Letters from Japan: “Why Do I Have To Pay?”

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 editorial@gplusmedia.com with the subject "Ask Hilary."

Hello Hilary,

I moved to Japan recently, and I want to find a Japanese partner. I am using Tinder, but I can’t meet anyone that I want to date seriously. Tokyo is so expensive — everyone has brand goods, but these boys keep asking me to pay for half of the dates. Or they just want to hook up in my apartment, not even at a love hotel. I don’t want to have sex with someone that is going to make me pay for my dates. That’s not what a real man does — why are they so cheap? Why don’t Japanese men date properly? – Why So Cheap

Dear Why So Cheap,

Wow… Well. There are two perspectives to take on this situation, although I’m not sure either is what you want to hear.

First of all, yours is an uncommon perspective in this day and age. That’s probably why it’s unlikely you’ll find the kind of man you’re looking for on a dating app. If you are looking for someone that can take care of you financially in a relationship, then I’d suggest joining a professional match-making service where you can set a limit on the minimum salary level of the man you want to date. 

However, you should keep in mind that those services are intended for marriage-minded people. Some will even refuse to find matches for you if you aren’t serious or give the staff assigned to your case the wrong impression.

Why should he have to pay just because he’s male?

If what you’re actually looking for is a sugar daddy, then, in all honesty, you should up the age range you have selected on your app. Most men in their thirties and under aren’t going to be able to give you the kind of dates you want — many still have to live with their parents for financial reasons, and do you really think Mom and Dad are going to be all right with their son spending money like that? Men in their forties and up, on the other hand, are more likely to be married but looking for a fling — they might be willing to splash the cash on that sort of relationship. Understand though that if you become someone’s mistress, the old line of “I’ll divorce my wife and marry you” carries even less weight in Japan than it does overseas.

From the second perspective, the reverse of your question could be argued. Why should he have to pay just because he’s male? Yes, there’s still a wage gap in Japan, but since you’re here on a visa, you should understand even more clearly how finances work. While some men still might be willing to pay the full bill out of pride, it’s not the norm by any stretch of the imagination now.

Since you mentioned dating in Tokyo, I assume you live in the area and know how expensive things are in the city. Dating isn’t cheap for either party and to ask one of them to foot the entire bill for a relationship is extremely selfish.

Financial equality is a two-way street when it comes to a relationship, so if you want to find someone to seriously date, you should learn to budget your own finances and be more willing to pay your share on a date.

What are you bringing to the table in terms of a relationship? If your top answers include anything physical, you need to stop right there. You said you can’t find anyone you want to date seriously, but physical attributes don’t count for much in the long term. On the other hand, someone who is a good conversationalist that has like-minded goals, similar hobbies and interests, and so on with their prospective partner will go a lot further in terms of a real relationship.

The majority of men in general today aren’t showing up on dates assuming that they’re going to meet a potential trophy wife or someone that expects to be a stay-at-home-mom someday. It’s not a realistic expectation that anyone should have — and especially not if you are exclusively using a mostly-free dating app. Dating apps like Tinder, etc. are for finding casual hookups, and occasionally, real relationships.

The bottom line is, if you are looking to be lavished with gifts and expensive dates, you need to understand that Japan’s “bubble economy” ended in 1991 and the years since haven’t been all that kind to anyone’s wallets. Financial equality is a two-way street when it comes to a relationship, so if you want to find someone to seriously date, you should learn to budget your own finances and be more willing to pay your share on a date.