as a person so much as the status and excitement your skin colour, hair colour, tall nose etc. gave him. Good for you for ending that relationship.
      The other two were just typical guys and only interested in sex.
      This new guy is obviously interested in you as a person. He's taking slowly it most likely because he wants to make sure you are what you appear. He has probably heard that foreign girls tend to be bossy and prone to tantrums, and are sluts, don't like Japanese men and only date them for money,
      He is just trying to make sure you are as nice as you appear and that you're not just playing around with him for money. He probably also realizes that as a foreigner in Japan you have some hardships and inconveniences, and that your stay here may only be temporary.
      So maybe he thinks that if he has sex with you or acknkowledges you as his girlfriend he will be taking responsibility for you, and he just wants to make sure you're worthy first. He doesn't want to invest himself in a relationship only to have you sleep around on him, or try to scam money off him, or simply fly back home.
      He sounds like a really responsible and thoughtful guy- a rarity! You probably have a gem, and if you have feelings for him and really want a relationship you should tell him.


      • #4
        Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

        im no psychologist but

        maybe he is intimidated by you
        and i would advise telling him your feelings but maybe not everything at once

        or ask him if hes gay and then he will want to prove his masculinity

        just ideas, please no grief

        the japanese family unit is generally the opposite of a western one
        while living at thome they manage to have a long distance relationship
        expect to do his cooking and ironing if you ever get married


        • #5
          Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

          Smallworld makes many valid points. Of course J guys are more reticent when it comes to making a move and language/culture barriers mean that you have to be blatant which makes everyone uncomfortable.

          However, a few female friends of mine have been in simiar situations and been advised (by myself as well) to hang in there....he obviously likes you cos he calls/mails often, you hang out a fair bit etc etc. Then the girl has tried to develop the relationship further and it has turned out that the guy wasn't interested in her as a girlfriend but was just enjoying her friendship.

          You can tell if someone likes you or not. If you think he does, make a move. If not, distance yourself from him. Romantic walks/views etc are all very nice (initially) but how frustrated are you going to be in a few weeks if you still don't know what's going on. Better to risk rejection (and so get over it quicky) then carrying on with the does he/doesn't he syndrome


          • #6
            Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

            Thank you everyone for your responses! To answer everyone's questions:

            -He is in his mid-30s, so not OLD, but the other guys I referred to were all in their 20s, as am I
            -We do talk in Japanese, usually without even having to use dictionaries. He seems to have a good grasp of the limits of my language skills, and is actually really good at teaching me too!
            -I would like to kiss him at least. If it goes beyond that, I'm not averse. but I'm not used to taking the initiative, we're both painfully shy!

            And in regard to the money worries... he doesn't have a lot of money, I don't know for sure but I would bet that I have more savings than he does. And the one time I DID confess my feelings, the response was something to the effect of "I like you too, but I don't have any money." So I think he is more worried that his lack of money will turn me off, rather than that I will try to take his money. (however, after that conversation something definitely changed for the better, he seemed to relax a little bit and wanted to hold my hand in public and everything, so I dont think it was a negative reaction)

            What everyone has said seems encouraging to me so far.... thanks! Feel free to comment on anything else.... and I'll do my best, I think he's worth it. (^-^)


            • #7
              Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

              It seems pretty obvious this guy likes you!
              This thing with money really reminds me of my husband when we were first dating. You may be right that he fears his lack of riches will turn you off, but there's probably more. After all, you stuck with him even after you found out he's poor.
              For one thing, girlfriends are often considered an 'expense'. Having a girlfriend is supposed entail spending lots of money on dates, hotels, presents etc. And the idea of having a girlfriend but not being able to take her out is probably really threatning to his ego, and the idea of YOU paying for dates is likely even worse. Lots of Japanese men are really sensitive and old fashioned about money.

              When you guys go out, who pays? Has he ever refused to allow you to pay? Does he let you pay sometimes but act weird about it?


              • #8
                Re: Japanese dating etiquette?

                Hmmm... well, when we eat we usually go Dutch. Sometimes he pays, and he let me pay once! I'm making progress! He was silly about it, bowing and saying "gochisousama" etc... it was cute. I don't think he's really bought me any presents, but he's made CDs for me and paid my admission to amusement parks and things. He always drives and won't let me help with tolls or parking fees. So I think he does all that he can, and I told him that THAT is the important thing.

                I guess it is partly an ego thing. He definitely has an ego... but its cute! For some reason the "imperfect" things about him are the cutest. LOL


                • #9
                  Re: Japanese dating etiquette?


                  He sounds like a great guy, no kidding. But I had a very similar experience (right down to "I like you, but I have no money"). I assumed that he felt unable somehow to assert himself as a man in relation to me because he was making less than me. Perhaps so, but anyway, the ambiguity continued for months... I let him get away with it because I thought he was so cool. And then he ended up finding another (Japanese) girlfriend and giving her all the passionate affection I had been waiting for. So just in case, my advice would be to get it absolutely clear whether you are his "girlfriend" or not. If you ARE, it ought to be clear sailing! Good luck!