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'Will boyfriend' - A new expression in Japan’s evolving dating scene

36 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

The Japanese language takes a lot of cues from English when it comes to talking about romance. For example, “kisu”, the corrupted pronunciation of “kiss,” is about 100 times more common than “kuchitzuke,” the purely Japanese word for locking lips. Found the love of your life? Then it’s time to "purupozu" (propose), and when your bride walks down the aisle, she’ll probably be wearing a "uedingu doresu" (wedding dress).

Still, sometimes Japanese goes its own way, and while “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are pretty readily understood, the indigenous terms "kare" and "kanojo" are much more widely used. And every now and again, the two languages get mixed together to describe something in the Japanese dating scene, such as with the newly coined phrase "uiru kare," or “will boyfriend.”

As is often the case when Japanese tries to put its own spin on English vocabulary, “will boyfriend” isn’t the most linguistically sound piece of slang. A better term might have been “would boyfriend,” since a "uiru kare" refers to a guy a woman enjoys spending time with, and might want to date in the future, but who is definitely not her boyfriend right now.

Traditionally, most Japanese social engagements are group affairs. For decades, the orthodox course for progressing from just friends to something more has been to spend time together as part of the group, then, once you and the object of your affection realize the attraction is mutual (without spending much time alone together), almost immediately jump into a serious boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

That can be a lot of responsibility to deal with right away, though, and the will boyfriend concept seems to have come about as way to lesson some of that fun-sapping sense of obligation that can come with being a couple. “If we’d both feel like we’d lose too much of our freedom if we were ‘dating,’ keeping him as a will boyfriend, with some distance built into the relationship, is just right,” explained one fan of the title. “Sometimes I just feel like going out on a date, so I keep many male friends who I can go out with for casual fun,” said another.

Some women claimed that having a roster of will boyfriends wasn’t just fun, but also a great confidence booster. “Their greatest merit is that they raise your security in your womanliness,” declared one woman. Many echoed her sentiment, asserting that compared to a steady boyfriend, a will boyfriend puts more effort into little acts of hospitality and chivalry, more freely offers compliments, and is more perceptive of subtle changes to a woman’s hairstyle, makeup, or fashion. “Being fawned on by many men satisfies a woman’s hidden desires,” revealed one will boyfriend proponent.

That’s not to say every woman with a will boyfriend is smug and sly about the situation, though. Many women who’re inexperienced in matters of the heart also say they like the idea of a will boyfriend as a way to ease into romance, as the lighter initial commitment eases their fears of being hurt if things don’t blossom into a permanent, life-changing relationship.

It’s also important to point out the difference between having a will boyfriend and shamelessly stringing along a guy you have no interest in just because he makes you feel good. Even though the title doesn’t fully represent the certainty of the word “will” in English, the consensus seems to be that the will boyfriend label can only be applied to guys who a woman could maybe see herself dating exclusively in the future, even though she’s not ready to step across that line just yet (and maybe never will be).

Using these parameters, one woman described the benefit of will boyfriends as “There’s no need to tell one of them that I spend time with other guys, and in the end, I can choose the one I like best out of the ones who like me.” If her choice of words sounds a little callous, perhaps this woman’s description of the will boyfriend upside will seem more palatable: “You never know how your feeling are going to develop as you spend time together, learning things you didn’t know about him and discovering his good qualities that you didn’t see right away.”

So while it’s likely some guys would resent being called a “will boyfriend,” it’s definitely a step up the romantic ladder from being “just a friend.” And while the need for the title may feel foreign to westerners swimming in the Japanese dating pool, the idea espoused by one woman, that “love often blooms in the relaxed relationship between two people who’ve already been on several dates,” isn’t that far from how dating is handled in the west.

Source: Naver Matome

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Five reasons nerds make great boyfriends: Japan’s geeky otaku list their pros -- Cheaters beware – 30 percent of Japanese women have checked their boyfriend’s cell phone -- 9 ways to have fun playing video games with your girlfriend (according to Japanese women) and why they are dumb

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36 Comments
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This is the same thing as being led on by a woman, even if they don't want to call it that. "Will boyfriends" should be relabeled as "suckers" as they are wasting their time and money for other motivations that will never come to fruition.

