As weird as it sounds, I actually get the question “What is it like to date a Japanese/Asian man?” quite a lot. And I don’t really understand why.
I am a Canadian woman; my boyfriend Hitomi is a Japanese man. I was born in Quebec, which is a French province in Canada; he was born in the countryside of Chiba (Tokyo), where he speaks — obviously — Japanese. I am Caucasian and he is Asian, so by definition, that makes us an AMWF (Asian Male White Female) couple.
He is the first Asian man I ever dated, and I am the first foreigner (non-Japanese person) he has ever dated.
“So, why did you chose to date a Japanese man?”
Let’s clarify something: I didn’t choose him because he is Japanese. I chose him because he is a loving, kind, patient and hardworking man. He could be Brazilian, Canadian or Russian, it wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t care at all about nationalities when it comes to love.
Now for the “What is it like to date a Japanese man” question, well, I don’t really know how to answer it, mainly because I don’t like generalizing an entire culture just based on the experience I have with one person. I also don’t like to reduce Hitomi to just his nationality; he’s so much more than that.
But since I’ve known Japan for some time now and am kind of accustomed to the culture, I can start to see some points of it that can play relationships.
Warning: it’s hard to know if a certain aspect of a relationship is due to a person’s culture, or just their personnality — or probably both, but that’s philosophy here. I’ll try to talk with super duper broad general terms here, so if you’re a Japanese man and NOT like I’m going to describe, don’t get offended. I’m not pretending that Hitomi represents all the Japanese male population (plot twist: he probably doesn’t at all). I’m just describing some patterns I noticed while being in Japan and dating Hitomi for a year and a half.
1. Dating a Japanese man feels safe and stable.
That of course implies you’re in a serious relationship, and not just a fling.
With Hitomi, it’s stable in a way that he was always completely assuming his feelings for me. You often hear that Japanese people don’t tell their affection and don’t show it, but I realized it’s mostly not true. In Japan, it’s normal to do a 告白, or a (love) confession to the person by saying you love them before even kissing for the first time. Japanese don’t usually have that time lapse when nobody really knows if you’re a couple or not. Usually, they are either in a relationship, or they’re not.
It’s also normal to talk about marriage early in the relationship, and at a young age.
Also — although I think this is his personnality and not really his culture in itself — Hitomi never made me feel like he was going to leave me because I did something he didn’t like. I, myself, had many panic moments when I was afraid he would leave me, because I don’t take him for granted and honestly I’m just so, so awkward and weird, and I don’t understand how he still puts up with me.
But it’s so good to finally feel sure that when you argue about something or when there’s any kind of problem, you will actually work it out together without putting your relationship on the line of break up everytime.
This is something my previous boyfriends were never able to give me. It was more like “If it continues like this, I think we’ll have to break up”.
Did I have manipulative exes? Probably.
Is it a Japanese thing to make your significant other feel safe? I don’t know.
But I sure was used to the “drama”, and with Hitomi, there’s none.
2. It’s romantic
Again, I don’t know if this is a cultural thing or if that’s just Hitomi, but he’s much more prone to saying cute things to me than my previous boyfriends were. In Canada, guys are afraid to come off as “gay” if they say something too cute. Or they are afraid of seeming weak if they act too in love with their girlfriend. But in Japan, I feel like it’s actually good to be cute and as kind as possible with your girlfriend/boyfriend. They don’t seem to have that “gayness” fear, as masculinity is seen differently in Japan than it is in Canada.
[For more, check out my other post about it here]
3. Sometimes, you might feel as if you’re significant other is not proud of you
Because he doesn’t speak about you to his entourage. At all.
In the Japanese culture, talking about your spouse is a really private thing, and private things don’t belong in conversations between coworkers, friends, and sometimes even family.
So, you might meet the friends of your lover, and realize they didn’t even knew about your existence. This is not necessarily because your lover is hiding you and keeping your relationship secret — it’s just normal in Japan to keep your mouth shut about such things.
4. They might spend a lot of time at work instead of with you
Although this is the typical stereotype about Japanese culture, there is some things to say about the fact that Japanese men work insane hours at their company.
They probably don’t do that because they like their career more than they love you; it’s just that Japanese men have been brought up to believe that a good husband is a man who brings enough money home to support his family. They might work their way up to the top in their company, not because they want it, but because they think it’s their duty as a husband and a father.
If money is not really important to you and you prefer having a lower income but spending quality time with your boyfriend, then you should have this discussion with him early in the relationship (before getting married). Your priorities, values and way of thinking might be very different on that point, so better know what to expect than be surprised later.
I specifically told Hitomi that if he was going to make his way to the top just for the money, then it probably wouldn’t work out between us. If he loves his job, it’s not a problem. But I personally refuse to let him put all the pressure of the family’s financial situation on his shoulders alone. We will be two in this. And for me, the definition of a good husband is a man who takes care of his family with his presence and love, not only with the money he brings back. Hitomi was actually very relieved after we had that discussion, so don’t be afraid to talk about future issues that make you worry!
5. And finally, it’s fun! (This one can apply to any intercultural relationship, not just a Japanese one)
It’s a whole lot of fun, essentially because Hitomi just makes me laugh so much, but also because of the mingling of cultures. No time to get bored when you are regularly surprised by the reactions or thoughts of your significant other because that person is not from the same culture as you. I highly recommend (that sounds a bit weird) dating outside your culture, because it will allow your views to expand and you will learn how to meet halfway and make concessions, among many other awesome things.
This is a very short post about intercultural dating, but I hope I was able to answer some of your questions and fulfill your curiosity, and if not, don’t be afraid to ask questions in the comments section below!