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One of my biggest takeaways while exploring Western Europe for six months was a conversation I had with an Austrian couple. First, I had to come up with a way to describe what I do for a living.

Within a few minutes of meeting in an Irish pub, the lady of the couple asked, "So, is dating a construct of Hollywood? In North America, I say I'm a dating columnist.

Many times it’s a lot more like a coffee date than a language exchange.

You can find a language exchange partner in the classified section of many of the local English language magazines and there are a few sites specifically for finding a language exchange partner, e.g. Also there are language exchange groups on meetup.com, which are usually like a cross between language exchange and international parties. Be careful, most the guys you meet here are married (or otherwise taken) and just looking for the “American” experience (if you know what I mean). Walk around Shibuya and make eye contact with men, trying to get . Fun Cheapo Fact: In Japan it’s not uncommon for singles to spend hundreds of thousands of yen on “konkatsu” (婚活) or marriage hunting services!

Now, there's hooking up, friends with benefits, casual dating, and all manner of other things.

Yet none of these are "dating." There's no courtship, there's zero determining if you're compatible romantically or long-term. So let's call dating what it really is: a way to get to know a complete stranger to see if they're a possible romantic partner for the long haul.

You're just bumping the naughty bits, and that's why we North Americans have so many, varied terms for what is essentially a no strings attached sexual relationship. It isn't an excuse to "test the merchandise," or "see how I feel in six months.".

I'm just saying let's call dating what it actually is, and then everything else, well, whatever it actually is.

If you’ve been Japan for more than 5 seconds and had any interaction with the opposite sex here, you’ll no doubt have already experienced some “Lost in translation” style mishaps from smashing against the language barrier and cultural differences.

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