Ask Sara: My Girlfriend Works in a Girls Bar
By Sara Who
In a new weekly 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 email@example.com.
Hello Sara, or whoever ends up reading this mail
I’ve got a question that has kept me awake far too many nights.
I currently work for a company that allows me to travel the world ten to eleven months out of the year, which eventually, and thankfully, lead me to Japan. While I had some idea what to expect in terms of culture – like views of foreigners and the completely unique world that is Japan – some of it definitely caught me by surprise. It didn’t take long before I found myself in a relationship with a girl I worked with and it was refreshingly unlike any I have had before. We have been together for almost a year and we could not be happier. I’m now looking into quitting my current job and landing a full-time job in Saitama, taking this relationship to the next level.
But there is this one small detail that keeps nagging at me. Her part-time job, while we are not touring together in Japan, is at a girls bar. At first, I did not quite understand what exactly that meant having never been to one myself but after doing some research and having many long discussions about it with her, I finally grasped what it was and that’s got me worried. She fully understands why I would feel uneasy about it, but constantly reassures me that it is solely (and temporarily) for the money and it is indeed a safe location.
I 100% trust her, and as we have both discussed, she will immediately stop working there the moment I come back to Japan as she feels like it’s a good way to make easy money. But I can’t help feel uncomfortable about the whole idea of a girls bar, and the fact that she works at one. Is this a big red flag? I realise that girls bars are culturally accepted and just about the most normal thing to come across over in Japan, but it still does not quite sit right with me. Should I just accept that that’s the way things are, or draw a line demanding that she change her line of work immediately (which seems excessive)?
Thanks in advance.
– Sleepless in Saitama
While you might have met a lovely girl who just happens to work part-time at a girls bar, I would still urge you to proceed with caution. Since you seem to travel a lot for work, how much of your relationship has been long-distance? Are you certain you truly know your girlfriend? You say you are considering quitting your job and moving to Japan to be with her. That’s a big decision to make when you have only been dating for a year.
I think the fact she told you about her job and did not try to hide it from you gives her credit. However, I won’t lie to you. While she may very well be telling the truth and nothing shady is going on, I would say it is definitively a red flag. Again, this doesn’t mean you should give up on the relationship altogether but you should certainly keep both eyes open for other red flags. While hindsight is always 20/20, trust your gut feeling. When it comes to relationships, if you feel something is wrong, it often is.
One more thing, you mentioned your girlfriend would quit her part-time job if you were to move to Japan. Have you spoken about your plan in detail? Is marriage on the cards? I think you two should have a good conversation about your hopes and expectations for the relationship. She might be waiting to see if you are truly serious about her before quitting, which is fair enough, but she could also not be ready to relinquish her current lifestyle. Jobs like that do pay very well. In other words, she could be expecting you to provide for her. Just be certain you know exactly what you are buying. Some girls in Japan dream of becoming housewives and not having to work anymore. If you don’t have a traditional view on gender roles, then make sure you two are on the same page and be aware of cultural differences.
Good luck! I truly hope things work out between you two!
– Love, Sara
What do you think? Is working at a girls bar a bad sign? Should our reader give their girlfriend an ultimatum? Let us know in the comments and make sure to come back next week when Sara will answer more of your questions!