I feel sorry for those guys.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

“There’s no need to tell one of them that I spend time with other guys, and in the end, I can choose the one I like best out of the ones who like me.”

Hmm, guys play this same exact card. Probably a lot more too, but women are sneakier about it.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Alphaape, Strangerland: I don't think actual sex comes into it (so not 'friends with benefits').

It would if it were me. And I guarantee there are guys out there who are having sex with these girls. The girls just don't like to mention that part.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I believe the American English word for 'will boyfriend' is either 'friend' or 'male friend.' Is there no word for that in Japanese?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

OK, I get it......sign me up!

NOW... where are all those loose chicks hanging out?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

NOW... where are all those loose chicks hanging out?

Don't forget your raincoat

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Alphaape, Strangerland: I don't think actual sex comes into it (so not 'friends with benefits').

It is, as some others have said, basically just a 'new' (and probably unnecessary) term for single guys who go for one-on-one meals/outings/etc. with single female friends/acquaintances.

The way the article is written just makes the Japanese women referenced sound awful though.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"..the will boyfriend label can only be applied to guys who a woman could maybe see herself dating exclusively in the future, even though she’s not ready to step across that line just yet (and maybe never will be)."

Somehow a link to the "Heartache for Japan's 40-year-old Virgins" article would seem appropriate.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

“Sometimes I just feel like going out on a date, so I keep many male friends who I can go out with for casual fun,” said another.

So......non-exclusive dating then? I dont understand the difference. Do Japanese go from group activities to marriage agreement with nothing in between? These days I doubt it. Its just putting a name to something everyone is already doing, no?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I believe the American English word for 'will boyfriend' is either 'friend' or 'male friend.' Is there no word for that in Japanese?

Some in America call it "Friends with Benefits."

I feel sorry for those guys

.In a way I could feel sorry for the guys, but I would hope that they would be able to see that if that is all a woman wants, to cut your losses early and go looking for someone that is willing to go to the next step. Back in my single dating days, if I ran into a woman who just wanted to "hang out" and not get serious, then that's just what would happen. Two can play at that game and if she didn't have time for me then, well I would just go someplace else.

I think the women types discussed in this article are not fully aware that if they just keep strining someone along, eventually he will go another way. Sad to say if a guy is wanting to get married, and even though there may be more men than women, it still will be much easier for them to find someone than the female. They (women) want to have their cake and eat it too, so they had just better be prepared when there is no more cake.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Are the guys aware of their status as a "will boyfriend"? And if they are do they care?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So, a guy-friend who is not formally the boyfriend, who you like to go out with and have fun without any commitments?

Sounds like the Friend Zone to me...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It would if it were me. And I guarantee there are guys out there who are having sex with these girls. The girls just don't like to mention that part.

@ Strangeland: You are 100% correct in your statement about the girls having sex, and I also bet that the boys are doing just as much. When I was single long ago, I found it interesting how when I ran into Japanese females that hung around "us Americans" that when you find our more about them you find out that they are actually in relationships with Japanese males, and basically living it up before getting married. In one case, a lady I was dating called me crying, explaining to me that she and her boyfriend (Japanese) had just had a huge fight and he broke it off with her. I of course just laughed when I reminded her just earlier that week she was on to me about what her "friends" said that they saw me out with another woman.

I guess when you are young, these are the games young people will play. Whether they have a side boyfriend here in Japan or whether they have someone that they have met on an overseas trip (been there done that), it all comes down to they are trying to keep two images of themselves. One to present to the group, the other their own personal life. I say don't worry so much about the group. If you meet someone you like (for both males and females), then make an effort to get to know that person one on one, see if you two are compatable. If you are able to be compatable while you are away from the group, then try to work things out. If not, you have learned a valuable lesson and you move on.

Staying with the group only leads to one thing, you and a bunch of other women (or men) sad and bitter and alone.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Nothing new here: the "will boyfriend" evolved out of the older boyfriend distinctions of "honmei-kun," ashi-kun," "meshii-kun," etc. Why Japanese men put up with this nonsense I do not know.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A bunch of psycho-babble crap.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

sigh. Can you stop butchering English and just learn to love each other in your own language??

