Thank you, Momoko Kanzaki of Laurier

Getting ghosted fucked me up for a while. I still feel a tiny bit fucked up about it when I think about it now, though I’m feeling in a better place every day. Honestly, 2015 was basically me getting progressively more jaded and cautious after suffering romantic and career rejections (even if things seem to be better now on at least one of those fronts).

While I was still trying to figure out how to get through that whole situation, during the gray period where no one had officially broken up with anyone but getting my supposed boyfriend to contact me and follow through on promises to see me was like pulling teeth and I wasn’t sure whether to pull the plug or hold out because both choices seemed equally painful, I did a lot of desperate late-night googling. I read up on ghosting, fading out, all of that in English and Japanese, because I figured there might be cultural differences that would mean I should get a Japanese perspective too. The Japanese sources ended up being more helpful to me because the work culture is so much more intense here, which is why it’s a lot harder in Japan to figure out if someone is really, truly just busy with work or if they’re fading out on you, because it is possible that it’s entirely work stuff and his feelings haven’t changed. I read accounts from several girls who endured months-long periods of virtual radio silence from their then-boyfriends, now-husbands who eventually surfaced and they were married. (Who knows if those are actual solid marriages though, or if he’s going to pull that same stunt again down the line.) Another girl said that her boyfriend regularly disappeared for months at a time, and she waited patiently because he always came back around, and it was just an established pattern by then.

At the beginning, stories like that gave me hope. Yeah, exactly! It’s just work and he’ll come back to me! Everything was so good! By the end, they just depressed me. These girls are getting played, and so am I… 

One of the things I came across during these Google sprees was the writing of Momoko Kanzaki, a writer for the women’s/love section of Excite News (lol, I know, Excite still exists and is relevant–only in Japan). I was so moved by what she wrote in three of her columns, which seemed to be about exactly what I was going through, that I copied down the text and saved it. She takes a very brassy, no-nonsense view of how men often treat women, and a lot of it was just what I needed to hear, although it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

She wrote about dating busy men. First there’s this article [J], entitled “Men who won’t contact you because ‘Work is busy'” (I’ve translated these excerpts; any bolding is by me).

Men who can’t even make plans using work as an excuse, who will happily leave you waiting for months on end, and who are too tied up to even text you are not a partner who is honestly face to face with you.
If you’re thinking about your future, it can’t be one-way–it has to be “partners who are both properly facing one another” or it won’t last.

She followed it up with “No impatience, no complaining, no brooding… how to date a busy man you rarely see?” [J].

Men who are buried in work, who say work is crazy are not placing importance on love, so they’re not going to fall in love. It’s highly likely that, unexpectedly, they’ve rarely gotten truly close to a woman before; they’ve kept themselves at a moderate distance. It’s also the case that they reject deep connections and are afraid of them.
They can’t bear people’s feelings.
That’s why they make it their job’s fault, saying “I’m busy, so…” and seek refuge at work. These men are not open to love.
It’s highly unlikely that he’s going to fight for you, nor can you hope that he’ll treat you with good faith. He can’t face your serious intentions.
He’s fine keeping you waiting, he won’t give you an answer, and he wants to be vague. He doesn’t want to get scolded later, so he won’t even make plans. He refuses to take responsibility or shoulder any weight.
So if you want to force it to work with a man like that, all you can do is smile, look past it, and endure.

She also wrote about the fadeout: “‘Is this a fadeout?’ Men who go radio silent–why do they suddenly disappear?” [J].

I think it’s buried deep in a man’s psyche to choose to flee when things get rough. They don’t want to be blamed, so they don’t want to become the bad guy. There are things he’s hiding and things no one can know, so he fades out.

To have someone suddenly sever the ties in your relationship is truly rough. You don’t even know why he left, and even though you want to know the truth, he continues to completely ignore you no matter if you call and text. When he won’t tell you anything, and you can’t even talk to him, all you can do is end things all on your own. With no way of confirming that it’s over, it’s incredibly difficult to force yourself to bury your feelings.
You have to give a good kick to a guy who won’t say a single word to you.
You can’t hope for a constructive relationship from someone who tries to run away when things get bad and inconvenient for him, and you can’t build a solid foundation. So while ending it with someone like that is the right thing to do, a wordless declaration of intention causes people to suffer; it haunts them and won’t let them go. There’s nothing so painful as to be ignored with no reaction at all.

