Is it worth feeling obligated if the gesture isn’t much obliged?

In Japan, women are the ones who give presents for Valentine’s Day, and the presents are chocolates. There are actually two different major classes of Valentine’s Day chocolate in Japan: Honmei choco and giri choco.

Honmei means “favorite” (in the sense of “expected winner”), and so honmei choco is what a woman gives to a guy she’s actually got romantic feelings for. Giri, meanwhile, means “duty” or “obligation,” and so giri choco are the gifts of chocolate women give to bosses, coworkers, or other acquaintances as a social nicety.

In recent years, there’s been renewed discussion of the obligation chocolate practice, some of it spurred by foreign companies operating in Japan. Some say the practice is chauvinistic, outdated, and unfair to women, while others (including women who like giving giri choco), say it’s a thoughtful gesture to say thank you for all the little courtesies someone has done for you during the year, and also simply an opportunity to make someone else feel good.

But while the question of whether or not giving obligation chocolate is a good idea is worth considering, there’s another matter to take into account: Do guys even want it?

To try to find out, Japanese research firm Nihon Trend Research conducted an online poll, asking 500 men if they’re happy when they receive obligation chocolate. When the responses were tallied, they were split right down the middle, with 50 percent of the guys saying they liked getting giri choco, and the other 50 percent saying they didn’t.

When asked why, some guys said that they simply don’t like chocolate, and so a sudden sugary snack supply isn’t anything they’re honestly hoping for. Another said getting giri choco drives home the depressing reality that he’s got no special someone in his life giving him honmei choco. And finally, those in the “thanks, but no thanks” group pointed out that getting obligation chocolate from a woman means you’re obligated to give her some sort of return gift a month later on March 14, which is called White Day in Japan. Even if you try to buy something that’s of roughly the same value as the giri choco you received, the effect is still the same as going out and buying chocolate for yourself, just with the order reversed (you get the chocolate first, then spend money a month later), something many of the guys wouldn’t be interested in doing in the first place.

On the other hand, obligation chocolate is quite a bit more popular among women. While it’s not the norm, in recent years an increasing number of women in Japan have been buying Valentine’s Day obligation chocolate for female friends and coworkers. When Nihon Trend Research asked 500 women how they felt about receiving giri choco, 68,2 percent said it would make them happy, which gels with other research on the topic.

Of course, a 50-50 split for the guys means that there are still plenty of dudes for whom getting some giri choco is a bright spot in their Valentine’s Day, so for those who like the idea of expressing their gratitude with sweets, it’s not a universally bad idea. But taking into consideration the intended recipients’ tastes and personality is probably a good idea, lest you burden yourself with an obligation you don’t really need to.

Source: Value Press
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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