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It’s complicated: Companionship dating in Japan

23 Comments
By Hilary Keyes

“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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© Savvy Tokyo

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23 Comments
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Bye....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Where have all the cowboys gone?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If she or he already doesn't want to have sex in the first stage of the 'relationship' then that doesn't bode well for the future of the relationship. No wonder less and less kids are born.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

“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?”

I think thats what one would call friendship,  isn,t it?  If I,m not mistaken its been around for a long time before experts started giving it fancy names. Just gotta be ready to accept that one day your friend find someone who is good for a " physical relationship" and things will change. Thats all.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Dating for companionship - aka, for the rest of the world "forming friendships".

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.

So they are becoming friends then?

Look at the picture. If this guy is not thinking I want to get into her pants ill eat my hat. Seriously.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So, guys all just go and hang around Akihabara to get their physical needs met with a high school girl after seeing their more mature date off on the nearest Yamanote line station.

Or am I missing something?

And let's see, if we get companionship dating into, say, an LGBTIQ angle, and we have a straight bloke who meets his straight mate down the pub every Friday evening. Then one Friday he says, 'Oh by the way, in Japan there's companionship dating - basically it is going out with someone for their mind. Just like us now, mate!'

Hmm! Can't see that friendship lasting very much longer.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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?”

The author of this article, judging from the name alone, (Hilary Keyes) I am going to guess is a foreign woman, or at least of mixed heritage anyway, and I would like to ask HER a question based upon her feelings she wrote next;

 Despite the message, I felt hurt (Wasn’t I good enough to sleep with?), and then actually considered what he was offering. 

I would like to know why YOU did not initiate anything "physical" in your relationship with this guy? I mean hell you were dating for a few months now.

Why is it that so many "women" expect men to initiate everything, and then go on like this when they don't and get butt-hurt (initially) when they feel they aren't good enough? You obviously realize you are in Japan, and men here are not the most aggressive, and realizing this you still complain about your situation?

Maybe there is a problem with you too! Maybe it's you that did not want sex, nor gave any indication to the guy otherwise, so he choose to keep it platonic. The onus could be on you too!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Life is complicated! I think that there are plenty of people who are interested in having a sexual and familial relationship, so if one finds one's self in a friends relationship, and if that is not enough, one should feel free to look for others who want out of life what you want.

Some people do not want to get married. Some people want to get married, but do not want children. Some people want to get married, but are happy to raise their stepchildren. And some people want to have children, with or without marriage. Such is life.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry to be blunt, but he was not attracted to you. You were friendzoned. Nothing new.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Actually he probably was getting frustrated at her, and deployed some reverse psychology to get her to move to the physical stage, but it back-fired. This is why you never "spend a few months just dating" unless you get off on sexual frustration, wasting time and going home with blue....bells

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I find it funny in a country that prides itself on unspoken communication, the standard pattern is the man bowing and saying "tsukiatte kudasai", about as formal as it gets. As if you can't just get it from the mood.

If its hard for men to meet women outside work, and there is increased sensitivity to sexual harrassment, a genuine problem, I think the net result is that women are going to have to be more proactive and not just wait for the man to do everything.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think I understand where this is coming from... but it's normally elderly people who want companionship not the young. I don't think it's as shallow as 'friendzoning' someone... I think there's something deeper going on. Loneliness possibly... or just wanting, well, a companion. It doesn't seem so strange to me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I find it funny in a country that prides itself on unspoken communication, the standard pattern is the man bowing and saying "tsukiatte kudasai", about as formal as it gets. As if you can't just get it from the mood.

I've read other discussions on other forums on this, and the consensus has been that this doesn't happen a lot in real life, despite it being a staple of TV dramas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

this doesn't happen a lot in real life

Happened to my daughter, they've been very happily married for coming up to 9 years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

some people would prefer that sex was not a factor in their dating life at all.

Depends on whether they've had selfish lovers who revel in their own gratification without thinking of the other person involved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, this happens a lot in Japan, I can confirm. Sometimes the relationship doesn't progress "to the next stage" for many years. Many Japanese women are not interested in physical relationship, only in platonic dating.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“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?”

Ouch!

As an aside, I know there are elements which were probably lost in translation but I still think that anyone who writes such 'message' (wording as well as pseudo-analysis of the current situation and his/her emotions or lack thereof) is a bit weird. Actually find this 'message' pretty creepy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe he was answering to her prior message.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To the writer of the article,

This is only your experience, and he’s just not that into you. Rejections hurt but do not equal some new social phenomenon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, for men and women who don't normally associate or be close friends with the opposite gender

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What if he never found you attractive to begin with? What if he only wanted a "foreign friend/date" or an "English conversation partner" to appear cool! For example, it is not unheard for Japanese women to have very superficial friendships with Western women for bragging rights or for learning more about their culture. I am not saying all are like that! However, many people have witnessed or experienced foreigners being dehumanized for potential marriage partners because they simply want a "haaf" child or because they want to live in a foreign country. (ie. Charisma man)

Why would Japanese men be any different?

As an aside, I know there are elements which were probably lost in translation but I still think that anyone who writes such 'message' (wording as well as pseudo-analysis of the current situation and his/her emotions or lack thereof) is a bit weird. Actually find this 'message' pretty creepy.

I agree! I think that it was never his attention to start a relationship with her. It seems more like an experiment!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dating for companionship - aka, for the rest of the world "forming friendships".

True. Although many people can and do have romantic relationships that don't involve sex.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As many have said before, friendship can exist. And can be intense with intimacy without sexual intent.

About the fact author is evoking heterosexual relationship, yes it is natural normally if dating to think sex really fast. It is called instinct and we would no be here if it was not existing...

Touch between people of different sex is so rare in Japan that you feel psychologically castrated.

Whereas in my country you say hello kissing and you are not even blushing with a person of your taste at the beginning.

True that ladies should go for a try too !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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