Ghosted by my Japanese boyfriend

Well… it’s officially over. For me, anyway. It was probably over for him back in June or even May, and while I began letting go in July, it took me until August 1 to tell him–just in case there was any doubt at all, which there probably wasn’t–that we were through. And this entry is going to be me attempting to get all of my emotions about this out, like a catharsis, so I can move on.

My last post was June 11. The last email I received from him was on June 9, in which he called me scary for saying I wanted to come over and see him in the morning before work and comfort him, and since then I did not hear from him at all. At first I continued to send supportive, lighthearted messages 1-2 times a week. At first, I told myself not to expect a response. But… I started to want some sort of reply, some sort of acknowledgment that what I was doing was helping him. And I was beginning to have a very, very bad feeling about all this; my faith was running out.

I also heard from his youngest brother during June (but only after I pestered him over various social media, honestly worried that Shiki might be depressed/suicidal because of his work situation. It turns out selective avoidance is a family trait!). His brother basically said that while he does not have contact with Shiki (and he also let me know that the middle brother is moving away from Tokyo – ??), June is also a busy month for that industry. His advice was to wait for the busy period to end. That gave me a bit of hope and around the end of June, I had one last burst of determination to wait it out and keep being patient to see if he would come around.

On July 1, I sent him this:

It’s been more than three weeks since your last email you sent to me. Is everything okay? I feel worried when you don’t respond to me at all. Worried about you (and your mental/physical health), and about us. I really hope you’re doing all right. ><
I’d really like to see you or hear from you sometime soon. I think that would help both of us.
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is this Sunday, July 5 at noon. I’m nervous… >< If you have a chance, could you wish me luck?
I know June was also a busy month. Do you think July will be less busy for you?
….No reply… And of course he didn’t wish me luck or say anything to me on JLPT test day. (I took N1 again, and it went fairly okay, by the way. Hoping I passed.)
Anyway, the lack of response was starting to feel hurtful and/or worrisome, depending on how lenient I felt. I had asked him to wish me luck on the test he had studied with me for in February (we had a few study sessions back then where he studied for some legal certification and I studied JLPT N1), and he didn’t. No matter what, it just didn’t seem like a good sign. If he really cared about me, no matter how busy he was, he would have made some attempt to reach out by now. How hard would it have been to say “Good luck” to me on July 5? But he didn’t. It was beginning to feel deliberate, not like he was too debilitated by a busy work schedule and depression to do anything but sleep, eat, and go to work (as had been my assumption up until that point).

So, by the time my company summer vacation rolled around, I was feeling pretty done with things. I had talked to several people about the situation by that point, and everyone agreed this guy was a dud (which was hard for me to accept, but by that point I really just had to). When I protested that I still needed to get my stuff back from his place, that it couldn’t be over until I did, people told me to let the stuff go or joked that he’d already thrown it out (but I knew he wouldn’t have, it’s just not in his personality). I couldn’t let it go though because that was one of my favorite pairs of PJ pants. Anyway, I used my summer vacation to spend 10 days back in the U.S. relaxing at my parents’ house. I also ended up making about $3,800 doing freelance translation for a new client, who I hope becomes a steady client. While I was home, I couldn’t help rethinking the Shiki situation and feeling bitter. So, on July 19, I sent him this:

You are a coward.

You have hurt me deeply by just ending our relationship in the worst way – not contacting me anymore. Is that any way to treat your girlfriend of 9 months? I have cried and felt so sad and lonely over the past three months, and it is your fault. I have tried to help you and be there for you and comfort you and encourage you, and in return you have insulted me and ignored me. All I know is that work is busy, but I don’t know why, and I don’t know what your schedule is like, and I don’t know when it will end.

And you won’t even take responsibility and talk to me about it. You won’t even let me get any answers.

「はなさない」や「大好きだよ」や「Don’t move back to the U.S.」と言ってくれた優しい彼氏はどこ?(Where is the sweet boyfriend who told me “I won’t let you go” and “I love you” and “Don’t move back to the U.S.”?)
なんで消えちゃったの?本当に仕事の忙しさだけが理由? (Why did you disappear? Is work busyness really the only reason?)
なんでちゃんと向き合って話してくれないの? (Why won’t you face me properly and talk to me?)
なんで逃げてるの?なんで返事をくれないの? (Why are you running away? Why won’t you give me an answer?)

