Letters from Japan: “I’m Confused – How Does He Feel About Me?”
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? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Ask Hilary."
I have read your articles on Savvy Tokyo about dating and relationships and I would really appreciate hearing your opinion about mine.
My Japanese boyfriend and I have been together for more than three years now. I would say he’s the typical Japanese guy when it comes to relationships, but his feelings sometimes confuse me. He’s nearly 4o, not very self-confident, and doesn’t feel any pressure to settle down or get married. I often ask him – even though he dislikes it – if he still loves me and so far he’s always answered “Yes but love is not a priority in my life. Work is.”
Recently, I’ve started feeling anxious about whether or not I’m part of the future he is imagining for himself, so I asked him frankly about it. He said that he enjoys his work way too much to think about any kind of future with me in it. I was heartbroken by his answer.
I asked him if I should wait for him or just give up. He told me that it would be best to think about my own future instead. He also said he was worried that I would eventually become unhappy with our relationship and that I would regret wasting my time so it would be better to find a new “guy that deserves me.” But he also said that this was not a break-up and that the decision was entirely mine to make.
I don’t know if he truly loves me or if he is simply waiting for me to let go first out of respect for how I feel about him? — Confused Girl
Dear Confused Girl,
Your boyfriend gave you a very clear answer – along with a way out of the relationship. I don’t think there should be any confusion when someone tells you straight that they don’t see a future with you in it. He told you that he is not invested in your relationship beyond something casual, despite you two being together for over three years.
You’ve told me what his priority is – work. According to your letter, he repeatedly told you that he doesn’t want to get married or have kids.
What are your priorities? Are you trying to get married? Do you want to have a child or children? Are those your goals within the next two to five years? Do you know what you want out of your life in the long term? Will you be staying in Japan for life/the foreseeable future? Or do you want to live overseas instead?
You said he’s told you the decision was yours to make – which to me, sounds like he doesn’t care enough about your relationship to do anything about it.
If marriage and children are two major “must-do” life goals for yourself, then why aren’t you listening to yourself and your boyfriend? If those are your goals, you are dating the wrong man. He’s told you rather directly that he doesn’t want that life for himself, and that you are free to do what will make you happiest. So what would make you happiest?
Even if marriage and children aren’t major life goals for yourself, I still think you should end the relationship. He obviously prefers his work over his personal and dating life, and your emotional state seems more like a cause of stress to both of you than anything else. You said he’s told you the decision was yours to make – which to me, sounds like he doesn’t care enough about your relationship to do anything about it. He’s given you several opportunities to end things without any undue stress, but you are stressing yourself out. Why would you stay with someone that doesn’t seem to care about you? That’s only hurting you, and you don’t deserve that.
It’s not fun having to end a long term relationship, but I think you will probably be a lot happier and better off emotionally if you leave him and get on with your life, honestly speaking. Just make sure that your next relationship is one that makes you and your partner happy without any confusion. Best of luck.