Image Courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at

My parents were really strict so I wasn’t allowed to go on a date until I graduated from high school..I went to a really competitive high school so I couldn’t even think about “boys” because of other study stuff anyways. Then I moved to California and my world turned upside down. Everything that I used to think “normal” wasn’t quite normal. America is a very big country, so I am sure that there’s this huge cultural difference between California and Taxas, for instance. But I think that I can compare the key differences between Japanese and American dating customs, the practices of dating in general among young people.

My Japanese best friend had a huge crush on this guy in college. So she confessed her feelings toward him and this is called “Kokuhaku.” (confession) And this is a common way of starting a relationship in Japan. He accepted her “Kokuhaku” and decided to give it a try..they went on a date..started texting and talking on the phone and at that point, they were dating. (“tsukiau” in Japanese) and it is a relationship even though it wasn’t serious in the beginning and the state of their relationship was nothing more than “dating” in American culture.

In America, it is ok to date more than one person..that’s the whole point of going on a you can get to know each other to see if you click with your date and take it from there. Especially, internet dating has made this dating process even more casual and convenient, so my American friend has gone on dates with at least three men whom she met on this week. I am sure that online dating websites have changed the Japanese dating custom significantly, but the process of “physical intimacy” seems to come after the “Kokuhaku” in Japan and at that point, a couple consider themselves to be boyfriend/girlfriend. But in America, it isn’t necessarily the case..often, physical contact seems to come first..people often “kiss” but doesn’t mean that they are in a committed relationship. I am tired of hearing my friend’s dating experiences that are significantly different from my Japanese friend’s stories. Japanese people also have sex without being in a relationship, in fact, extramarital affairs are much more common in Japan..or more tolerated, in my opinion.

So once American people verbally confirm that they are seeing each other exclusively, meaning they aren’t dating other people and they are indeed in a relationship, then cheating is considered very bad..because you don’t have to commit yourself to a girl if you want to see other people..but you are lying to her and she is more likely to think that she is in an exclusive relationship but you are seeing other people. That is very unfair. Cheating seems like a much bigger deal here in the US..

So my advice to young Japanese international students who are exploring “dating” American men..make sure that you know what you are doing and if you are looking for a relationship, make sure to confirm this with your partner at one point..I’ve heard too many sad stories involving Japanese girls being heartbroken by American “boyfriends” because they realized that they were seeing other people or were not looking for an exclusive relationship in the first place and they just couldn’t communicate that with their American men. I understand the language barrier and it can be a challenge.


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