The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 20s. I’ve been dating a man with a view to marriage. But I don’t love him and I can’t decide whether I should marry him.
I live with my grandparents, who need nursing care. I care for them and do housework while working as a part-time care worker.
I’ve been going out with him since last April. He understands my family situation and helps in supporting my grandparents as much as he can. He left his work last autumn and, following my footsteps, took employment as a care worker at the same facility for the elderly.
My grandparents use day-care or short-stay services when I’m not at home for work or other reasons. He has recently begun to take time off from work to care for them when I’m not available, so as to save them the money they spend on these services. He also volunteers to help me do housework. I am grateful to him.
However, when I’m with him, he constantly talks about topics which are of no interest to me or repeats things he has already talked about before, meaning I do not enjoy our time together. I feel no strong attraction or respect for him, either, as he’s a year younger than me.
He always shows me affection. Should I marry him, even though I don’t love him?
B, Hyogo Prefecture
Dear Ms. B:
You have dated this man for nine months but have yet to feel any love for him. This strongly suggests marrying him is impossible.
If this situation doesn’t change soon, you should explain your feelings to him and stop dating him. This is a matter of etiquette. In short, you have had no mutual chemistry from the very beginning.
Next, strictly speaking it is clear that he at least likes you. This is why he has been devotedly courting you in an effort to know you better. He left his job and moved to your workplace. He also cares for your grandparents. All these things would appear to be a result of his sincere affection for you.
But you feel a complete lack of any sense of enjoyment when you are together. It seems you also feel no obligation to pretend, out of a sense of guilt or sympathy, that you enjoy this time. There is no way to change this as it appears you just really don’t enjoy it.
This being the case, you should tell him the truth. Tell him your honest reasons — and stop dating him. You also must realize that you will no longer be able to depend on him to care for your grandparents.
If you let this situation persist, it will cause misunderstandings between the two of you and may develop into emotional entanglement. Conflict over love often involves tragic consequences. You should be aware of this.
Tatsuro Dekune, writer