I don’t even know what I want.

Regardless, this is sort of taking on an obsession in my mind at the moment. I can’t seem to stop trying to figure out exactly what it is I want and how I should pursue it.

I think my main dilemma is fellow foreigner or Japanese guy. Not with anyone in specific, just in general. There’s pros and cons to both. With a fellow foreigner, we both speak English so that’s easy, and we come from similar cultural backgrounds. But there’s also the real possibility he’s going to leave Japan before me, the fact that when we’re out together people are much more likely to assume we don’t speak any Japanese (which annoys me), the likelihood that his Japanese isn’t very good so I have to pick up a lot of slack and that he’s just an English teacher who probably has to return home to get a real career going, which he’ll want eventually. On the other hand, Japanese guy. The pros there are incredibly soft seal-like skin (don’t ask how I discovered that), adorable shyness, amusing secret hidden sides, and the opportunity to practice Japanese and learn new words – not to mention if I marry one, first I get to wear an awesome over-the-top wedding kimono (not the all-white ones with the hat but still, something elaborate and fancy) and make my sister wear a furisode and get married in one of my beloved Shinto shrines, and second I have something tying me to Japan. Cons are communication difficulties and frustrations (especially if his English isn’t good enough to communicate with my family and I have to interpret), different cultural expectations (like if we get married and he expects me to do the housework, etc – and because of how family registers work in Japan, I’d almost certainly have to change my name to his, which I don’t want to do with anyone), and long working hours and overtime. From what I understand though, Japanese guys aren’t generally looking for a serious relationship with a western girl, because they sense she’s not going to put up with their patriarchal society BS. And I’m not, but at the same time, I’d love to find that rare guy who is open to something different.

So when presented with a choice (now things are getting specific) – pursue western guy, or pursue Japanese guy(s)? I’m not sure where to put my energy, I’m not sure what is the best decision for my future, and that’s what’s driving me crazy. Is dating a western guy who will probably leave Japan before me – precipitating our breakup – a waste of my time/youth, and so I should focus on only Japanese guys who aren’t going anywhere? Or will it be a good experience and the real right person will be waiting for me at the end of it?

I think the “something to tie me to Japan vs. someone whose time here is more limited than mine” is the real thing I’m agonizing over. I mean, I’m moving my cat here, and I don’t plan to move her back to the US unless some sort of crisis occurs and I have to move home. She’s got another good 6 years at least left, and she’s staying here until the end of them if I have anything to say about it. So I’m here at least until the end of my cat’s lifespan, and from what I’ve observed, people generally tend to stay in Japan for about 3-5 years, and if they find a significant other within that time, they stay after that. If they don’t, then they go back to their home country. I’m enjoying my life so much right now, but I don’t want to hit 5 years and have no personal ties to Japan (that is, to someone Japanese or at least someone who’s here long-term) and start to let my homesickness and feelings of not wanting to miss out on seeing my family anymore call me home. I mean, I guess if I feel that way I feel that way and I’ll decide accordingly, but for some reason, right now I’m just looking for something to keep me here. But that’s silly, because another person shouldn’t decide my fate; I should be the one controlling it. And yet… so many of my friends here are happily coupled. I used to be, and now I’m not, and it feels a little insecure and jarring.

It’s also the fact that my ex already has a new girlfriend, and he went on his first date with her a week after we broke up. One week! What that tells me is he was coasting in our relationship for a long time, and didn’t initiate a breakup himself because he was afraid of what it might do to me in my anxious state. Ugh. I know it’s not a competition, but it still stings, and part of me feels a compulsion to catch up.

It’s also that I’m 27, 28 in a few months, and I’m worried about hitting my late 30s/40s and not having a life partner because I didn’t grab one when I was young and desirable. Even though I’m undecided about having kids and probably have at least until 35 in terms of fertility, the clock still feels like it’s ticking. So many Japanese women here I know are 30s/40s and unattached and seemingly will be for the rest of their lives, and it’s scary. At the same time, I don’t see them being proactive and trying to date, and I wouldn’t be that way – I’m not being that way now – but it’s still a frightening picture of a potential future. I don’t want my independence and ideals to cost me lifelong companionship.

At the same time, keeping up a relationship is a lot of work! And I’m enjoying not having to be accountable to anyone all the time. But I miss the security and the companionship and do want to find a life partner, an 運命の人… I do still hold out hope of finding someone I’m really, really compatible with and feel like I’m meant to be with. I’ve let go a little of the idea that there’s “The One” for everyone – I think there can be multiple “Ones” depending on life circumstances – but I’m still very enamored of the thought of a soulmate out there waiting for me to find him. I can’t help it, I’ve been dreaming of that since I was a child/teenager, and it’s what I get off on in my favorite fictional relationships – the one true couple, whose connection is destiny and fated and spans everything, who you can’t imagine being with anyone else ever. I thought I’d found that, but it was just first love and me trying desperately to make it work despite mounting incompatibilities and mutual personality flaws.


Oh, and JLPT N1 is in less than a month and here I am focusing my energies on dating instead of studying. Can we say “going to fail”? Yup.


One thought on “Dating……………………………………………

  1. tulipfield says:

    Ugh I understand. Dating situation here has gotten more complicated since we last talked, but yeah, I have a lot of the same worries you do. I’m supposed to turn in my thesis proposal paperwork in a week, and I’m too busy sorting out my love life to focus on it. Right now I’m mostly hung up on whether my standards are unreasonably high when, like you said, I’m getting older and don’t have forever to wait around for that perfect person. And also what does the balance have to be between physical and emotional attraction? Don’t know, don’t know.

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