I hope you know that you can’t avoid me forever. You still have things that belong to me and until I get them back I’m not going to just fade away and leave you alone, even though I know that’s what you want.

I did decide to move back to the U.S., by the way. You told me not to, that you didn’t want me to, but then you disappeared, so what am I supposed to do?

You might as well tell me something so I know what the hell is going on with you. I suspect you’re depressed because of your work situation, but that’s no excuse for just abandoning a relationship with someone you supposedly care(d) about – with someone you led to believe you truly cherished, and who waited for you to come around for so long.
I think you need to be a man and take responsibility.

You’re the one who asked me to be your girlfriend, so you need to take responsibility for ending this relationship clearly if that’s what you want.

I want to hear an answer from you. I’m sick of waiting.

Yeah, I went into beast mode, which my ex Kirk will be quite quite familiar with, though I had never taken this tone with Shiki before. Yet again… and predictably… no reply.

I decided that once I got back to Japan (on Monday July 27), I would go over to his apartment one morning without warning, wait for the time when he normally leaves for work, and ask for my pajamas back.

So, on Wednesday July 29, I did that. I sat down in the hallway outside his apartment door (I knew based on past experience that even if I knocked, he wouldn’t open) and waited for him to come out around 8 a.m. He did come out, was clearly shocked to see me, and I walked up to him and said (in English) “You have my stuff.” He looked confused, so I said in Japanese “荷物 [stuff]” and he got it. He went back inside and dug up my pajamas and gave them to me. His hair had been cut into a spiky style at some point in the THREE MONTHS we hadn’t seen each other, and I really didn’t like it. He looked much better before. He had moved my pajamas from the hall closet where I’d put them to one of the plastic boxes under his bed (why?!), so he had to rummage around to find them. There were big, thin boxes in the hallway of his place, like for a bookshelf or something. I started crying (good thing I was wearing sunglasses), and he seemed shaken up too (well, probably also surprised to see me outside his apartment).

We walked to the station together (only 30 seconds) – although he realized he forgot his train pass (maybe proof of how unsettled he was to see me) and had to go back to his apartment to grab it, and though he told me to go on ahead I waited, and when he came out he rushed past me and I had to jog to catch up – and along the way I told him “I want to talk to you, when do you have time to do that?” After a long silence where I wasn’t even sure he was going to answer me at all, he finally said “Sunday….” and when I asked when on Sunday, trying to clarify that he had meant he’d have time to meet then, he paused for a long time again (at this point I had gone down to his platform with him, practically chasing after him, he was clearly in a hurry to get to work and/or possibly to not be near me anymore), and finally I said “Then could I come over at 9pm on Sunday?” and he nodded/said yes, so I said I would and then left – his train was coming in – and went to the platform on the other side to go to work.

It was a lot more unsettling to see him than I’d thought… and for us to interact with absolutely no affection, no physical contact whatsoever for the first time, it just really drove home that things have changed and are over between us, which was really hard to experience. I’d gone through that when Kirk and I were fighting – the interaction that’s tense and not normal, no physical affection – but this was obviously different, as we hadn’t seen each other in 3 months and he hadn’t contacted me in a month and a half and definitely seemed to be considering us over already – so it was more like having an awkward encounter with an ex, which I’d never gone through before.

I’m not sure why I set up a time for us to talk more, since I knew even then that it was likely to be even more painful and his answers don’t really matter anyway. I wasn’t even sure he’d keep the appointment, but I was hoping it would help make a clean break, and I HAVE been saying this whole time all I wanted was to talk to him. I just wanted to establish that we are, in fact, broken up and that’s what he wants.

