First boyfriend/girlfriend turned into spouse for roughly one in seven.

Japan has plenty of TV dramas and anime series where it’s nothing short of sheer fate that brings two lovers together. In reality, though, just like in other countries, most Japanese people play the dating game for a while before finding the person they’ll marry.

But how many times do they have to spin the wheel before they feel like they’ve found Mr. or Mrs. Right? That’s the question that was posed by Ufufu, a Japanese online retailer that specializes in engagement and wedding rings.

Ufufu collected 1,000 responses from married men and women between the ages of 20 and 69 and found that the majority, 52.6 percent, dated three or fewer romantic partners before tying the knot. The survey also found that more than one in seven went the distance with their first serious boyfriend/girlfriend, marrying without having seriously dated anyone else.

● Including your current souse, how many people have you been in a romantic relationship with?
1: 14.6 percent of respondents
2: 16.1 percent
3: 21.9 percent
4: 10.4 percent
5: 13.2 percent
6: 14.7 percent
I don’t remember the number: 9.1 percent

That may seem like a very small sampling of the dating pool to look at before entering into what’s supposed to be a life-long commitment, but it’s important to keep in mind how socializing works in Japan. When asked where they met their spouse, the survey participants’ most common responses were at work, at school, or after being introduced by a mutual friend. But because of how often socializing is done in large groups in Japan, it’s possible to get a pretty good idea of whether or not an initial attraction would translate into long-term compatibility before ever going on an official “date.” Say, for example, that coworkers Taro and Hanako are still at a point where they feel just sort of interested in one another. They’ll have frequent opportunities to spend time together at company drinking parties of employee trips, letting them largely figure out how well their values, personalities, and desires mesh without having to become a couple first. The same goes for people who become acquainted at school, where club activities dominate most people’s social calendars, and even among friends who have no designated organizational affiliation, the standard philosophy in Japan is “the more the merrier,” again meaning that when pals get together, it’s usually in a group.

Of course, that’s not to say that people in Japan have a romantic sixth sense that allows them to jump straight from platonic acquaintances to husband and wife (if they did, the number of people in the survey who married their first boyfriend/girlfriend would be a lot higher than 14.6 percent). However, it is true that for a lot of people, the way Japanese society is structured makes it easier to get a preview of a who a person is, and so spot deal breakers, before going on a first date. As a result, it’s often the case that if two people do decide to start seriously dating, they’ve already passed a number of each other’s love-related litmus tests, making them more likely to not only make their relationship a romantic one, but a permanent one too.

Source: Ufufu
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