Would you ever date a foreigner? Would you marry her? Thoughts from Japanese men

Japanese couple on the beach

A couple nights ago I was at a party and ended up in the corner with my fiancé (Japanese) and five of his other friends. Since I’m in the process on writing a book about Japanese interracial relationships, I started picking the brains of the other five men. Let’s call them A, B, C, D, and E (I really hate mentioning people on my blog. It makes me nervous). This post stemmed off an earlier discussion in the Interracial dating in Japan: Who is dating who.

All of the men I talked to go to Akita International School, a new college in Japan that has been gaining fame. With only around 30% of the students actually graduating on time, a rigorous course catalog (and classes that put other Japanese universities to shame), and a mandatory 1 year study abroad requirement, AIU is an interesting school. I love it here.

I wanted to see if going to AIU made Japanese men more or less liberal about dating foreigners. So in the midst of a drinking party (people are always more ‘chatty’ when in a party setting), I pulled a couple of the guys aside and started asking questions. You know, for fun. I asked three questions relating to dating foreigners while abroad (since all three of them had done a year abroad in either America or Norway).

The Seagull is happy you are reading my blog

The Seagull is happy you are reading my blog

Did you date while you were abroad?

A-D hadn’t dated anyone abroad. They didn’t go on a single date while outside of Japan. While E had, in fact, dated someone while he was abroad, he dated another one of the Japanese girls from his university who was studying abroad at the same school.

When I asked why, a couple gave answers like “I tried, but no one was interested” or “I didn’t find any cute, American girls” or “American girls are too, what’s the word, scary?”

“Yes!” Ryosuke jumped in. “I dated. I dated you! And you’re not too scary!” Ryosuke loves to be present in these kinds of conversations.

Inner racial Japanese and American couple

Would you ever date a foreign girl?

A and C said “probably not.”

D and E said “yes.”

B called across to the room to one of the other foreign girls at the party and asked “Hey, do you want to date me? Let’s date!”

So far, I found this interesting. In my experience, Japanese men either really want to date a foreign girl, or really do NOT want to date a foreign girl. So far, all the men at AIU seemed very liberal with their responses. Rather than an overwhelming “I would cut off my left arm to be able to date an American girl” or “Ew, why would I want to date that?” The answers seemed much more… varying.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Would you ever marry a foreigner?

Because of the liberal responses in the first question, I was expecting a couple “Maybe”s in this answer. No such luck. Aside from Ryosuke, all five of the men said “No” unconditionally. When I asked what would happen if they were dating a foreign girl and it came time for marriage, B (the one who suggested dating a girl at the party) said “We would probably break up.”

C said “Foreign women are fun to date, but not to marry.”

B also said, “My family would not be ok with me marrying a white girl. I think.”

The other three men expressed similar concerns. Dating a foreigner is fine, but marriage is another boat. Marriage is eternal. It’s more than just feelings. Will she be a good mother? Can she cook? Can she communicate with my parents? Is she scary?

Japanese cute father and daughter festival

While this initially surprised me (I was hopeful, since all of them had said they would consider dating a foreigner), I can understand. I have heard similar sentiments from foreign women in Japan dating Japanese men.

One of the women I had mentioned in an earlier post about cultural differences in Japan: Fighting, was dumped not because her Japanese boyfriend didn’t like her (he still did love her, after the break-up) but because he “couldn’t see [himself] marrying her.” She was girlfriend material, not wife material.

Apparently there is a difference in Japan.

