Fighting: Things my Japanese Boyfriend and I Culturally Disagree About

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Any relationship is hard. However, breaching two distinct cultures only adds another, complicated layer to the relationship schematics. While most of the guys I dated before I met Ryosuke came from a different country (three from Mexico, one from South Africa, one from France), I never really had any idea I was going to enter an interracial marriage.

But then I met Ryosuke. We knew each other a couple months before we started dating; less than a month after we made our relationship “Facebook Official,” he unofficially proposed and we started planning our lives together. Now we’ve been together for almost two years (engaged for 8 months), and we’re still finding new things out about each other each month.

But the more we learn about each other, the more we learn we are inherently and culturally different. My dad always told me to marry someone with a very high ability to “change” or adapt to a new environment; both Ryosuke and I have done a great deal of changing for each other. But we’ve also done a lot of learning.

Look at that face! Does this look like the face of someone that would (purposefully) destroy an apartment?

I think one of the most rewarding aspects about being in a cross-cultural or interracial relationship is the fact that I am forced to examine my own culture (and values). Every time Ryosuke and I disagree about an aspect of our relationship, we are forced to confront why exactly we believe we are right (and I’m not allowed to say “Because I’m a woman, therefore I’m always right!”).

I wanted to make a mini-series about all the things Ryosuke and I seem to disagree with culturally. I wanted to do this partially for reflection, partially because I thought it might interest people who have no experience with Japanese culture, partially because I thought it might interest or align with what people with a great deal of Japanese cultural experience have noticed, and partially because I wanted to help future foreign women dating Japanese men. I wanted to give them a list of things to expect with their Japanese boyfriend. So far I have six things on this list, but I will probably find more later.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

The main thing my Japanese Boyfriend (now fiance) and I have different ideas on is…


I like to fight. Or, I don’t actually like to fight, per say, but I think constructive fighting and arguing has a very vital role in any healthy relationship. I believe both sides should be able to safely confront the other about behavior that bothers them, issues they’ve been holding in, or other concerns without bottling it up. In a perfect world, we would be able to sit down once a month or so and just talk about the things that were bothering us – and such a conversation would rarely lead to actual yelling. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve actually yelled at each other during a “fight” in the last year and a half. We didn’t start out that way, though.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Needless to say, Ryosuke’s views on fighting and arguing are quite different. He was raised in a somewhat non-confrontational society. While he is one of the most confrontational Japanese people I know, sometimes he will shy away from conflict. Especially when said conflict seems to be rocking an otherwise stable boat (hint – the boat is our relationship). This also isn’t a uniquely Ryosuke aspect, most of my friend who have dated a Japanese man or have Japanese boyfriends have complained about this: Japanese men don’t like to fight.

If sometime bothers Ryosuke, he would prefer to keep it in. When he’s sad, mad, frustrated, or angry with me, he will kind of shut down, and I have to awkwardly sit across from him for the next half an hour or so, waiting for him to compose himself and gather his thoughts. All of my friends have complained about similar things. It seems like most Japanese boyfriends have inherent problems with effectively communicating their feelings. In my opinion, this isn’t good.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

I knew an American girl who had been dating this Japanese man for two years. She was bragging to me how not once, in their two years together, had they ever gotten into even a simple argument. “We always agree on everything,” she bragged, “we’re not like those other couples who fight all the time!” I started to wonder if maybe she was right, was I pushing Ryosuke to fight too much? Would we be better off not confronting each other that often?

Three days later, she went to meet up with her boyfriend. She was very excited because they hadn’t seen each other in a month or so. She thought he was going to propose.

But he dumped her.


Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele


16 responses to “Fighting: Things my Japanese Boyfriend and I Culturally Disagree About

  1. Pingback: Would you ever date a foreigner? Would you marry her? Thoughts from Japanese men | Texan in Tokyo·

  2. Pingback: Grace & Ryosuke – Akita, Japan |·

  3. That was a really interesting article. As a Chinese girl dating a White boy, I’m very excited to read more of your miniseries on interracial couples and the cultural differences that affect the relationship.

    • I found the story kind of sad…
      I don’t know the “right” way to do a Japanese man/American woman relationship. But I’ve learned one way that hasn’t worked out…
      And this is basically how it goes with relationships. You think you know something, and then suddenly it doesn’t work.

  4. you two look absolutely adorable and i love the way you wrote this. i am also in an “inter-racial” relationship – i am chinese and my 2.5yr boyfriend is australian. i must agree that constructive fighting (similar to criticism) is healthy for a relationship to prosper and develop. i can’t wait to hear more regarding this topic!

    • I wish you all the best in your relationship. 2.5 years in a Loooooong time!
      Do you have any advice about interracial relationships?

      I’m planning on doing a mini-series on this, with a couple of the other topics we disagree on (cleanliness, relationship with parents, racism, cheating, etc).

      • i don’t really have any great advice on interracial relationships as this guy is my first and only boyfriend. i just believe that the key to any relationship is honesty which can be achieved by talking to each other – whether it be about something mundane, superficial or huge as. i think your partner should be your best friend and he/she should be the first people you want to tell something to.

        as for topics, i totally agree with the cleanliness topic as well as marriage is not only with your fiance but also with their parents and family members (depending on which one is asian). i also think that it might be good to do one on divorce and the cultural differences with regards to divorce (and cheating). oh and another topic could be about having children and the difference in the asian upbringing vs caucasian upbringing. i don’t know if this is what you are looking for but i hope it has helped! 🙂

        • Now that you mention it, the divorce thing sounds really interesting (you know, considering the high divorce rates in America vs Japan). I’m trying to do a “relationship related” post every Wednesday, I think that’s going to be my next one. Thanks!

          Actually, Ryosuke’s kind of my first boyfriend too. I mean I dated before, but I hadn’t had a relationship last longer than a month (that was my breaking point, if I didn’t love them after a month, they had to go. It was kind of heartless). I do agree with you on the honesty and communication area, though.

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