I Don’t Love You, I Like You A Lot

Apr 7, 2021Blog, Culture

I Don’t Love You, I Like You A Lot

I love you: aishiteiru.

I like you a lot: daisuki.

There is a significant contrast in the way the Japanese think about love as compared to the Occidental.

Here is an experiment for the dear reader:

Ask your Japanese friend if they have ever said to their partner “aishiteru.”


If the answer is yes, then ask how many times.

Unlike English, this powerful word is rarely spoken in Japanese, as ai (love), is something to feel, not talk about.

Of course, the answers will vary depending on the exposure to Occidental influence and their specific generation.

In particular, if asking an older Japanese person, they will probably answer, “Whaaat?”and then become a touch embarrassed.

Indeed, members of this generation have probably never even uttered the words daisuki, let along aishiteiru, to their significant other.

Daisuki is what the Japanese would actually say when they wish to express affection towards their partner.

The chances of them having used the word ai in Japanese, is minimal at best.

In the shared journey on the blog, one has discussed many different aspects of the Japanese Way in the series entitled: language is a concept.

Indeed, love is also a concept, and the meaning it holds differ from culture to culture without a doubt.

For the Japanese do not conceptualize love the same as the Occidental.

Of course the Japanese feel love, as all humans do (unless you are a psychopath, narcissist, or solipsistic), they simply do not verbally express affection using the word ai to their object of endearment.

Indeed, if these words were ever uttered from the lips of one of the middle-aged or older generation of Japanese man, their wife would look up on them with suspicion.


This also goes for other acts of random affectionate and appreciation, such as bringing flowers home to the wife on an ordinary day.

Such acts of affection fundamentally lie outside Japanese social conventions.

In fact, the Japanese are not openly affectionate towards each other, especially in public.

Perhaps this is rooted in the culture of shame, of which the Japanese society has been built upon for millenia.

kimono clad girl covering mouth while laughing-01

For certain, the influence of the Occidental on the younger generation of Japanese cannot be denied.

However, even modern Japanese, when compared to other more openly affectionate cultures such as Americans and the French, do not show open public displays of affection.

For the Japanese, showing physical intimate affection in public is clearly not in their psyche, and something to be done in private.

Spot the difference; true stories:

One’s first Japanese wife’s mother and father had never actually met or dated each other before they got married.

Mother-in-law was beckoned to a room where her elder brother, the heir to the farmhouse and her father told her, “Next month you will go marry and Mr.*** in that village over there.”

There, her life had already been decided, and this dear, sweet lady had no say in the matter of marriage, whatsoever.

One’s own mother was the babysitter of father’s older brother, there they met, and the rest is history.

A love story to be sure, as my father in the eyes of his father-in-law was not good enough for his daughter, and he continued to reject the marriage until well into their journey, which is currently at 60 years and counting.

people in love

However, my grandfather saw how hard my father worked making a wonderful life for his own family (Thank you so very much for everything Dad.) and admitted sometime before he died, “You are the best son-in-law and man could have ever asked for.”

Certainly, in many societies throughout the world, people marry because they are “in love.”

This is also the case in Japan, but there is still an element of matchmaking that goes on here.

These are not matches made in heaven, but matches made in the office.

This is where the superior, sees his subordinate is now ready for a wife, will choose a suitable partner either from within the company (preferable), or from a suggestion by one of the scheming matchmakers in his network.

As proof of this matchmaking history, one can observe this tradition at a Japanese wedding. There are 4 people seats at the head table, the bride, groom and the 2 matchmakers.


Ahhhhh to be in love…

Nothing is more joyous and exciting than that warm and fuzzy feeling of fresh love.

However, the joyful, but temporary feeling of “love” will soon dissipate into other kinds of feelings, that are not quite as pleasant as “love.”

These could be such times as when one’s spouse fails to put the cap back onto the toothpaste, forgetting to flush the toilet, or using a towel for something other than that particular towel designated purpose.

toothpaste cap off

Alas, how quickly the feeling of “love” can turn into something else.

Therefore, one submits this:

Make sure to consciously choose to love each other ever day.

When the inevitable tough days come, one will be ready to make the conscious choice to love the other, because just as with hate, and all emotions, love is actually a choice.

Along with love, be sure to sprinkle on lots of respect, understanding, compromise, perseverance, humour, and life-long laughter and affection toward one’s own object of “love.”

Japanese Imperial Family