Many years ago I googled that question into the computer monitor at my university’s lab. It was late and the lab was empty like always when midterms were finished. The tap-tap-tap of my keystrokes echoed off the white-walled room.
The results confirmed what my friends and Japanese room mate, Ami, had all said: Japanese guys are shy. You have to be patient. They don’t show their feelings.
I leaned back in the swivel chair and stared at the ceiling. Is that true? I wondered.
I struggled to believe it. But that’s what everyone told me, even Google.
With a heavy sigh, I logged out and headed home for the night.
I was no closer to an answer.
Don’t ignore red flags
I hope my experience can serve as a warning to others. Names and details have been altered to protect privacy, but this story is real. These are based on the best of my recall. It was years ago that I met the person I will call Cindy.
Cindy is the person who made me realize that you should always listen to your gut instinct. When something or someone doesn’t feel right, listen to that. Don’t let yourself get caught like I did.
When Cindy and I met for the first time in real life (until then we had been corresponding via social media) she asked me, “How many people are on your enemies’ list?”
That was the first of many, many red flags.
It was my third meeting with the future Mr. W. We were on a train and my friend, Elle, was traveling with us. Mr. W and I had broken into a discussion about Roman History through my bad Japanese and his not-much-better English. Despite the struggle, we were both engaged when he received a text from his company. While he was distracted, Elle leaned close to my ear and said:
I looked over my shoulder at her in confusion. She was all smiles as she added, “Remember what we talked about? Japanese guys don’t like that. You’re flirting, not giving a history lesson. You’re boring him.”
And then I felt ashamed.