Friday, November 8, 2013

Does a Career Trump Romance?

In America, women constantly battle to have it all. This usually involves a high-powered career, husband, perfect home, two children, a dog, hobbies, and rock hard abs. Don’t forget girls night out and girl vacations too.  What if you couldn’t have it all? What would you give up?

Start thinking because that is exactly what young Japanese business professionals are doing. They are deciding what their priorities are. In a documentary, I watched on happiness, one young Japanese widow explained that her husband died from overwork. The seemingly healthy man’s heart just stopped. The widow felt like he had worked too much. It isn’t unusual for employees to arrive home between nine and midnight from their long commutes from the city.

A recent article in The Guardian announced that young Japanese have stopped having sex. It is more than that too. A third of the population never expects to marry, and have children. With this in mind, they have no reason to date or have sex.

The young women are well aware that marriage often results in a loss of a career. Japanese employers have no trouble firing married or pregnant women. Once a woman has a child, she has to stay home and care for it since the child will seldom see the other parent.
The men often feel that not only do they not have the time for a marriage or a family, but they do not have enough time to devote to dating and developing a relationship. One man explained that was not being fair to the woman.

According to Huffington Post article, 61% of the single people in Japan are not in a relationship. A third of the 61% have never dated and have no plans to do so in the future. It is not surprising when 36% of the males and 59% of the females have no interest in sex or are even averse to it. People definitely aren’t looking for chemistry.

The men chose not to have a relationship because they felt it was too much work. They felt they had to give up too much to woo a woman. Part of the blame for people not hooking up is virtual girlfriends, courtesy of technology.

The Japanese government is worried about the declining population, unsure how to get people interested in relationships again. They aren’t sure why people lost interest.
In some ways, the young Japanese, which refers to anyone under 40, are practical in their theories. Children cost a lot of money to raise. One man summed it up by explaining he barely made enough to take care of himself.  Women are worried about losing the careers they worked so hard to obtain and in turn eschew dating.

What are your priorities? Do you expect or want to live without a romantic relationship? What if someone told you it was more practical or told you how much money you’d save?

In a thought-provoking exercise I was given ten elements of a having-it-all life. With each turn, I would have to give away something. I ditched community involvement fast, dropped hobbies, friends, even religion and health, but I refused to give up on love and family. Maybe my priorities are much different than the average young single Japanese. Who’s to say which ones are more right? 

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