What makes a Japanese woman think she and a guy have become lovers?

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

The blossoming of romance is often a subtle thing, requiring attuned perception of finely nuanced words and actions. Particularly in the modern era, where platonic friendships between men and women have become more common than they were in the past, it can sometimes be heard to tell when you and a member of the opposite sex are still just good buddies, and when you’ve become something more.

To try to get a better handle on the situation, Japanese women’s interest and cinema Internet portal Tokyo Joshi Eiga-bu conducted a survey of 390 women, asking them what line signifies a man and woman have become “lovers” when it’s crossed. Below are the top six responses.

6. “If just the two of us go out to eat or have fun” (2.1 percent of respondents)

This might sound like an incredibly low bar for cementing a romantic relationship, and indeed, the women who chose this are part of a very small minority. That said, Japanese social interactions, particularly with classmates or coworkers, are often group affairs, and so some feel that a man and women leaving out the rest of their mutual acquaintances implies a significant level of emotional intimacy.

5. “If just the two of us go out of town together” (5.7 percent of respondents)

Everything said in entry number six gets cranked up a notch if the man and woman are headed far away for it to be classified as a day trip, and even more so if overnight travel is involved.

4. “If we go all the way” (10.5 percent)

Yeah, that tends to burst the illusion that two people are nothing more than good pals.

3. “If we hold hands” (13.8 percent)

It’s a little startling to see extended palm-pressing surpass sexual intercourse as an indicator of a legitimate romantic connection, but their relative positions on the list speak to certain attitudes in Japanese culture and society. Japan can be surprisingly blasé in its acceptance that people have physical needs, and what goes on behind the closed doors of a love hotel can, as long as the proceedings remain clandestine, sometimes be shrugged off as consenting adults attending to those needs.

On the other hand, holding hands speaks to a more emotional desire for romantic companionship, so some participants felt made it the more telling sign that a guy and a girl are going steady. Add in the fact that it’s relatively uncommon for friends, or even family members, to hug or otherwise physically show affection, and holding hands seems like an even bolder development in the relationship between two people.

2. “If we kiss” (24 percent)

As a more passionate expression of one’s sentiments than holding hands, but one that many would say isn’t as viscerally satisfying as sex, kissing accounted for almost as many votes as the previous two entries combined.

1. “Unless we tell each other we’re lovers, I don’t think of us that way.” (40.5 percent)

To some, the top pick (and by a wide margin) might sound needlessly dispassionate, or even clueless. But Japanese society places a lot of importance on what it calls the kokuhaku, literally “confession” but generally used to refer to an explicit declaration of affection. It’s such a part of idealized romances, including those depicted in TV dramas and anime, that some people think that until the kokuhaku is done, you really can’t be totally certain that you and the object of your affection are a couple.

It’s a bit ironic, given that Japanese couples are largely considered to be less vocally affectionate than many of their foreign counterparts. Still, if a guy wants a Japanese girl to know he’s serious about her, he’ll probably have to tell her his feelings directly before the relationship can begin in earnest, so it’s a good thing that there are a lot of options for how to phrase that declaration.

Source: Tokyo Joshi Eiga-bu via Value Press

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Young Japanese women sound off on what does and doesn’t constitute cheating on their boyfriend -- Poll asks Japanese women which is better boyfriend: handsome and dull or ugly and interesting? -- Japanese women list the top 10 lies they can spot the second a guy says them

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If you love each other (in the context of this article), then you are "lovers". All those other activities are just the frosting on the cake

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I always feel that a "kokuhaku" is like a formal, verbal contract.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A declaration of intent makes things nice and clear.

I have questions:

Does the declaration of intent always come from the man?

And when he declares, does she always accept?

And if she doesn't accept, but they have already done one or more of points 2 - 6 what usually happens?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If holding hands can do it, makes the term 'lovers' sound like a throwback to the nineteen-tens.

Picturing a couple not touching anything the elderly aunt behind them in the bucket seat could see touching.

rn24: It’s a bit ironic, given that Japanese couples are largely considered to be less vocally affectionate than many of their foreign counterparts.

