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is being single a bad thing?



In Japan, not having a boyfriend, especially when you're in college or university, is considered a weird thing. What do you think? I don't know why, but people who do have a partner are called "ria jyu," meaning 'fulfilled life.' And, it's considered that they're having an amazing life. They're winners. On the other hand, people who don't have a partner are called "hi ria," meaning not having a fulfilled lifestyle; they're losers. This is what people understand, without realizing it- at least in Japan.


I've never had a partner before, in my entire 21 years of life. Of course, I've had crushes on a few people; my heartbeat gets faster when I see an attractive person on the street. However, I don't know if I have ever fallen for someone before.


I always have special feelings towards people who I do find attractive or who are so nice to me. I just like people around me who are amazing. I feel that's different from "falling in love." My heartbeat gets fast from noticing a boy who is next to me when I notice he has features I find good-looking, such as nice shoulders or hands. This isn't "falling in love" because this is what I find physically attractive in many different people.


I guess I couldn't experience "falling in love" growing up- maybe because I grew up in an art school, which was almost like a girls' school, as there were only 6 boys out of 40 students in a class. Most of my friends didn't have boyfriends, and not having a boyfriend wasn't a big deal in our high school.


However, as I entered university, having a boyfriend or not having a boyfriend became "a big deal." It doesn't matter what kind of relationship you're having, but it matters if you have a boyfriend, ria jyu, or not, hi ria. It's almost like an "upper class" versus "lower class" issue. I felt left out for not having a boyfriend, thinking things like 'am I a sad, lonely person?' And every single person I met would ask me "do you have a boyfriend?" I would reply, "no I don't." Everyone is usually surprised by my answer and would ask me, in shock "WHY NOT!?" I always wonder why I haven't had a partner before.


Honestly, I don't want people to ask me if I have a boyfriend anymore. Every time when I say "no," I see some people have relieved expressions; some express pity, and some people try to encourage me by saying, "that's okay." I'm ashamed by the whole thing. I always find that I try to show them that I'm not lonely or that it's not a big deal to me. But, actually my heart aches every time. Also, there were some guys who would literally laugh at me for not having a boyfriend. I get furious, but I just try to be patient and let them be. I get sad every time.


Because of these frustrations, I started using a dating app, which one of my friends suggested to me. I just wanted a boyfriend. However, I went on some dates but they weren't ever that good. I just got tired. I couldn't enjoy it at all. Everyone who went on a date with me were so nice, but they weren't really my type of people who I could see myself being with. After these experiences and realizations, I learned that I don't need a boyfriend immediately. I was just trying to be the same as everyone who has a partner and trying to be one of "the winners." I realized that my life is still fulfilled and enjoyable without a partner. I want to put myself first, rather than care what others think of me.


I don't think that hi ria means not having a partner and ria jyu means having a partner. Like, for example, people think boys should lose their virginity early, but why? I mean why do you say "lose?" What are you really "losing?" Both sex and love are beautiful things, but they're becoming the base ideas of who is cool and who is not.

自分の幸せは、自分が決めるように、人の幸せも色んな側面があって、その人の考えや、ライフスタイルを受け入れることが本当に大事だと思う。他人の考え方を受け入れられたら、自分のことも、もっとよく知ることができるし、大事にできると思うんだ。私もまだまだ模索中だけど、もっともっと色んな価値観に触れて、自分の感情や、考えを深めたいと思います :)

My happiness is my own. Yours is yours. Everyone has different ideas and shapes of happiness. I think it's very important to accept and respect every kind of lifestyle and ideas. If you could accept and respect others, I think I can learn about mine, adore and take care of myself in the way I want. I'm still looking for a sense of my own happiness, but I still want to explore more from experiencing new emotions, deeper thoughts, and many kinds of values.

Images by Hikari (Sawada)

Translated by Hikari

English edited by Lisa

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