Letters from Japan: “Married Men”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apparently, last month’s Ask Hilary (“He’s Taken“) got a lot of people talking and thinking. Here are two more messages from readers around the world struggling with relationships with unavailable Japanese men.
I have a Japanese boyfriend but unfortunately, he’s already married. I knew it even before we got together. He was assigned to a job here in the Philippines but when our relationship was discovered he was deployed back to Japan. I love him so much and I know he feels the same for me. He even talked about getting divorced but of course, he will still support his family and I have no objection to that. Lately we had a fight because he doesn’t believe that I am missing him so much because I am still here in the Philippines. I am trying my best to get a job in Japan so I can transfer there.
What should I do to prove to him and to show him how much I love him and how much I miss him? I am already suffering from depression and anxiety because I really don’t want to lose him. I love him with all that I am.
—I Want to be Mrs. K.
I am a foreigner living in Japan. I fell in love with a Japanese married man. He says that he will divorce his wife soon. He is out of Japan for an assignment for five years, his family is not with him. He has two kids. I feel guilty for being a homebreaker but I love him. He loves me too and takes care of me. I am a single mother. What do I do about the guilt? Sometimes I want to see our relationship from a third person’s perspective. Does he really love me or is he just stuck? Please help.
Dear Want to be Mrs. K and Confused Woman,
I’m writing to you both in one message because your situations are so similar.
You have both knowingly fallen for married Japanese men. One while he was working abroad, and one who is still working abroad. Both have children with their spouses. Both men have claimed that they will divorce their partners and marry/be with you instead.
Neither of these men has divorced their partners as of the time of this article’s publishing. Given that divorce in Japan is a fairly straightforward legal procedure, especially between two Japanese citizens, I’m afraid you both seem to have fallen for one of the oldest lies in the adulterer’s playbook.
I’m afraid you both seem to have fallen for one of the oldest lies in the adulterer’s playbook.
“I love you, I’ll leave my spouse for you, so it’s okay if we have sex” has been used by people around the world for centuries as an excuse to sleep with someone they wanted. I can think of very few times where this relationship turned into a real, lasting marriage.
Even in my extensive network of family and friends, I can think of about 30 people it’s happened to (on either end) and count on one finger how many times it’s resulted in a marriage. That marriage ended in divorce less than a year later—due to an affair on the husband’s part again.
These men may indeed love you and they may genuinely want to divorce their spouse but the fact of the matter is, they have not and statistically will not, either. While not especially taboo, the overall impact it would have on their lives is immense, and in all honesty, a lot more effort than just lying to you.
…they may genuinely want to divorce their spouse but the fact of the matter is, they have not and statistically will not either.
There’s very little you can do to change the situation unless you want to expose the affairs and deal with the fallout from that. While these men are liars and lower than low for cheating, neither of you are innocent either, regardless of the relationship the husband and wife have.
I would stress that in your cases, being the “cheating third party” isn’t just a moral issue either. In fact, under Japanese law, the “cheating third party” can be sued for damages by the wife whether or not the married couple divorces.
Everyone, if you are thinking about seeing someone who is already married, think it over again. Then think it over some more, and find someone else who is free and clear to date instead. You deserve better than being someone’s second choice.
…under Japanese law, the “cheating third party” can be sued for damages by the wife…
Don’t trust their words alone when it’s their actions that speak volumes. Saying they’ll get divorced is easy, actually getting the paperwork and doing it is different. Furthermore, remember that whatever they have told you about their spouse and home life is only one side of the story. Unless you speak with their spouse directly, you will never have the other.
Do not for one minute believe that your situation is different from millions of people who have been in your very situation. If you were meant to be, they would already be divorcing their partner and preparing for a new relationship with you.
And if you are capable of getting pregnant, for the sake of your own health, sanity and safety, and that of any offspring, do not have a child with an already married partner. It’s not fair to anyone involved, but especially not to the innocent child.
Don’t trust their words alone when it’s their actions that speak volumes.
I Want to be Mrs. K, the man you were seeing you knew was married, and when your affair was discovered, he was sent back to Japan. Personally speaking, I would have taken that as a sign that your relationship was not working out.
The fact that he is picking fights with you and trying to force you to prove your love for him is very telling, too. He wants you to say you love him, he wants you to say you miss him, he wants you to move to Japan, he wants you to change your life completely for the sake of being in a relationship with him.
He wants you to do an awful lot of things, but what is he doing for you? Has he divorced his wife? Has he found you two an apartment or a place to live together? Has he done anything to make it easier for you to come to Japan and to have a life with him?
He wants you to do an awful lot of things, but what is he doing for you?
Nothing you have indicated suggests he’s done any of that—so why does he deserve your love? Promises and claims that he loves you are meaningless if he’s done nothing to be with you himself. A real, honest, healthy relationship requires communication and effort by both partners. He is not being a good partner to you, and he certainly hasn’t been one to his current spouse.
Frankly, I Want to be Mrs. K, I think you should consider wanting to be something else instead. You should be in a relationship where you aren’t a secret, where you are valued and prioritized, and where your partner is genuinely free to be with you.
Confused Woman, unfortunately, I don’t see that you have a future with your affair partner either. Not only was he cheating on his wife with you while he was in Japan, but now he’s moved overseas for work.
Unfortunately, he may even be cheating with someone else where he’s currently living, given that he was willing to cheat once. It’s not implausible that he’s found someone “just while he’s there” either. Unless he has given you concrete evidence of his loyalty to you, believe him when he shows you who he is.
…he may even be cheating with someone else where he’s currently living, given that he was willing to cheat once.
You stated that he takes care of you. Does that mean financially? And that you are a single mother—is he the father of your child? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then you may wish to consult with a family counselor or lawyer to see what options are available to you for the sake of your child. This is the nuclear option however, and may result in him not being in a relationship with you any longer.
If he’s not the child’s father but he is taking care of you financially, then you may find yourself cut off should his spouse discover the unaccounted-for expenditure. You are not entitled to his money, and if he does have a change of heart or is caught, you and your child will lose that extra income.
Do you want to be in a relationship where you and your child come second? Declarations of love and financial support are nice. However, if he hasn’t actually gotten divorced and is living abroad where he could be cheating on you and his wife again, I think you should be practical about your situation and see it for what it is: untenable and not fair to you or your child.
You should never feel like an afterthought to the person you love.