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The part that is unsaid is that this leaves the guy open to sleep with other girls too. So it sounds like a win-win situation. The girl gets to go out on dates with multiple guys, the guys get to sleep with multiple girls.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Isn't this just a rebranding of kiipu-kun?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Where I come from thats called hedging your bets and in matters of the heart its never well received. Open relationships work if both sides are open and are unlikely to go any further. Fine for a bit of fun where any port in a storm will do.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh why oh why just call me sefure up to the point

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So you're dating but not getting any action? I guess a will boyfriend means a platonic relationship, aka, "You're in her friend zone."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I guess the British English would be "seeing each other".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh this has been going on forever. Chris Rock has a great skit about this, "For women, keeping many 'platonic' male friends is like have a d** in a glass case. Why so many? Because, you never know*. In case of emergency, break glass!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So this is just the concept of "openly dating" prospects before deciding which one to go "exclusive" with.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I believe the American English word for 'will boyfriend' is either 'friend' or 'male friend.'

Oh, I definitely don't believe that would be the same. In the West, it has become very common for girls/women to have male friends, even if they could never see them as boyfriend-material. We certainly no longer only spend time with men just for the intention of maybe getting into a relationship. The potential boyfriend-material seems to be the keyword in the "will boyfriend" so they are clearly different to me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Em*

0 ( +0 / -0 )

with Jargon and slang in Japan usually going awry I am completely lost on this topic. most catch phrases only last a season... is this what this is?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rocket News comes up with some funny stuff. I love that page, except to comment you need facebook :-(

0 ( +1 / -1 )

so girls like beta orbiters, nothing new here. enjoy the friend zone fellas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'd hate to be the 'will boyfriend' of one of these ladies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Goodness. It would seem a relationship with a Japanese woman ultimately boils down to superficial shallow nothingness that is both empty and meaningless... at least that's what I gather from what I keep reading and seeing lately. My comment could be taken any way - However, if the goal was to make me avoid a relationship with a Japanese woman, Japan Today, You've hit your mark. If it wasn't? Start saying something positive Japan Today. You've effectively made this man a Very staunch "Nope." Maybe its constant news like this that is the reason that Relationships are at an all time low in japan. it really seems like, based off of what I have read and see ultimately from news outlets and so forth; A Japanese woman will only marry you if you make a large sum of cash, wear fancy clothes and that appears to be it... I'll pass indefinitely.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the newly coined phrase “uiru kare,” or “will boyfriend.”

I googled "ウィルカレ" and got 8 hits only. Probably, the word is too new.

https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E3%82%A6%E3%82%A3%E3%83%AB%E3%82%AB%E3%83%AC&hl=ja&gbv=2&oq=&gs_l=

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I googled "ウィルカレ" and got 8 hits only. Probably, the word is too new.

You got your 'spelling' wrong. Try ウィル彼: https://www.google.com/#q=%E3%82%A6%E3%82%A3%E3%83%AB%E5%BD%BC&start=10

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Pretty stupid to put a label on this kind of thing -- basically they are just admitting that they have several boyfriends they are seeing at the same time, or at least are open to new options. A lot of women do this kind of thing, up until marriage or even after -- keeping a few partners while they weigh the options of which is most beneficial. Guys do this too, of course, they're just not dumb enough to officially label it as anything.

Anyway, I thought maybe "will boyfriend" refers to the lovers women take to get into their wills before they 'mysteriously' die, like with the black widow killer, since that's obviously the purpose for being with them.

It'd be interesting to see how a woman takes it if she were called a "will-girlfriend". Given some of the women I was with before marriage they would NOT respond well to it at all. If the men who are called such a foolish term are okay with it, so be it; perhaps they're in similar relationships with other women and they don't want to get attached either. But if they feel hurt by it and have any sense of pride they'll drop the women and move on to someone who isn't so casual when they want something more.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

So a guy you keep around to take you out and pay your expenses with no added benefits. Yeah, that's the friend zone action right there.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Since I have been playing this game backwards, does ウイル彼女 exist? I was juggling 9 girls for over a year now, but have recently whittled down to my 3 "main" and 2 "side" girls. I just classified them as Main, Side and Extra :) I don't count my extras, don't care what they do or if they decide to go back to their hubbies. The dating scene in Japan demands an icy heart.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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