Monday, 8 February 2016

Dating in Japan ~ Online to Offline Exploits

Just in time for 2016's approaching Valentine's Day (which is actually for men as oppose to women), I thought it time to introduce this little number to my Japan exploits. After all I feel like I have everything right now. I have my own apartment (although it's rented). I have a job. I have an income. I have friends. And I have a fairly decent social life these days but sadly, I've been single for a very long time. So I decided that even Japan, with its language barrier, cultural differences and differing standards of beauty wasn't going to stop me. Foreign women all over Japan often say that dating in this country is very difficult. Japanese men themselves are shy and reserved so as a woman, I would need to take the initiative and pursue them. And as for foreign men - well, it is said that they are less interested in their foreign counterparts and more interested in the natives. So what's a foreign girl to do really?

Well, take to the internet of course.

Now back in England, I'd done online dating before. But my criteria had been a bit different back then. I'd been very naive twenty-two-year-old and perhaps a little scared. I didn't fully commit to the idea of dating people (I remember specifically putting "seeking friends" in my profile) and I ruled out people pretty quickly if they weren't prepared to go at my speed - which was very slowly I might add. In Japan however - and maybe it's because I'm older, wiser and know exactly what I want - I think I've fully committed to it now.

I joined a couple of websites, filled in my details and started searching.  I landed my first date within a couple of weeks. The guy asked me out for the end of the same week we started communicating. (In the past, I'd been too afraid to meet people too soon but I realise now that it's better to meet sooner rather than later). We spoke for about three days. He disappeared until the actual date day itself and then he contacted me and asked if he could cancel. No contact for a while and a cancellation on the day spelt red flags to me but evidently, the date still happened despite overall poor organisation. He was also late despite living a station away from where he had suggested we meet. The date itself was okay - dinner and karaoke - but I'm a stickler for first impressions and I decided that he wasn't for me. I think a piece of him is still hoping I'll change my mind however.

A week later, I contacted another guy and my second date was scheduled. This guy had spent some time overseas and seemed to have his act together. He was good looking and he pretty much contacted me for a week straight up until the date itself. We had a good time; he rented a car; we went to a few places but sometimes our conversations weren't free flowing despite his assurance that he wasn't nervous. At the end of the date, there was talk of a second but he disappeared shortly after never to be heard from again. Can't say I wasn't disappointed but to make myself feel better, I bit the bullet after so many years of slandering the app and I downloaded Tinder.

Now Tinder has a reputation of being a hook up app but since downloading it, I'm starting to think that the Japanese use Tinder in the same way they use a lot of online mediums; for a language opportunity, to make friends or to see what's out there. A LOT said that they were "looking for friends" but when I interrogated some of my matches, the truth often came out sooner or later; some were very direct from the get-go which was nice.

I got speaking to a third guy one morning and arranged to meet him the same day actually. The date itself was pretty good but I kind of felt like the guy was a) not being himself and b) trying a little too hard. We had fun on the day but it ended quite suddenly when rather then walk me to the station, he rather abruptly shook my hand, told me goodbye and stormed off in the opposite direction. I distinctly remember thinking that he'd been so rude and I wouldn't be seeing him again. But despite this occurrence, this same guy asked me out a second time. My mind was completely blown. Thus we ended up on a second date. Naturally, I confronted him about his actions and it had turned out that he'd needed to go back to his office to collect something quickly before he missed his last train. He hadn't communicated this however - in true Japan fashion. I forgave this and this date actually went very well. 

But I had also scheduled a fourth date the very next day...

We ended up heading to an indoor amusement park of sorts. In comparison to all the others, his English wasn't outstanding and he was also very nervous; he denied it obviously but towards to end of the date I finally got the truth out of him. It was busy so we spent a lot of time queuing. I've always said that a theme park would be my ideal date but even though this date went swimmingly, I'm wondering if an amusement park would be a better third or even fourth date instead. Queuing can be rather exhausting after all, and coupled with nerves and forced conversation, it can feel almost unnatural. After, he bought me dinner and then saw me to the station. We parted amicably but ultimately it just wasn't meant to be. He had been a nice guy though and I'm sure he'll find someone. I however, had scheduled yet another date two days later...

This guy had told me from the get-go that he was very aggressive. Unlike some of the others who had used the "looking for friends" medium, this guy had very boldly stated he was looking for a girlfriend. Bonus points for honesty. We met up, ate at a cafe, played darts, had dinner and ended up in Starbucks to finish it off. Whenever we were on the move however, conversation was very basic but whenever we were stationary, we would have some of the most interesting and almost in depth conversations. Now I love a good conversation - I'm a sucker for it - but when we ended the date, I couldn't help but feel like this guy would have made a much better mate, then a boyfriend. What particularly stood out about him was that he encompassed some of the stereotypes that I associate with alpha types in Japan. In the restaurants, he wasn't rude but almost borderline arrogant when he would order or call for the waiter - as if he was used to doing so at work. He didn't open any doors for me (not that I require it but all my other dates had done this almost naturally) and his general manner just screamed assertive.

There had been another date scheduled actually but this one ended up getting cancelled and I never did end up meeting this individual. Not a big loss as with this last guy, we didn't have a lot in common. Somehow we managed to talk for a solid three weeks however...

So there you have it - five dates set up across a two month period; I can definitely say that I've done well for myself. There are many blogs, guides and forums that talk about what you should do to date in Japan; I will admit that I have read a lot. But I decided that going into these dates, I was going to be completely myself. I was going to order all the meat in world; I wasn't going to expect the man to pay for everything; I was going to bring conversation to the table and I was going to have a good time. So foreign women in Japan, maybe it's been said to death, but get out there. Give online dating a try, or if online isn't your thing, head to some events and see what and who's out there.

Dating in Japan isn't going to happen by itself.

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