Yeah, it was pretty much like she was speaking into my soul. Everything was happening EXACTLY as she described. I really think my ex Shiki was afraid of forming a deep connection with anyone, and once I seemed to be asking that of him, he disappeared. Looking back, I really wonder if he’s gay or something (there were some bedroom issues too) and that’s why he preferred me at arm’s length. I just don’t know. It continues to baffle me why he was so adoring in the beginning and then went cold.

But I refuse to have a partner like that anymore, someone who is avoidant and puts work first, who doesn’t make love a priority. “Partners who honestly face each other”–that’s what I want to find looking forward, though I also have very little hope of finding an enlightened guy like that in Japan. Which is why right now I’m just enjoying the single life, and can’t summon the motivation to go on a bunch of dates and attempt to get the best one to ask me to be his girlfriend. I feel like my life is pretty busy already, with not enough time for me to chill at home (and work on freelance stuff), because I have a lot of (wonderful!) friends who are always inviting me to fun things, so I don’t even know where I’d fit a boyfriend in anyway. But these articles are a reminder not to settle for (Japanese) male bullshit.

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5 thoughts on “Thank you, Momoko Kanzaki of Laurier

  1. Olivia says:

    *insert that clapping emoticon here*

    I’m really glad you found some insight into the whole phenomenon. It’s intriguing and sort of unbelievable that we have a society (both in Japan and outside lol) where this has become a thing and there isn’t really any solution except picking yourself up and remembering that you are your most important priority.

    I’m getting closer to that one year of marriage mark and so many things have been distracting, work and life (baby), its hard for me to really focus on how we have grown as a couple. It doesn’t feel like a year at all has passed. We don’t want to kill each other, so at least there is that.

    I will admit tho, sometimes I miss being single and all the freedom that comes with only worrying about yourself! How much more time for friends and hobbies lol. But no time for those kinds of thoughts from me anymore! I’ll find a way to keep my sanity one way or another.

    I’m glad to hear that you are having fun now though, sounds like the best way to spend life~ :3

  2. curious says:

    Girl,

    I am sorry for what happened to you. As for the guy, he simply was not into you and you chasing him make you appear really miserable.
    At some point in our life, we all chased someone who did not want us. Its called one side love.

    Work was an excuse for him. For a woman, he’ll really like, most probably there will be time for her. Even if he is Japanese.

    There must be someone out there for you. Never chase anyone.

    • seira says:

      There was a lot more going on with him than simply just deciding one day he wasn’t into me anymore. I’m sure that was eventually part of it, but I don’t think it started off being just that reason. When it all began, it wasn’t one-sided. He cared about me just as much, but work got in the way, and then eventually I wasn’t worth it anymore.

  3. Ruby Ronin says:

    Damn girl! I read about your dating stories with men in Japan and I TOTALLY HEAR YOU! I was often used as something to tick off the “sleep with foreign chick” box and once I realized what happened I was livid. Later I even had guys blatantly ask me “oh I’m glad I found a foreigner, I always wanted one. But why is your hair black? Are you really American?” Oh god, it took everything I had not to slap the ignorant bastard. Other times I played interpreter for my black friend who also liked Japanese men, and sometimes the Japanese men would upright tell me: “Yeah, I finally get to see what sleeping with a black chick is like!” BARF. (even worse, I told my friend what the Japanese guy said and she still went off with him UGHHH!!).

    After dating Japanese men for a while I just got sick of all the BS (basically all the things they did and what you wrote in your post) and I actually just stopped, cold turkey, and ended up dating a Korean guy in the end.

    Japanese men just don’t communicate. Period. And I think in Japan this “ghosting” thing is actually how people break up (I think few relationships end with closure). When I asked Japanese friends about it they said that they were victims or culprits of this method of break up, and I was truly culture shocked. It’s also quite common in China and Korea. I know that Asian people like to avoid conflict, but good god.

    I think Japanese men are really turned off by women that are too honest with their emotions and tell them how they feel–but this sucks because this is EXACTLY how you have a healthy relationship! I read another survey too where Japanese men said the least attractive trait of a woman was being too “forward” and “open.” WTF?

    I read in a survey somewhere that Japanese men also rank work as their #1 priority, even above family and marital relationships… so after I saw that, I thought: f this. I actually want to see my boyfriend/husband and spend time with him instead of waiting for him and wondering when he’s going to come home.

