Success! You’ve survived your gokon, and even exchanged LINE’s with someone special. Now, you have a new set of worries– When should I message her? How often? What should I say?
In the previous article we discussed gokon, Japanese dating parties, now we would like to talk about what happens next!
Don’t worry! Sending off that first message is always stressful, especially given you may not be messaging in your native tongue. We’ve all made mistakes, and its sometimes easy to misunderstand Japanese people while messaging. But don’t fret! Let’s explore how to craft that perfect message, and how to keep the conversation interesting before your next date.
Who Should Text First? How Long Should I Wait?
It’s the morning after your gokon and you’ve been staring at the ‘New Friend’ notification on LINE for what feels like forever. Who should make the first move? Who should be the one to break the ice?
The simple answer is: If you initiated the LINE exchange, you should send the first message!
Timing wise, don’t be too eager and message before the night is over. Texting in the middle of the night can send the wrong idea, so it’s best to wait until the next day. Don’t wait too long though, choosing not to message tells her you aren’t interested!
But What Should I Say?
It can be tempting after a night of maybe too many drinks and some flirty conversation, to pick right back off where you left off.
This is a big no-no.
When you initiate the first conversation, keep it short, friendly, and genuine. A simple “It was nice to meet you!” goes a long way (especially when paired with a cute sticker). Avoid a generic “hey”, as this can be seen as boring or uninterested.
When in doubt, ask a question! Asking a question makes it easier for them to respond– they might be just as nervous as you!
How Can I Ask Her Out?
So, you’ve been messaging back and forth for a day or so, and you want to ask her out on a date. What should you say?
Finding the balance between being too keen, and asking for the date immediately- and being seen as dragging your feet can be a fine line to walk.
What have you discussed before? Do you have any shared interests? A first date is always more fun when it’s personalized to both of your interests or hobbies. It’s much more exciting for anyone to be invited to do an activity they’ll actively enjoy.
When messaging, keep it short and to the point. For example:
I remember you mentioning you’re a big baseball fan! Would you like to attend a game with me next Saturday?
In my experience, Japanese people prefer to lock a date or time in stone before committing. Remember to give a general time frame when making your plans, it can be easy to make a vague plan for some far-off future that never comes to fruition. People are busy, and it can be easy for things to get lost in life’s shuffle.
What about the Language Barrier?
This, of course depends entirely upon your own Japanese ability, your dates English ability and what language you both feel more comfortable communicating in.
Let’s say you both feel comfortable communicating in English! There can still be some communication differences that get lost in translation along the way.
Generally, English texting language uses a lot of punctuation and capitalization tricks to show emotion, and a non-native speaker may not have picked up on these vague emotional hints. For example, when I first began dating my Japanese boyfriend I always thought he sounded angry at me via text. Let’s look at these two conversations:
Person A: What are you doing?
Person B: nothing!
Person A: What are you doing?
Person B: Nothing.
The first conversation reads as friendly and conversational, while the second may come across as cold or uninterested.
Such a subtle difference in capitalization and changing the punctuation can mark a big change in tone to a native-English texter. Don’t expect everyone to pick up on these subtle cues, and don’t read too much into tone! In my case, it took months and a lot of miscommunication before I trained myself to stop reading too far into tone, and to simply focus on the words.
Japanese messaging apps like LINE offer a wide variety of unique stickers and emoticons, and these are a great use for getting your tone across in your message!
What if She Doesn’t Respond?
After messaging back and forth for a few days, she stops responding. It’s endlessly frustrating to be given the silent treatment, and you may wish she would just tell you she’s not interested!
Unfortunately, Japanese culture is very low-confrontation. It can be easy after a few days of radio silence to keep thinking up excuses– However, in Japan a long silence from messaging is a crystal clear signal that she’s not interested. Don’t pester her with too many messages, and take it in stride. There are plenty more fish in the sea!
Check out other articles in this series: