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"dating rules in japan"

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"dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Wed 12.10.2008 8:23 pm

if you google that topic the first result is this book "how to seduce a japanese woman", written by a guy who "picked the brain" of "...a man who had slept with over 150 japanese women."

not even interested. i need real advice from people who are well versed in manners, social rules, decorum, etc. when it comes to dating. please bear with me, this is a long post.

i'm not the kind of guy who finds dating even the slightest bit intimidating. if a girl doesn't like me, there's most likely another down the road who does. i'm not going to get too bent out of shape if i'm unsuccessful, because i'm happy being single. i don't want to push an issue with someone who doesn't think i'm great.

but it turns out i've met someone who i really, really like. like high-school love song feeling. i've not said anything to her about my feelings, but she has done things since i met her that either point out strongly "i really like you as a friend" or "the reason i am doing these things is that i want you to be a lifelong romantic partner and satisfy my mating instinct." i'm split, and i don't know how to approach the situation.

the reason i am asking for help and advice is the last time i was actually into someone (japanese) romantically, i followed my natural instinct as a guy who knows how charm a lady in the west, and it backfired completely - to the point where i bumped into her last month in kyoto station and she didn't even acknowledge me. all from an innocent admission of attraction/affection. i really, really don't want that to happen again. it was embarrassing, i lost a friend in the process, and it hurt pretty bad. i avoid all that when possible.

background: she's a single mom with a 4 year old daughter. that, i'm told, is a social stigma in japan. other single moms i know here have a sort of mindset "well, i ****-ed up once, so no man will ever think of looking my way ever again." and that it's often enforced by their family, who they often live with.

she contacted me to tutor her daughter. i was about to go take the JLPT, and my contract states that i can be fired for doing outside work for money - so i suggested a language exchange - free english for the daughter, free japanese for me. she liked that idea, and so she tutors me every tuesday and friday, i tutor her kid every saturday.

- japanese lessons are at a family restaurant and most times go overtime because we are having fun drinking tea and chatting. the only time she wants to go home is to put her daughter to bed. if the kid is already asleep, we often spend an extra 90 minutes over what was planned as an hour-long lesson. we get along. it's nice.

- english lessons for the daughter are at the family's house and often end with a trip to the playground because the girl usually wants to hang out more and play. i get along with her. she's a delightful kid.

- each lesson ends with a heartfelt thank you and goodbye, and without fail, i am presented with a 3-4 course home cooked meal in takeout containers.

- in the evening after each lesson, up to 20 keitai emails are sent back and forth either sending thanks for the meal and other niceties, or attempts to convey some sort of concept in japanese and the subsequent corrections/advice that ensue. we're in contact daily, usually regarding questions i have about the language - but it often turns into sending silly jokes and stuff back and forth - what i consider standard innocent flirting tactics.

- i was introduced to her mom, the lady who usually does the cooking. she referred to me as "handsome". the mom sent me a note the day before the JLPT to say good luck, and signed it "Japan-Mom".

now, i have successfully asked her to meet me socially, outside the confines of a lesson. turns out we both have beer as a strong bit of common ground so i have asked her to meet me at an izakaya so i can toast her helping me pass my test.

that is the strongest thing i have done to suggest to her that i want to date-and-perhaps-marry the living daylights out of her. she has timed the 'date' (if you can call it that) to fall during a time where her mom, brother and daughter are on a trip to shanghai (not sure if that is significant).

i'm split on her actions. i have a feeling that the food gift thing could be her saying "hey, i know you're single, living in a foreign country. you're a man, so you probably can't cook. here's a token of kindness." with no romantic intent. or, it could mean "YOU COULD HAVE THIS EVERY NIGHT. GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR AND GET ROMANTIC WITH ME."

also, from what i've been told, the "meeting the mom/parents" thing is something you do when you announce an engagement, like a formal ceremony. the fact that i met just the mom, and so soon, may scream "FRIEND ZONE".

but i have confidence in my awesomeness. i just want to step lightly in this territory and not make any wrong moves. one thing i am told is to be forward and honest. we westerners don't throw the love word around, but i'm told japanese people do. so then if i just said "hey, i love you." it may have extremely positive results. it'd be fairly honest, i kinda do.

but i'm worried about bridging the friend zone gap here. i want to put together an "i want to date you" strategy that is as palatable to her culture as possible, as she has told me she's pretty "old-minded"

i'm appreciative of any frank advice on what to do/what not to do or anyone's assessment of the situation described above.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby keatonatron » Thu 12.11.2008 1:38 am

This is an interesting post that sure stands out from the normal content on this site, and I'm sure you'll get a lot of thought-provoking replies. However, a few things worry me. First of all, things like:

she has done things since i met her that either point out strongly "i really like you as a friend" or "the reason i am doing these things is that i want you to be a lifelong romantic partner and satisfy my mating instinct."


and

...or, it could mean "YOU COULD HAVE THIS EVERY NIGHT. GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR AND GET ROMANTIC WITH ME."


