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Ask Sara: How Do You Date a Salaryman?

My student boyfriend has become a fully-fledged salaryman. How can we make sure our relationship isn't badly affected?

By 3 min read 3

In a new  feature, our resident love-in-Japan writer Sara Who will be answering your questions on everything from dating rules to finding a partner to love, marriage and more. Got a question you’d like to ask Sara? Email it to editorial@gplusmedia.com.

This week, we’ve got a question that we’re sure many partners of Japanese men have struggled with:

Is he dating me or his job?


I’ve been dating my Japanese boyfriend for three years now. We met when we were still in university, but this April he graduated and was hired at a big company. In other words, he’s become a typical salaryman! My question is: How do you date a salaryman?

We live about 1 1/2 hours away from each other. He visits me some weekends, but I can’t visit him because he lives at his company dorm.

I’m worried about all the nomikai and business trips… how can I stay sane? I don’t wanna doubt him, but sometimes I can’t help but listen to the rumors about salarymen. What should I expect of a salaryman? How do I cope with the late nights and delayed responses?

Thank you!

– Salaryman Fan

Dear Fan,

Sorry to hear your relationship is suffering because of your boyfriend’s career. You seem mostly worried about him potentially cheating on you. Is there a reason why you feel he might not be faithful? Has he done anything in the past that could raise suspicion?

Whatever you heard about Japanese salarymen, it’s not because your boyfriend became one that he will suddenly start seeing other women behind your back. If your boyfriend truly cares about you and respects you, there is no need for you to doubt him. He is probably working long hours, and as you said, he lives in a dorm. His work is probably his first priority at the moment. I doubt he has much energy left to pursue other women.

In my opinion, your biggest problem is distance. It makes you feel insecure and it must be hard to meet so infrequently. How are you two planning to solve this issue in the future? As a young Japanese man just starting his career, I could see how this situation might not be bothering your boyfriend too much. Living in a company dorm is convenient and, with the rent being so cheap, it probably makes more sense for him to live there. Yet, your relationship is suffering because of his choice.

Unfortunately, when you date a Japanese salaryman, you have to be prepared to compromise a lot, but you also have to draw the line somewhere. Good communication is essential for a healthy relationship, so if you are not happy with the current situation, do voice your concerns. I’m sure your boyfriend wants you to feel secure and will compromise if you ask him. Why not talk with him to see if he would consider getting his own place? That way, you’d be able to spend more time together and you might feel more at ease. It’s also a good way to test your ability as a couple to deal with conflict. Now that he is not a student anymore, things are bound to change, so make sure you two are on the same page.

-Love, Sara

What do you think? How should our reader deal with her boyfriend’s new job? Do you have any experience dating a salaryman or woman?  Let us know in the comments and make sure to come back next week when Sara will answer more of your questions! 

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  • Liz says:

    From dating someone who works way to much being ‘ worried about him cheating’ is the least of my concerns. It is him always being stressed, yet never available when i need support. It is always feelings like you are the last priority why he is your number 1 and the resentment that builds up after this happening for years. Also, actually going weeks without sex because you never see him and when you he is so tired that all he wants to do is drink some wine and fall asleep. Unless you are the kind of women who doesnt really care about the personal and intimate relationship between you and your partner and just needs an income that I can completly see how dating a Japanese salary man that you truly love could be soul destroying .

  • george says:

    Not all men/salary men cheat on their partners on a romantic level. If he has any morals he just wont do it. I think less do than don’t (again, on a romantic level). Red light district stuff is quite common though – it’s not frowned upon and hardly anyone will discourage it.

    Don’t expect the overtime to get any better either. If you live in Japan, you should get used to that. Not sure what kind of company he works for but if it’s anything customer facing, expect him to be home late (often after midnight) and don’t be surprised if he has to go entertain customers on the weekend from time to time. I think a lot of Japanese men feel that it’s their duty to work hard and support their family no matter the sacrafice to their personal time and freedom. If I were to work in Japan again, I would also accept that fate – at least for a few years anyway.

  • Lifeo Fideas says:

    In general, if stopping other people from having sex is a priority, prepare to spend a lot of time being miserable. For Japanese women, salarymen are attractive spouses because they have a predictable (not always good) income which allows them to support a stay-at-home mother. Otherwise, they aren’t particularly fun partners, because Japanese business culture has both a face-time requirement (hours spent matter as much or more than productivity) and a belief that loyalty means being available all the time. There is some chance that Japan’s sex industry will be part of business entertainment at some point. Emotionally, it counts less than golf. On the plus side, if you stick with him, you have a fair chance of being transferred all over the country and maybe the world.



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