But of course, he canceled the day of. Around 6pm on Sunday August 2, he replied to the angry email I had sent July 19 (quoted above) with this:

今日仕事でいない (I won’t be there because of work today)
The も at the end is senseless. Yet another poorly composed email from him that gives the impression that he’s too frazzled from work to even write properly. Who even knows the truth anymore, though? Does he really have to work past 9pm on a Sunday? If he does, clearly the insane schedule is still going on. But that’s his fault for not prioritizing his own mental and physical health, and also his relationship, and letting all of that be sacrificed just so he can do everything his job asks of him. If he’s been lying to me this whole time, and actually something else happened (like he got back together with an ex, or whatever), then I still deserved an explanation. In any case, he needed to make time for me and to either explain the situation or end things properly. And he failed to.

I wrote back with this:

Ok. I thought you’d cancel so I’m not surprised. Rescheduling would be pointless so I won’t try. If you ever want to talk, you can ask me. 

Just in case there is any doubt, we are broken up now. Thanks for the memories. Enjoy your work-filled life. 
P.S. Your haircut looks dumb. 
Normally, I wouldn’t have added that last dig at him, but I was drinking sake on a patio way out on the Chuo line with my friends and I had one of them push the send button for me.

It bothers me that he chose to cancel by replying to the last email I had sent him, proving that he IS aware of the emails and he’s reading them, he’s just choosing not to reply and to ignore me, knowing what that means. How could he end up being so terrible, I just don’t understand it…

Whatever. He has to live with the fact that he hurt me in this way, and I’ve made sure he knows it and knows what a terrible thing he did (regardless of how much his work schedule influenced it, if it in fact did). If he wanted to avoid facing the consequences of his hurtful actions and the proof that he’s hurt and upset me, he didn’t get to do that. I put it in his face anyway. I’m annoyed I spent so much time pitying him and coming up with excuses and rationales for his behavior.

This is easily the worst breakup I’ve ever had (but to be fair, the other two were pretty clean breaks and this is the only messy one I’ve ever experienced), and I hate that it’s like an open wound now, and it still pisses me off when I think about it. I’m actually still in shock. He was so sweet, and we were so happy spending time together, and he did and said so many things that made it clear he really cared about me and wanted to keep seeing me… I don’t understand how he could have done this, and how things got weird for good AFTER he put all that effort into our 6-month anniversary. I’m just blindsided. Yeah, it’s ghosting, but I just don’t understand. Why?

I’ll write more about my feelings about this whole thing, but I wanted to get the facts and an update out in case anyone was curious. Sympathy is MUCH appreciated!

There is hope for my dating future, however. I had a very nice first date on Friday, we hit it off and both find each other attractive and have a lot of common (or at least related) nerdy interests, and we should be seeing each other for more if everything keeps going well. If it doesn’t, I’ll just take a nice long break from dating while I lick my wounds.

I’m still feeling very hurt and rejected, even though I tried to reclaim some of the power in my last email to him and reject HIM. But it’s obvious that he was checked out since May/June, or maybe even earlier, no matter how big of a role the busy work schedule played. I know I did my best and I was a great girlfriend and I did more and hung in there for longer than most people reasonably would, and if that wasn’t enough for him then that’s on him for not appreciating what he had and honestly telling me if it wasn’t working for him anymore or if he wasn’t able to pay attention to a girlfriend anymore. He’s a coward and avoidant and he has to live with that and live being that way. I get to move on and know that I am capable of real love and a real, secure partnership with someone who thinks I’m amazing and deserving of all their love, and I will find it.

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18 thoughts on “Ghosted by my Japanese boyfriend

