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.
I’ve lived in Japan for almost four years, and have been dating my Japanese boyfriend for almost three years. We don’t live together, but we’re pretty serious. The problem is, I hate living in Japan. I can’t stand being here, I’m sick of being treated differently because I’m foreign, and I feel like people are always talking about me. I don’t speak Japanese, so I don’t know if they are, but people say things about English around me a lot. My boyfriend lived in America and speaks English and he tells me all the time to stop being so paranoid.
I’m thinking about moving back to the US. I’ve been talking to my old friends online, and one of my best guy friends is really encouraging me to move home. He sends me photos of things in my hometown and tells me how much fun we’ll have when I get home. I really like talking to him, and I feel like he understands what I’m going through since he taught in South Korea for a year. We talk almost every day online, and I feel like he’s more supportive of my life goals than my boyfriend is. My boyfriend is still going to work and doesn’t want to see me “just in case”, whatever that means. What do you think? – Crossroads
It sounds to me like you know exactly what you want to do, but you’re looking for someone to give you permission to do it. I’m not going to. The best I can offer is advice, which you sound like you need a lot of at the moment, so we’ll go through this step by step.
Let’s start with your boyfriend’s behavior—he’s most likely avoiding seeing you in order to keep you from catching Covid-19 on the off chance that he’s infected but asymptomatic. In other words, he doesn’t want to risk making you sick, which is a decent thing to do during these times. Being stuck inside alone—even during a soft lockdown—is still stressful and can put even the best relationships under pressure. You shouldn’t make any rash decisions regarding your relationship or life when you’re stressed out.
Have you tried talking to your boyfriend about how you’re feeling? You say that your relationship is pretty serious, but you’re talking about your hopes and dreams with some other man online. Not only that, but those goals don’t sound like they include your current partner.
Perhaps the bigger question here is: do you genuinely want to be with your Japanese boyfriend, knowing that it potentially means staying in Japan? If the idea bothers you that much, then you need to address this with your boyfriend first. That could mean the end of your relationship, or it might mean him moving to the US with you.
Now to address your other, not insubstantial problem: your emotional affair partner.
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