You could just be playing things up for us to keep it interesting and (accurately?) portray your feelings, but if think expressing things this way is normal, it's very possible you don't know the first thing about to express affections in a "Japanese way".

Compared to the West, expressing one's feelings in Japanese culture is quite subdued. ESPECIALLY when you're taking the first steps, like you are right now. One thing that's difficult as a foreigner is trying to differentiate between "I'm interested in you because you're a foreigner and that's interesting!" and "I'm interested in you because YOU are interesting!" Many Japanese people have zero foreign friends, and therefore show extra attention to foreigners when getting the chance to meet them. This can often be misinterpreted for romantic feelings. Also, some people feel it is a social responsibility to show foreigners that "the Japanese people" are kind or hospitable, which can result in them going out of their way to pay for you at restaurants or give you gifts. In fact, one Japanese custom is that visitors (from one part of Japan to another) get treated by their hosts; some Japanese people see all foreigners as visitors (even if they live here permanently) and so feel they must treat them.

You are the only one who can really judge your situation. I'm not trying to convince you that she isn't attracted to you--she very well may be! I'm just explaining things I have noticed from my own experiences, which you might want to think about.

However, there is one thing that worries me even more:

we westerners don't throw the love word around, but i'm told japanese people do.


If you truly believe this, then you know NOTHING of Japanese culture :?

The truth is the exact opposite. Westerners say "I love you" perhaps 90% more than Japanese people do. As I said before, Japanese culture is all about subtlety.

If you don't mind, might I ask how long you've been in Japan? Which JLPT level did you pass? How long have you known this woman? I'd be happy to give more advice once I get a clearer picture, as I believe I've gone through the exact same thing before :wink:
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Thu 12.11.2008 1:49 am

keatonatron wrote:
we westerners don't throw the love word around, but i'm told japanese people do.


If you truly believe this, then you know NOTHING of Japanese culture :?

The truth is the exact opposite. Westerners say "I love you" perhaps 90% more than Japanese people do. As I said before, Japanese culture is all about subtlety.


perhaps i should clarify a bit. what i meant was that people in the west will throw that word at friends all the time in a sort of hippy-fied fit of making-the-world-a-better-place-one-insincere-hug-at-a-time. i'm referring to dating specifically, and my experiences with getting from "like" to "love" with a new girlfriend.

from what i've read about japanese dating culture (admittedly very little), and heard from japanese friends, you 1. meet someone 2. get to know them 3. admit your feelings and they either a. become your BF/GF b. run screaming because you stink of cabbage and moldy ice cream.

and i'm sure not every case is the same.

keatonatron wrote:If you don't mind, might I ask how long you've been in Japan? Which JLPT level did you pass? How long have you known this woman? I'd be happy to give more advice once I get a clearer picture, as I believe I've gone through the exact same thing before :wink:


been here since march. passed JLPT 4-kyuu. known the woman since late september.


keatonatron wrote:Many Japanese people have zero foreign friends, and therefore show extra attention to foreigners when getting the chance to meet them. This can often be misinterpreted for romantic feelings. Also, some people feel it is a social responsibility to show foreigners that "the Japanese people" are kind or hospitable, which can result in them going out of their way to pay for you at restaurants or give you gifts. In fact, one Japanese custom is that visitors (from one part of Japan to another) get treated by their hosts; some Japanese people see all foreigners as visitors (even if they live here permanently) and so feel they must treat them.


a sobering piece of advice. thanks.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby spin13 » Thu 12.11.2008 3:08 am

Instead of asking anonymous strangers on the internet, why don't you ask the people involved in your life? And by that, I mean her.

Try something simple and honest:

"I appreciate all of your kindness and have one little thing I'd like to ask you. As you know, I'm quite new to Japan and I'm not always sure how things are done here compared to where I'm from. Sometimes it's hard for me to accurately judge how the people around me are feeling, but I do know what I feel. How would you feel about pursuing a relationship with me?"

Wouldn't that clear up any doubts?

-Eric
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Thu 12.11.2008 3:16 am

spin13 wrote:Instead of asking anonymous strangers on the internet, why don't you ask the people involved in your life? And by that, I mean her.

Try something simple and honest:

"I appreciate all of your kindness and have one little thing I'd like to ask you. As you know, I'm quite new to Japan and I'm not always sure how things are done here compared to where I'm from. Sometimes it's hard for me to accurately judge how the people around me are feeling, but I do know what I feel. How would you feel about pursuing a relationship with me?"

Wouldn't that clear up any doubts?

-Eric


did that once before, and it backfired awfully. i want to research a bit about social rules to make sure my last failed attempt wasn't due to me putting my shoes in the wrong place or something i just didn't know in advance. not gonna ask her, i'd prefer to look untouchable and superhero-like.

edit - in the end, i'm going to tell her outright. i just want to make sure my presentation is spotless before i take that plunge.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby nukemarine » Thu 12.11.2008 5:32 am

Have good sex with her as early as possible. After that, the relationship can go in any way you choose. She can stay your friend or become your lifetime partner.