    When I dated the Korean guy (he worked in Japan) he had to go on a business trip to the Philippines with his coworkers. Basically, his Japanese boss assigned filipino hostess girls to all of the people who went on the business trip and made them sing karaoke in a room. My bf at the time said that although all the men were married, they were making out and groping the filipino girls in the karaoke box. My bf then (supposedly) didn’t touch his girl and felt extremely awkward. The boss “bought” the girls for the night and ordered that my bf bring his filipino girl to the room for “a good time.” My bf then told the girl he was taken and politely told her to leave (supposedly) while the other men had “fun” with their women. GROSS!!!! When I worked in China at a Japanese company, ALL the male workers would go to Chinese host bars (even though they were married with children) and openly talk about the women they banged, while I was sitting right there! No shame! I even had one hit on my friends and I thought: EXCUSE ME, but you have a one year old child at home with your wife in Japan–you’re disgusting!

    ANYWAY I’ve only met 1-2 Japanese guys that have stayed loyal to their wives/girlfriends, so be careful. Sometimes “busy at work” can mean hostess bar or another woman.

    I found that Japanese men who lived/worked abroad for a long period of time were OK. They were used to western communication methods. Still, when they go back to Japan and enter the company I think they turn Japanese again, haha.

    Anyway, reading this evoked so many of my past frustrations when I was dating in Japan. I really feel for you and I hope that you run into a good guy soon! Don’t get upset about the guy that ignored you… just ignore him back, and remember that a man that can’t even properly end a relationship isn’t worth it. Working too much or being stressed is just an excuse. Next time you get a guy like this tell him he can go die alone in his cubicle (I know, I’m brutal!).

    I love your writing! And sorry to write a 10,000 word post, ha.

    • seira says:

      Thank you so much for a lovely comment!! I don’t mind the length at all 😀

      Yeah… dating here can be kind of hopeless, which is another reason I want to move back to the US–to find a life partner. It’s not like I’m thrilled with the prospect of dating Japanese guys (I think you swore them off completely), but when you live here, it’s kind of your best chance. I have not had great luck with foreign guys here either, so there’s no use shutting out 98% of the population. I try to look for the guys that have been overseas, while not going so far as to find the guys who are fascinated by all things foreign and just want to be wide-eyed around a foreigner, but like you said, even that is no guarantee. The ex I discussed in this post spent age 8-18 in the US. And he still had communication and avoidance issues.

      Cheating has not really been an issue I’ve noticed personally. Maybe they were cheating, but I tend to go for introverted, shy guys who aren’t the type to be flirting and meeting up with girls.

      Your former boyfriend’s experiences on that business trip sound NUTS. One of my exes also told me about a trip he took (before we were dating) where he and his friends visited a brothel together, and he slept with one of the prostitutes there. He had no remorse, and it almost disgusted me enough to break up with him then. It’s still a really weird thing about him, but he never saw it that way. But I’ve heard of tons of similar stories. The executives at my last company used to go on sex tourism trips together. I’m sure they were married. Hell, the CEO of my last company allegedly had a sex apartment where he took girls, separate from his house where his wife and kid lived. But I think his wife totally knew and just accepted it as the price of her lifestyle. I think a lot of women here do think of it that way and accept that it’s going to happen. People just have a different view on marriage here, it’s more like a business transaction, an agreement to raise a family together as platonic partners, than a romantic connection upheld that way forever. To me, that’s depressing, but that’s how it is here.

      I think it’s possible to find a great Japanese guy (several of my friends here have) who doesn’t have any of the cheating and emotional unavailability issues, but they are extremely rare.

      Like you said, my American conviction that healthy relationships involve open communication, and Japanese people’s tendency to be afraid of and run away from (or just think is too rude to even tolerate) openness and directness really clash sometimes. That’s been the biggest issue.

      But like I said, I truly am enjoying the single life. For so long, I have spent my life waiting for a response from a guy, checking my phone and feeling disappointed when he hasn’t sent anything. I spent so much of last year obsessing over the demise of my relationship and trying to picture what the hell my ex was going through. It was just a lot of wasted effort. He wasn’t doing the same for me, so why should my life basically end up revolving around him? Once it became unequal, I should have ended it. I learned a good lesson. I am not waiting around for a guy and putting him on a pedestal and obsessing over him anymore. I’m way more important to me than some dude who doesn’t care about me. And relationships–having to factor someone else into your decisions, and make compromises, and hash things out–can be so much work. For once, I’m actually enjoying this time instead of desperately trying to find someone. I really like it.

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