  1. Erin says:

    Sighs, I was really hoping the story of him and you would have a happy ending… But actually maybe it is a happy thing (despite all the hurt you are feeling now) that he is no longer in your life. For example, that new guy you dated on Friday might be the real The One or someone else in the future will surely be.
    I completely understand what you have been and are going thru. I had very similar experiences (altho not in the dating scene but while freelancing in Japan). The “highlight” of all was when I spent half year working for a company, basically getting them the deal of their life (and it’s not like there could be any misunderstanding about my position with them- my payments and schedule was all spelled out and written, they printed me business cards and I even attended several work events with my then boss. Then suddenly, before the “big day” (when I finally got them the green light from the big client they so wanted to have and it was time to schedule a date to sign the contract) my boss started to ignore my messages and calls. Once in two weeks he would reply with “I’m very busy now, please wait”. Eventually the contact stopped completely! I wrote to the other members of this supposedly respectable company demanding to know what’s up and as you can guess- no reply. Needless to say, my pay didn’t come either and there was never an official “byebye” response.
    I really don’t understand why some Japanese people choose to just dissappear like that on someone whom they knew (and promised stuff) for quite some time! Wouldn’t a simple “sorry, my plans about you changed” email be actually easier for them than getting confused and upset texts/calls for months from the person they no longer need?!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and updating. I know it’s not easy to be telling/writing such experiences, but it helps those with similar stories (like myself) by knowing we are not alone and shit like this happens in Japan (and maybe other parts of the world? Sorry, I generalize it on japan because I personally didn’t experience it elsewhere).
    And sorry for my rant!

    • seira says:

      Sorry for the delay in replying but thank you so much for your comment! Although the guy I mention towards the end of this post ended up ghosting me TOO… T_T

      That’s ridiculous that it happens even in business!! Seriously, what is so difficult about just sending off a note to say it’s over!!

  2. sdiah says:

    I had the same experience with my Japanese ex boyfriend, he just disappeared, never replied my texts, never took my calls.
    I’m fine if he wants to break up but geez just say something. This actually makes me not want to date a Japanese guy ever again.

    • seira says:

      Yeah… I really don’t understand what motivates that behavior. And sadly I know the feeling… there are some good ones but they are so rare, I don’t know if I will ever find one.

  3. Shari says:

    I hope it never happens to you again and myself. It’s the worst feeling ever, I don’t even wish that to my worst enemy. It seems like this “ghosting” thing happens everywhere not just with Japanese men, I was googling “ghosting” and found a bunch of articles plenty of American guys do it too.
    I hope you’ll get your closure and one day find true love ❤

  4. berrywhite says:

    This is from a guy’s perspective. A japanese girl did the exact same thing to me. Like, literally, great conversations, having tons of fun, then one day *poof*

    she doesn’t answer my messages, even though i see they’re read. i find it really, really, irritating after 6 months of dating. i would have been totally fine, maybe a little sad, but OK, if she said “hey, this just isn’t working out” but being ghosted leaves me with a bad vibe. the more i try and figure out what’s going on, the more of a stalker i start to feel like. one thing is for sure, if she ever contacts me again i’ll be sure play along for a little while and then ghost her so she knows how it feels. maybe that will stop her from doing it to the next guy..

    i’m talking to a new girl now, and its like i’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop, er, vanish. its keeping me from committing to her. i hate being wishy-washy with her because i feel like she’s a sweet person who doesn’t deserve to be in the same box.

    i guess i just have to roll with it and see where it goes. the new girl does deserve a fair shot and a clean slate at least.

    • seira says:

      Oooh, that’s annoying. But if your ex messages you again, don’t just ghost her back. I want to wipe out ghosting in relationships from the world. Just text her “Hey, it’s over, don’t contact me again” and head it off.

      And tell the new girl you’re worried about ghosting, but you’re going to trust her. See what she does, it might make her more honest.

  5. Christine says:

    I had the same experience on a friendship level from a guy I trusted…seems it’s quite typical from Japanese guys/men. They won’t take the responsibility of the breakup but will ghost you until you get angry, mad, sad and take the decision yourself. This way they don’t feel that they are the ones who are bad and mean because after all it’s you who finally put an end to the relationship.

    • seira says:

      Yeah :/ I really hate that it’s so common!! I think it’s not just Japanese guys too, but that’s what I have experience with. I’m sorry you had that experience too.

  6. FromOsaka says:

    Ugh! This literally just happened to me, and my search for an answer is how I found this article. I met a guy in Japan, had coffee, and ended up at his place for a little bit. He paid for my train ticket home and was so sweet, even a few days after meeting. He talked about wanting to visit me and going to Canada, brushing up on his English, and talking more in Japanese the “next time we meet up.” He sounded so stoked, and the conversation was flowing so well.