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7 responses to “Would you ever date a foreigner? Would you marry her? Thoughts from Japanese men

  1. So my Japanese boyfriend told me he wouldn’t marry a foreigner (aka me) because he just think it would be marry a Japanese girl. Though he had said before he started dating me that if he liked a foreigner he would want to date her (aka still me) He was also kind of hiding me from his family. I’m studying abroad in Hokkaido next year so I will get to spend a week in Tokyo with him before I leave. He definitely didn’t want me to see his family while I was there, until a couple days ago when he asked me if I wanted to have a meal at his house and meet his family……wtf! lol I have no idea about what made him change his mind. He said its because we’ve been “dating long enough (at this point 9 months, when I meet them 10 months)” Anyways my point is, I’ve been reading your blog and now I’m freaking out about what this all means and what I should do snsjdhdhcjdnsjdj We are both at the point where we aren’t ready to get married either, so I’m not sure if that changes things or what. He said his moms liberal but his dad…..hmmmm (he’s also the oldest son)

    • Sue Murphy Umezaki had a wonderful reply (that somehow got deleted from WordPress, sorry)

      “I hope I’m not butting in too much, but I just had a couple of thoughts about your situation, Lindsey. One is that it seems very common for Japanese young people – in my “older” generation, and still now, to hide their significant other from their parents even when both parties are Japanese. You generally don’t see boyfriend/girlfriend going over and hanging out with the family until things are pretty serious, and even to the point of getting very close to engagement. Considering that observation, you may want to just feel our boyfriend out to see what his intentions are. Is he planning to introduce you as his girlfriend, or just a friend?

      Second, from your point of view, this could be a great opportunity to observe how he acts around his family – how he treats you around them, how he treats his mother, and so on. It is not super common, but I have heard of cases where the Japanese husband changes radically after coming back to his homeland. Unfortunately, I even have a friend going through a divorce due to the fact that her Japanese husband, whom she met in college in the US, became a totally different person once they moved to Japan after marriage.

      My husband’s mother (his father was already gone) protested vociferously through our entire engagement, but the way he handled himself, and the way he treated both her and me showed me that I could count on him and trust him completely. Those rocky times can often be the cement for a relationship!”

    • I can also agree with what she said. Some of the worst fighting my fiance and I ever went through was after we moved to Japan. He completely changed and it drove me crazy.
      I wouldn’t worry so much about the “hiding from family.” We were discussing marriage before he finally sent his parents an email saying “hey, I’m dating someone.” Before me, he had a couple of long-term relationships (1 year and 3 years) that his parents, siblings, and friends from back home didn’t really know about.
      It is Japanese culture to not be upfront with the person you are dating (and not introduce them to your family unless you are seriously considering marriage).
      Since you’re foreign, I wouldn’t worry. Most elderly Japanese folks love foreigners.
      (the only thing to worry about is the oldest son. I got lucky, mine is the third child out of four – so his parents have virtually no expectations for him. Yay for me).

      I think you should just go with it and have fun. Maybe it will turn out horribly, but it probably won’t. I’m sure you will have a great time 🙂

  2. I have asked this same questions to three of my Japanese friends (guys) and each of them gave interesting views. This question came to me after one of them shared with me your article about the social cons for interracial marriages will never be valid legally.

    A (mid-30s and have lived in CA for a year) asked if this was a college homework? When I laughed and said no, he then said he might consider dating one.

    B (actor/singer) shares the same view with your friend C. Foreigners are ok for dates, but not for marriage.

    C (Uni student) having home stayed at my place before, and have gone to quite a number of countries, was very liberal. He is looking forward to dating and marrying a foreigner in the near future!

    My final thoughts: It’s SO hard to find a Japanese boyfriend->husband… Haiz…

    • Reply to A: No, I just get bored a lot. And when Japanese men drink, they get funny (and much more honest).

      I agree, it really is hard to find good dating material in Japan. I’ve found that guys are either really great boyfriends (few and in between) or really awful boyfriends (not texting back, cheating, a jerk, embarrassed to date you, etc). Kudos to the guy who wants to marry a foreigner!

      Have you ever dated a Japanese guy/would you consider it?

  3. This made me laugh!! My husband swore up and down that he would never marry a foreigner when everyone teased him about that before he left for his two years in the US. I also swore I would never marry a Japanese after living here for the first year and observing salary men on the train, etc. Never say never!

    • Interesting how life works out, isn’t it?
      I spent a year up in boarding school in Hokkaido and vowed never to date a Japanese man. I guess when you find the right person, nationality doesn’t seem to matter…?

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