by Ewa Nowogorski
What do you call your significant other? Do you have a special nickname for them? Do you call them “babe” or “honey”? Or do you just call them by their first name? Different cultures have different common nicknames for significant others such as boyfriends and girlfriends.
Usually in America, every girlfriend and boyfriend gets a title. Some common ones are “honey”, “baby”, and “sweety”. They can be used for both men and women, and they are usually used by young couples, especially those still in their honeymoon phase.
In Japan, there are terms of endearment to talk about your loved one, but you don’t usually call them directly through these names. Some are “koibito”, “kareshi/kanojo”, and “mai rabu”. The last one is pretty cutesy, but the first two are not real nicknames, but more like official titles. In this country, I am surprised to see people not really giving each other affectionate names. People rarely directly say “I love you” to another person, unlike in America where the phrase is thrown around multiple times a day between lovers and family.
There is the phrase “anata”, which literally means “you”, and it is apparently only used to address a lover that you really and truly love. It is not used lightly either. Even the phrase “I love you” is supposedly only said to a lover on one’s deathbed. Until recently, most marriages in Japan were arranged and feelings weren’t really involved. This country has still not caught up with the casualness of western countries such as the USA, which could explain why people are still behind in the romantic department.