Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you’d like to ask Hilary? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t know where to begin. My Japanese boyfriend and I have been together for six years. We mostly speak Japanese together (I have N1) but he’s also almost a native English speaker. We’ve talked about marriage and kids and where to live, our parents getting older, all that stuff. We came to some compromises and we understand one another in either language. I mean it when I say we communicate well.
However, he’s never tried to propose and when I mention it he changes the subject so I stopped bringing it up. What really got to me is that in early April we walked by a jewelry store in a shopping center and a necklace caught my eye so I stopped. He seemed irritated and kept walking. I was left standing there awkwardly talking to the staff who came out. He’s never done that before.
From then on he’s been less affectionate towards me. He has his own apartment but he used to spend more time at my place. Now he’s there instead because he’s tired and when he does stay there, I hate saying this but I feel happier. At this point, my relationship is the only part of my life that’s unsatisfying. I used to see a future for us but not so much anymore. I guess my question is basically when to end this relationship?
-Tired of Trying
Dear Tired of Trying,
I think you know the answer to your question already, but I can also understand wanting to talk about it with a neutral party. Ultimately, what makes you happy is the way you need to go with this. That being said, it could be a kindness to him to tell him why this is happening before or as you go.
You’ve been together for six years so you’ve known one another pre-pandemic, have ostensibly gone through the new relationship honeymoon period, and, as you said, have talked about all the major things that should be discussed pre-marriage. You and your boyfriend have done the work that many skip in the lead-up to marriage, which you should be proud of.
It’s understandable then that you would be upset by him cutting off any discussions of engagement or apparently actively showing irritation at the thought of you looking at jewelry. He must have assumed you were looking at engagement rings, if it were that type of jewelry store you stopped outside. If it were just some casual accessories shop you stopped at, I would seriously wonder about his reaction.
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