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Letters from Japan: “Finding & Ending Relationships”

Ask Hilary: Questions From Readers Answered

Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you’d like to ask Hilary? Send it to askhilary@savvytokyo.com.

Hello Ms. Hilary,

I warmly greet you from Slovakia. My name is [redacted] and on the website Japan Today I read your article about relationships in Japan. I have been to Japan three times already. In 2024, I will go there to study the Japanese language at school for 12 months. I would like to find a serious relationship in Japan, maybe marriage after a while. I am 51 years old, I have no wife and I am single. I want to ask you: please, are there serious dating agencies in Japan? Can you recommend any? Thank you very much in advance for your answer. 

Dating Agency Help

Dear Dating Agency Help,

I hope you enjoy your studies here in Japan. While I normally do not reply to emails asking for dating service help, I’ve gotten several from people in situations similar to yours recently. Must be something about the season.

If you are looking for a serious relationship in Japan and want to use a proper dating (with the intention of marriage) service, there are several factors to keep in mind. You will need to have excellent Japanese language skills, proof of income and the ability to show that you can support yourself and a spouse/family. In many cases, these apps or services require users to submit proof of address in Japan and annual income or any properties owned, since these are “selling points” that will attract potential partners.

Pairs, Happy Mail and Zexy Enmusubi are the three that are most highly recommended by people I know in terms of app or online services.

Of course, you will also need to pay a monthly fee as a man using those services, since they’re oriented towards serious users rather than strictly for dating or casual encounter purposes. Some can cost anywhere from a few hundred yen to over ten thousand yen a month, depending on the quality and management of the service.

In terms of services for marriage specifically Pairs, Happy Mail and Zexy Enmusubi are the three that are most highly recommended by people I know in terms of app or online services. If you prefer an in-person, more old-fashioned type of match-making service however, you will have to be in the country to join one.

Best of luck!

Dear Hilary,

I have been playing sad love songs on my Spotify playlist since June this year. From Coldplay’s Let Somebody Go and Adele’s All I Ask to name a few.

I was excited to meet my favorite person after five years. I was even lucky enough to be assigned to the city where he resides. I asked if he could meet me up and he agreed. To my surprise he told me that he just recently tied the knot. My heart sank. I wept hard for days. All of my excitement turned into regret.  

I still took the courage to meet him even for the last time. He asked why I wore all black and said it was easy to pick. I lied. I was mourning. It was insane to look at the eyes of the person I’d adored for more than a decade long and tell myself that it was time to let go. I could not dare to ask about his present life. Glad I did not tear up. That ended a chapter.

I still feel the weight of loss. He will celebrate his birthday this month. Do you think it is better not to send birthday greetings? Or to avoid contact at all?

Mourning

Dear Mourning,

It does sound like you’ve been grieving a loss, and hopefully, you will be feeling like yourself again soon. That being said, I’m curious.

You call them your favorite person, haven’t met them for five years, and say that you adored them for a decade, but were you in a relationship with them? Was this a friendship that you hoped would develop into more, or did they know how you felt about them?

This person appears to have found happiness without you, and you deserve to find the same.

If they did not, then you’re mourning something that never was, which is still valid. You are allowed to feel that loss, but be kind to yourself and don’t wallow in it. If you’ve been grieving for a relationship that never happened since June, as you indicated in your message, then moving on would be the best way to heal. Put them behind you and out of your life completely. This person appears to have found happiness without you, and you deserve to find the same. If they cared about you as you have them, they would want that for you as well.

If they did know but you weren’t in a relationship, then that complicates things slightly. They should have been clearer about your position in their life. If they ever gave you any indication that romance was a possibility, suffice to say that they played with you and your emotions. Again, I recommend you be kind to yourself and remove anyone who would treat you so callously from your life.

There’s so much to enjoy in this life, it doesn’t make sense to devote any more energy to someone that isn’t worthy of you.

Worst of all, if they did know and you two were in a relationship, (online, long-distance or otherwise), then this person has done you a dreadful disservice. It was cold and disrespectful not to inform you of their other partner—not only to you but their new spouse as well. Why would you want to stay in contact with someone who could disregard you and your feelings so easily?

No matter what the circumstances, I think you need to erase this person from your memory and move on. There’s so much to enjoy in this life, it doesn’t make sense to devote any more energy to someone that isn’t worthy of you. I wish you the best of luck and that you’ll heal from this better than ever before.


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