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 email@example.com with the subject "Ask Hilary."
Hello Miss Hilary!
I have a problem with my Japanese boyfriend. We have been dating for two years and I would say that we have a very good relationship.
He was involved in a minor incident 7 months ago and he needed to face the police, but all was settled well. Then one day he told me that one of his colleagues has been called in to see the police because of him, but again the problem was settled. Then problems with our relationship began. In the past few weeks, he’s been acting so weird that I asked him what was going on? He told me he wants us to get married early, but I am working on a two-year contract and I can’t drop what I’m doing immediately for him. He said he understood that, and after a few days, he told me that he wants his freedom for two years, and after my contract ends, we will get married. I asked him why, and he gave some reasons, but promised that we would get married in two years. I told him that I don’t want to end the relationship, and he said he doesn’t either but wants to have time for himself. I’m very confused now. Should I consider this as a break up even if he says we’ll get married after my contract ends? – Two Years Wait
Dear Two Years Wait,
My instinctive reaction when I heard your story was to worry about you. When Japanese partners have problems with the police, it can sometimes turn nasty for visa holders, but I’m glad that that’s not the case here.
However, this “wanting time for himself” is a rather common “trend” I’ve noticed in recent years — you’re not the first woman I’ve spoken to about this sort of situation, and I don’t think you’ll be the last. Japanese women as well have messaged me with this same story, so it seems to be fairly evenly dispersed between Japanese and multicultural relationships alike. The one thing that every single message has had in common is that this request comes from the guy first and tends to involve him needing to “find himself,” “needing some space,” or “not feeling ready.”
Based on my previous experience and discussions with Japanese men on the issue of “needing time,” I will go straight into the conclusion that he’s not ready to marry you, and wants to explore his options before “settling” or “coming back to what’s reliable.” Your boyfriend doesn’t want to be your boyfriend until he can do whatever he wants — which means putting you in limbo for two years while he dates/sleeps with anyone else he wants. As one of the men I discussed this with said, “he thinks of (you) as a security blanket: always there when you need it, even if you forget it in the closet.”
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