    After replying to those 3 messages, poof. Gone. I assumed that he was busy, but it’s been 4 days and nothing. My other Japanese male friend said that this was “not rare” in Japan and that “he probably won’t reply again.” Still unsure whether or not to delete him, ugh.

    Ghosting happens everywhere for sure, but is confusing in Japan because there’s this semblance of things going very well and it suddenly hitting a huge downward slope. Over here, I feel like it’s like a gradual fading before you get ghosted.

    Oh well. 😦

    • seira says:

      Yes! They do that. The whole “oh yeah, next time we meet, let’s do that! In the future, let’s definitely do that!” thing. And then it never happens and you’re like !??!?!

      If it’s only been 4 days, there is a chance you will hear from him again in about 2 weeks. That’s like… the pattern here. Initial ghosting, then they pop back up exactly 2 weeks later. And you’re like !??! I gave up on you!!

      It’s like they want you to know you’re not that important, but they still want to keep you around…

  7. RU says:

    same thing happened to me recently so found this article by google ;D makes me feel a little bit better to know i’m not the only one

  8. hotpotato says:

    I feel you. I dunno if you still care about your Japanese ex until now but it happened to me three months ago. 🙂 Yeah…I think I need to make myself understand that he’s never coming back..that he is just one of those typical Japanese men who are fond of dropping their girlfriends like a hot potato. Truly, it’s hard. My Japanese ex-boyfriend sucks but I still love him. He’s the best still. 🙂 Anyway, let’s just wish them happiness. 🙂 Letting go is loving too, anyway. 🙂

  9. hotpotato says:

    Anyway, as far as I can remember from our previous convos, my ex told me that he would surely try his best having me. Yet, if he realized that the difficult situation (LDR) was not worth fighting for, then he would need to end the relationship. So, I think Japanese men really feel love…it’s just that, they tend to have their practical side dominate over their emotional one. 🙂

    • seira says:

      I definitely agree… and I do still think about this situation from time to time. I’ve actually come to the conclusion that he was most likely gay, which explains why he would alternate between trying hard in the relationship and seeming very apathetic. I don’t know if my conclusion is right, but it makes me feel better.

  10. Anne says:

    Same as all the other girls here.
    Have not heard anything from my boyfriend now. It’s been 4 days. The last I talked to him was good. That was Wednesday night but I came across his FB and found out he was “liking” some other girl’s photos which led me in sending him a message like:
    I wonder why you “liked” on other girls’ photo o FB but not mine? Isn’t it strange? Goodnight.

    The next day, my message was read byt he did not reply up to this time. I knew It was my fault but I didn’t intend to make an argument. I didn’t know that he’ll be like this. We have known each other since last year and started dating few months ago. Just before we became an official couple, there were times like he wouldn’t contact me for weeks. The longest was 1 month then he will just suddenly call and talk about things and plans of meeting up. But we are a couple now. It’s different from being friends. Things were fine just before I sent him that message. I know It’s my fault. I sent hin a message 2 days ago, trying to say Hi and said Sorry. It was not read.
    Am I being “ghosted”?

    • seira says:

      Hmmm. What I’ve learned is that if a (Japanese) guy is having doubts about you, he will treat you like a problem he doesn’t want to deal with right now. He will probably eventually get around to messaging you again on his own, but who knows how long that could take. In the meantime, he will ignore you.

      My guess is that if you leave him alone, he will contact you again eventually.

      But I think it’s a bit silly that he started to ignore you over you expressing jealousy (however, I also think you should have just asked him about it during a conversation instead of sending a message like that). But he might have thought “She sounds mad at me. Maybe she wants to break up.”

      It’s up to you if getting ignored like this is a dealbreaker and something you don’t want to put up with it. If you want to try waiting for him, you can. For me that was pure torture. If a guy knows how to treat you, he won’t make you feel like that. Unfortunately, a lot of Japanese guys can be really selfish and they don’t try to think about our feelings.

      What I’ve learned is that you should always bring up big issues, things you want to discuss, IN PERSON. Not over a message or text. If you do it over message or text, they can just ignore it–and you–forever.

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