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30-somethings especially susceptible to email romances

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On Jan 1, Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki announced her marriage to Austrian actor Manuel Schwarz. The marriage was culminated after a whirlwind romance of just five months.

Since Hamasaki resides in Japan and Schwarz in the U.S., the couple had only met on a few occasions before tying the knot. Schwarz, moreover, speaks no Japanese. How did they keep the embers of their romance glowing while half a world apart? According to Nikkan Gendai (Jan 12), it was through emails and Twitter messages that Hamasaki sent to her beau in English.

"One can assume the couple didn't come to their decision after long deliberation," says a reporter for a woman's magazine. "And they apparently have no plans at the moment to live together."

While Hamasaki's courtship may be somewhat unusual for a celebrity, courtships via the web by ordinary individuals have become increasingly common occurrences.

Nevertheless, some resistance to such "virtual encounters" may persist in Japan. A survey conducted by marriage information magazine ZEXY found that only 4.7% of respondents said they had made their initial encounter via the Internet.

"Through exchanges of emails, it's natural for feelings of love to develop," says journalist Tetsuya Shibui, author of "Web Love" (2006, Chikuma Shinsho). "Actually, more than face-to-face encounters, it's easier for people to be open to their partner, and at the same time, it's easier to fantasize about them. With conventional romances, through repeated dating people become more familiar with their partners, but by use of emails, the next time they meet feelings of familiarity tend to be intensified."

"But it's a two-edged sword Shibui adds. "Because the emails tend to heighten expectations, when the actual meeting turns out to be a disappointment it can put a real damper on the relationship."

The body of a person in love secretes dopamine (associated with the reward system of the brain), phenethylamine (related to the so-called "chocolate theory of love") and other enzymes that impart a pleasurable sensation, which is why people in the throes of a romance are too giddy to take sensible advice from their parents or friends.

Likewise, emails may discourage their recipients from making rational judgments. Take the recent case of a female office worker, who over a period of seven years remitted a total of 130 million yen she'd embezzled from her company to a man she only knew via email. It was not until her trial that she met her dream lover for the first time, and he turned out to be short, pudgy and bearded -- nothing at all like the photos of a male magazine model he had been sending her, claiming to be him.

Author Shibui is convinced that people in their 30s are particular vulnerable to mail romances.

"The more active the person, the shallower their human relationships tend to be," he says. "For example, in many cases, no matter how many connections they make via attending matchmaking parties, they get nowhere in their romances. By contrast, corresponding via the Internet makes it easier for them to pinpoint their targets, and incrementally increase romantic feelings.

"It would seem that more than four mails a day elevate the sense of familiarity. During the daytime, the free community sites with chat functions, like Amoeba Pig or Excite Friends are full of women in their 30s and 40s, searching for companionship."

The Internet can be a convenient tool, but it's definitely not the place to let one's hormones run wild, Nikkan Gendai remarks.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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As the last statement suggests, the internet can be a good way to meet potential dates but then you have to take your dating into the real world. Just continuing to send emails back and forth is not a relationship and there is no guarantee that the person you have been chatting with is anything like who they say they are. Sure, it may be easier to be open but it is also a lot easier to lie. Living in a fantasy is fun for while but you gotta meet someone in person.

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it's kind of difficult to explain your kids you met their mum on a site called "Amoeba Pig"

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“One can assume the couple didn’t come to their decision after long deliberation,” says a reporter for a woman’s magazine. “And they apparently have no plans at the moment to live together.”

get a life

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And they apparently have no plans at the moment to live together.

Some marriage that is.

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nuts ... just plain nuts.

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Once I me this J-girl on Skype, for language exchange. She told me she just broke up with her long time boyfriend. She said it started just like in the movies, with all kinds of romance and stuff. Then he became controlling, and tried to tell her who she could be friends with and who couldn't. Finally they broke up after several fights. She was devastated. Then she told me she'd never met the guy, never spoke to the guy. All through email.

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“One can assume the couple didn’t come to their decision after long deliberation,” says a reporter for a woman’s magazine. “And they apparently have no plans at the moment to live together.”

The guy can't speak Japanese, and I doubt she can speak English amazingly either. He probably won't want to live in Japan and she more than likely can't live in the US due to her career.

How can they say they're getting married but have no plans at the moment to live to together??

I bet they aren't together in a years time.

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OMG they ramped up their relationship by email? I cut my previous estimates down, I give them 6 months.

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Sounds like it might be the perfect marriage!

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In high school my friend lived in a big house shaped like a U. Upstairs, the mother and father each had their own separate bedroom/bathroom at the end of the legs of the U. There was also a master bedroom suite at the apex of the U.

They'd live separate lives/schedules from Sunday night until Friday late afternoon, when they'd dress up in their separate bedrooms and go on a dinner date. Then they'd go to a movie or a bar, or come home and drink wine and fool around like teenagers in love. This would go on all day Saturday and through Sunday afternoon, kid time, shopping, decorating, painting, racketball, whatever.

Then Sunday night back to the separate bedrooms for the week.

At the time I thought it was weird. Now, I love it.

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Too funny

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MrDog, she can speak a LITTLE english, its VERY crap from what I heard. Search for a CNN interview with her she did recently. Yah this marriage is just for the press, no real love here.

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i GIVE IT MAYBE A YEAR AT MAX

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You never know who's typing these messages on the net. I could be short, fat, and ugly but will claim to be 007-like (which I am, kind of).

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i guess it works for them both if it generates publicity - plus they can have sex legitimately without annoying the conservative freak part of their audience.

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They met a few times over a five month period before they decided to get married. Two more people willing to help the divorce rates. Bravo!

Why not just stay single like Oprah and Stedman?

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I can understand keeping in touch through e-mail. You can really open up to a person and let her know what you're thinking. But TWITTER?!?! How the hell do you marry someone based on a romance you had with them using 140 characters per message?? (Having said that, I doubt Ayu's e-mails were much longer than that.)

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