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What is Friendship Marriage? Know all about Japan's new relationship trend

In a recent report, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) delves into a growing relationship trend in Japan: friendship marriages. These marriages break the traditional mould, prioritising companionship and shared goals over romantic love or physical intimacy.

Written By: Rahul Pratyush @29_pratyush New Delhi Published on: May 10, 2024 14:09 IST
Friendship Marriage
Image Source : FREEPIK Friendship Marriage: Japan's new relationship trend

A growing number of young people in Japan are embracing a novel form of marriage known as "friendship marriage," which doesn't necessitate feelings of love or physical intimacy. This trend, which involves about one per cent of Japan's 124 million population, attracts a diverse range of individuals, including asexuals, homosexuals, and heterosexuals disenchanted with conventional marital norms.

The youth in China are reportedly opting for cohabitation based on shared values and interests as an alternative to traditional marriage, according to a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP). The statistics are sourced from Colorus, an agency that prides itself as Japan's premier specialist in friendship marriages. Since its establishment in March 2015, approximately 500 members have entered into friendship marriage partnerships through the agency, with some even starting families together.

What is Friendship Marriage?

Friendship marriage is characterised by a living arrangement where partners share common interests and values, rather than relying on traditional romantic love or viewing each other solely as best friends. While legally married, these couples may or may not cohabit and may choose to have children through artificial insemination. Importantly, both partners are allowed to engage in romantic relationships with others, provided there is mutual consent.

“Friendship marriage is like finding a roommate with similar interests,” said an individual living in a friendship marriage for three years to SCMP. “I’m not suited to be someone’s girlfriend, but I can be a good friend. I only wanted someone with similar tastes to do things we both enjoy, to chat and laugh with,” another said.

How do couples meet?

According to reports, this arrangement doesn't resemble marrying one's best friend. Instead, individuals involved in this setup spend time together to develop a deeper understanding of each other. The couple collaborates on various practical aspects of their shared life, such as financial responsibilities, household chores, and even managing household resources like refrigerator space. 

Despite lacking traditional romantic elements, these discussions contribute significantly to the contentment of nearly 80% of couples in this type of relationship, as reported by Colorus. The agency further noted that many of these couples also opt to have children.

Who does it?

According to SCMP, individuals interested in this form of relationship typically average 32.5 years of age and have incomes surpassing the national average. This trend is becoming more popular among asexual individuals and homosexuals who wish to avoid conventional marriage norms. Additionally, some homosexuals, feeling pressured by societal expectations and disliking traditional marriage customs or romantic relationships, are also embracing this emerging trend. 

Despite the possibility of these relationships ending in divorce, they offer advantages such as access to policy benefits, companionship, and support to those who feel alienated, are averse to traditional marriage, or see themselves as societal outsiders, as reported by Colorus.


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