That's just why they need a kokuhaku. Otherwise, they'd meander around endlessly.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Kokuhaku is absolutely no different to other places. People do this all over. There is almost always a form of verbal confirmation that you have become a couple.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A declaration of intent makes things nice and clear.

I intend to tell you whatever I have to, so you'll let me "park my car in your garage"

6 ( +7 / -1 )

exactly. You're lovers when the "car has been parked" If its still in the driveway, then no. You are not lovers.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

You're lovers when the "car has been parked"

One might assume that, but maybe they are just f@*k buddies. I contend that the term "lovers" implies they "love" each other

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was amazed when I found out you need to verbally ask a girl to be your girlfriend, before it was considered as such. Where I grew up, this was something kids did, not adults. But, I actually prefer the Japanese method. It eliminates that grey area where you've dated a girl a few times, but aren't sure if you are exclusive yet.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Interesting to compare with the 'what constitutes cheating' item a while ago

Save for definition by coclusion drawn from analysis of intensive viewing of Japanese TV dramas, you are probably lovers when someone else tells talks about you being lovers, given all the vagueries of the list in the article.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@reckless so true (fine with me though!). Definitely a cultural thing not only in Japan but also other Asian countries, probably one of the reasons many Asian women arent good kissers. In some (well mine) western countries pashing/french kissing is what you do when you're a young teen at parties etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

MAN: shouts "tsukiatte kudasai!!!" bows deeply WOMAN: onegai shimasu accepts the handshake

never get used of seeing this on tv, just to have a glimpse of what kind of a strange place I decided to live in.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

They all make sense, especially sex being lower than kissing and holding hands as they signify a more romantic relationship. It would be bizarre to kiss or hold hands with just a friend, while sex can often seem more spontaneous

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Maria: a) Does the declaration of intent always come from the man?, b), And when he declares, does she always accept?, c) And if she doesn't accept, but they have already done one or more of points 2 - 6 what usually happens?

Watched more K-dramas than J-dramas, my vague impression from all of those is: a) no, sometimes the girl confesses, or more usually is too shy and while she's working up the courage her best friend jumps the gun and grabs him first or something (somewhat like in The Black Devil and the White Prince / Kurosaki kun no Iinari ni Nante Naranai), b) she doesn't always accept, because for example she knows his rich parents hate the idea of a Cinderalla type for his future wife, and c) by the end of the series they're married.

Some of the themes in them seem Westernized, though. Maybe not true-to-life.

Anyway, googling says girl can confess first.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

" it can sometimes be heard to tell".....I have a hard time hearing....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting about that answer that got the highest percent, since I am often told that Japanese are "subtle" and know feeling without words.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

i tend to agree with the opinion that going all the way doesnt make you lovers. well, it does if you actually like the girl and want to be a couple. but in my experience, the girls that dont think that going all the way makes you lovers understand the situation. theyre in it just for a laugh - a good time, not a long time! thats another great thing about J-girls!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

You're lovers when the "car has been parked"

Not necessarily. For example, if they have only been "compensated dating" then they are not "lovers"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not necessarily. For example, if they have only been "compensated dating" then they are not "lovers"

Very true. But that's almost the same as selling your body, no?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What nonsense is this? When you have sex - that's quite obviously when you become lovers.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Lovers are people who enjoy the sheer carnal pleasure of each other. It's not just mechanical sex.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

On reflection, I can see how cultural differences can make dating difficult. When my Japanese friend kissed me, I should have gotten the hint. At the time, I did not realize it was a big deal. Verbal communication or more physical action would have cleared things up for me. I know, I know, I was pretty dense as a youth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When a secretary says to her boss "I've found a new position, and have to inform you". "Great", says her boss, "let's try it out!!".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have found all this conversation quite juvenile. If people are not straightforward and honest about their feelings, then they are in it for the fun( which means someone is about to get hurt...) Basic rule ( pretty tough to here from me- a complete stranger) is that if you are not comfortable and at ease and earning for his presence, then you better bail...My advice for a guy would be a bit varied...but that is 'cause I really don't give a sht ( I mean for the guys...) Girls power on, please!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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