“I know we’ve been dating for a few months now, and you may be wondering why things haven’t progressed physically between us. I’m very attracted to you and your personality, but I don’t have any interest in a physical relationship now. Would you be interested in dating for companionship?”
Back before smartphones even existed, I received this message in the form of texts from a man that I had been somewhat casually dating for about three months. Despite the message, I felt hurt (Wasn’t I good enough to sleep with?), and then actually considered what he was offering. We had been having a lot of fun together, gone to numerous events and exhibitions, and even tried some traditional activities together, but there had always been a sort of line that kept things from moving someplace more private. I considered his offer quite seriously — I mean, we had been having a great time together, but I had to decline. I wanted more.
A slowly growing trend
While sex is seen as an important part of any healthy relationship, some people would prefer that sex was not a factor in their dating life at all. After many discussions with both international and Japanese men and women, I’ve learned that this is also a slowly growing trend in Japan among heterosexual men in their late 20s to mid-30s.
Dating for companionship — which in Japanese is referred to as platonikku tsukiai (プラトニック付き合い), sexless tsukiai (セックスレス付き合い) or ecchi nashi tsukiai (エッチ無し付き合い), first began being noticed online in late 2015, but has been a common concept (according to several men I spoke with) since about 2008, and according to women’s magazines, such as AnAn, was a hot topic in some circles back in 2003, too.
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