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? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Ask Hilary".
I’m writing from Portugal and I was in a relationship with a Japanese guy. But before I talk about my story, I want to give you some context [summarized]:
Seven years ago, my ex-boyfriend came to Portugal to marry a girl that he had only known for 15 days. They didn’t really have a marriage—he wanted a Portuguese visa basically. I met him five years ago and we became friends; during that time they got divorced and we developed feelings for each other.
After dating for a month he wanted to move in with me, but I told him I wanted to wait until we had a stronger relationship. We made plans for the future (marriage, kids) and traveled together. Suddenly during this trip, he said we were moving too fast, but that he still loved me. After we returned to Portugal (dating for 6 months), he disappeared, then messaged me asking for some time alone.
I found out he was meeting up with his ex-wife, and other female friends. I asked him to explain, and he asked for a month to himself; I asked about the future of our relationship and he never gave me a clear answer. It felt like he wanted me to break up with him. After a few days, he was messaging me like nothing had happened. This pattern continued until I called him out, telling him how he was the one that started the serious future discussions, and he said that he never wanted a girlfriend in the first place. After the fact, I learned he’d been dating eight other women including his ex-wife, and all the relationships had the same pattern—gets serious fast, then fizzles out into nothing, while he dates other women at the same time.
My main question: I know that “ghosting” is a common part of ending relationships in Japan, which I would accept if we’d only been dating for a couple weeks, but we knew each other for years and were in a serious relationship. Is this normal? Because, at the end, he just started to date his female friends the day after and tried to make me jealous and then disappeared. And this doesn’t sound like a normal behavior to me. He was so cold and now I’m here collecting the pieces of my heart and trying to heal.
Dear Broken Heart In Portugal,
Wow… He sounds like a real jerk. You should be happy that you didn’t move in with him after just a month, otherwise, you might have ended up like his ex-wife. The way your relationship started and his past history were two huge red flags for me, and by the time I got to the end of your email, I was actually angry. I hate situations like this because I’ve seen it happen to too many women dating Japanese men.
On the surface, he sounds like a visa-hunter, which is bad enough, but he’s also a cheater, and a ghoster too. From what you told me in your email he’s one of those types of men that’s in love with the rush of a new relationship, but not so keen on the future or seriousness of it all, except when it comes to the benefits for him. In other words, he’s only looking out for himself.
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