Hope it helps.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Thu 12.11.2008 5:39 am

nukemarine wrote:Have good sex with her as early as possible. After that, the relationship can go in any way you choose. She can stay your friend or become your lifetime partner.

Hope it helps.


that has worked for me well in the past. i don't think this lady is like that though.

but, she has a child, so she has had sex at least once. maybe she likes it? :D

got an encouraging keitai email from her just a few minutes ago... we'll see how it pans out. it was all about me cooking dinner for her and her qualms about being a woman in a man's house when we're just friends. she seemed open to the idea that a "dinner guest" is not such a weird idea, and asked me to "teach her about western culture".

cheesy answer, but it doesn't point in the direction of "no, you'll never put your arm around me".
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby Mike Cash » Thu 12.11.2008 6:30 am

I wish I had something useful to add to this, but having been married almost 23 years now, I'm utterly clueless.

I only wanted to chime in to say that instead of 鹿島市茨城県日本 you might wish to change to 茨城県鹿嶋市 (the correct order...the 日本 part is 当たり前 and therefore superfluous). And please consider giving your pinkies a bit of exercise on the shift keys.

Best of luck to you.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Thu 12.11.2008 6:31 am

Mike Cash wrote:I wish I had something useful to add to this, but having been married almost 23 years now, I'm utterly clueless.

I only wanted to chime in to say that instead of 鹿島市茨城県日本 you might wish to change to 茨城県鹿嶋市 (the correct order...the 日本 part is 当たり前 and therefore superfluous). And please consider giving your pinkies a bit of exercise on the shift keys.

Best of luck to you.


will change that.

pressing shift is for the help.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby spin13 » Thu 12.11.2008 9:29 am

uberscheisse wrote:...


I admit, I stopped reading the first time after "i've not said anything to her about my feelings...lifelong romantic partner..." Having gone back and read all of it, including the followups, I am baffled and confused by the mountain of delusions and emptying posturing. It's no wonder you have difficulties being honest with others when you can even be honest with yourself. Instead of cooking up some strategy to make her like you, why don't you focus on making you somebody likable?

But I suppose this is the kind of frank advice that you won't want to hear. Best of luck to her.
-Eric
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Thu 12.11.2008 9:35 am

spin13 wrote:
uberscheisse wrote:...


I admit, I stopped reading the first time after "i've not said anything to her about my feelings...lifelong romantic partner..." Having gone back and read all of it, including the followups, I am baffled and confused by the mountain of delusions and emptying posturing. It's no wonder you have difficulties being honest with others when you can even be honest with yourself. Instead of cooking up some strategy to make her like you, why don't you focus on making you somebody likable?

But I suppose this is the kind of frank advice that you won't want to hear. Best of luck to her.
-Eric


no, i want to hear frank advice. in fact - if you look at the last few sentences of my original post, i said something like "frank advice please".

i'm not posturing at all. i also have zero difficulty being honest - where did you get that?

did you notice the part where i said "last time i tried this kind of thing i got hurt"?, i.e. frank honesty with a prospective romantic partner ended up backfiring? did you get that part?

do you know how to read?
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby furrykef » Thu 12.11.2008 9:59 am

Guys, don't let this thread get out of control. spin13, your post does come off as a bit caustic, perhaps more than you intended (I don't know if by "why don't you focus on making you somebody likable?" you meant to imply that he isn't already somebody likeable, but it comes across that way)... being frank is one thing, but I think you could have phrased it a bit more delicately without losing the message.

uberscheisse, "do you know how to read?" isn't very nice either (though I do understand your impatience with spin13)... let's keep it civil, OK?

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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby uberscheisse » Thu 12.11.2008 10:15 am

furrykef wrote:Guys, don't let this thread get out of control. spin13, your post does come off as a bit caustic, perhaps more than you intended (I don't know if by "why don't you focus on making you somebody likable?" you meant to imply that he isn't already somebody likeable, but it comes across that way)... being frank is one thing, but I think you could have phrased it a bit more delicately without losing the message.

uberscheisse, "do you know how to read?" isn't very nice either (though I do understand your impatience with spin13)... let's keep it civil, OK?

- Kef


yeah, but his post was pretty dismissive and condescending. i'm not a 16 year old dummy. i'm admittedly a (japan) newbie, but i'm an experienced guy fumbling through a culture i don't fully understand. i'm doing my best to honorably win the hand of a quality lady. at the very least buddy could have been cool.
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby furrykef » Thu 12.11.2008 10:48 am

Right, I totally understand. I'm just sayin' you don't need to fight fire with fire, y'know. :)
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Re: "dating rules in japan"

Postby richvh » Thu 12.11.2008 10:56 am

uberscheisse wrote:pressing shift is for the help.


I'm sorry, but "we" who use the shift key on a regular basis are not the "help."

i'm not a 16 year old dummy.

If you don't want to come off as a 16 year old dummy, using the shift key is highly recommended.
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